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Effective Remote Work James Stanier

For Yourself, Your Team, and Your Company

April 17, 2023 - 773 words - 4 mins Found a typo? Edit me
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An effective remote work environment is about treating everyone as remote, with everyone in mind having the same level, equality, and information.

Part 1 - Getting oriented for remote work

It covers the foundation for a possible remote work environment. It seems a bit common sense nowadays, especially after the covid hit, where we had no choice but to work remotely for more than a year. But I think it’s still good to see this foundational knowledge written to polish assumptions in the following chapters of the book.


  • A remote future: A brief history of the future. Lockdown. Remote is here to stay. Time to get set up.
  • Getting set up: The office: what we want and what we don’t. The basics, briefly. In the real world. Installing mental scaffolding. The golden rule.

Part 2 - Building effective remote teams

Most likely, we all had the experience of casual remote work (before remote work was even a trend) when we felt that we were apart from the team dynamics when we were doing remote work for some reason. This is precisely why “treat everyone as remote” is so important - when at least one person works remotely.

There are different ways to communicate depending on the urgency, intention, and how long and easy that message should be accessible. It’s about sync/async communication with our peers.

Highly related to the previous paragraph, the quality of our messages should be considered when aiming for effective communication. We need to consider the right tools. A phone call is different from a chat message or an email. Use the right tools for the right messages within the proper context.


  • Treat everyone as remote: Out of sight, out of mind. A principle for cultural change. Taking practical action. Let’s build a model!
  • The spectrum of synchronousness: Synchronousness. Permanence. Restoring your humanity. Onward to Hyrule.
  • The same but different: A normal day in the office. Through the magic mirror. Conquering the dark world. Let’s discover some artifacts.
  • Artifacts for a better future: Comparing artifacts. Written artifacts. Codebase and recorded artifacts. Getting on board with onboarding.
  • Onboarding and orientation: The contribution curve. The onboarding equation. And here’s the trick. Considering communication.
  • Effective communication techniques: Why humans communicate. Principles for better remote communication. Techniques to improve interactions. The right tools and when to use them. Turning inwards.
  • Managing yourself: An organizational bedrock. On being unobserved. Riding peaks and troughs. From yourself to teams.
  • Managing teams: The output equation revisited. Shrinking the scale factor. Supercharging the scale factor. Time to take it up a level.

Part 3 - Creating a world-class remote culture

Even though a fully remote company might not be possible for some reasons out of our control, if the company claims to be remote-friendly, there are some aspects that we can consider:

  1. Do you treat everyone as remote?
  2. Do you provide a remote work-space setup?
  3. Do you spend money equally on in-office and remote staff?
  4. Do you optimize for asynchronous communication?
  5. Do you create artifacts from synchronous interactions?
  6. Do you measure staff by their impact?
  7. Do you allow staff to choose flexible hours?
  8. Are the members of the executive team remote workers?
  9. Do you use the best collaborative tools that money can buy?
  10. Do you hire staff anywhere in the world?
  11. Do you support families as well as employees?
  12. Do you give back to an employee’s local community?

This is a “Joel Test version for a remote working environment”. The Joel Test originated in the year 2000, during the dot-com bubble; a test to rate the quality of teams with “yes/no” questions. If a team can answer each question wit a yes, they’re likely a productive team. Read more about the original Joel Test.


  • The remote working test: The joel test. Twelve questions about remote working. Making changes in your company. Something to guide us.
  • Creating a handbook: The GitLab handbook. Creating a handbook for your team. A handbook for the company. Fully making the shift.
  • Becoming fully remote: The spectrum of remoteness. The challenge of retrofitting fully remote culture. The triangle of transition. Learning from trailblazers. Now the difficult stuff.
  • The hard parts: Walking the curves. The physical and mental impact of working remotely. Supporting other remotely.
  • The path to equality is remote: Diversity and inclusion. Remote: The great leveler. This is just the beginning.

Book summary

300 pages