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10 tips for successful remote work lessons learned from Airteam's journey

Laura Zucchetti
February 17, 2023
A laptop on a desk with the faces of many employees on a Zoom call.

Airteam’s transition to remote life was born from COVID after we sent everyone to work from home in March 2020. Little did we know we'd never return to the office five days a week.

Going fully remote wasn't without lots of thought and consultation with our crew. It was a very considered and collective move that unfolded over the first year of the pandemic.

We had the luxury of time before we fully committed. For a year, we still had a fully equipped office with views of the Opera house and the Harbour, so during this time we started using the term "remote-first" and we adopted this for a good 10 months.

This felt right as most people stayed home and could easily (and safely) continue working. When possible, a few people were still popping into our office, albeit solo or just with another co-worker - we were socially distancing after all.

We had a hiring pause in 2020, but when we rebooted recruitment in early '21, it was clear we couldn't ride the remote-first idea indefinitely. Quite rightly, new hires wanted to know the lay of the land; how did Airteam do remote work? Was it a perm decision? Would we all be heading back into the city someday?

So many questions... plus the Sydney hiring market was tight. Why couldn't we hire anywhere in Australia? So we did - in Jan 2021, we hired our first person in Melbourne and never looked back.

By this time we had been regularly checking in with all our crew to ensure the remote life was working for them - so when we made the announcement, it was a move welcomed by everyone, and it made hiring much easier!

Fully remote design and development company

We're in our 3rd year as a remote team, and I'm often asked if I like working from home, and the big question is, do I miss the office?

Yes, I enjoy working from home and sometimes miss the office. There are trade-offs in all work modes, be it having to make more of an effort to connect with people or enduring a lengthy work commute and a longer day. I'm not here to argue that remote is best - we need to move on from this debate and shift to the 'how' instead of the 'where'. Approaching it from the 'how' mindset is more future-friendly and will help businesses remain adaptable, support growth and continuously improve how the work gets done.

Without further ado, here are the things we have tried, tweaked, embedded and continue to evolve from our journey so far. And whilst our team works remotely, some of these tips will also apply to other work modes.

10 tips for successful remote work

  1. Have core ways of working written down and include this in your onboarding processes.
  2. Have an awesome flexible working policy that supports autonomy and sets clear expectations for how availability is communicated with the team.
  3. Set up your workspace properly, to be comfortable, safe and if possible disconnected from your main living areas. Airteam also offers a WFH allowance to help people get setup with the right kit from day one.
  4. Review and evolve your working practices to suit the team's needs and the tech available (can AI assist in productivity?). There are always things you can do better, faster and smarter.
  5. Support multiple methods of communication to minimise Zoom fatigue and not make every interaction a video meeting; audio calls over Slack/Google are just as productive!
  6. Call out the risks of working from home and implement ways to manage them. Better yet, embed Mental Health First Aid training to your team, just like we did!
  7. Make time and space for non-work connections and non-work related chat. Playing a game of Geoguessr, or starting a meeting with a bit of personal talk is exactly what we'd do as we settle into a meeting in real life.
  8. If you can, meet in real life once or twice a year to reconnect and reenergise relationships.
  9. Embrace the awkwardness - sometimes zoom is plain awkward! That's ok! Don't take yourself too seriously.
  10. Build transition times into your day so you can mentally switch from work mode to [insert what happens next for you here - parent/family/carer/life/etc] mode.

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