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Building Winning Remote Policies: Lessons from Remote.com 

Let yourself inspired by Remote.com's successful remote policies.
remote policies
In this article

We kept writing in our eBooks and blog articles that communication is crucial when it comes to managing hybrid and remote work. The same goes for having the proper hybrid or remote policies in place. 

Now it’s time to dig deeper into the topic with a great example: Remote.com. 

Remote.com is a global HR platform that helps companies onboard new talent. 

What we admire a lot about Remote.com is the fact that it is built on a foundation of remote work and a people-first culture. And they’ve made all their processes transparent in a handbook available to everyone, with the purpose of inspiring other remote-first companies. 

So, in this article we’re going to dive into Remote’s policies and best practices, to guide you as well on the path of remote working. 

We truly believe that with the proper know-how and proper people, remote work can really “work”. 

Let’s start! 

Remote’s Values¬†

To define a proper work culture, all the teams need to be aligned across the company’s values.  

Remote emphasizes five core values that guide how employees interact with each other, customers, and the product: 

Care: This value goes beyond kindness and focuses on taking ownership of actions and decisions, with empathy for colleagues and customers. 

Ownership: Each Remoter is expected to be invested in the success of the company, taking initiative and driving solutions. 

Innovation: Remote values continuous improvement and embraces calculated risks to push boundaries and develop new ideas. 

Transparency: Open communication and clear information sharing are key to building trust and avoiding misunderstandings. 

Excellence: Remote strives for exceptional quality in everything they do, from building products to serving customers. 

They also detail specific examples and “Anti-Behaviors” to illustrate each value in action. 

Working Async at Remote 

“If we waited for syncs to decide or act, we would be too slow to be competitive. The answer is to avoid sync methods for most work and use asynchronous work methods instead.” 

In short, async work refers to the is work employees do at their own pace and order, not during a meeting 

Now, the folks at Remote.com got inspired by Toyota’s Production System 3Ms methodology when they defined their async work best practices. Below are the concepts: 

  • Prioritize Asynchronous Work:¬†By shifting towards asynchronous communication as the default, teams can focus on deep work for longer stretches. This fosters better resource allocation, minimizes wasted time, and ultimately optimizes overall output.¬†
  • Embrace Agility with Smaller Tasks:¬†Breaking down projects into smaller, focused tasks allows for faster delivery and quicker hypothesis testing. This leads to increased confidence in achieving successful outcomes.¬†
  • Focus and Clarity Through Documentation:¬†Asynchronous communication encourages clear, well-documented procedures and practices. This ensures everyone is on the same page and minimizes the need for real-time clarification, further enhancing focus and productivity.¬†

Source 

From time-to-time meetings will need to happen. Whenever there is a sync meeting, there should be relevant documentation, even if it is just a 1:1 call. Regardless of which format, meeting notes should at least include: 

Attendance – Who was there? 

Agenda – What was discussed? 

Actions – What actions/decisions were taken? 

Aftermath – Next steps? Is there a follow up meeting? 

A Culture of Documentation 

Documentation is being built in order for employees to “Search first, ask later”. Because Remote’s employees are working across multiple continents, with various time zones, and because Remote wants to reduce noise (any communication that interrupts a person‚Äôs personal flow and requires a response), all important information goes inside documentation.  The tool Remote uses is Notion. 

The types of documentation are presented below: 

So, Remote has documented processes, progress tracking, technical information about their product, information for customers, employees, and job candidates. 

There’s also clarity around the issues of updating the documentation, and the sharing of information. 

Async Communication 

remote policies - async communication

Source 

Remote’s communication practices were created to ensure a smooth and efficient workflow for their global, distributed team. 

Core Principles: 

  • Transparency:¬†Remote is striving for open communication and information sharing. This is why public channels are used, and everything is documented thoroughly.¬†
  • Asynchronous Communication:¬†asynchronous communication is the norm, and the most important tools supporting it are Slack and Notion. ¬†
  • Respect and Inclusivity: teams must maintain a respectful and inclusive environment. Be mindful of time zones, diverse backgrounds, and avoid using jargon.¬†

The folks at Remote have documented the way tasks are passed among employees. The process is called “The Warm Hand-off Protocol”. It works like this: a handoff isn’t complete until the receiving party acknowledges understanding and ownership of the task. If acknowledgement hasn’t been received, the original owner remains responsible for the task’s progress. 

To keep everything clear and consistent, Remote has defined Single Source of Truth (SSoT). There are a few SSoTs, depending on the data type and what team is using it: 

  • GitLab – product development: decisions, plans, summaries of discussion, etc.¬†
  • Notion – internal policies/procedures, country configuration information, team info, and routine notetaking.¬†
  • Asana – assigning and managing tasks and deliverables.¬†
  • Greenhouse – recruitment-related tasks, including process, notes, and offers.¬†
  • Salesforce – customer information, sales contacts, conversations and contracts.¬†

When it comes to communication, there are specific tools for specific tasks: 

  • Slack is a transient communication tool and it’s not treated as a source of truth. Data and other items mustn’t be stored there.¬†
  • Loom is used for recording short video tutorials or explainers. Loom links always need to be accompanied by documentation links.¬†
  • Zoom, Huddles, or Google Meet are the tools used for meetings, when face-to-face is needed.¬†
  • Figma is used for design related technical questions but not product related questions.¬†
  • Notion is the tool used to document every policy and process. It’s an index of all things¬†
  • GitLab is used for documentation on how to build things, task-oriented product decisions and discussions, technical task management¬†

People and Recruitment at Remote.com 

The folks at Remote.com are very transparent about their talent management approaches. Let’s dive a bit into some details: 

  1. Compensations, Rewards, and Benefits 

Remote.com is supposed not to agree to or encourage cheap-labor practices, and therefore they want to pay above in-location rate. 

Remote has built a Total Rewards Strategy built on fairness, equity, and unbiased decisions. This goes beyond just salary and benefits, encompassing the entire employee experience. Its main goals are the following: 

  • Attract and retain top talent globally, especially in areas with limited access to tech companies.¬†
  • Foster a diverse and inclusive workforce, recognizing all employees as central to success.¬†
  • Motivate and reward outstanding performance, with clear opportunities for career growth.¬†
  • Ensure employees stay engaged, customer-focused, and maintain a healthy work-life balance.¬†

This translates into: 

  • Fair and equitable compensation:¬†Objective pay setting based on market data and internal equity, with allowances and bonuses included in the gross salary.¬†
  • Drive high performance:¬†Programs that reward outstanding work and contributions.¬†
  • Career growth:¬†Clear paths for advancement regardless of background.¬†
  • Diversity & Inclusion:¬†A workplace that values everyone and promotes equal opportunities.¬†
  • Unbiased Recognition:¬†Regular reviews and a commitment to adapting the program to employee needs.¬†

Besides the salary, Remote.com has several benefits and perks available such as: unlimited personal time off, flexible working hours, paid parental leave, health benefits and other insurance, learning budget, IT equipment, home office setup, social engagement budget, coworking allowance, mental health support, death in service. 

They also have a reimbursement policy in place. 

 Remote also offers quarterly self-care days to encourage employee well-being. 

When it comes to sick leave, or paid leave, all the processes are clearly documented here

  1. Job Architecture and Leveling and Career Paths 

Job Architecture is a foundational organizational framework at Remote that plays a crucial role in structuring and managing various roles. It is designed based on the scope of roles, responsibilities, complexity, and impact. It ensures transparency and consistency in role requirements, performance expectations, and assessment criteria across the organization. 

Job Levels define roles’ scope, complexity, and impact within the organization, creating a clear framework and equitable expectations. Career Paths, on the other hand, are specific roadmaps that guide employees through their career growth within a specific team or department. 

Here’s an example of the job levels: 

remote policies - job architecture

Not all levels will exist in all departments, and this is not a company-wide career path. 

Remote.com has developed clear and transparent career paths across each department.  

  1. Onboarding Buddies 

Remote pairs new hires with experienced employees (“buddies”) to ease their transition. The buddy program fosters social connections, network building, and skill development. 

  1. DEI Initiatives 

As they champion equal access to employment opportunities worldwide, Remote recognizes the power of a diverse and inclusive team. They actively value differences and create a welcoming environment where everyone feels a sense of belonging, fostering a team that reflects the global landscape they aim to empower. 

Remote.com also has a DEIB Council that works with the People Department in order to build an inclusive work environment. They’ve also built a DEIB strategy and Remote Culture Connections (RCCs). RCCs are inclusive communities focused on uplifting and supporting everyone in the group. 

The Remote.com team has developed policies, procedures, and training to achieve its DEI goals. Below you have some examples: 

  • Inclusive language guidelines,¬†
  • Working across cultures training,¬†
  • DEI/RCC roadmap.¬†
  1. Hiring Remote Employees 

Remote.com has a clear FAQ to guide potential candidates through the interview process. 

They also have a list of tips and tricks for candidates on how to boost their LinkedIn profile and how to prepare for the interview. 

I love the fact that Remote.com created a video where their founder speaks about the company and its expectations.  

What’s also great is that the people team is conducting candidate experience surveys, because they believe transparency will help them achieve excellence in the way they hire. 

  1. Other Information 

Remote.com is also divulging info on: 

  • The Branding Guidelines.¬†
  • The Engineering Rulebook. In this rulebook they are focusing on 3 laws:¬†Make it work; If you really need to, make it beautiful; If you really really need to, make it fast.
  • The Remote Flow Methodology. Everything is covered here, from naming, to testing and risk. As a rule,¬†optimize for efficiency over predictability.¬†
  • Remote engineering career paths.¬†
  • Information security and best preactices.¬†
  • Product Handbook. Remote’s product handbook emphasizes a data-driven, collaborative approach to building high-quality products with a focus on user needs.¬†
  • The Design Manifesto. No matter the individual job titles are, Remote’s collaborative team of product designers, brand designers, UX writers, and UX researchers shares a set of principles that help them improve their craft and build solutions that create real value for their users.¬†
  • Remote product design career paths and framework.¬†
  • Legal and compliance matters: vendor selection, workplace privacy, anti-harassment policy.¬†

The remote work handbook also makes clear who’s in charge of what inside Remote.com, so that employees know who to talk to (if necessary).    

Conclusions 

Remote.com’s success in building a remote-first company is an inspiration for other companies that want to implement remote or hybrid work.  

Now, here are the main takeaways after analyzing Remote’s policies: 

  • Values-driven culture:¬†Remote emphasizes five core values (Care, Ownership, Innovation, Transparency, Excellence) that guide employee interactions and decision-making.¬†
  • Async work:¬†Remote prioritizes asynchronous communication (Slack, Notion) to empower employees to work at their own pace and optimize overall output.¬†
  • Documentation culture:¬†Extensive documentation (Notion) ensures everyone has access to information, minimizes disruptions, and fosters a “search first” approach.¬†
  • Transparency and communication:¬†Open communication and information sharing are central to Remote’s approach. They use public channels and well-documented processes.¬†
  • Respectful and inclusive environment:¬†Remote promotes a respectful and inclusive environment with clear guidelines for communication and collaboration across diverse backgrounds and time zones.¬†
  • Talent management:¬†Remote offers competitive compensation, benefits, and career development opportunities to attract and retain top talent globally.¬†
  • Onboarding and DEI initiatives:¬†A buddy program eases new hires’ transition, while DEIB efforts promote a diverse and inclusive workplace.¬†
  • Transparency in hiring:¬†Remote provides clear information about the interview process and company culture to potential candidates.¬†
  • Extensive knowledge sharing:¬†Remote publicly shares a wealth of information including handbooks, policies, and best practices across various departments (engineering, design, product) for the benefit of the remote work community.¬†

By prioritizing these aspects, Remote.com has built a remote policy that serves as a successful model for building a thriving remote-first company. 

Alina Belascu
Alina Belascu
Alina is a digital marketer with a passion for web design. When she’s not strategizing she’s doing photography, listening to podcasts on history and psychology, and playing with her 2 dogs and cat.