Welcome back to Part 2. We are sharing below the strategies adopted by GitLab to become a 100% remote company as posted by Linkedin.
We at CARROTS PH have adopted a 100% remote workforce culture and apply similar strategies. These strategies can be used by any company, big or small, as long as the leaders of the company would like to prepare its organization to effectively face the new normal of work and the unknown but crippling business risks facing us today.
Long-term: How to become a 100% remote company for the long haul
According to Sid Sijbrandij, GitLab’s cofounder and CEO, building a remote workforce has strategic benefits. Not only can you reduce overhead costs, but you can dramatically expand your talent pool, since you’ll no longer be limited by candidates’ physical proximity to your facilities. For Sid, though, the real benefit is the impact on your employees.
“It's great for the team member,” he says. “They save on commuting time, they get that time back, and most of all they get flexibility. If the kids are sick, you're already working from home. You're able to be there for them. And it shows up in retention. We have 85% retention, which is almost twice as good as the industry average.”
This was the topic of their latest Talent on Tap episode, which was filmed before the coronavirus outbreak. In it, Sid shares five steps he recommends taking to smooth the transition to a completely remote workforce:
1. Get leadership buy-in and ensure they lead by example
If your company is considering going remote, chances are you won’t go from zero to a hundred overnight. But if you’re planning to test the water and gradually phase out your physical locations, it’s essential to get employees on board early. And one of the best ways to do this is to encourage your leaders to kick-start your remote work program.
“If the leadership doesn't come to the office, people will mimic that,” Sid explains. “If you have the senior leadership in the same location every day, people are going to mimic that too.”
Make sure your leaders and managers understand the role they play in promoting top-down change. Simply telling employees that they’re allowed to work remotely may not be enough to break old habits and overcome anxieties around not being present. But when they see their leaders working from home or from a coffee shop, this can strongly signal permission in a way that makes employees feel comfortable following suit.
2. Boost transparency and communication across the organization
According to Buffer’s 2019 State of Remote Work report, communication and collaboration are among the biggest challenges of working remotely. Issues that would have been solved in minutes because your co-worker was in the same office floor can take days or weeks if someone isn’t looking at their email or has muted notifications.
“Because there are fewer informal communication channels,” Sid says, “you have to be more transparent as a company. You cannot assume that information will disseminate, so you communicate more than you'd normally do.”
Give your employees all the tools, like Google hangouts or Microsoft Teams, they need to stay connected.
3. Allow people to provide input but designate an empowered decision-maker
One benefit of a fully remote workforce is the ability to hire the best and the brightest from anywhere (in the cities or the provinces) to work on the same team and help solve the same problems for your company. But disparate teams can often span multiple locations and time zones, making it harder to consult everyone on a decision before pulling the trigger.
To prevent team productivity from slowing to a crawl while employees wait for their co-workers, GitLab designates one person on the team as the DRI — directly responsible individual. That person is encouraged to gather input from others, but ultimately, the final decision is theirs to make. They don’t have to convince anyone or explain their decision, they just have to act in the best interests of the company.
Gitlab combined the best things about a consensus culture (you get input from everyone) and a hierarchical culture (you can make a decision quickly).
To adopt a similar approach successfully, the DRI on your team must feel empowered to make decisions without facing negative repercussions. Senior leaders may need to reinforce this by recognizing and rewarding decisions by the DRI that resulted in failure.
4. Work in short, fast increments and iterate regularly
Another step GitLab takes to mitigate the challenges thrown up by time zones is to break projects into many smaller steps. This allows teams to work on something for a short period, send it for approval, then work on something else while they wait for feedback and insight from necessary stakeholders — rather than plowing ahead and potentially wasting their own time.
This approach can take a little getting used to, so be sure to clearly communicate the reasoning and benefits to your team. Look at ways to recognize and reward the efforts of your employees both success and failure as these are part of great workplace culture.
The world of work has changed in the last couple of weeks, and companies are navigating new challenges, one of which is how to adapt and manage remote work. Some organizations are offering limited work from home for the first time, while others are going for 100% remote for the first time. Nearly everyone, it seems, is embracing — or at least testing — the future of work.
Flexible and remote work arrangements are becoming increasingly important tools for attracting and retaining talent — and strategic levers with which companies can control costs and stay competitive.
So, if you’re not offering remote work options now, it’s a good time to consider them; if you’re offering them only until the coronavirus outbreak is brought under control, it’s time to consider making them permanent. Nevertheless, it helps to have processes in place and employees adjusted already to keep things on track.
Want to have a quick discussion on best practices for remote employees? Send us a note.