Sync/real-time communication is not needed for all the processes in a remote team, and you should go async by default and only use sync for cases where you _really_ have to get together. This is how companies Gitlab  have really become successful in doing remote work.
A remote team can be successful by using async/non-real-time communication, especially when you're pairing it with an async platform like Standups which is built from the ground up to support the async comm style. I wrote a blog article about how async is determinant to make remote work "work" within your team/org .
Often synchronous communication is applied by managers because they lost control of their team and now try to monitor them closer so they don't step out of line.
It's like working overtime to compensate for bad planning or dropping home-office work all together because the company does bad.
I'm not saying 1:1 video isn't needed for some situations, but every day and even every week is often overkill. The best projects I had only required 1:1 videos every few months, most of them even only at the beginning.
The other strange thing you hear a lot is that any attempt to get people to be on-site or on-video (basically anything other than fully async, text only) is attributed to control-freak tendencies by terrible managers. Again going back to my above point and the fact that so many people here agree that video is better for them, I wish we could dispense with speculatively attributing motives so negatively and give people the benefit of the doubt that, right or wrong, they hold their POV because it is what they actually believe is best.
Guess, I'm seeing it like that, because I worked with control freaks.
I get that some people--perhaps especially engineers--would rather just be left in their cave to communicate asynchronously if and when they want to. But I don't blame managers/leaders for considering that a suboptimal practice taken to an extreme.
Personally, I mostly work fairly independently on a day-to-day basis but I also work with both formal and informal broader teams and it definitely helps to know the people I work with as something other than a nickname on chat.
You end up getting rid of meetings — people gathering in real-time :)
It is honestly so refreshing. I feel like I have teammates (not just text in Slack/Email). I feel like I understand who they are and how they communicate.
@samanthalee233 That's great! I tried to log in to suggest the change, but it did not work with my normal Gitlab account.
Some folks aren't wired for the self-discipline or don't enjoy the isolation of remote work. They thrive in an office where they can interact face to face with their co-workers and have their manager looking over their shoulder. And that's fine. There's nothing wrong with that. But don't hire them for your remote-only business and expect them to be happy and productive.
At my current job there is a trend to more and more planning, prioritizing and scheduling. I understand there is a need for that but personally I perform best if I get a big goal and can figure it out for myself.
I believe that lots of synchronous video communication is key here.
Personally, I’m quite socially awkward and tend to avoid people, but being isolated still depresses me.
I don't look to annoy others at work, I just don't like to be at home (unless I really need to focus on something, which can happen).
The main two that helps me with that are to ride my bicycle at least twice per week and to play Jazz jam sessions on a pub nearby.
also... wife + kids + regular family time... all that helps a lot! =)
People want offices so they won't be socially isolated. You might not, but others do. Also sync video talking can often be faster than chat, and issues that are controversial are usually resolved a lot better in a meeting. I once had something that took 2 weeks of unproductive back and forth with a team half way around the globe resolved with 20 minutes of a video meeting.
The point about forcing everyone to be remote is great if you can make it work, but it will eliminate a lot of employees who can't work remotely. I know remote work is a hot topic, but in my experience only a small fraction of employees can be very effective in remote-only roles.
If your company can't be all-remote, it's critical to invest in proper processes and culture to keep everyone included. Quashing in-office politics, breaking knowledge silos, and mandating centralized documentation of decisions is key.
It's both effectiveness and preferences. I was just having this conversation a couple of days ago with someone whose company location is basically out of space. I asked why more people don't just work remotely. (Many already do; the company is generally remote friendly.)
His response was basically that there are a lot of employees, especially younger ones, who would probably up and quit if they were told they had to work out of their homes. Most of the people who haven't already gone remote either have to be in the same office or want to for whatever reason; this is in an area where housing is fairly reasonable and commutes are fairly modest.
Leaving aside that I started work at a time when communication tools were much more limiting than today, I still can't really imagine working from my apartment during the early years of my career.
Among the remote-only companies that I've been in, I've never seen the remote-culture as being in any way problematic. (Quite the contrary. They were usually better at communicating).
The thing is that, in many cases, there is no "all-onsite" especially for larger organizations.
Your field people (sales, system engineers, etc.) are going to be wherever your customers are.
Acquire a company in a different city? If you force everyone to move, you're probably going to lose a lot of the value of that company?
Work with open source software? Many of the upstream developers are going to be scattered all over the world in any case.
And as soon as you're in multiple locations even within a given city, you're really not much different from being in two separate cities at that point.
Certainly, there are challenges. But I'm in a very mixed environment, which I think generally works pretty well.
To be honest, the situations where I have personal experience are mostly more senior teams where everyone is doing a lot of travel anyway, a decent percentage are fully remote and the rest are often only in the office a few days a week. And everyone is doing as much communication (if not more) with other teams and people outside the organization as they are internally anyway.
You're probably coming out of an environment where you spent lots of time with lots of different people. Played sports with them, partied with them, studied with them, etc. Now you're going to spend your days in a possibly cramped apartment communicating over chat.
You're less likely to have the discipline or the experience to work on your own.
You may not have much of a separate social group where you're now living.
Obviously, everyone is a bit different. But I know I'm pretty happy to sit at home these days. I'm sure I would have hated it when I was starting out--and wouldn't have been nearly as effective.
Just to name one thing; meetings that start 5-10 minutes late. For them it's normal, because they're in the room, or walking to the room, or at least aware as to why a meeting is starting late. To me, it's 15 minutes wasted, and there's no communication what's going on.
We're getting better at it tho; or at least, I've lowered my expectations of them. I know that I will be left out of meetings frequently, I know that every meeting will start 5-10 minutes late.
That said, I love working remotely, although I would prefer to find a team that's used to it.
Why you don't just... log on Zoom on the correct time and leave it running while you do actual work on another screen/monitor/window?
Eventually they will get to their senses and stop being late.
Like I said, for them it’s natural, they know what’s going on, if they don’t communicate that, I don’t know.
My team (DevOps) have a git repository where we put all our docs, post-mortems, etc...
Other teams uses Confluence, some uses GoogleDocs... etc...
This kind of virtual office would not help as much, of course, in cases of highly distributed teams split across continents. Even then though, it would be cool to drop into someone's virtual office and leave a note on virtual post it or whiteboard.
A friend of mine lived in Boulder for a long time so I asked her to take me on a tour through the area's where she lived (Wander), basically you morph through a series of 360 photos like in streetview and you don't have full body tracking, but "you are there with someone, 'cycling' around". It beats narrating pictures.
I made a VR app so I can practice my vajra dance, a spiritual practice, on a huge mandala and meditate and doing tai-chi on a mountain top. I work solo or together with a cooperative game contained in Tabletop Simulator (Robinson Crusoe, Spirit Island, Codenames Duet), manipulating the various tiles with my Oculus Touch controllers. Experimenting with memory palaces in relation to internal psychological concepts and states as well as tuning into a virtual dance floor while DJ-ing are next on my 'play' list.
As a first step, work on weaning yourself off of synchronous communication wherever possible. Limit your synchronous communication to only the minimum necessary to operate efficiently.
Create a routine of sending of ultra-concise weekly updates to the team. Your goal should be to produce reports that the teams actually enjoy reading. People should walk away from the reports feeling like they know what they need to know, what's expected of them for the week, when it's expected, and who to contact if any exceptions come up. The goal is no surprises, no hidden expectations, and visibility into the team goals. If people have to synchronously talk to you or wait for a specific meeting, work on improving the weekly update.
Fill in the gaps with daily updates for any relevant changes. Work on collecting updates, summarizing, and sharing them at the same time every day for predictability. Don't get in the habit of pinging everyone every time you have a question. People will hate the constant distractions.
Finally, carve out time for predictable, synchronous weekly meetings. Make it predictable, at the same time every week. Resist the urge to schedule spontaneous phone calls every time something comes up. Practice excellent meeting discipline, with an agenda shared ahead of time, careful attention on managing off-topic discussions, and so on.
On the other hand, if your organization is not remote to begin with, and most of the staff is in an office, a remote PM most likely would not be able to work out in such an org.
The other 10% of those could simply be phone calls or screen shares.
Writing things down and having documented (and followed) processes is good! And helps with onboarding as your knowledge-base grows, and (in my experience) costs a lot less that not everybody being around the watercooler when "that" conversation happened.
I function a bit more as a communication hub than I used to in previous non-remote roles, and I put much more stuff in writing than I used to.
Remote work forces you to be way better with knowledge management, but honestly it clearly is just a best practice for any time that's big or about to grow.