Two Heuristics for Determining if Your Remote Culture Will Succeed or Fail


Fred Perrotta

Zach Holman's Remote-First vs. Remote-Friendly was the first post I read that adequately captured how important it is for companies to commit to being remote.

I think there’s a split between being remote-friendly — hiring some workers in a different city — and remote-first, meaning you build your... team around a workflow that embraces the concepts of remote work, whether or not your employees are remote.

Companies must go all in on being remote. Half measures are doomed to fail.

Having one or even a few "exceptions" who work remotely does not make your company remote. Being remote-friendly just means that a few people are given an exemption that will make others jealous. Office-bound employees will come to resent the remote worker's freedom. The remote worker's arrangement may harm his/her career due to others' perceptions and the lack of face time with managers and colleagues.

Here are two simple heuristics to determine if your company's remote work set up is likely to succeed:

  1. Remote is the default, not the exception. Do you expect to make your next hire a remote employee? Are your company's communication channels asynchronous? Are your systems better for remote employees or for on-site employees?
  2. The executive team is remote. The people making company-wide decisions must have skin in the game. Read Antifragile for more on this idea. If they aren't committed, the company isn't committed.

If both of these conditions are met, your remote culture has a chance to succeed. Building a company from the start to meet these two conditions is much easier than making the transition later after norms are established.

We will see more companies take the remote-first route from their inception either out of personal preference, to compete for the best talent, or to manage costs. I don't advocate choosing remote for the sole purpose of cost, but, if costs inspire more companies to go remote, I'll take it. The ends will justify the means.