We also use whiteboards while on calls pretty frequently, which wouldn't be possible if we were audio-only.
For instance, I talk about feedback from a team member for you...are you defensive? are you surprised? upset? It's hard to tell all that just from someone's voice or the silence on the other end of the phone line.
As for appearance, that really isn't that important:
1) Skype is now giving you the option to blur the background when on video, which hopefully becomes a common feature in the market
2) Zoom and Google both have "visual correction" which makes everyone look better on the call
3) Most important, as a manager I don't care if you look like a model or Gary Busey...it's just about reading your reactions and being able to create a connection. I'm sorry if you've had bad managers who treat that like an inquisition, but for good managers, those that care (and read 6,000 word essays so they get better) really benefit from this because they use it from a position of trying to help.
As for whiteboards, there are plenty of better tools than an actual physical whiteboard and in over half a decade of working remotely, I've never had to or had anyone else in the company use an actual physical, primitive whiteboard.
1. Extroverts need lots of interaction, etc. Introverts are more inclined to focus on their work. Naturally the latter are going to do a lot more comfortable with remote work and lower levels of interaction.
2. There are many talented people with disabilities who find it difficult to commute, etc. For them, working from an environment that is set up to accommodate them well, is far more productive.
3. There is the ever present danger of micro-managers. They are the ones that constantly interrupt and need to see people working under them to feel "useful".
4. Employing people is not always the best option. Consider sub-contracting, i.e. work is performed to agreed specifications, timeframes and costs.
5. Much of technical work is "Deep Work" (cf Cal Newport's book, etc) so reducing interruptions leads to greater productivity. I once worked in an office where the norm was to email co-workers 6 feet away so as to not interrupt their being in the flow.
6. Many multinational consulting firms have their staff work on client sites all week and then bring them back to their local office for Friday afternoon debrief and drinks. The managers travel around the different client sites to manage relationships with clients and check-in with their staff.
A good rule of thumb is no more than nine time zone span across the company. Anything more than that becomes unbearably difficult to manage.
> Your remote employees may experience severe loneliness
One way my fully remote team tries to solve this is that each meeting starts with each person getting a chance to talk about something not work related. It takes up time, but it's worth it. It can be anything, like a TV show they just saw, or asking for advice on how to fix their broken car.
Each one-on-one starts with asking what they did over the weekend or since the last one-on-one. If the answer I hear is "worked the whole weekend", I made a point of encouraging them to do something other than work. I also try to set a good example by always having something that I did that wasn't work.
> Thank you, Texas, for $2000 in late fees for a business tax I had no way of knowing even existed.
Yep, I feel that one. We got hit at one point with a $5,000 fine from the State of New York for not getting insurance that we didn't know we had to get. Luckily we were able to prove that it wasn't necessary since our employee in NY was a co-founder, and the rule didn't apply to business owners.
Why an upper limit of 9? What is that based on?
It's a rule of thumb, not a hard limit. If you have someone in a time zone 12 hours away who likes to work at odd hours all the time, then great, go for it!
I agree with the article that this category of work is likely to expand. Ideally I can get some remote-manager managing remote-employees experience under my belt. Then I would like to start my own business entirely with remote workers.
As a first timer one question I have is salary. Most recently I have been working in New York, and San Francisco before that. My perception of salary might be skewed by those bubbles. For that reason I'm not sure what my salary request should be. I have 15+ years development experience (most recently full-stack Java/Node.js/React) and 5+ years experience as team-lead/management.
A) If you're already in remote place X then they'll look up salary data on your area and offer to pay that amount or a small premium above it based on your title/experience level.
B) The most clever people I know will take a job in SF or NYC, get some wins under their belt so the company loves them, then say they need to move but would love to still work here. When that happens, the company usually would rather keep you than have to find a replacement, so they accept, and most importantly your salary is unchanged.
Both have serious risks:
With A) just check Twitter and you'll see that remote work job posts are getting hundreds of applications...so no guarantee you can find a job fast.
With B) the company may not go along with it, and then what?
I helped write the article...would love to hear the nuance, either as a comment here or you can DM me on Twitter @evanish to speak more on it.
– digital backpackers
– workation tourists
– digital staymads
– remote workers
Where I am a bit puzzled is that there are already hundred of thousands of people working in global companies where colleagues are already in different time zones, with different cultural norms, etc.
So apart from the loneliness aspect, I feel it is not that a novel idea, and feels like recycled content.
As someone who works remote, i would stress that some, if not all, go both ways. Personally, I try and adjust my work hours to my client’s, and where not possible, I make sure there at least a generous overlap, so that ignorance is reduced and communication and clarity increased. Same for cultural communication differences - i make sure i understand the other side and adapt to an organisation’s predominant style, to reduce frustration. From my experience as a remote office manager, i know communication is pretty much the root of all evil.