Why I’m experimenting with remote work

I’ll be experimenting with working remotely for the next 3-4 months – working from co-working spaces in Australia, Japan, Vietnam and India. This article is about why.

Over the last 24 months our team has organically moved towards a more and more globally distributed team. It wasn’t deliberate at first, but has now become part of who we are as a team.

There are a few drivers for this change:

Step 1: Hire remote talent

We found super-talented people who wanted to join our team who were located outside our home city of Birmingham UK. We decided to hire them anyway and have them work with us remotely. It really worked for us – the talent we brought onboard was really high calibre and it felt like our team was more productive than we’d ever been before.

Step 2: Build remote culture

We quickly realised that we needed to build a deeper culture around remote working in order to make our team a rewarding one to be part of –  for everyone. If half the team is onsite and the other half work from elsewhere – it’s easy to adopt a “local team” vs. “remote team” mentality – judging each differently and having a different level and type of communication with each.  Here are a few examples of things we changed to create a remote culture in our team:

  1. All meetings which include a remote person are automatically held via Google Hangouts – and each team member logs in separately. This is important – because otherwise it feels like the remote person is separate/further away. If everyone is on Google hangouts, it changes the feel of the meeting.
  2. We still wanted to build strong bonds between everyone in the team, so, we started organising team retreats. Our first one was to Budapest in March 2016, our second to Prague in December 2016. We flew the whole team out to live, work and spend time with each other in person. 

Step 3: Remote policy

We made it a policy that anyone can work from anywhere. Those of us working on-site still ended up in the office. But, over time, this team is also starting to work remotely. Each of us spend afternoons or entire days working from home or from coffee shops, and Viktor, our CTO, moved to Edinburgh to explore a new city.

Back to my plans

So, it’s in that context that I’m travelling for the next few months. I’ll be working from co-working spaces around the world (https://nomadlist.com/ is a great resource for that!)

Roughly my plans are:

March: Australia & Japan

April: Vietnam

May: India

Managing timezones

In each time zone I’ll be shifting some of my working day to later in the day in order to make it easier to work with the UK (World Time Buddy is an awesome tool to help)

Australia GMT + 11 – work 19:00 – 22:00 (UK 08:00 – 11:00)

Vietnam GMT + 7 – work 18:00 – 21:00 (UK 11:00 – 14:00)

India – GMT + 5.30 – work 18:00 – 20:00 (UK 12.30 – 14.30)

So, it’s that easy?

To be entirely honest, I’m a little stressed at the concept of not being in the office. But I like the idea of working remotely, and I like to push myself to try new things. So here goes.

Biggest challenge: Attending meetings. As a product/sales CEO, I’m often in meetings. Those will need to take place remotely now – although I can fly back for some meetings of course.

Minor issue: Post. I’ve actually found some cool companies that open my post and scan non-junk to my email – they even pay in cheques!  I’m pretty sure I’ll be using them when I’m back in the UK also!

Expected benefits

I’ve definitely been inspired by Joel from Buffer and my other remote-working friends to take this jump.  Buffer have a great blog post on the big benefits of working remotely and I look forward to seeing how it works out for our team. You can read their blog post here: https://open.buffer.com/distributed-team-benefits/

That’s all from me!  Here’s to a productive 3-4 months getting loads of stuff done while working remotely!

You should try it – Go on I dare you!

Thanks to: 

Joel Gascoigne for the original inspiration to do remote working

Jodie Cook for recommendations on Nomad List and World Time Buddy

Nick Holzherr

Nick is a serial entrepreneur and the CEO of HR software company Air (www.joinair.com) and food tech company Whisk.com. He raised over $2m in funding from technology investors and pitched Whisk.com to Lord Sugar after getting to the final of the BBC Apprentice 2012, where he achieved the series' best task-win record.

Nick also blogs at nickholzherr.com and is available on twitter under @nickholzherr.

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