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Working remotely

Remote team leaders answering questions about their daily life in a remote team regarding communication, tools and more. They also share tips for companies planning to start working remotely.

Why remote?

Remote company managers are talking about why they are running a remote team and how did they start. They also share ideas about what are the biggest benefits of remote work and why it's here to stay.

Hiring remote

Remote team leaders about building a remote team and how are they hiring for remote jobs in their company. They also share tips about how to stand out when applying for remote jobs.

Managing remote

Practical tips from remote companies about managing a remote team – how to measure productivity, where to work from and about planning company retreats to bring the remote team together.

Working remotely

Remote team leaders answering questions about their daily life in a remote team regarding communication, tools and more. They also share tips for companies planning to start working remotely.

How do you communicate in your remote team?

Remote work is what led to the development of our publicly viewable handbook, which captures everything you'd need to know about the company. That's where we keep a list of our best practices for communication within our team: https://about.gitlab.com/handbook/communication/ Making social connections with coworkers is important to building trust within any organization, but especially when your team is remote. We're intentional about designing informal communication at GitLab: https://about.gitlab.com/company/culture/all-remote/informal-communication/
We communicate via emails, Mattermost, and Zoom for video calls.
Our main synchronous communication channel are video calls, where we discuss project and company related topics. For FYI topics we use Slack to post our status, share company news, new tech stuff and other fun things with each other. That’s a fun environment to work in, it’s good for the team spirit, for building a remote company culture and it gives us a feeling of belonging. But to produce great quality code, developers need time slots where they can dive deep into a problem and get lost in the task at hand. That’s a challenge for a software development agency like us with many different projects and clients who want us to respond quickly to their requests. Our policy is that people need to reply to a message aimed at their personal handle within 2 hours. It’s enough to say: On it, getting back to you in the afternoon/tomorrow/etc. That way we ensure our team members get deep work done and keep in touch with their teammates.

How do you handle different time zone challenges?

The main challenges are time zones and cultures. You need to make sure projects run smoothly and that nobody is stuck waiting for someone’s reply in order to do their part. Different cultures can interpret a comment, a tone of voice, or even a joke in a different way than the intended one. Luckily in our organization, we all have a good relationship with one another, so things are not misinterpreted.
We work asynchronously, so most of the time time zones don't really pose much of a challenge. Only when we need to have a video conference do we coordinate schedules to arrange a time to meet.
We have a common 2 hours core team 3 days per week

What are your most used tools in your remote team?

Our most-used tools include the GitLab tool, Slack, Zoom, and G-Suite products.
We use YouTrack for all our project management, and we also use Mattermost channels for things that may need immediate attention, and daily and weekly meetings with the whole team happen via Zoom, sometimes meetings may need to involve people from other teams.
We use Twist for team communication and Todoist for task/project management.

What's your advice for companies planning to go remote?

As we've grown, we've learned a lot about how to collaborate effectively and strengthen our culture, all while working remote. We're sharing what we've learned to help other companies embrace remote work as well: https://about.gitlab.com/company/culture/all-remote/tips/
I’d say it’s the best opportunity a company can have to work with talented people from all over the world—you’re not limited to post and hire people locally. If your positions are open to the world, then the sky’s the limit.
If you haven't already, develop a strong set of core values and use them as a foundation to develop your remote culture. From there develop practices and choose tools that will help you stay connected and productive.

How did you came up with a remote work policy?

It was built on the go from day one as we were born remote.

What challenges have you encountered building a remote team?

The main challenges are time zones and cultures. You need to make sure projects run smoothly and that nobody is stuck waiting for someone’s reply in order to do their part. Different cultures can interpret a comment, a tone of voice, or even a joke in a different way than the intended one. Luckily in our organisation we all have a good relationship with one another, so things are not misinterpreted.