Making Remote Work: Best Practices from 18F

Making Remote Work: Best Practices from 18F

One of the best ways to learn about fostering a positive remote work environment is by learning from other teams and organizations to see what works for them. While every remote staff is different, utilizing tips and tricks from others is a great way to find out what works for you. 

Last month, 18F, a civic tech consultancy, released a blog post about how they make remote work successful for their employees living across the country. They take a unique spin on the term, renaming “remote” work as “distributed” work.

18F’s tips range from communication to navigating work hours– all of which are incredibly useful and important for workers, managers, and organizations. While each of their strategies resonates with us, one of our favorites is: “We make our work transparent to one another.”

18F states:

We’re committed to making all our work, discussions, and decisions available to everyone in the organization at all times. We do this by having:

  • Real-time chat (aka, virtual water cooler). 18F uses Slack to “hang out” virtually. This area is open all day for people to drop in and out as their schedule allows. The important thing is that everyone is invested in using it consistently, something that managers and team leads may need to continually reinforce. Everyone uses chat, even people in the office.
  • The Hub. This is where announcements, weekly team reports, and meeting summaries go so that everyone knows a little about what’s happening in the entire organization. Updates here are brief; as soon as it turns into something that the team doesn’t have time to read, it’s failed.
  • Cloud storage. 18F keeps shared documents in a shared space, all the time. We use GitHub and Google Apps for Government. Adding documents to folders that are pre-shared allows permissions to be set easily and quickly.
  • Documentation in GitHub and Slack. “We do a lot of chatting in Slack during the course of the day, but we also set aside a regular standup time where everybody summarizes what they did yesterday, today and what is blocking them,” says Jacob. “Currently, we do this by commenting on an image posted to the Slack channel so that all comments for that meeting are easier to find later, which sounds hackish, but it works better than trying another tool.

Interested in reading more about 18F and their distributed work tips? Click here!

QUESTION OF THE DAY: How do you keep your work transparent while working remotely?
Let us know down below in the comments!

How to Keep a Remote Staff Running Smoothly

How to Keep a Remote Staff Running Smoothly

We spend a lot of time here at Remote Justice covering how to be a productive remote worker– but today we’re going to shift our lens over to the managerial side of things. How can you keep a team running smoothly if there is no one physical place in which you and your employees all work together? This is one of the biggest concerns for many remote managers, but thankfully Entrepreneur.com released a list of “4 Ways to Keep the Team Working Together Without an Office.”

With lots of tips and tricks on creating a cohesive work environment (albeit not a physical environment) for your workers, this article shows that strategy can bind a team together just as much as a physical office space.

One of our favorite tips from the piece is #4: “Set overlapping hours.” In most remote work settings, workers have the freedom to choose their own hours. Are you a night owl? Sleep in and schedule time to finish that report in the evening. Do you get your best work done in the morning? Wake up at 4 AM and get started an hour later! While choosing working hours is a major plus side to remote work, it’s also important to schedule at least a few hours in which the staff are all remotely working. That way, you can tackle projects in real time and include everyone on conference calls and Skype meetings!

Interested in reading the full article? Check it out here!

The Ten Commandments of Remote Work

Ten Commandments of Remote Work

Even though remote work culture has been increasingly prevalent in the past few years, it can still be tricky to navigate a workplace that does not subsist in a face-to-face office environment. Thankfully, the wonderful people over at Weekdone.com have created this incredible resource for remote workers, managers, and organizations alike: The Ten Commandments of Remote Work!

From “Thou Shalt Embrace Technology” to “Thou Shalt Provide Feedback,” each of these tricks and tips are vital in creating a productive and communicative remote work environment.

One of our favorites here at Provide is “#9: Thou Shalt Build Trust”:

Always remember that there is a breathing human being on the other side of virtual conversation. Do not exclude anyone from important information. Share details about what is happening in the company, keep others informed and engaged.

The best way to create a true sense of team spirit is to schedule regular get-togethers in person. Enjoy some bonding time and talk about something other than work for once. It also feels very good to finally put a face to the name.

Do you integrate any of these commandments into your own remote work? Do you have any tips that could be added to the list? Let us know in the comments!

The High Cost of Multitasking

The High Cost of Multitasking

Multitasking can be a challenge in any professional setting, but is especially prevalent for remote workers. When you’re working from home! Not only is it easy to attempt to multitask work projects, but it’s also fairly simple to slip into the mindset of, “Oh, I can answer these emails while walking the dog/doing dishes/etc.!”

In this wonderful article from the Huffington Post and infographic from Fuze, the costs (mentally and fiscally) are laid out.

The High Cost of Multitasking

by kikikarpus. Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

5 Ways to Make Working Remotely Actually Work

In this fantastic Fast Company article, Carson Tate gives a run-down of five major tips to being a successful remote worker.

“In some places, telecommuting is already at the heart of the employee experience. About 43% of Aetna’s employees take part in work-at-home and other virtual arrangements, which the health care company has allowed for the past two decades. The software company GitHub boasts a fully distributed workforce of over 260 people working across the globe.

Those and other organizations see telecommuting as a great way for employees to keep a healthy work-life balance. But that flexibility can also create a few new challenges. Here are five strategies for working effectively while you’re telecommuting.”

To read the entire article, click here.

3 Tips to Create a Productive Remote Workspace

3 Tips to Create a Productive Home Workspace

While we do have an office here at Provide, most of our work takes place outside of it– in coffee shops in Kentucky, on the road in Alabama, from a home office in rural upstate New York. Many of our posts detail strategies for successful and efficient remote work in any location, but today, we are going to focus on the quintessential home office.

Remote workers spend the majority of their on-the-job hours in their home offices, so it is important to create this space to be both functional and visually appealing. But why is the visual nature of an office so important? Doesn’t it just need to be a space where  you can get your work done? It may surprise you, but these two things go hand-in-hand. In today’s post, we’ll be covering three important aspects of the remote workspace.

1. Layout
Unless you are strapped for space, it might be beneficial to step away from the traditional cubicle-style workspace. More expansive designs can feel less restrictive to many workers, enabling them to have a more productive space to come up with new ideas.

Home Office Layout

A great example of a non-cubicle remote workspace from Glodnuts Ventures.

2. Decorations 
In the first study on the effects of décor on  productivity, researchers found that factory workers were more productive in brightly-colored workspaces rather than dark, colorless ones. When you are surrounded by things that make you happy and inspired, of course you will find yourself working more efficiently and enthusiastically. The workspace should be a place that you feel comfortable and enjoy being in!

Sarah Cannady, our North Carolina State Coordinator, framed images and words that inspire her for her home office.

Sarah Cannady, our North Carolina State Coordinator, framed images and words that inspire her for her home office.

3. Ergonomics
Spending long hours in an office has the potential to put a strain on your physical health if you do not take ergonomics into consideration. The Mayo Clinic has some great advice on how to set up your workspace for optimum comfort and physical wellness.

Your workspace has an impact on your physical wellness, too! For a closer look at this diagram, check out Nismat.

Your workspace has an impact on your physical wellness, too! For a closer look at this diagram, check out Nismat.

We hope that these tips help you create your ideal home office space! Remember that there is not a universally “perfect” workspace. Each worker is different and will thus be more productive in different kinds of spaces!

The ULTIMATE Guide to Remote Work

Ultimate Guide to Remote Work Remote work can be challenging for both workers and managers at times, but it often produces fulfilling and impressive results. One of the best ways to learn about remote work is by taking a look at other organizations. We recently discovered a fantastic guide put out by Zapier that covers their 4 years of remote work experience and summarizes what it takes to successfully run a remote staff.

Check it out HERE and let us know what you think!

Becoming a “Road Warrior”

Headshot of Camilla Eubanks, Regional Director
The final in the Provide in Profile interview series, Camilla Eubanks, Regional Director, talks about the cultural competency needed for the work we do at Provide. She also talks about incorporating the desire to connect with people into remote work! We learned a lot from what Camilla had to say and we hope you will too!

Remote Work and Social Change Webinar

A screenshot of the section of Remote Justice that reads "For workers, For managers, For organizations"
We’re excited to announce that we will be hosting a webinar on May 12th from 1-2 pm Eastern: “Provide‘s Remote Work and Social Change Webinar”!

Remote work creates opportunities for non-profits in the social justice world. Provide will share insights for workers, managers, and organizations on how we’ve implemented these opportunities. Our Executive Director, Senior Director of Programs, and a Field Team Member will speak to the ways we create a remote work culture, share the tools we use to successfully work remotely, and explain what we get from working remotely that we couldn’t get from working out of the office.

Speakers:
Melanie Zurek, Executive Director at Provide
Wyndi Anderson, Senior Director of Programs at Provide
Bree Pearsall, Kentucky Field Coordinator at Provide

Register now to attend! We hope to see you there!

Supporting Remote Work on an Organizational Level

Melanie Zurek and her daughter hug while sailing on a boat.

Third in the Provide in Profile series, Executive Director Melanie Zurek shares some insights about remote work and the intentionality of communication that it requires. Our experiences at Provide have shown us that remote work is unlikely to be successful if that intentionality, as well as those moments of reflection, are not supported from the top down. Check out this interview with Melanie to learn more about how we implement this behavior into our daily work!