“Working from home is a future-looking technology,” according to Stanford Professor Nicholas Bloom. The latter conducted the biggest study to date on 2,000 employees to go further than the hype observed in the tech industry. But why bringing remote work in the first place? And how to implement it properly? This was the topic of the meetup aimed at CTOs and animated by Tech Rocks at Algolia’s headquarters in Paris (watch the replay [FR]).
Four speakers shared their experiences of remote work in their companies:
Here is our recap in 10 points:
1. REMOTE WORK MEANS A HIGHER PRODUCTIVITY FOR DEVS
Your office doesn’t always provide your employees with the best environment for deep work. Conversely, working at home or in a coworking space comes with less distractions than your office where developers can be interrupted more easily by colleagues. Remote work enables people to choose their own conditions to optimize their performance.
“Remote work helps employees focus more on a given task by letting you choose your distraction-free environment.” — Youen Chéné, CTO at Saagie
2. REMOTE WORK IS AN “UNFAIR ADVANTAGE” FOR HIRING
Two things here: first, the idea that your next hire is available and located close to your office is obsolete. Second, the flexibility of working remotely is very appreciated among the developer community. So on top of giving you access to a bigger pool of potential hires, remote work makes your company more attractive when it comes to talent acquisition.
“Remote work enables us to hire beyond our first geographic circle. It is key to attract senior developers in a context of high turnover.” — Youen Chéné, CTO at Saagie
3. REMOTE WORK LEADS TO A BETTER QUALITY OF LIFE
Adopting remote work company-wide makes you more competitive regarding talent acquisition. The same applies for retention, as working remotely comes with higher satisfaction from your employees. Flexible office hours and no commuting time offer the unique opportunity to balance one’s professional and personal lives, which is ideal for senior engineers with children.
“For an employee, working remotely means 1-2 extra hours dedicated to personal time per day.” — Frank Rousseau, Senior Software Engineer at CGWire, ex-CTO at Cozy Cloud
4. REMOTE WORK STRENGTHENS YOUR COMPANY CULTURE
Informal standup meetings and decisions based on oral communication lead to an asymmetry of information. With remote employees, you need to move from oral to written communication. This framework will benefit your company as a whole since you will improve the way knowledge is shared between employees.
“As a CTO, one of your job is to make your engineers happy at work. At comet, remote work has proven to be a powerful retention lever.” — Arnaud Aubry, CTO at comet
5. GO REMOTE-FIRST
When allowing partial or full-time remote in your company, you need to adapt the way you manage your teams. An important shift is to consider that work is asynchronous by default. It is a healthy mindset as each employee is responsible for managing their own workload independently. This is all the more true when your team is split into different time zones.
“When you go remote-first, you need to consider that it is an exception to have everybody in the same room for a meeting.” — Jean-Laurent de Morlhon at Docker
6. TRY WITH REMOTE FREELANCERS
The necessary discipline to adopt remote work often comes from a freelance background. Making the experiment with distant freelancers can be a great starting point for companies before implementing remote work for employees.
“As a freelancer, you’re the only person in charge of your business. It is often the first experience of working remotely.” — Jean-Laurent de Morlhon at Docker
7. MAKE YOUR WORK MORE VISIBLE
Remote work is healthy for your tech team, since it requires more clarity and asynchronous communication. Hence the importance of a great documentation. Also with a written culture, you have the opportunity to help your employees’ work gain more exposure. Initiatives such as internal weekly newsletters should be encouraged.
“One of the remote Docker employee is connected all day long to the dev room with his camera on via Zoom. It mimics a physical presence into the room.” — Jean-Laurent de Morlhon at Docker
8. FOCUS ON ALIGNMENT
Alignment must resonate with each team member’s daily missions. It indicates the tasks to be completed, the results to be achieved and the vision behind them. When hiring remote employees, the notion is even more essential and must be written down. Frameworks such as Objective Key Results (OKR) developed by Intel and Scorecards inspired by Geoff Smart and Randy Street’s bestseller “Who: the A Method for Hiring” will help you guide all employees towards the company’s end-game goals.
“Alignment must gives the answer to the questions: what to do and why do it?” — Arnaud Aubry, CTO at comet
9. DEFINE CLEAR RITUALS
When working remotely, employees need new habits to help them structure their weeks. Beyond standup meetings, 1:1s and agile sprints, it is important for a team to gather physically. Hence the importance of having the entire team reunited (every 5-6 weeks) at the office or during team retreats. Collecting feedback regularly will enable you to iterate on the way work and rituals are organized.
“At Saagie, we want everybody to be at the same level of information. This is why everybody attends meetings in front of their computer, whether they are working remotely or at the office.” — Youen Chéné, CTO at Saagie
10. ADOPT THE BEST TOOLS
Remote work wouldn’t be possible without enabling tools. Slack, GitLab and Zoom are prevalent software for communication while 360° cameras by Owl Labs and gaming headsets and have proven to be valuable hardware.
“At comet, some teams have started to replace meetings with issues on GitLab.” — Arnaud Aubry, CTO at comet