In the pre-pandemic world, when remote work was only a minority option, not very widespread and only allowed in a few cases, GitLab already had its entire workforce, made up of more than a thousand employees, working remotely from wherever they wanted and had created a management position to coordinate everything, the head of remote. Thanks to this, the different confinements did not affect in the least the operation of this company, which since last year not only develops collaborative software, it has also become a world reference of work all-remote.
For GitLab, the pillars of fully remote work are written and asynchronous communication, flexibility regarding established working hours and respect for personal life of workers, according to their Remote Manual, a guide in which they offer guidelines, advice and useful information on how to implement the all-remote modality in any company.
A new approach to meetings
One of the main reflections of this document is that in order to approach a new way of working, one must have an open mind and abandon the idea that the work dynamics that have worked so far are the only possible way. For example, in the GitLab Remote Manual gives a capital importance to written communication compared to oral, and not just because chats are used more in the distance: he recommends developing multi-faceted company guides, such as basic information for newcomers, setting agendas and meeting summaries or pages with frequently asked questions.
The objective of enhancing written communication, they explain from GitLab, is “Prevent toxic cycles of meetings that only serve to update” employees and allow anyone to ask questions without interrupting the work of others. In the North American company, the person who calls the meeting must draw up a document with the results and offer them to the other members, whether they have attended the appointment or not, so that everyone knows what has happened and understands how certain decisions have been made. . This also discourages calling unnecessary meetings.
The Remote Manual also points out that written communication allows asynchronous work, another of the great pillars of all-remote for GitLab, the use of translation tools for company members who speak other languages and that the brain can process information better.
Asynchronous and flexible work
Asynchronous work is another facet for which companies should keep an open mind, according to GitLab. Americans point out that in a company with employees distributed all over the planet it is counterproductive to pretend that everyone works the same hoursTherefore, those responsible for the organization and the teams must try to establish adequate means of communication so that they can carry out their tasks at the time that best suits them for their time zone without affecting the development of the project.
To do this, they point out that the adoption of written communication, with the writing of progress in a common document in the cloud, is a good tool, but not the only one. Too advise scheduling daily tasks so workers know exactly what to do no matter where they are, ensure that they know the monthly or quarterly objectives of the project and make all team members coincide for at least a few hours of their working day.
On the other hand, they also recommend that bosses are flexible with the schedule within established working hours, and not only depending on the place of residence of the employee. For example, they point out that there are people who work better in the afternoon and the employer should give them the option, if they so wish, to work at that time of the day.
One facet that GitLab also insists on is respecting the personal life of the remote employee. That is, working from home does not mean that you are available at any time. For this reason, they recommend that communication between the various members of the company always take place through formal channels, such as Teams or Slack, and that the worker does not install these professional applications on his mobile unless strictly necessary.
They also explain that doing that meetings are optional It offers flexibility to workers and makes us feel pressured if they cannot attend. A measure that will not prevent the employee from not knowing what was discussed in the appointment if the convener has drawn up a document with the results.
It is also important to GitLab that the appearance of family members or pets of colleagues in video calls is naturalized. Not on a regular or permanent basis, of course, but if they do make an appearance at some point, do not give it greater importance, because everyone must be aware that they are in family environments in which these things can happen.
For the rest, they point out that companies should try to promote healthy living values among their employees, with a special focus on mental health, with the incorporation of benefits such as free psychological sessions. And ensure that they have a suitable workspace, with comfortable and ergonomic chairs, screens at the correct height or footrests to avoid muscle aches.
Another aspect that stands out is that of maintaining or creating new links between workers. In a physical setting, personal relationships develop naturally with informal conversations about travel, movies, or sports between task and task, something that is lost when working in a distributed way. Therefore, GitLab notes that Meetings such as virtual cafes or happy hours in video calls to achieve that greater integration of the team remotely.
The transition to remote
For the transition phase from face-to-face to remote work, GitLab explains that the main thing is that the company form a team of remote work experts, who will be in charge of identifying the aspects that the company must address to complete a successful transformation and advise and help the rest of the workers with the change.
Then, you must create a manual with the key aspects of remote work in the company, so that employees have a clear reference where they can consult their doubts, create a communication plan that addresses how the distributed workers are going to communicate and simplify the use of teleworking tools as much as possible to facilitate your work: a single chat application, a single video calling platform and, if you need a VPN, that its instructions for use are clear and simple.