Levels Of Remote Work
Not the Same
Most people understand remote work as working from home. But there is much more to it than just staying home. A company that allows working remotely doesn’t mean that it embraces remote work.
Gitlab and Automattic (WordPress) are two of the most successful and fully remote companies. They have embraced remote work as a new way of working, not just as a no-office culture.
On their way to this new way of working, they identified four remote work levels.
Level 1: New Office
At the first level, we have no changes from office work.
- People are online from 9 am until 5 pm.
- Meetings are moved to video calls.
- Office conversations are moved to private messaging on a chat application.
There are no changes in how people work. Instead, video calls and chats become the new office space.
Level 2: New Tools
The next level embraces the new tools. It’s not just about using new tools but taking advantage of some features that are not available in an office space. For example:
- Record video calls for people that can’t attend or for future references.
- Use threads in the chat application to discuss topics transparently and openly instead of having private conversations.
- Interact in the same file during a meeting.
Level 3: New Communication
This is the most significant jump. At this level, the way to work is different from the office. The main idea is “going fully asynchronous.”
- Instant reply to chat messages is not required to keep working.
- Chat messages expire after 90 days.
- Instant messaging is kept for informal communication.
- Decisions are written and discussed in documents. Similar to Async Meetings.
Meetings still exist, but they are not the default way of making decisions.
Level 4: New Work
This is more of a vision or a “Nirvana” than a day-to-day set of practices.
“People build their work around their life, not the other way around.” Sahil Lavingia, Gumroad Founder
Structure the days to maximize health, happiness, and family instead of everything revolving around work.
A true “idea meritocracy.”
The best ideas, projects, and contributions make an impact by themselves, not by the person's role.
I’d say that going up the ladder doesn’t mean getting more productive per se. In the same way that there is no perfect company culture.
The level of remote must fit the people of the company. Everybody needs to feel comfortable with the new processes and skills required. For example, if people don’t feel comfortable writing, there is no point in moving up to Level 3, which demands more writing and reading on your own.
Find the level that fits the company culture and the team.
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