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Remote Work 49 min

What is remote work? Remote work handbook [2022]

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Some day, we may look back and wonder why we differentiated between “remote work” and “work” at all. Until then, however, we must be deliberate as we build the foundations of remote work for our companies, our employees, and our own lives.

Every global trend in 2022 points toward a continued increase in remote work around the world. Not only have employees become accustomed to the flexibility offered by remote work, but companies are realizing that access to talent outside their local markets is a serious competitive advantage. The better a company becomes at remote work, the more likely employees are to want to work for that company.

In the spirit of doing remote work the right way, this guide is the official guide from Remote about all things remote work. We’ve included a variety of useful resources and guides that will be helpful for everyone, whether you are a new remote worker or the leader of a company with a distributed workforce of thousands.

1. Remote hiring

How to hire remote employees 

Since the onset of the “new normal,” remote work across the world has recorded massive gains, with up to 400% YoY growth. Working flexibly offers knowledge workers a window into the global economy where businesses across the globe can hire anyone. Along with this shift come lifestyle flexibility, work-life balance, and a reduced environmental footprint.

In the bigger equation of remote working, businesses soon realize there are unique challenges with managing payroll, compensation, national tax regimes, IP rights across different jurisdictions, and the ever-present risk of hefty fines for misclassifying employees.

To adapt, global businesses either have to expend lots of resources to manage hiring, effective communications, and employee onboarding or scale faster with an employer of record.

Add to that a healthy remote-first culture where employees can work asynchronously alongside their on-site peers, communicate in detail, and get a big picture of where the entire organization is headed from day one — that’s how you build a world-class remote-first team.

Remote-first recruiting practices: How we do it at Remote

From the start of 2020 to the start of 2022, Remote’s global team grew from around a dozen people to more than 900. Growing at such a rapid pace with zero offices presented plenty of challenges, especially in recruiting, but our deep experience in asynchronous remote work made it possible.

Along the way, we’ve learned a lot of what makes recruiting work, especially when you’re building a remote-first team. You need to build a scalable system that makes it natural to attract and engage employees through the hiring process.

Remote interview tips: 5 tactics to ace your job interview

Sending in a killer application? Check.

Interview booked for next week? Check.

But getting 1:1 on Zoom can be intimidating for remote employees interviewing for new roles. Drawing from our experience, this blog is our quintessential guide to acing remote interviews.

  • Practice and familiarize yourself with the tech the interview will require — microphones, webcams, software, etc.
  • Make your best impression with great attire and an even better background.
  • Do your homework on the company and seek to connect with your interviewer from an employee’s perspective.
  • Build rapport with your interviewer — yes, you can be informal if that’s what it takes to get the ball rolling.
  • Take notes along the way.

Remote interviews can be mentally demanding even after you’ve put in your best. But putting in your best keeps you a step ahead and helps you maintain composure throughout the entire interview.

Successful remote-first recruiting must be built on offering potential employees to be their best self throughout the process and ultimately make a value decision whether they’ll be a great fit for your company. At Remote, our recruiting process is tailored to our internal values that ensure we’re consistent with our mission before ever bringing employees along.

Even with your mission-driven recruitment engine, it takes a culture of documentation to keep applicants engaged throughout the hiring process while ensuring their privacy is respected within your company.

Ultimately, the success of remote-first recruiting is determined long before an interview holds: 

  • Open roles must be documented in detail with key stakeholders.
  • Candidates’ locations and preferences should be factored into interview scheduling.
  • Build a sustainable culture where applicants have a healthy opportunity to join your team sans undue bias.

An intentional remote-first recruiting culture will help you build a truly welcoming workplace where great talent feels at home — before you ever interview.

Hiring independent contractors abroad: your expert guide

Managing independent contractors working abroad is a simple, fast, and productive way to scale. Using international contractors can be onboarded quickly. This option also gives you access to the best talent in the world. You’ll want a good system to scale your hiring process, especially if you’re working with contractors in multiple countries. Using a contractor management platform lets you kickstart the whole process.

Because here’s the deal — every country has their own employment rules and regulations. These include different labor laws and tax obligations. If you’re working with independent contractors abroad, being legally compliant from the very beginning is going to save you countless headaches and keep you out of trouble with local authorities. It’s not hard, but it is serious business.

Read on to find out everything you need to know to onboard, pay, and manage the best talent for your business, anywhere in the world. This expert guide is designed to give business owners and hiring managers the blueprint required to protect their team and their business. You can focus on scaling and growing your operations knowing you’re working to international hiring standards and ensuring compliance.

How to find the best remote jobs

The remote work revolution goes both ways. While workers compete for the best jobs, hiring managers, founders, and HR teams are always on the lookout for rockstars to advance their mission.

This article outlines several tactics for managing the search for remote work/talent into simple tidbits:

  • Make sure you’re able to work from your desired location — i.e, ensure you have legal compliance and the infrastructure to support your career before starting your search.
  • Assess the current distribution of your potential employer’s team.
  • Consider citizenship and legal work status.
  • Ask for any hybrid work requirements early on.
  • Check the job’s employment agreement and classification — are you coming aboard as an employee or independent contractor?
  • Look for a strong remote-first culture.
  • Evaluate company culture on aspects such as effective meeting policies, time off, and compensation.

Your remote work search can be an adventure hunting for companies that already operate a version of your desired work environment, and being intentional will help you find them. 

The unexpected value of international talent

At one point, hiring internationally was reserved for large multinational corporations that had the resources to maintain huge branches globally. With the advent of remote work, companies of all sizes can hire anyone across the world, scale globally, and build dynamic teams without lots of capital.

This article lays out the key advantages global hiring offers companies and brands looking to go remote.

  • An enhanced culture with employees from diverse backgrounds
  • Better creativity and problem solving — workplace belonging and increased productivity
  • Valuable, real-time insights into new markets and verticals
  • Superior customer service

To achieve the vision of building a remote dream team, here are several tactics to employ:

  • Focus your efforts on markets with higher concentrations of your desired candidates.
  • Localize your global recruiting strategy, i.e., adapt to the needs of employees in whatever market you’re looking to grow your team in.
  • Understand worker classifications and stay compliant.

An international team will help you transform your reach, grow your revenue, and build a truly progressive workplace in 2022 and beyond.

2. Remote work resources

Global Workforce Revolution Report

The pandemic forced the greatest labor experiment in history with as many as 88% of companies switching to remote working in just weeks. To understand how this pivot has affected knowledge workers and the technology industry, we surveyed 1,528 workers across the United States and the United Kingdom.

The essence of this survey was to understand how the pivot to working remotely — at least temporarily — affected decision-makers and knowledge workers in tech and to use that to project where the future of work is taking us.

The results showed strong interest in a remote-first future that's here to stay. Among others, our data points showed that:

  • One in 10 UK tech workers and one in 5 US tech workers saying they have requested to relocate to another city, state, or country following the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions,
  • 81% of tech workers say they would move to a different state or country if they could do so without if affecting their employment or remuneration (79% in the UK and 83% in the US).
  • 41% of business decision-makers believe remote working will unlock additional revenue and profit growth for their businesses and 42% say that international remote working will unlock a greater supply of talent than is available in domestic markets.
  • 76% of those polled said they would accept a salary reduction if they were able to work remotely anywhere in the world.
  • 63% of respondents believe that remote working could help protect people from recession by giving them more job options outside of their local area.

Remote work transforms productivity with a simple notion: giving workers control over their time, location, and lifestyle, without any loss of income or opportunities. And rightly, millions of knowledge workers within and outside the technology industry see remote working as the default career path for a successful career. Is your company listening?

This handbook will show you where the future of work for the tech industry is headed so you can position yourself appropriately.

2022 Remote Influencer Report

At Remote, we believe remote work should be easy and accessible. And we believe the best way to enhance access is to connect knowledge workers and companies to the influencers, enablers, and accelerators who have the background and experience it takes to perfect the remote working experience.

Our Remote Influencer Report is a database of those pioneers with a proven background in promoting or leading remote work initiatives, long before the new normal accelerated it, with a split into three major groups:

  • Remote Innovators — pioneers blazing the trail on remote working before it was cool
  • Remote Enablers — the founders and coaches building the tools and frameworks that simplify remote work, and
  • Remote Accelerators — the HR leaders at global giants that influence the pivot to remote work for large organizations

A quick sample of our Remote Innovators features Matt Mullenweg, CEO of Automattic — a long-time remote workplace, Buffer CEO Joel Gascoigne, and Stella Garber, Trello’s Head of Marketing Head.

Remote Enablers include Todoist CEO Amir S., our very own Job van der Voort, and Laurel Farrer — CEO and founder of Distribute Consulting, a remote working consultancy that helps companies strengthen communication and collaboration in the age of remote work.

Remote Accelerators include Accenture’s people chief Ellyn Shook, Amazon’s SVP Beth Galetti, and Gloria Chen — CPO at Adobe.

Best Destinations for Remote Work Index

We often think of remote work as being able to head to your workstation with PJs on or working from your favorite Starbucks.

That’s true — but there’s more.

Remote working creates lots of opportunities for knowledge workers to relocate to wherever in the world offers the best infrastructure, safety, quality of life, and cost of living to support their ideal lifestyle.

From Copenhagen to Chicago and from Buenos Aires and back to Bogotá, our Best Destinations for Remote Work Report outlines a list of 100 of the best cities for remote workers, based on:

  • Internet infrastructure
  • Attractiveness
  • Safety
  • Quality of life
  • Openness
  • Cost of living, and
  • Incentives for remote workers

In other words, it’s a must-have handbook for remote workers and digital nomads looking for the best spot to put down roots in the quest to unlock a thrilling remote working adventure.

Guide to hiring remote employees

Remote work has been climbing up and to the right — and there’s no sign it’s stopping anytime soon.

More precisely, 62% of employees would be willing to take a pay cut to keep working remotely, while 81% would move to a new state or country if they could do so without making sacrifices in their careers.

Our eight-point guide to hiring remote employees lays out how you’ll need to pivot to build a remote-friendly workplace, hire top-class talent, and scale your global team.

  • Pivot to remote-friendly project management where documentation is the default.
  • Use asynchronous communication channels like recorded videos and dynamic internal docs to replace real-time chat and video conferencing.
  • Tap into the global workforce with location-specific job board and employee advocacy.
  • Build a recruiting engine that can handle the huge volume of applications and optimize interviews to highlight employees who fit your internal culture.
  • Sign the dotted line once you have the legal work done.
  • From a new work device to a USB hub (surprised, right?), build a plan to equip employees with the tools they need from their first day on the job.
  • Onboard employees and gradually ease new hires into becoming part of the team and aligning with your internal culture.
  • Scale your global team with Remote — the OS built for remote HR.

Remote offers a distributed hiring solution that combines an employer of record, payroll, tax, and benefits solutions — essentially a full-stack engine for building and scaling your remote team with brains from across the globe.

Hiring international employees checklist

Whether you’re making your first hire or trying to scale your remote team, hiring international employees is an essential part of the modern growth process.

First, you have to find and onboard the right person. And then there’s payroll, taxes, employee classification, and local regulations you have to follow to stay compliant.

Not to worry — our checklist for hiring international employees covers the gamut

  • Manage employees across multiple time zones and start measuring performance by output vs. hours clocked.
  • Incorporate a local entity or use an EOR solution to ensure you can legally hire employees in other countries.
  • Familiarize yourself with local laws, payroll taxes, and customary benefits for whatever countries you wish to hire for.
  • Proactively find the right hire and make an offer.
  • Decide whether your new worker should work full-time or on a contract basis.
  • Provide your new hire with the necessary tools required to work remotely.
  • Onboard your new employee.

Remote offers the infrastructure for companies looking to hire international employees with a product suite that offers an EOR, local compliance and tax handling, simple payroll management for a team of 5 - 5,000, and as-needed consulting that suits your business’s needs.

3. Remote work culture

Move to a remote-first culture

There’s more to remote work than employees across the globe and virtual happy hours. While it can be initially exciting running operations with a distributed team, remote working comes with unique challenges businesses are often ill-equipped to face in their race to scale globally, hire the best talent, and build a more diverse workforce.

To nail remote work, you have to reimagine your entire human resources strategy from the ground up: legal implications, financial, and compliance issues all arise, and all need a unique approach to fix while building a high-performance team.

How?

To win the best remote talent, businesses must pay increased attention to: 

  • Rebuild the employee onboarding experience, with emphasis on employee payroll needs and local regulations.
  • Manage payroll flawlessly to ensure employees get paid on time and compliantly.
  • Recruit and retain world-class talent with statutory local benefits and custom perks.
  • Streamline PTO management for employees with customizable workflows.

Elements of a sustainable remote work culture

More than the constant barrage of Slack emojis and Friday happy hours, your remote team will need substance to stay cohesive and productive in the long term. In other words, you need a sustainable remote work culture that’ll help you keep team members accountable, collaborate effectively, and communicate with clarity as your team scales.

From our experience scaling Remote to hundreds of employees across the world, we’ve defined four key factors that are fundamental to building a sustainable culture for your remote team.

  1. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt and assume the rest of the team is operating as altruistically as possible — you can’t do your best work if you default to questioning your coworkers’ every move.
  2. Maintain a mindset of empowered humility: take the initiative but recognize the best work happens within the entire team.
  3. Emphasize asynchronous communications so that employees rarely have to be present in real-time. This way, you can optimize for deep work and build a stronger documentation culture.
  4. Bring variety into your connections.

With the modern workplace headed towards an increasingly remote future, the teams that'll win are those that make remote work less of an experiment and more of a culture — a way of life.

10 inclusive workplace practices for your remote team

Working remotely brings the responsibility for building a positive team culture where all employees feel accepted no matter their background. And that inclusive culture takes time to develop through systemic efforts like policies, processes, and the behavior of individuals within the organization.

But in the long run, diverse workplaces tend to be more productive, retain employees better, and project a compelling brand for customers.

Working these 10 tactics into your company will not only help get you started on the path of inclusion but will help foster a long-term culture where everyone is accepted.

  • Set up a D&I committee that helps keep the entire organization on track to increased inclusivity.
  • Get all employees involved in conversations around the subject of inclusion.
  • Work diversity and inclusion into your policies as a default.
  • Facilitate open feedback and communication.
  • Create spaces for non-work chats.
  • Make time to build organic connections.
  • Be intentional about supporting employees’ growth.
  • Emphasize empathetic leadership.
  • Build representative teams.
  • Make D&I part of your recruitment strategy.

An inclusive workplace will help you build a well-rounded company that not only excels in the marketplace but creates a healthy environment for employees to do their best work.

Experts reveal the best ways to reduce stress for remote workers

Remote work can be stressful. And that’s putting it nicely. Remote workers report putting in additional hours to match everyone else’s productivity and of course, combining the rest of the real, non-work lives.

This blog features advice from remote work experts like Darren Murph, GitLab’s head of remote, Tammy Bjelland, CEO of Workplaceless, and several of our team members, including CEO Job van der Voort, growth VP Elisa Rossi, and CTO Marcelo.

  • Emphasize output over long hours.
  • Normalize talking about everyday struggles: everyone has them anyway, so make your virtual workplace a safe space for team members to feel at home.
  • Eliminate “always-on” work hours.
  • Give, and encourage employees to take, the rest they need.
  • Make sure leadership sets the example from the top down.

Building an empathetic workplace will boost productivity, reduce turnover, and most importantly, help you invest in your employees’ mental health.

Women in the era of remote work

While remote working has brought a new wave of opportunities for businesses to cut costs and for employees to manage their careers flexibly, it has undoubtedly created new challenges for women.

For a year starting October 2019, 2.2 million women left the labor force in the United States alone, and similarly, investments in women-founded startups dropped precipitously for the past two years.

Forward-thinking businesses must therefore take the initiative to build a more equitable remote work culture that empowers women to advance in their careers and build better work-life balance in the age of remote work.

Firstly, managers must gauge performance by output vs. time spent — a tactic that helps female remote workers get more done without being punished for their efficiency.

Internal policies must be designed with inclusion in mind, to build a healthy workplace where women from all backgrounds can navigate the challenges remote work poses without undue scrutiny.

Finally, it’s wise to never lose sight of the fact that as remote work evolves you will need to keep changing your policies to support a more equitable workplace for female remote employees.

How to build a strong and supportive remote work culture

A strong supportive culture empowers employees to grow into their full potential and ultimately drives your business forward. It’s more of a science since we have long-time remote work pioneers who have successfully invested into making remote work, work based on several key principles:

  • Recruitment — Hire with a remote-first mindset and you’ll only welcome employees eager to work in an asynchronous environment.
  • Compensation — Just like we do here at Remote, your compensation should hinge on market rates and employees’ local cost of living to optimize for the locations.
  • Onboarding — Create a remote onboarding system that can function seamlessly where employees can be guided through the discovery process vs. being let loose to explore a building by themselves.
  • Default to asynchronous communication — Avoid meetings that could have been emails.
  • Define a reason for every meeting — Learn how to run successful remote meetings.
  • Build a custom remote-first benefits plan that works for employees across borders — our Country Explorer can help you figure out benefits no matter where your team is located.
  • Cultivate a supportive remote-first management culture that’s designed to help employees do their best work.

There’s more to culture than movie nights of happy hours. Intentionally investing into your remote workforce will build a happy team that’ll drive you forward and upwards.

How to build belonging for women in remote work

The new normal has accelerated the rise of remote work while putting new obstacles in the way of working women. More women have left the workforce and those that remain are often victims of unconscious bias in the workplace.

To build a more supportive atmosphere for women, especially in leadership poisons, companies must:

  • Cultivate a culture of flexibility where output is valued over availability. Women should not be punished for efficiency at work.
  • Guarantee and encourage women to take generous parental leave to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
  • Help workers returning from leave ease into their roles.
  • Normalize interruptions from kids and family engagements.

Building an equitable workplace will help create support and diversity for lasting success in any business.

How remote work welcomes workers with disabilities

2020 marked 30 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act banned employers, schools, transportation services, builders, government agencies, and other institutions from discriminating against individuals with disabilities.

While that has gone a long way in leveling the playing field in the US, remote work is slowly transforming the modern workplace into one where workers with disabilities face fewer obstacles to building successful careers. With some effort, managers and employers can be proactive about including employees with disabilities into the social fabric of the team, respecting their boundaries, and accommodating their preferences in the spirit of inclusion.

Initiatives as simple as documenting every meeting can help build a repository of knowledge so that employees who are unable to join in can stay connected and feel empowered and not rejected in the remote era of work.

Common mistakes companies make when going remote

Working remotely can help teams connect and build better connections than they'd ever had working in-office, but only if you navigate the switch well. Otherwise, remote work can create several difficulties that can reduce morale, hurt productivity, and lead employees to eventually quit.

Here are the six most common mistakes companies make when switching to a remote model so you can pinpoint them and fix them in your company.

  • Failing to create a culture of documentation limits remote working. Remote working thrives on free access to knowledge and it gets hampered if team members have to clarify every issue over Slack and wait for a reply hours later.
  • Limiting recruitment to local areas restricts you to a smaller pool of talent vs. hiring globally.
  • Assuming others assume what you do is a recipe for disaster. No one knows you that well enough, hence the need for documentation.
  • Not actively pursuing diversity.
  • Hiring workers as contractors instead of employees.
  • Going remote-friendly instead of remote-first.

At the end of the day, your business boils down to the people who stay to make it work. And they’ll stay as long as you have a functioning remote culture that supports their careers, work-life balance, and general well-being.

How to support employees who don’t like working remotely

Remote work is great, and study after study confirms that workers enjoy the flexibility a remote-first environment provides.

But not everyone feels the same as research has found that a small percentage of workers don’t look favorably on the prospects of a remote-first workplace. This article explores several approaches employers can leverage to create a supportive environment where employees who don’t like working remotely can thrive and do their best work.

  • Facilitate access to co-working spaces so employees can get out of the house and get closer to recreating the office environment.
  • Sponsor continuing education a self-improvement budget employees can spend on books, courses, classes, and conferences.
  • Offer unlimited, extra PTO, and mental health days to compensate for employees who may struggle with the transition to working remotely.
  • Convert savings from office space into home office support: work out a plan to reinvest your savings on office lunches and accommodation into perks and benefits for employees.
  • Communicate with transparency about your company’s growth, finances, and overall trajectory.

The best workplaces are built on empathy and a people-first mindset will create a supportive atmosphere where your employees can assimilate with time whether working remotely is the best option or not.

4. Global compensation

How to calculate compensation for remote employees

In a world where you can hire employees globally, how do you ensure you’re paying them a fair wage for their work? And in a world where knowledge workers are willing to take a pay cut to work remotely, how do you ensure you’re hiring the best talent and compensating them fairly?

Previously, companies only had to compete with local neighbors for talent; thanks to remote work, businesses can hire anyone from anywhere.

Already several pioneers in the remote working revolution have set standards for employee compensation that your company can adapt in 2022 and beyond:

  • Remote uses a combination of regional data and industry metrics to set salaries at 65% of the median value for each role at the company.
  • Basecamp pays all their employees equally depending on their seniority. Since the bulk of their talent is based in San Francisco, matching salaries for a global workforce can get pricey very fast, but doing so guarantees access to top talent.
  • Buffer works out compensation with a simple formula that factors base compensation for a role by local cost of living.

With the emphasis on location-based compensation, there's the question of what happens when employees move. Employees may either be required to notify a manager before moving (GitLab) or in a different twist, employers can adopt a location-independent compensation policy that pays employees based on the value they can offer.

A salary calculator can only do so much when you’re building a model for paying remote employees. It's best to approach compensation with a demand and supply perspective where you find a balance between market rates, an employee’s expectations, and your payroll budget.

Affordable perks small businesses can offer remote teams 

Tech startups shower their remote workforce with benefits such as premium salaries, health and dental coverage, library budgets, etc. If you’re a smaller business, it can be intimidating to even think of matching such perks. But you can still offer a variety of perks to stand out from the crowd and retain your best talent without breaking the bank.

  • Retirement savings plans
  • Food and grocery assistance — think Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, or Gobble
  • Fitness memberships
  • Personal development budgets
  • Home office stipends 
  • Flexible scheduling, focusing on output vs. hours worked
  • Dental and vision insurance
  • Unlimited PTO

A great benefits package shouldn’t have to break the bank. Don’t worry what happens if you invest in employees and they leave: worry about what happens if you don’t invest in them and they stay.

How to offer benefits for 1099 and international independent contractors

Businesses often hire contractors for responsibilities that cannot be handled quickly, efficiently or cost-effectively in-house. With remote work offering contractors opportunities to work with businesses across the world, this article examines how the right mix of benefits can help you hire and retain superior talent.

Why are more businesses hiring independent contractors globally? Remote work has opened a new frontier where businesses can hire skilled contractors globally and ramp up bandwidth for less than it would cost to hire locally. Contractors are generally more skilled, experienced, and cost-effective compared to full-time employees.

And why offer benefits to 1099 and international independent contractors? Benefits offer a competitive advantage in the race for global independent talent, especially since, for instance, over half of all freelancers in the U.S have no access to employment benefits. Fostering belonging with independent contractors can help earn their goodwill for the long term.

The top benefits for 1099 and global independent contractors can include:

  • Health insurance
  • PTO and parental leave
  • Home office and continued learning budgets 
  • Stock options

Just be careful to offer benefits in such a way that you do not cross the line and make contractors into employees unless you intend to follow through with the rest of the contractor-employee conversion.

What’s the modern benefits stack for 2021?

Since the new normal kicked in, businesses have pivoted to hiring globally vs. just focusing on local talent. And in the ongoing race for international talent, the right mix of benefits that cater to your employees’ lifestyle will help you attract and retain motivated workers across the globe.

While a typical benefit stack features health insurance, dental and vision care, and a pension or 401(k) plan, a modern benefits stack widens the possibilities to include:

  • Flexible work hours
  • Paid leave policies, including parental leave
  • Mental health and wellness care
  • Home office allowance
  • Co-working allowance
  • Learning stipends
  • Travel insurance
  • Life Insurance

In essence, the businesses of the future will be those that create benefits that enrich their employees’ lifestyles so they can enjoy balance at work and beyond.

The best employee benefits to attract top global talent

With more and more businesses hiring remotely, you’re faced with increasing competition for top talent. Now, knowledge workers are looking beyond a huge salary and the basics such as health insurance, dental, and vision benefits before signing an offer. In essence, you need to understand which benefits you need to offer potential hires depending on their location, experience, and your company’s size

From our Global Workforce Revolution Report, we discovered that knowledge workers across the United States and Uk consistently favored employer-provided health insurance, home office stipends, and personal development programs. In other words, top talent across the globe is looking to achieve better work-life balance vs. working more hours for bigger pay.

What that means is that businesses who will thrive in the age of remote work need to normalize offering hires a modern benefits stack that includes:

  • Unlimited time off 
  • Paid parental leave
  • Annual learning budgets
  • Meal allowances
  • Co-working allowances 
  • Equipment budget
  • Stock options 
  • Celebratory gift cards for work anniversaries or birthdays

More than just offering a modern benefits stack that encourages employees to enjoy better work-life balance and develop their career journey, your business needs to leverage that as a selling point to highlight your company’s commitment to your employees’ personal growth.

5. Remote communication

Easy communication guidelines for remote teams

Remote teams face lots of unique challenges with engaging distributed employees and communicating effectively. Outside an office, there’s only so much detail you can provide on a call or using a digital whiteboard.

To adapt, most remote-first teams default to an asynchronous model where team members are encouraged to overcommunicate, document everything, and limit personal exchanges to the essentials.

But then, it can still be hard to get communication right with team members spread across the world — especially if you don’t have a guide to internal comms.

The first key to successful asynchronous communication, therefore, seems counterintuitive: over-communicating with definite limits. Set expectations for managers not to micromanage team members and for the latter to take the initiative before escalating to managers.

Following on, you need a good grip on notifications to ensure employees get enough time for deep work, given that knowledge workers can take up to half an hour to realign after a distraction.

Build a culture of documentation where every team member contributes to a long-term repository of best practices and processes that can be reused after the fact. And finally, stick with a linear documentation strategy that’ll help team members to organize files and projects intuitively for increased visibility.

How to run remote meetings

Quoting our CEO and co-founder Job, the best way to manage meetings is not to have them. But within a remote team, meetings sure do have their place as long as they’re an extension of an asynchronous culture where employees are not required to be continuously present.

Some quick tips for running better remote meetings:

  • Never meet just to share information — use email, recorded video, and internal docs to share updates.
  • Never start new recurring meetings — rather, evaluate the need for existing recurring meetings regularly.
  • Always have a stick to an agenda.
  • Stick to time limits always.
  • Say no to external meetings unless it’s necessary.
  • Try operating without meetings.
  • Keep work talk and fun talk separate.

Being intentional about your remote team’s communications will eliminate meetings that should have been emails from 2022 forward.

How to run a successful remote meeting

We all love to hate on meetings — especially since working remotely means we now have more of them. But meetings can be a healthy part of your remote team’s culture if you:

  • Avoid having meetings if you can.
  • Invite only necessary participants —  you’ll cut to the chase faster.
  • Stay on topic — nominate a team member to keep the conversation flowing the right way.
  • Keep your meetings short and stick to your limits. To do that, you’ll have to start and end on time, always.

Meetings have a place in the future of work, as long as they don’t become all you ever do.

Email is not the right communications solution for remote teams

Email is not dead. But it’s not good enough for working remotely.

Why?

Email thrives on documentation, keeping a repository of reusable information other team members can leverage to do their work in the future. But the very nature of email means that that information is siloed in and often cannot be shared.

Likewise, email cannot serve as a single source of truth because it’s not cohesive. Different team members can have different versions of the same conversation and arrive at different conclusions. As a result, this can hurt productivity since a lot of time is spent trying to figure out the big picture from the various conversations on the same issue.

That’s without mentioning that email hurts productivity with the constant need to keep an eye on notifications now and again. While email has a place in remote work, it won’t be ideal to put it at the center of your remote communication strategy.

6. Taxation and compliance

Contractor compliance checklist

Estimates suggest that 10% of independent contractors in the US are misclassified and that 10-20% of all employers have misclassified their employees at some point. Although worker misclassification is certainly ubiquitous across various industries, it can attract crippling legal penalties if your company is determined to have intentionally misclassified your workers.

You’ll be liable for any back pay, taxes, benefits compensation, and government penalties in addition. Our contractor compliance checklist is designed to help you avoid all those by asking the right question before engaging a contractor and during the term of their contract.

If you answer “no” for any of these questions in our checklist, you might be misclassifying an employee as a contractor. Seek expert legal advice to straighten out any details and get back into compliance.

Guide to employee and independent contractor misclassification

Hiring independent contractors offers businesses a lot of flexibility in an employment relationship. But misclassifying employees — even unintentionally — often attracts serious penalties and businesses must be proactive to ensure they adhere to labor regulations.

There are several tests workers have to pass before they can be classified as either employees or independent contractors such as defining who determines their work schedule, where their work is done, and how long the working relationship lasts.

Classifying employees accurately isn’t an exact science but you can consult with local legal experts and labor resources to review each contract with your self-employed workers so you can reclassify them accordingly.

If you discover you’ve misclassified your independent contractors or employees, it’s not a great idea to quietly end the relationship since you’ll be liable for taxes, back pay, benefits, or payment in lieu for the duration the worker(s) in question were employed.

How to handle international employee relocation

According to our Global Workforce Revolution Report, 81% of tech workers reviewed would move to a new region, state, or country if they could do so without hurting their career prospects. In other words, the best knowledge workers have grown to see location flexibility as a key part of an ideal working environment? How’s your business evolving to meet that need?

And that goes beyond giving a developer the green light and two weeks to move house. You might be faced with employees moving globally and becoming subject to changing labor regulations and payroll needs. That’s why international relocation should be a key part of your global team-building strategy.

To help streamline the international relocation process for your employees, it’s essential to:

  • Ensure you provide any help required with immigration, visa sponsorship, or work permits
  • Understand how taxes work across borders, both for your company and for your employees
  • Stay compliant with any local regulations

Permanent establishment: What companies with remote workers should know

Global businesses are typically not liable for corporate taxes wherever their employees are based, unless you cross a threshold known as permanent establishment. As a business hiring remote employees, you need to keep tabs on what can trigger permanent establishment so you can safely avoid local taxes whenever possible.

Several variables can trigger permanent establishment. You can figure out your company’s legal status by asking a few questions such as:

  • Does the company have a fixed place of business in the country? 
  • Does anyone regularly conduct business as an agent of the company in the country?
  • How much control does the company exercise over its workers in the country?
  • How does the company generate revenue in the country?
  • How long has the company been doing business in the country?
  • Does the company make strategic decisions from within the country?

Keeping tabs on how much of your company’s essential functions are based within a country and how that affects your tax status can help you avoid double taxation and complicated local regulations that accompany permanent establishment. Permanent establishment is always changing, so make sure you have a legal partner with local knowledge.

Owned-entity vs. partner-dependent global employment: What companies should know

Partner-dependent global employment providers resell the services of third-party local legal entities, meaning they have little control over the quality of the service or its pricing. On the other hand, owned-entity providers like Remote provide you with a legal local entity that stays current with local regulation and helps you offer an unbeatable experience to your global workforce.

Why would you prefer an owned entity over a partner-dependent global employment solution? In general, owned entity providers:

  • Are significantly less expensive than a chain of partner-dependent employment solutions agencies
  • Take better care of employees with timely payroll and comprehensive benefits coverage
  • Safeguard sensitive data and intellectual property better than partner-dependent solutions
  • Maintain consistent billing since they don’t have to depend on third parties that can hike fees arbitrarily
  • Understand local laws better and provide better protection
  • Deliver better benefits for your team since they understand statutory benefits better and can help you determine how best to attract employees working within a country, and
  • Owned entity providers remain compliant when local laws change since they can react to local legal changes faster.

Owned-entity providers deliver better service, more reliable billing, and a superior experience for your local employees. Never settle for a partner-dependent EOR.

Where do remote employees pay taxes?

Remote workers are taxed quite similar to office workers but since most tax information is catered to the needs of onsite employees, it can be complicated figuring out your tax position.

American remote workers are subject to varying tax obligations depending on the location within our outside the States and their income level. Generally, remote workers — but citizens and residents — are only subject to federal taxes if they’re based in the United States. State taxes vary by state but can only be collected on income earned by employees based within the state.

Remote workers based outside the United States are liable for their local taxes and must clarify their employment status, familiarize themselves with local tax laws, and request for the employers to hire them through an EOR.

7. Managing remote teams

Onboarding remote employees

Onboarding employees remotely can be tough. Before remote work, HR would give new employees a tour of the building, perhaps including secret tips on the quietest break room. Now, the challenge is to communicate a welcome that helps new employees assimilate into the team — all without seeing anyone in person. That can be a challenge.

To create a better remote onboarding program, you first need to understand how onboarding can differ for in-office employees vs. remote workers. While in-person onboarding might require little 1:1 so that employees can explore for themselves, remote onboarding calls for a more hands-on approach to guide employees through the nuances of your internal culture they may never get to experience otherwise.

Here are four key tips that enhance success when onboarding remote employees:

  • Build an automated self-serve onboarding system that employees can reference at their own pace.
  • Curate onboarding content carefully — focus on the basics and avoid information overload.
  • Pair up new hires with onboarding buddies to provide a 1:1 experience.
  • Establish a culture of ownership early where employees are responsible for output vs. hours worked.

When onboarding contractors, have them sign all the relevant paperwork as well as undergo your onboarding routine to ensure you’re in touch with your organization’s fundamentals. That way, you’ll have a great workplace where employees and contractors alike are in tune with the culture and doing their best work.

Have remote workers? You need stronger IP protections

Intellectual property rights are more straightforward for in-office teams: employees produce work on company time, with company property, and at the company’s office, with the IP owned by the company. With that in-office boundary removed, you’ll need to draw clear lines around your company’s IP with new employees to ensure you protect your future and avoid legal complications going forward.

Whether you’re a fintech looking to undergo an audit, or just a startup considering a sale or an IPO when you get your horn, protecting your IP rights will help enhance your company’s value and secure your compliance with less stress. Otherwise, you could lose deals, fail regulatory audits, get your reputation damaged, or get dragged into costly litigation. Partners prefer to only work with businesses that have an untainted past and as a result, poor IP management can damage your business’s prospects.

Expert guide to working with remote contractors

Working with remote contractors means businesses are no longer restricted to local talent. You can hire anyone from across the globe and collaborate with them on anything from data entry to machine learning. The wide scope of possibilities when working with remote contractors can make it a bit challenging to navigate expectations and responsibility without a well-defined framework — the very problem this blog aims to solve.

Managing remote contractors boils down to three key factors that frame the working relationship:

  • Communications — Keep contractors updated with just enough information required to fulfill their contract’s obligations.
  • Asynchronous work — Emphasize the need to tackle multiple projects at once and communicate in detail and always default to action.
  • Documentation — Build a repository of knowledge that helps with future tasks and communicate in detail with async tools where your shared knowledge can stay useful long-term.

Additionally, employers must stay up to date on local labor regulations to avoid misclassifying contractors — if they’re really contractors. 

Speaking of which, it might be necessary to properly assess an employment relationship to determine whether a contractor is still within legal limits to avoid costly labor entanglements. To clarify, it’s important to determine how much autonomy your remote hires have over their schedules, tools, and training.

Finally, clarity simplifies working with contractors. Whether you’re opting for a communications channel, discussing pricing, and scope, clarity will get you from the drawing board to a working relationship with the right person fast.

How to manage remote employees effectively

Managing a remote team is a different kind of animal than managing an in-office team where executives can walk over to your desk for a quick chat. If you’re a first-time manager, it can be even more challenging leading a team and keeping everyone aligned without a framework for engaging your team virtually.

In this blog, our CEO Job outlines his tested and trusted tactics for managing Remote remotely — without ever meeting most of the team in person.

  • Spend 1:1 calls on connection, not work. Emphasize the human touch. Work updates can be done over Slack.
  • Design meetings as a last resort that must be conducted as efficiently as possible.
  • Communicate in public vs. private. A public documentation culture will eliminate the need to rehash the same conversations with different team members.
  • Delegate your process but own documentation as much as possible.
  • Keep an eye on your employees’ workload to eliminate burnout before it happens.
  • Enforce break times and time off. Proactively encourage healthy work-life balance.
  • Be available and responsive.
  • Limit number of reports and delegate responsibility for reports.
  • Make connections on purpose.
  • Hire for shared values vs. experience. Values motivate output, which makes up for experience in the long run.
  • Assume good intentions — give everyone the benefit of the doubt.
  • Set specific expectations with definite time frames.
  • Make your feedback as actionable as your expectations.

Managing employees whom you may have never met in person might seem like a tall order, but now you have our blueprint for rapid growth to build upon!

How to avoid micromanaging your remote workers

Working remotely requires employees to take the initiative in delivering work items and meeting deadlines. In such a scenario, managers often resort to offering remote workers a little more hand-holding and trying to communicate expectations to ensure productivity doesn’t drop. Before long, you may find yourself micromanaging your team without knowing it.

To get it right, your remote work program must go beyond fancy new tools and focus on communicating expectations clearly and managing outcomes to ensure employees know where they need improvement without watching over their shoulders virtually. That means no spyware, tracking programs, or tracking working hours but rather trusting employees to default to action and stay responsive as a part of the team. Great remote management starts with giving employees the benefit and assuming everyone has good intentions and therefore shouldn’t be policed.

Post-pandemic remote work is different. Here’s what companies should know

As the world navigates post-pandemic changes, it’s important to prepare your team’s remote strategy to adjust as the shift approaches.

  • Be comfortable working across multiple time zones, both to accommodate new teammates and retain your best players wherever they choose to set down roots.
  • Create accountability without micromanaging. Track productivity by output and not time spent.
  • Establish a standardized compensation strategy that’s fair and can scale to accommodate employees across the world.
  • Recognize the need for real human connections. 

As the world gets back to normal, remote work may take yet another turn. But as long as you focus on building a supportive workplace, you’ll be able to attract and retain the best talent that’ll help you achieve your business goals.

8. Working from home

Mastering work-life balance when you work from home

An office environment helps with creating mental boundaries between your work and life. But with remote work going mainstream, it can be a bit tempting to head to your workstation to bang out another draft or send over a quick update by 9 p.m. In the long run, this tends to hurt remote workers and their employers. Statistics prove that productivity stays stagnant after 55 hours, and working too much leads to burnout.

To curb overwork in a remote culture, leaders must take the initiative to take time off work publicly and encourage employees to follow suit.  Even when it seems a project might need just a few other finishing touches, because, let’s face it — you can’t finish projects to perfection every day. Success, therefore, hinges on learning to break work into bits and stay consistent over a long timeline vs. banging away on your keyboard at midnight.

The key to successfully mastering work-life balance is to set healthy boundaries that empower you to make a clean break from work to live mindfully. Since remote work is undoubtedly the present and future of both productivity and healthy living, taking the initiative to balance work and life will improve your productivity long term.

Build the perfect home office on a budget

Building a home office can be a huge headache — especially when you’re on a budget. This article summarizes the best pieces you need to set up a workstation where you can feel productive.

In short, you’re going to need:

  • A good desk
  • A supportive chair
  • An ergonomic keyboard with a mouse to match
  • A webcam with decent resolution
  • A better microphone, if you regularly record yourself speaking
  • Headphones, preferably with some noise-canceling features
  • Better lighting for your calls
  • A monitor big enough to see all your work at once
  • And perhaps some exercise equipment on the side

Investing in a quality home office will help your productivity, boost your confidence, and contribute to your long-term wellness in a remote environment.

Set up an ergonomic home office on a budget

Whenever you mention the word “ergonomic” most people skip to thoughts of pricey chairs that cost several thousand dollars, an ultrawide monitor, and a specced-out Mac. But you don’t have to go overboard with your budget to assemble a workspace that’ll keep you comfortable for hours on end.

This article explores eight key pieces of the home office puzzle you need to fix and how to build an ergonomic office space without breaking the bank.

  • Seating — A small pillow can work wonders for your lumbar support as can a rolled-up towel if you’re on a tight budget.
  • Monitor — Balance the space between your and your eyes and invest in an extra screen if possible.
  • Peripherals — Get a mouse and keyboard that fit your hands and wrists well.
  • Desk — A great desk should provide room to balance the distances between it and your chair, monitor, and peripherals.
  • Field of view — Visual stimulation can be cues that help your mind sync into productivity mode.
  • Exercise and movement equipment — Exercise bikes, pull-up bars, and treadmills are all great options for getting the body in motion after sitting still for long.

Beyond spending a chunk of money on building out the best office, a low-budget approach to an ergonomic lifestyle can incorporate practices more than products to get the same or even better results. A few minutes spent stretching after an hour of work can be more beneficial to your physical wellness than yet another piece of equipment with an ergonomic tag on it.

Creating your home office with mental health in mind

Working remotely is a balancing act where workers combine their home and work environment. That can create challenges with maintaining a work-life balance, limiting distractions, and staying productive.

Even as you race to build a home office where you can feel optimally productive, it’s even more important to find a balance that helps your mental health thrive.

  • Prioritize your style, not your friend’s or your boss’s. Houseplants, movie posters, and motivational quotes are all good  as long as they help reflect your identity and personal taste.
  • Make the office designing process a conscious part of your pivot to working remotely. Many remote employees switched abruptly during the pandemic and had to make do with whatever they had. Today, you can vet your workspace to decide whether everything is comfortable, suits your taste, and helps you be most productive.
  • Build with a conscious emphasis on enabling productivity. What are your most productive days? Can you design your workspace to follow that pattern?

Building a workspace that puts your mental health first can be unpredictable. But as long as you focus on your taste you will create a home office that’s uniquely yours and helps you make the most of every day.

9. Paying remote workers

When should you use an employer of record and which one should you choose?

An employer of record is an entity you can use to hire employees globally. Essentially, an EOR acts as your workers’ employer on paper while they work for you. Remote, for instance, provides EOR services in dozens of countries around the world.

Why do companies use EORs? Without a local legal entity, you can’t actually hire employees in other countries. Your choices, then, are either to pay people as contractors (leaving them open to other gigs and potentially exposing your business to misclassification liabilities) or employing people through an EOR. If you want to work with full-time employees in other countries without breaking the bank to do it, your EOR can be your best friend.

EORs focus on building the entire engine (compensation, benefits, taxes, compliance) that makes it possible to hire the best candidates. They are not staffing agencies, which initiate contact between talent and internal hiring teams but can’t hire on an employer’s behalf.

What is a PEO?

PEOs handle outsourced payroll, benefits, taxes, and certain types of compliance documentation for businesses. PEOs handle day-to-day administrative tasks that might bog down an HR department and drive up costs. A PEO may provide EOR services, but the important difference is that your company must have a local legal entity to enter into a co-employment relationship with a PEO.

If you don’t have a local legal entity, you don’t need a PEO — you need an EOR. While both provide payroll, benefits, taxes, and compliance services, as well as potentially stock options help, an EOR can help you hire in other countries without requiring you to set up there yourself.

What does an employer of record (EOR) do?

An EOR allows a business to employ legal, full-time workers in a different country, state, or province. As an EOR, Remote meets all local employment regulations across countries, states, and local governments and allows businesses to use our legal entities to hire employees anywhere in the world.

This article answers several questions related to employers of records, how they function, and why you might need one.

  • When should you use an EOR? Ideally, once your hiring strategy starts going international. You need a system in place that helps you satisfy local regulations without countless flights to and from your prospective hire’s country.
  • How much does an EOR cost? Remote charges a flat fee — a predictable pricing structure you can factor into your hiring strategy. EORs can also be priced by salary percentage, but that disincentivizes businesses from compensating their employees fairly so they can cut on costs. Remote doesn’t do percentages: One flat fee covers everything.
  • Do your employees work for you or the EOR? On paper, your employees work for your employer of record, but in reality, they function just like the rest of your team. Other than the name on the paperwork, you would never know the difference.

What’s the difference between an EOR vs PEO?

Local laws create a lot of responsibility for businesses looking to hire globally, such as tax obligations, minimum employee compensation, mandatory benefits, and reporting. EORs and PEOs help businesses navigate these administrative functions efficiently, although quite different in their scope.

Essentially, here are the differences between PEOs and EORs:

  • EORs employ workers in other countries on your behalf, while PEOs require you to enter into a co-employment relationship.
  • PEOs require that you own a local entity in whatever country they're managing your administrative functions, unlike EORs, which provide that service for you.
  • Both EORs and PEOs manage HR tasks such as payroll, benefits, and tax deductions, and reporting.
  • An EOR is the legal employer of your workers on paper. With a PEO, you are the legal employer, or at least the legal co-employer.
  • With a PEO, you are chiefly responsible for compliance with local labor laws. An EOR shoulders that burden on your behalf, insulating you from much of the risk of employment.
  • If you already own a legal entity in the country, working with a PEO is the more affordable option.
  • If you do not own an entity, working with an EOR is significantly more affordable than opening a new entity.

Remote offers an efficient employer of record solution that helps businesses hire employees across the world, quickly, reliably, and compliantly.

Everything you need to know about remote work

This guide should give you a great foundation to get started with remote work. We are constantly updating the guides and tips included on this page to ensure you always have the most up-to-date information on remote work and international employment.

Want to know more about how Remotes does remote work? You can always check out our completely public company handbook, which outlines everything from our communications processes to our compensation and benefits structures. We are strong believers in public documentation at Remote, and we are happy to share that knowledge to make life easier for others following a similar path.

If you are ready to onboard international employees or contractors, you can sign up for Remote and get started in seconds. Or, if you have questions, you can always contact a member of our global team.