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Remote Work Models

Historically, most tech companies have worked under an HQ-Centric model - employees work in the office together and hold most meetings in person. Post-2020, most organizations are now considering a more remote-forward approach, allowing both in-office and remote work.

While the correct strategy will depend on your business and the preferences of candidates and employees, there are several models and best practices to keep in mind when designing your plan.

HQ-Centric/ Fully Co-Located

In this model, all team members work from a centralized HQ location. Co-located teams might have single offices spread across multiple locations, but all employees are required to come into a central office within their respective geo.


Hybrid organizations support a blend of in-office and remote work. In addition to employee choice around work location, companies typically allow employees the flexibility to set their own schedules so long as they complete their job responsibilities. Hybrid companies allow employees to choose where and when they work best and set their schedules accordingly.

Fully Distributed

In this model, the company has no physical office space; all employees work independently from the location of their choosing. Without a centralized headquarters, teams can hire remote talent from across the world.

“Remote-First” vs. “Remote-Friendly”

With many companies moving to a hybrid model, it’s important to define the level of flexibility you will offer employees. Will they be able to determine their work schedule and location or are more structured guidelines needed? A key question to ask is, “will the majority of decision-making and leadership activity occur in the office or remotely?” If much of the decision-making work will be done remotely, a remote-first model might make sense. Otherwise, it might make sense to set some ground rules for the number of days an employee should expect to be in the office.

  • If you are “remote-friendly,"  the in-office experience is still crucial, and activities such as onboarding should occur in the office.
  • If you are “remote-first," you will design your employee experience, tools, and budget with a focus on asynchronous employee experiences.  

Building A Remote Work Strategy


You'll need to determine who is able to work remotely and in what capacity. Depending on your company or industry, you may have specific teams whose jobs require that they are in office. In that case, your policy will need to clearly state expectations for specific teams.

Eligibility Questions to Consider:
  • Will this benefit be offered to all teams? To certain teams? Are individual teams allowed to determine if they are remote or in-office?
  • Can employees work from home as often as they’d like, or will remote work be available only for a limited number of hours or days per month?
  • Will employees need to maintain a performance standard to be allowed to work from home?

To ensure your plan is feasible, determine these rules with your HR, Finance, and Legal teams before rolling out any policies to your employees.


Clearly outline the work policies for all employees. Suppose your policy will be flexible but not fully remote. In that case, a defined set of work expectations should be available to all teams (when are they expected in-office, what are our working hours, which teams have flexibility and which do not, etc.).

Scenarios to Consider For Your Remote Policy:
  • Manager 1:1s
  • All-hands meetings
  • Project kickoff meetings
  • Performance reviews


Once you've established policies for remote work, you'll also want to build processes and guidelines for effective team collaboration and communication. Determine the best strategies for live and asynchronous communication that takes into account time zones, team schedules, and pre-existing productivity flows.


You'll want to set limitations on how remote employees spend their working hours, particularly if they're working from home where distractions like family members, pets, working out, and household chores can present as easy distractions. Your policy should be clear if employees are expected to be available online during a certain timeframe or if they can operate on a flexible schedule built around their personal life, putting in additional hours before or after the traditional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. workday.

Depending on your organization's security or team development needs, you may want to restrict employees to work from their home office or a co-working space versus coffee shops or other public spaces.

Times Zones

You'll want to determine the best strategies for live and asynchronous communication so that different schedules and time zones don't impact productivity. Carefully consider your policy around scheduling All-Hands and other important meetings. Similarly, ensure company-wide expectations are in place around appropriate response rates for communication sent to team members in different time zones.


It’s important to ensure your new employees feel part of the team from day 1. This is key to creating a positive company culture. Use your onboarding process as an opportunity to introduce company culture and remote strategy/best practices at your company. Make sure you set the right tone for company culture and communication early on to ease the transition to a new team.


Whatever you decide for your remote strategy, document your expectations and process thoroughly. Maintaining solid documentation will ensure employees know what is expected of them.


In an office, communication happens through proximity and “water cooler” chats. In remote companies, you need to carefully design your communication channels.

Questions to Consider
  • Will most of your company communication happen synchronously (in real-time) or asynchronously (independently and not time-bound)?
  • What time zones does your team work from?
  • Do you have a set of core hours when most employees work that you need to schedule around?  
  • In what frequency will you host recurring meetings, such as company-wide All Hands and department meetings?
  • Will video conferencing be the norm to allow for face-to-face connection?
  • Will there be set company-wide expectation communication, or will that happen on the team level? Will your company have both?

Communication Best Practices

Replace “Quick Syncs” with “Async by Default”

Defaulting to synchronous communication and meetings can lead to wasteful meetings that negatively impact our well-being and productivity. We encourage you to use these asynchronous tools before scheduling a meeting.

Assume and Expect Positive Intent

When reading written messages and documentation, it’s harder to convey tone and intent. Assume the best.

Be Clear and Concise

Document things in a way that makes it easy for others to understand and collaborate. Consider what you want your readers to take away from this document or what you want them to do next. Be precise and include a clear call to action. “Please leave feedback by 4pm Friday” is better than “Look forward to your feedback.” If you are the receiver of information, don’t make assumptions. If something isn’t clear, ask.

Make Space for Others to Contribute

Both in meetings and written format, make sure it's an easy and safe space for everyone to contribute. It’s as easy as asking others for their feedback and ideas.

Be Considerate About Time Zones and Response Times

Don't plan meetings solely around the convenience of the executive team or main employee hub. Share the pain where possible—consider shifting team or company-wide meeting times.

Use Emotionally Intelligent Language

You should always be warm and inclusive in your language. Be careful with humor and consider your audience. If you’re mad, don’t send it.

Avoid Miscommunication

Don’t be afraid to switch communication methods during a conversation. When a written message isn’t coming across clearly, or a topic is better discussed face-to-face, Zoom video is the way to go.

Remote Meetings

When meetings aren't optimized, they are an expensive way – in terms of time and productivity – for teams to collaborate. Many meetings are a waste of time and could be an email, Slack message, or Loom.

When building your remote meeting policy, consider what constitutes a scheduled meeting and what doesn't. Create clear documentation and ensure leadership and employees are respectful of one another's time.

Audit Recurring Meetings Quarterly

  • We recommend auditing your calendar (at least) every quarter to review your meetings and make sure they still pass the above requirements and are a good use of time for all attendees.
  • If not, it’s ok and encouraged to cancel unnecessary recurring meetings. Recurring meetings are oftentimes established as meaningful points along a given journey. Don’t hesitate to cancel them after their purpose has been served.

Meeting Best Practices

When a meeting is merited, here are best practices to make your meetings most effective:

  • Consider time zones and try to schedule meetings during convenient times.
  • All meetings should have a named owner. The owner is someone who can keep everyone on track.
  • Every meeting should have a goal. Is this a decision-making meeting? A brainstorming meeting? Or a feedback meeting? Everyone should know the purpose of the meeting. If you can't name that ahead of a meeting, reschedule until the team is clear on the meeting's hoped-for outcome.
  • Always set the context and have an agenda. Prepare your agenda in advance and share it with meeting attendees. If you can't articulate your meeting agenda and provide upfront context, reschedule.
  • Include the right people. You'll want attendees to have the authority or awareness to contribute meaningfully. Productivity usually taps out at 7 people, so keep the size manageable. You can send notes to anyone who "needs to know" afterward.
  • Send reference docs in advance and set expectations that attendees review docs before the meeting starts. If needed, start with a 5-minute silent read to review reference docs and agenda at the beginning of your meeting.
  • Name a note taker who can keep concise notes and send them out afterwards.
  • End with an action plan. The owner and note taker should work together to document what will happen next and who will do what.
Meeting Etiquette

There's general meeting etiquette you can employ to have more productive and inclusive meetings. We’ve summarized the most impactful tips below.

  • Have your video on as your default.
  • When you are in a hybrid or distributed model with some folks in office, always stick to the one screen, one face rule. When half of the meeting is in a conference room, and the rest are virtual, it's easy for folks to feel left out or for virtual team members to feel like they have a disadvantage. In-office employees should make sure they are joining the virtual meeting separately rather than as a group.
  • Start on time and, when possible, end with a 5-minute buffer before the next meeting.
  • Make sure you are in a quiet space clear of distractions.
  • Mute yourself when you are not talking.
  • Rather than speaking over one another, create a company-wide norm for speaking up (e.g., Raise your hand rather than talk over one another).


All-Hands meetings are how you stay connected and aligned on goals across the company. These meetings are important opportunities to motivate, empower, educate, and engage with one another. Its purpose is to celebrate people and accomplishments, share updates, create alignments around strategy and goals, and provide an open forum to respond to questions.

All-Hands Considerations
  • Frequency: What cadence do you want to host All-Hands? Whatever your commitment, try to stick to it. Cancelling All-Hands can negatively impact how employees perceive company culture.
  • Time zones: With employees across multiple time zones, be considerate of when you are asking people to attend mandatory meetings.
  • In-person or remote: Will this be hosted virtually? If you host it in person, are remote employees expected to travel, and are they paying for travel expenses? Whatever you decide, you must document those expectations in your remote policy.
  • Schedule: Whether in person or remote, pre-set a yearly schedule for All-Hands to ensure all employees are available for each meeting.

Remote Tech Stack

The world of productivity tools is vast. Choose a simple and consistent tech stack that will scale for 2+ years. Create documentation that clearly states the expectations for each tool used in your company, and make sure that documentation is available to all.

Empower your team with the right tools for productive and secure remote work. Whether employees can work remotely on an occasional or permanent basis, you'll want to make sure they have the right tools to work securely and productively.

Considerations When Developing Your Tech Stack
  • Connectivity: Will remote workers need high-speed internet to get their work done outside of the office?
  • Cybersecurity: Will remote workers need a VPN or another form of security to work on shared company files or private customer information?
  • Workspace: What technology or privacy will employees need to set up an effective home workspace? Will they need a second monitor, a printer, or any other hardware to get their job done?
  • Communication: How will remote employees communicate with the rest of the team? Will you set them up with video conferencing software and hardware so they can virtually attend meetings and brainstorms?

Remote Handbook - Remote’s handbook is publicly available to support all their internal employees, other remote-first companies, and candidates wondering what it's like to work at Remote. This is a great example of a fully thought-out remote policy.


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