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Having a 9-to-5 job doesn’t always mean sitting behind a desk.

Remote workers have become increasingly common, with some companies rejecting office space altogether.

Executive Brief

  • How fully-remote companies make it work:
  • Be clear and deliberate when communicating Share as much information as possible Get creative when celebrating employees Have a social outlet

Opting for a 100% remote staff isn’t just a money saver, it also expands the talent pool a company can dip into and helps boost retention.

But maintaining a strong corporate culture and an engaged and productive workforce can be tough when you aren’t getting daily face time.

Communication needs to be clear and direct

Most conversations among remote co-workers tend to be done through email and Slack, which means there is no body language or tone to help interpret interactions.

At app automation company Zapier, employees are encouraged to assume positive intent with any communication. The company is 100% remote, with 200 employees scattered across the globe.

“We are in 20 different countries, and it’s different how we communicate across the world, so we put an emphasis on, ‘no one is out to get you behind your back,’” said CEO and co-founder Wade Foster. “If you see something that rubs you the wrong way, assume positive intent.”

Remote working means there also won’t be any impromptu meetings as you pass someone in the hallway or quick drop-ins to your boss’ office to give a progress report.

“You have to be deliberate about how you communicate, emphasize goals, and priorities,” said Eugenio Pace, CEO of Auth0, an authentication and authorization platform that has 60% of its workforce working remote.

Slack is a favorite communication tool among remote workers — it’s quick, takes away the pain of coordinating conference call times and can make communicating easier.

“Accents can be very strong,” said Christian Mairoll, CEO of Emsisoft, an anti-malware solutions company with 40 remote workers across the globe. “We tried doing voice meetings but it wasn’t satisfactory. It takes a little longer to type, but you are typing more consciously. It also creates a log of the conversation.”

Be transparent

Since there is no reading the room or sensing a shift in morale among leadership, transparency is important with remote workers.

At Auth0, all workers can access the key metrics, including sales and revenue figures.

“The watercooler conversations are compensated with a huge amount of information on our internal websites,” Pace said.

At FlexJobs, a company with 60 employees and 40-plus contract workers, all remote, the CEO holds a monthly chat with the team to review progress and upcoming goals, and employees are encouraged to ask questions. There’s also a monthly virtual lunch with a member of the people and culture team and usually someone from the leadership team that employees can join.