At Onward, we are building a fully remote company. We now have 5 employees that are scattered throughout the country and we’ll be fully remote forever.
There are lots of benefits to working remote. You can read all about it all over the web and on the Twitter-verse. I’ve now been doing this over a year and the reasons that resonate with me the most are:
- No commute. Knocking out the time it takes to drive to/from an office puts hours back in my day. I never got stressed by the driving. In fact, I always enjoyed the time for podcasts and catching up with people on the phone. However, that lost time was a drag. Now my day is that much more efficient.
- Autonomy. While I like being in an office and catching up with co-workers, it also has a downside of co-workers constantly interrupting me and my thoughts. It was hard to control my own schedule. Being at home gives me much more control over my calendar and my day.
- Broader employee pool. When we’re hiring and looking for a potential colleague, we can now look across the entire planet rather than those who live close by. This has already paid dividends as it’s allowed me to work with my good friend Nader and our awesome early employees who are in Pittsburgh, Texas, and Chicago.
It’s not all fun and roses though. It took me 4-6 months to get used to working out of my house. It takes discipline to focus on the tasks and not be distracted by an empty messy house. Also, there’s a solitude that took some getting used to. Now that i’m in the groove, I do think it’s a better way to work.
Asynchronous is Key
One of the keys to successfully working with my remote colleagues is to be able to work without communicating in real-time. Because my colleague isn’t right next to me, I have no idea if they are working right now or planning on coming online later. This has lead us to use some new tools that are pretty cool.
The first, and by far my favorite. This is a combination of Google Docs, Asana and a wiki. Before we had Notion, we had a problem where we didn’t know where to post a home page of operations for our company or a division, or where to post decisions and goals for everyone to see and access easily. We tried Google Docs and also tied making an intranet on Google Sites. Both sucked. This is exactly what Notion solves.
We now have home pages for the company which has a general company handbook, lists all the tools we use, policies and other generic info. We also have a home page for each group which houses the processes, goals, OKR’s, meeting notes, and more. There’s a good overview of how another business is using Notion here which will give you the idea.
Notion in generally is pretty sweet. As a product, it’s incredibly slick. There is so much complexity that’s displayed so elegantly and simply – it’s really beautiful. It’s clearly seems to be working. In fact, talk about a fundraise that showcases your awesomeness. They raised $10 million on an $800 million valuation. That’s 1% dilution. A good interview with the founder is here too.