On The 2020 State of Remote Work Survey (S01E04)
Updated: May 5
Buffer is a fully distributed organization of 85 people living and working in 15 countries around the world, as well as co-host of the MakeWorkWork podcast.
For the last few years, Buffer publishes a State of Remote Work Research report (https://lp.buffer.com/state-of-remote-work-2020). In this episode we explore the key insights and their meaning for the future of work.
Background on the research project and Buffer's own commitment to being fully remote
What respondents think about remote work
The main benefits and the top challenges of remote work
Why some people don’t recommend remote work
Recommendations for communicating asynchronously
How to make collaboration and communication flow better
Flexibility (of schedule and location) as well as not having to commute are the biggest benefit to remote work.
Remote workers in remote organizations (where everyone work from home) struggle mostly with loneliness and the inability to unplug, with challenges in collaboration being more common in organizations with a mix of remote and office workers.
Remote workers are largely happy to work from home, especially those who work at least three-quarters of their time at home. People who worked remotely more than 76% of the time were very happy with the amount of time they worked remotely versus people who worked up to 75% of the time - they wanted to work more. Those who worked less than 25% of the time working remotely were the most adamant ones that they really wanted to work remotely more often.
"The perfect scenario for people to be unhappy is if they are constantly working remotely, and most of the rest of their team is in an office or part of their team has an office and they feel excluded, or the communication channels aren't set up properly and the processes aren't in place."
If you have people in the office and other remotes, have everyone on their own laptop. This puts everyone on an equal footing. Everyone can see and hear and it's easy for everyone to raise their hand or speak up.
The unofficial motto at Buffer is "a remote worker can work wherever they feel happiest and most productive"
When Buffer had only a dozen employees, they had to make a decision: "Should we just move here and have an office?' Our CEO, Joel consulted with someone who said "you want to go fully either way: either have an office and everyone's in the office or not. (...) that that was quite spot on because then that way everyone is on an equal playing ground. Joel and and the rest of the team decided on fully remote. (...). We have been fully remote since then. We hire people wherever they live, regardless of country or time zone"
A study showed that for "commuters in Europe’s major cities say the journey to work is more likely to be stressful than their actual jobs". (source)
Activities that can help fostering a sense of togetherness: all hands online, photo sharing, random 1-1 with people in the organization;
Asynchronous (not in real-time) communication is key: not just for people in the same time zone who should be able to communicate whenever they want, but everyone should be able to communicate whenever they want, depending on their time zone. With videoconference and instant messaging, it's difficult to really get work done because you're expected to be responding to all day.
To make it work, employees myust share the whole message, a lot of context, and make sure that the person will be able to understand what is needed from them by the time they reply.
Buffe uses use asynchronous work and communication heavily because it works a lot better with everyone's time zones and it is more inclusive "because you're letting everyone have a voice instead of the loudest voice in a meeting or whoever might be online right now because of their time zone"
More workplace culture articles at https://open.buffer.com/
The MakeWorkWork podcast