What does “remote first” mean to your organization?

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“Remote first” is more than just allowing your employees to work from home. In order to give your employees the same advantages when they work remotely instead of in the office, you may have to make changes in the way your company operates. Read on to learn about the remote-first style of working and how it affects your business.

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What is “remote first”?

It’s common for companies to have a mix of remote and in-office employees, but what a remote-first company does is make remote working the default for everything. They have a set of best practices that help their remote employees get equal access to the same decisions and opportunities as their in-office peers.

On a remote-first team, communication and collaboration happen online. You’re more likely to see your coworkers on a video call than in person. When there is a physical office space, it’s open for hanging out and the occasional in-person meeting, but it’s not the center of the business.

A good way to think about remote-first working is to compare it to a remote-friendly setup. A remote-friendly company allows employees to work from anywhere, but the majority of business happens in the office. Decisions are made in in-person meetings and coworkers can collaborate by chatting at each other’s desks. Remote workers miss out on all that. They rely on asynchronous communication to keep up with what’s happening in the office, but when that’s not the default, they remain a step behind.

One of the biggest changes for companies coming out of the pandemic is the shift to hybrid workplaces, where some people will return to the office and some will remain working from home. Adopting remote-first best practices helps level the playing field between in-office and remote workers and helps them work better together.

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How to be a remote-first business

The pandemic accelerated the trend of remote work and forced companies to adapt. Your company learned what it was like to operate remote first because, well, it had to. But as your office reopens and your company shifts to a hybrid model, be sure to continue using the same communication and collaboration methods so you don’t leave any remote workers behind.

Qualities of a remote-first organization

  1. The default for meetings is video conferencing

The biggest challenges for remote workers have historically been communication and visibility, so when you meet, make sure you’re giving them an equal platform with everyone else. Video meetings with the help of tools like Prezi Video are great because they put your in-office and remote workers in the same environment. It ensures that your discussions and decisions are inclusive.

On a related note, it’s good practice to schedule your meetings ahead of time. This gives people a chance to plan their day around their meetings, allowing them to take better advantage of one of the greatest work-from-home benefits – a flexible schedule.

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  1. Measure performance by output instead of time spent online

With flexible schedules and multiple time zones, you can’t just look to see who’s online at a given moment and know who your hard workers are. Instead, look at what each individual has worked on and achieved, and measure their performance based on that. You’ll have a better understanding of what your team can do and your team will appreciate their accomplishments being recognized.

  1. Embrace asynchronous communication

When it comes to collaborating with a hybrid team, you should rely on asynchronous methods of communication — those that don’t require people to be in the same place at the same time. Work asynchronously through channels like email, Slack, and other collaboration apps that everyone has equal access to.

When you need to have a meeting, make sure it’s recorded, so people who can’t attend can watch it later.

remote meeting
  1. Make sure decisions are made online and are easy to find

One of the benefits of asynchronous communication is that it creates a document that can be saved and searched for later. When you’re working on a project, keep the main discussion and key decisions in a public thread so everyone is informed.

  1. Adopt new collaboration tools

With your workplace shifting from the office to a distributed, virtual environment, you have the opportunity to rethink the tools your team uses to connect. Fortunately, there are a lot of tools out there that help people collaborate online. See our favorite collaboration tools for hybrid teams for a few suggestions.

Operating with a remote-first mindset is a great way to create equal opportunities for your hybrid team. Learn more workplace trends and find more advice from industry experts in our Video Gallery.

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