Tech and Innovation 5 min

Introducing Remote Labs: The innovation arm of Remote

May 1, 2021


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Job van der Voort

Remote has never been ordinary. We began as a fully remote company more than a year before the COVID-19 pandemic in our quest to bring better global employment solutions to the world. Today, we continue to push the boundaries of what a distributed organization can be.

We are proud to announce the launch of Remote Labs, an initiative focused on innovation and exploration of better ways to help remote teams collaborate around the world.

What is Remote Labs?

Remote Labs is a new internal project at Remote where we invest in research and adoption of new collaboration technologies and best practices for remote teams. Everyone at Remote can contribute ideas or propose potential solutions to common remote work challenges. By formalizing this process into Remote Labs, we can better understand the challenges and opportunities remote organizations encounter, learn more about available options, and allocate resources for experimentation.

Why start Remote Labs now?

Our organization is growing rapidly. We have added dozens of new team members in the last few months, and we have dozens more on the way. Founding Remote Labs now allows us to formalize our commitment to a future of work that is not only remote, but also one that is consciously and deliberately beneficial to global teams.

Which qualities does Remote Labs value in new innovations?

Remote’s leadership team considers several factors when debating whether to adopt a new practice, tool, or technology:

1. Is it kind?

We make it no secret that kindness is the number one company value at Remote, as outlined in our public employee handbook. Working across different cultures, borders, and time zones makes it easy for misunderstandings to get between good people. To combat this, we prioritize kindness in all communications and make a practice of assuming the best of our colleagues. New initiatives from Remote Labs must first pass the kindness test: Will adopting this new thing help or hinder our continued efforts to be kind to one another?

2. Is it asynchronous?

Working across time zones makes it difficult to gather everyone together at the same time. We pride ourselves on our ability to work asynchronously at Remote, because asynchronous workflows allow people to do their best work without extra meetings or bottlenecks. While new tools do not always need to be asynchronous, we do value those that make it easier for us to work together when we don’t work at the same time.

3. Is it powerful?

Plenty of tools claim to provide major benefits to remote teams. Not all of them measure up, though. Excessive adoption of tools can lead to confusion and frustration, so we only want to pursue opportunities that can provide Remote with enormous gains in productivity, collaboration, and connectivity. Remote Labs helps us identify the best of the best to ensure everything we roll out on a larger scale will benefit the business and its people.

4. Is it global?

Remote is not just a fully remote company but a fully global company. We have team members in multiple time zones on multiple continents. Every consideration at Remote Labs must be one that can benefit our global team. Remote believes strongly in the power of a diverse workforce, and any innovation that would limit our ability to engage with our people all over the world does not have a place in our business.

These are not the only qualities Remote Labs considers, but they are the primary ones. We built Remote believing that anyone in the world should be able to work with anyone else, legally and easily. Remote’s global employment solutions allow us and our customers to hire all over the world. Now, Remote Labs allows us to explore more ways for global teams to collaborate.

What will be the first Remote Labs initiative?

The first Remote Labs initiative is already live. Every team member at Remote now receives an Oculus Quest 2 VR headset when joining the company.

Using these headsets, we hope to reach new levels of collaboration and community with our global teams. Virtual reality allows team members to stand side-by-side with colleagues all over the world. We can play games together, hang out in VR spaces, and hold meetings in virtual office rooms. As the VR space matures, we expect to use our headsets for several more purposes.

This week, we hosted our first Remote VR Day to allow our team to explore the possibilities with their new headsets together. We used apps like Spatial and Rec Room to hang out together; Beat Saber to test our reflexes and rhythm; and BigScreen to watch videos as a group. We even plan to host parts of our holiday party in VR this year.

We can’t wait to explore more new innovations and opportunities through Remote Labs in the months and years to come. With this foundation, we will build a stronger international culture, improve our productivity, and challenge our assumptions about what the future of work holds.

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