Like many people, the coronavirus pandemic forced my day job to take a full remote U-turn. I now finally Work From Home (WFH). "Finally", because I have been dying to be able to do so. I have been working half remotely for years and reading to countless books, browsing articles and listening to podcasts about 100% remote work. Finally, I can experiment it first hand and prove myself and others that:
- It is a viable option for businesses today
- We can strive together in this context
- I am good at it
The interesting twist is that as a technical agile coach, my company and my clients rely on me to help them find how to best work together. As such, I continue to drink from the fire-hose and inquire in the way companies work remotely around the world.
One cannot compare companies that have embraced WFH in the past and the coronavirus-forced-ones. The first ones were able to transition on their own terms, at their own pace. With the pandemic, most companies transitioned overnight, forcing their employees to juggle with pandemic-stress, partners and kids running around and freedom-limitations if not quarantines. This is not just WFH, it is WFH-during-a-pandemic, and this is very different.
Like I wrote in a previous article, there is much to learn from the companies that made the transition already. I am slowly making my way through the Holoway Remote Guide, and I just stumbled upon the Buffer 2019 state of remote work. This last survey is the purpose of this article. Here are the few things I took out of this survey.
A-bit-Remote vs Fully-Remote-Companies
Hybrid remote/non-remote setups are quite painful. It is hard to work remotely in a company where people are used to working in a collocated way. It leads to information asymmetry and it is hard to then make the remote-worker a first class citizens. My assumption is that after dipping their toes into remote work, remote companies drift toward more and more remote work.
Based on this report, there are already a lot of companies that reached the 100% status. Among the respondents, it is already 30%. But what about the others?
And this leaves me wondering how the other 70% are doing. If they are on a transition toward 100% remote work and thus validate my assumption, or if they are happy the way things are?
What is the biggest benefit to working remotely?
I found the following question very interesting:
All the answers hint toward flexibility: geographic flexibility and schedule flexibility i.e. to juggle multiples priorities (family, activities, biological rhythm, etc.) at the same time. This rings very true to my ears. And I believe most millennials will agree.
I am not sure how the survey was performed, but I am missing a possible response in there, something like "being more successful". When I talk to remote workers about their experience, schedule and geographic flexibility are always high in their list of benefits. But those are also invariably intertwined with the benefits of healthy-working-cultures and -ethos, leveraging the power of asynchronicity, striving as an introvert, etc.
I think this survey would have benefited greatly in going into this direction. The best thing is, the following question went a little bit in this direction, but from the negative side...
What's your biggest struggle?
Again, I don't know what the survey looked like and many possible answers hint at the two kinds of flexibility mentioned above. But I like that the ideas of "collaboration and/or communication" and "different timezones" appeared...
But where is the rest?
Ideas for the 2020 Survey
This survey only scratches the surface. In order to be really helpful, it should go way deeper. It should address some of the best-practices and the mindset and not just the highly-visible perks.
Here's a list of things I'd like to see in the report next year: communication channels, text over video, async vs sync, explicit vs implicit, multiple cultures, multiple timezones, empowerment and entrepreneurship, trust, transparency, tooling (or simplicity thereof), documentation, onboarding, management, etc.!
@Buffer: if you are reading this, I'm looking forward to your in depth 2020 survey 😁!