More and more companies are hiring their first remote team members and leading remote companies are open and friendly about sharing their experiences with them. There are services available to help your company to start working remotely.

More and more companies are starting to realize the benefits remote work brings and are considering hiring their first remote team members.

A lot of companies are already working remotely from the office

Communication between team members is often already happening in a virtual office even if people are sitting in the physical office.

Sometimes team members might be sitting next to each other, but still communicate through text messages or on a chat channel so as not to disturb others workflow. This way they can work through the messages when they have the time.

If your company is already mostly communicating virtually, switching to remote can be quite easy. You just stop coming to the office!

This is exactly what Marketgoo did – they started building their do-it-yourself SEO tool in the office and have been gradually moving remote. First, the marketing manager and then the whole development team started working remotely. When there were no people left in the office, they did the only reasonable thing – closed the office for good!

“Co-working spaces, coffee shops (our biz dev guy is a regular at Tim Horton’s!), working from the beach, home office, etc” answered Marketgoo’s marketing manager Larissa when I asked her about where their team mostly work from now that they don’t have an office anymore.

Marketgoo CEO shares some great feedback on how he feels about going fully remote:

“4 months after closing the office and I don’t miss it at all! I am way more productive when working on the go. Before, I was tied to do big stuff only at the desk. I adapt much better now to any situation or venue. Only con is that I feel like a hermit sometimes”

Feeling like a hermit is quite common as loneliness has been reported as one of the biggest struggles that comes with remote work.

Advice from remote companies

Remote companies who are the frontrunners of the change to remote work are usually very open and friendly about sharing their experiences.

Some leading remote companies have shared their advice on RemoteHub for companies planning to start working remotely.

GitLab, who is currently #1 most distributed team on RemoteHub with more than 250 cities across 51 countries and 60 time zones, says they have learned a lot about how to collaborate effectively and strengthen their culture while growing their remote team.

One of the leading remote companies Doist puts the emphasis on building a strong set of core values and uses them as a foundation to develop their remote culture.

They also recommend on choosing tools that will help your remote team stay connected and productive.

Doist is well-known in the remote circle by sharing their experiences as a team working remotely from 25 countries and building productivity tools like Todoist and Twist that are widely used by other remote companies.

As people are working from different places and often on different schedules, it’s even more important to be responsible for your work.

“First, we make sure people can and do take ownership of their work,” says Teamweek – a tool to plan your project timeline by a distributed company working across 10 countries.

They also emphasise the importance of honest communication and open discussions by expecting team members to share their plans, successes and failures, but they also keep the culture fun by sharing memes.

Services to help you build a remote team

As remote work becomes more and more popular, it is now possible to get some professional help to build a successful remote team.

Remote-how helps to get the most out of remote work by training the teams to work remotely. They’ve built a 6-week online program where industry-leading experts teach about how to build and lead effective distributed teams. There’s also a real live conference to help you build and scale a remote team.

If you’d like to meet some remote team leaders in person, there’s Running Remote conference that helps you to build and scale a remote team. The conference is packed with speakers from leading remote companies. They started the conference in “remote work paradise”, Bali in 2018 and their next conference is taking place in Austin, TX in the spring of 2019.

Start slowly

It probably might not be a good idea to close your office next Monday to have everyone working from wherever and see what happens. But if your company is working in a field where people are doing their most of their jobs on laptops and phones and you’re interested in flexibility and benefits remote work offers, you can gradually start converting your company to remote.

For a start, try to introduce a few days a week where your team works from home and gradually move to have more and more remote days over time.


Our friends at Miro — a visual collaboration platform — are experts when it comes to managing distributed teams. Today the Miro team shares five high-impact processes to improve collaboration and communication when it comes to distributed or remote UX designers.

Leading tech companies are the first to test out innovative methods of work, so it’s no surprise that they’re also beginning to be more distributed. This approach allows them to attract the best talent worldwide while reducing costs.

However, being distributed can create new challenges, especially for UX design and research teams who often rely on rituals and methods that are hard to replicate online — i.e. customer journey mapping and clustering research findings on a whiteboard to syncing with product and development teams.

To help UX designers overcome communication barriers that arise from working within a distributed team, we’re digging deep into how other leading tech companies are solving these problems and making it work.

1. Empathize with your teammates to build trust

A big part of achieving alignment on a remote team is thinking about how different cultures work, and encouraging teammates to ask questions and be proactive communicators. Supporting your team and understanding their communication style will help keep everyone on the same page.

A good way to find out what works best for each individual is to ask the team to create personal manifestos. Each person outlines their preferred communication tools, ways to give and receive feedback, and even pet peeves. This simple exercise can encourage everyone to be more open and vulnerable, and gives teammates some context for understanding each other.

Erin Casali, Design Principal at Automattic:

“Certain country cultures create different expectations, and certain languages, when translated to English, might subtly change the tone. In some cultures, discussions tend to be very dry and factual; short sentences, sharp language, no acknowledgment of context beyond the specific answer. For someone who comes from a different culture, this can be read as very distant, detached, even rude or impolite; but it’s just a cultural difference.”

2. Create rituals & establish a source of truth

Distributed teams don’t have the opportunity to share quick updates by a watercooler or during lunch. And if they work in different timezones, it’s generally harder to sync and react quickly if there are any blockers. Distributed teams are more prone to working in silos and struggling with miscommunication because some real-life conversations can naturally happen in different hubs. However, it’s hard to communicate the outcomes of these conversations to people in different locations. Establish regular rituals for the whole team to share updates, insights, and concerns and document anything that happens at the meeting or even outside of it when it affects the whole team.

Prianka Rayamajhi, Lead Product Designer at Pinterest:

“We have our regular rituals like grooming sessions and retros. Also, having a source of truth or a living history of its accomplishments is vital for a team. Having some sort of outline of your team’s process is really going to give your team purpose. I think it’s important to start mapping out those sorts of processes.”

3. Protect your time from empty, actionless meetings

It’s okay to leave a meeting if you don’t know why you’re there within the first five minutes. Another best practice is agreeing that all the meeting hosts must have an agenda when they are sending invites — that way, everyone has a chance to prepare for the meeting and spend time efficiently. Some meetings are hard or impossible to eliminate, so another good tactic is to block time on your calendar for focused work — alone or together with your team.

Ben Holland-Arlen, Senior UX Designer at BOLD:

“I’m sure many people have this calendar problem where their life is in 30-minute chunks all day long, with a 30-minute lunch. If me and my team are all working on the same problem, wherever we are – we’ll turn on the camera, have a quick discussion for 20-30 minutes, then keep the camera on for a few hours while we’re working. It’s been amazing because it feels a lot more like when you’re working side by side. It’s so powerful and so simple.”

4. Mimic the in-person collaborative experience

A lot of people working within distributed teams experience a fear of missing out. They wish they had a mentor or a friendly chat with a teammate who is remote or located in another hub. It’s harder for distributed teams to bond, cheer each other on, or learn from each other, so setting some time for mentorship calls, ‘Friday wins’ meetings, our even virtual happy hours can be a good idea.

Summer Kim, Head of Research at WhatsApp:

“It is important to have local leadership for your team in the remote office. And also encourage and help people to find great mentors (it could be more than one or two) in the local office as well as the headquarters. I’ve had many mentors, coaches, and advisors throughout my career, and I think it is particularly important for those who are working from remote offices.”

Exchanging tools, techniques, and insights is critical for improving any team’s productivity, but it’s especially important to be proactive about it in distributed teams. In general, it’s hard for information to travel across several hubs and timezones.

When you’re having one of your team rituals, make sure key insights are recorded in a central hub that every team member can refer to synchronously or asynchronously. Encourage comments and questions. Capturing the conversations that happen in remote meetings is key to keeping everyone aligned and moving forward as one team.

Jessica Drizin, Senior UX Researcher at Upwork:

“A lot of our job is empowering the design and product teams to conduct their research. We started implementing a weekly research review, which is open to researchers and non-researchers, so designers and product managers that want to take more ownership of their research can join in. We listen to what problems they’re working on, any methodology that they propose, and we offer advice around the best methodology, or even if research is warranted at that stage.”


At the end of the day, you can’t avoid the challenges that arise from working within a distributed team. However, you can lean on the tactics that other successful companies use regularly to make collaboration work effectively for them. Of course, don’t shy away from tweaking these processes as needed, and make an effort to customize them so they work for your specific team. Good luck and happy collaborating!

Ready to level up your remote collaboration and better connect your product teams? Join us and the fine folks from Slack, Atlassian, LinkedIn, Dribbble, and more at Distributed 2019, a free virtual summit for product teams, hosted by Miro.

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