Making Remote Work Work

3 min readMar 9, 2020

While I’m not a complete stranger to location-independent and #remotework, joining the team at Forward Cities as one of its distributed employees has been a journey, especially as the organization continues to evolve and adopts new tools to make these paths smoother. As part of all this, I’ve been looking at how people and organizations are improving their remote work performance.

Given how the current crisis is encouraging more remote work work, I thought it might be useful to share a few perspectives and resources:

“Coronavirus and the Remote Work Experiment No One Asked For”
Automattic (the company behind WordPress) founder Matt Mullenweg has been a leader in the move toward remote work — and his Distributed podcast ( is one of my favorites for discussion of remote and the future of work.
In this new blogpost, Mullenweg distills some of their key lessons learned in light of the situation we face today. A few highlights:

  • Embrace asynchronous communication
  • Make audio/video for real time meetings a priority; Record them
  • Embrace a central hub of communication for long-form notes, documents, and priorities

More at:

The Distributed Podcast
This podcast gets a separate shout-out from me because I’ve found these conversations really helpful in connecting the day to day of working and managing remote workers with many larger principles and philosophies.
Two favorites that feel like they work well together (for me) were:

“Welcome to the Chaos” w/ Sonal Gupta:
“Helping Creativity Happen from a Distance” w/ John Maeda:

GitLab’s Guide to All-Remote
GitLab is the largest (the largest?) remote companies in the world. And if you really want to go deep and broad, they do both, including their philosophy and approach while sharing a wealth of resources, tips and tricks to help other companies do the same.

Video here:

A few highlights include: the spectrum and flavors of Remote Work, from “No Remote” and “Remote Allowed” to “All-remote, Asynchronous Across Time Zones”
“How to Build a Remote Team” — hits a lot of essentials:
“Embracing asynchronous communication“ feels like it hits some of the key process elements to make remote work really work:
Finally, Resources. They’ve got a ton — that i need to spend much more time with — here:

I have not yet read Remote — it’s on order — but Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hanson from 37 Signals (the company behind Basecamp — and a new solution to email!?)put a really high level of value into anything they do. Previous works “Rework” and “Getting Real” were both great, so I’m confident this will be too — opinionated and very useful. More at:

“Crash Course in Remote Management: A Webinar with Vaya Consulting and Automattic”
Getting back to the immediately practical, this webinar is great — and specifically for people and orgs that are pivoting quickly (like right now!): Nicole Sanchez (founder of Vaya Consulting and an expert on workplace culture) joins Automattic’s Cate Huston for this Course in Remote Management, a free one-hour webinar hosted recently on Zoom.

Video at:

Some highlights:

  • Release the idea of proving 40 hours of work
  • Stay true to your current project management tracking
  • Use your current systems of accountability
  • (pro tip) Now is a great time to catch up on things like documentation and all those projects that require uninterrupted time
  • Avoid “Homing from Work”
  • Make the purposes of different communication channels explicit (slack for this, email for that)
  • Make cadence of calls, etc. more regular and probably more frequent

Bonus: I didn’t know that Zoom and Slack used together can cause challenges (depending on your system).
More at:




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