This is an excerpt of Zapier's book The Ultimate Guide to Remote Work.
I had a good time chatting with Zapier in PyCon US and then found this book on their website.
Since I currently work remotely, I thrive on making myself a better remote worker.
Hope this excerpt would help if you're working remotely or considering it.

Chapter 1: How to Run a Remote Team

  • Important ingredients to remote work

    • Team
    • Tools
    • Process
  • Team

    1. Hire Doers → default to action
    2. Hire people you can trust
    3. Trust the people you hire
    4. Hire people who can write
      • Communication is one of the most important parts of a remote team.
    5. Hire people who are ok without a social workplace
      • It'll be important to try to create some social aspects with a remote team. But the truth is that remote workplaces are usually less social than co-located ones.
  • Tools

    1. Slack → If you're in Slack then you're at work
    2. Trello
      • Trick to avoid getting card overload
        • Each card needs to have
          • Detailed description of the feature
          • Why it's important
          • the results of a successful implementation of it should look like
    3. GitHub
    4. 1Password
    5. Google Docs & Quip
    6. Zoom
    7. HelloSign
  • Process

    1. Everyone does support
    2. Culture of shipping
    3. Weekly Hangouts
    4. Air Buddies
    5. Weekly One-on-Ones
    6. A culture of accountability
      • People often ask "how do you know if employees are actually working?" → Friday updates
    7. Building culture in person
    8. Automate anything that can be automated

Chapter 3: How to Hire a Remote Team

  • Propensity towards action
  • Ability to prioritize
  • Proficient writing
  • Trustworthy
  • People with Local support system

Chapter 5: How to Build Strong Relationships in a Remote Team

  • Performance Review combines the following 3 aspects

    • Manager's own opinions
    • Thoughts from co-workers
    • A self-evaluation from the actual employee
  • If you're setting up phone or video calls to meet your new teammates, try setting a time limit of 15 minutes.

    • Putting aside our own desires to contribute to the conversation and instead asking short, open questions like how, when, and why.
  • Replying on Text the Right Way

    1. Stay Up to Date
    2. Remember Hanlon's Razor: We should always assume ignorance before malice
  • Asserting Yourself When Needed

    • set up rules ahead of time
      • e.g., set up your focus time and ask others not to message you at this time
    • Find a way to share the context of your situation with your teammates.
      • Keep in mind all the information you have about how you feel and your current needs that your teammates don't have. They need all the information you can give them to work with you in the best way they can.

Chapter 10: How to Work Faster in a Remote Team

  • "If employees don't have freedom and independence to make decisions, remote work will be less effective."

  • How to deal with vast numbers of emails?

    • Company and department updates, project specs, design mock-ups, and individual "Friday Update" reports moved from email to our private internal blog
    • Team and department feedback, along with questions and discussions, moved to Slack, which replaced one-on-one email threads with its private messaging feature, too.
  • Whether it's working in your own home or a nearby coffee shop, there's another aspect that pushes remote employees to work faster: You're responsible for your productivity.

  • Completely unplug from the communication tools. Do this, and then put 100% focus on writing in a distraction-free environment.

Chapter 11: How to Find Your Optimal Work Environment and Boost Productivity

  • If you have different types of work, grouping similar tasks into time "chunks" can make you more productive than switching between different types of work.
    • Small, simple tasks can be saved for the periods when you're low in energy, or in-between meetings.
    • Work on the big, intense projects first, and work on smaller tasks that don't have deadlines as you go through the day.

Chapter 12: How to Work in Different Timezones

  • Manage projects in an asynchronous way
    • Break things up into chunks that can be worked on individually
    • Find time to sync back up on what's been done, and make sure each person can self-direct their work
  • Work in an asynchronous way
    • Check in with your team before you start your workday and make sure you're on the same page as everyone else.
    • To work effectively with a time shift, you'll also need to work in public. In other words, communicate, and make sure everyone knows what you're working on.
    • Write what you've done that day, share where you're hung up on a project, and ping others with ideas.

Chapter 13: How to Avoid Burnout in a Remote Team

  1. Establish and Maintain a Routine
  2. Set and Stick to Priorities
    • 'Have I done the most important work I could do today?'
      • when I can say yes to that, then I can log off, recharge, and invest in the other areas of my life.
  3. Create and Keep Boundaries
    • Find your rhythm and protect it to avoid burnout.
      • For me, that rhythm means taking time to reflect and celebrate progress when planning, and setting boundaries like working outside of my apartment at a co-working space or scheduling deliberate non-work time into my week.
  4. Take Short and Long Breaks
    • Take a three-day weekend every now and then.
    • Make sure to get away from everything for a week or two each year.
  5. Make Time for Human Interaction

    • Prioritize your social activities, because they are a form of self-care.
  6. Recruit - 4 essential traits

    1. You're tech-savvy
    2. You're an efficient communicator
    3. You're independent and trustworthy
    4. You've mastered time management
  7. Where to Find Remote Jobs

    • FlexJobs is a job board that showcases not just telecommuting openings, but also job postings for other types of flexible arrangements, such as freelance or part-time work.
      • Price: $14.95/month to $49.95/year
    • Jobspresso allows you to search for jobs in specific categories, such as marketing, copywriting, project management, and support. All of the jobs listed are curated for remote workers.
    • is passionate about remote work and partners with startups that feel the same way.
    • We Work Remotely is sponsored by Basecamp and their book Remote, which delves into all things related to working remotely. The job board is updated daily, and you can subscribe to the site's RSS feed to get informed of new job postings.
    • Working Nomads provides a curated list of remote jobs for individuals who want to travel while they work.
  8. How to Apply and Interview for a Remote Work Job

    • Prepare for the video interview
      • If you're positive, curious, and articulate in the video chat as well as other parts of the application process, hiring managers will be more confident about you.
      • Try out the video app before the interview.
      • Find a quiet space where you can focus on your interview and won't be distracted.
      • Dress professionally and stay engaged during the interview.
    • Explain why you want the exact position. Just wanting to work at a remote company is usually not enough for specialized roles.
    • You might be asked about or want to mention things like
      • Successful solo projects you've started or team projects you've led.
      • Your reasons for wanting to work remotely.
      • What makes you fit for working on a remote team? (independence and trustworthiness)
      • Previous writing experience and other communication skills
      • How do you choose the communication tool for different situations? (communication skills)
      • Your daily routine and methods to stay focused.
      • What are your optimal work hours?
      • What's your workspace like?
      • How do you prioritize tasks?
      • How do you balance work and personal life? (time management skills)
    • Questions you should ask to make sure the company is really serious about remote work
      • How many people do you have working remotely full-time?
      • Is occasional travel needed to meet with co-workers?
      • How does the remote team usually communicate?
      • What would my typical schedule and day look like? How often would I be in touch with my manager?
  9. If you're applying for an employer in another country, before accepting a position it's a good idea to find out:

    • How will taxes be taken care of from my paycheck?
    • Will I need to buy my own health plan?
    • Would I need to get a work permit when visiting the employer?

Chapter 14: The Remote Workers' Toolkit

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