The Advantages of a Remote-First Culture in Today’s Global Tech Workforce

As we move forward, the job landscape is expected to rely heavily on computerisation. According to projections, the IT industry will surge by up to 50% by the year 2022. Despite this, the local talent pool falls short of meeting the sudden demand, with only 23,000 graduates in the United States earning a bachelor’s degree or higher in computer science by 2022; less than half of what is required to fulfill the industry’s needs for skilled professionals.

To remain competitive in today’s marketplace, businesses are having to explore beyond their usual hiring strategies to meet the rising demand for skilled technical personnel. In a survey, it was found that over half of software engineers (53%) highly value or value the option to work remotely while searching for a new job. This can be attributed to the presence of an increasing amount of digital nomads in the tech workforce, as well as the aim of startups and multinationals to expand globally. Consequently, some businesses such as Automattic have opted for virtual locations over physical ones.

During a recent convention in New York City, forward-thinking and visionary professionals from the software industry gathered to discuss the challenges and advantages of scaling and managing distributed teams. In this piece, we will examine the most pertinent takeaways from the said event.

Focus on Appropriate Office Etiquette and Equipment.

Clear definition of a “communications stack” is crucial for any business. With numerous vendors to select from, such as email, Loom, Slack, and Zoom, the main task is to establish policies and limitations on how these technologies may be utilised by the employees.

As a general guideline, here are some factors to contemplate when designing for remote or distributed communication:

  • What methods will we use?
  • Which communication methods are best suited for real-time collaboration as opposed to asynchronous tasks?
  • Where can I access the protocol for every channel?
  • Does company policy require the use of cameras in all video conferences?
  • When is it appropriate to have group email threads versus using Slack’s real-time messaging?
  • What are some methods we could use to incorporate our company’s communication values into the onboarding process for new employees?

At Automattic, the company responsible for, designers give great importance to sound. CEO Matt Mullenweg strongly advocates for an environment of collaboration and community, and considers unmuting microphones during teleconferences as vital to achieving this. To ensure high-quality audio, he mandates all employees to use USB headsets that he has personally tested, and advises investing in a Sennheiser model that typically costs around $45.

Present a Framework for Accountable Behaviour.

Skeptics often argue that remote work lacks the benefits of physical staff presence. However, it is crucial for managers and employees to maintain transparent communication and clear expectations regarding availability and accountability when working remotely from various locations and time zones. Failure to do so may result in missing out on the potential advantages of remote work.

Here are some subjects that can be addressed with remote workers, regardless of whether they are managers or contributors.

  • When do our schedules coincide and what do you expect from that?
  • What is the best way to create a consistent timetable for team or group calls that considers different time zones of all members?
  • To what extent can we depend on asynchronous communication to keep all members informed without fixed meetings?
  • What are the formal and informal venues where we can collaborate and build bonds with one another?

Strive to Enhance the Quality of Video Conferencing in Remote Work.

Enterprises like Invision and Automattic, which operate with a completely dispersed workforce, have the luxury of modifying the traditional workday to suit their requirements. Invision has 650 employees spanning across 25 countries, with the East Coast being their primary centre. Automattic has 750 employees in 65 countries, giving them 24/7 availability for customer service. Both companies place significant emphasis on in-person communication and hire employees with the intention of expanding their remote workforce.

Establish a set of guidelines that considers the following aspects when growing a remote team:

  • At what time do the majority of workers complete a full day’s work? Given dispersion of workers across different time zones, what degree of overlap can be realistically anticipated?
  • When assessing a candidate’s potential for success in a remote work environment, several factors should be taken into account. Vital traits to consider include the ability to work autonomously, excellent communication and interpersonal abilities, and the aptitude for resolving problems. Furthermore, a successful candidate should possess the required technical skills for the position and be able to adapt to continually changing remote work scenarios. Although experience working on a dispersed team might be advantageous, it should not be the sole deciding factor. Ultimately, the key is to select the individual who possesses the ideal blend of characteristics and qualities that make them the most suitable candidate for the job.

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