Before I began working entirely from home, I spent many years in organizations with “remote-friendly” policies, though I’m not sure I’d heard the term at the time.

If we needed flexibility for a doctor’s visit or to pick up a child from school, we were “allowed” to work from home before or after our appointment time with no official approval required.

In-person office policies were the norm. Policies, workflow, and communication practices were based on an assumption that we would be in the office, UNLESS we had pre-arranged to work remotely that day.

Remote-First Is An Emerging Trend

“Remote-first” is an emerging working model where organizations are offering remote work options for all employees. Sometimes a physical office is still used by some employees, while other times the entire workforce is remote.

What are some characteristics of a “remote-first” work culture?

In a remote-first culture, remote work is expected; it is the norm, rather than a convenient option or a way to deal with the pandemic. A remote-first organization provides the resources  technology, policies, and processes to allow all remote employees to feel included and valued.

It means that everyone, whether working remotely or working with others in an office, adheres to the same policies, uses the same tools, and follows the same processes. Everyone (even your manager) expects you to be working remotely. 

Tools and resources are provided to help employees make the most of their remote working environment (e.g., 2nd monitors, printers, webcams, software, etc.). Meetings are designed based on the premise that most, if not all, participants will be remote. Issues and problems are dealt with while everyone is remote; they are not put on hold until an in-person meeting can be scheduled. 

Employees could work from down the street or across the country, and operations are designed to fit the needs of the remote workforce.

Working remotely is the default work mode, not an exception or an occasional practice.

Why Have A Remote-First Culture?

Remote-first organizations typically adopt such a model in response to business and social impact goals, as well as to gain organizational and competitive advantages.

This isn’t only a reaction to the pandemic. Remote-first organizations existed prior to the pandemic.

In many cases, the general feeling is that there is no need to be in an office at all!  People want choice and flexibility in their working environments.

A remote-first workforce has the following benefits:

  • Cost savings for both the organization and its employees
  • Employee well-being and satisfaction
  • Capability to hire top-tier talent from all over the world
  • More flexibility
  • Increased productivity
  • Organization’s competitive advantage in hiring

Many well-known companies are remote-first:

  • Blackbaud
  • Buffer
  • Shopify
  • Zoom
  • Personify
  • Reddit
  • Flexjobs
  • Zapier
  • Stripe

How would you describe YOUR organization?

When considering your own organization’s culture, how would you characterize it on a scale of 1 (In-Person Only) to 6 (Remote-First)?  Or is it something else?

Spectrum Diagram - Scale 1 to 6

Consider how well the current situation is satisfying your and your teams’ needs. How well is it working for you?

Spectrum Diagram - Scale 1 to 6

If you’re not sure how to get started, let’s talk about how I can help!


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