The Suddenly Remote Playbook

My Post (6).pngA Playbook for Sustaining an Enterprise-grade Remote Work Environment

We blinked, and suddenly, the future of work materialized.

The COVID-19 pandemic circling the world transformed the gradual advance of remote work into a stampede, compelling millions of people to abandon the office and go home. From Google, Apple, and Microsoft to Chevron, AT&T, and Spotify, the list of companies embracing remote grew and grew.

This has been an extraordinary moment for remote work. Entire populations have been forced to work from home, proving remote infrastructure viable on a massive scale. Now, companies of all sizes ask: “How do you do distributed work the right way? How do you run a remote operation with the most efficiency?”

Toptal knows the answer firsthand.

For years, Toptal has had the world’s largest fully distributed workforce. With our network of top talent and core team members, Toptal has spent a decade pioneering what it means to be a totally remote company. The lessons learned—about technology, productivity, culture, and simply making it work when there is no office at all—serve as a roadmap for both companies and workers finding themselves in this suddenly remote work environment.

Prompted by urgent need and requests, we are going to share how we do it. This Playbook offers learnings across all areas of the remote work experience, from Slack best practices and Zoom etiquette to advice for managers of remote teams and, critically, how to create a culture and work environment built on trust.

Toptal’s experience can help organizations struggling with a challenging new reality and those planning for the future. Companies cannot bear the risk of not doing business for months, quarters, or years. By preparing for future pandemics or other major disruptions, companies will transition, quite naturally, away from the office and toward the distributed workforce.

Furthermore, we have taken time to interview several of our leadership team members for this Playbook and have included them throughout different sections. These podcasts provide you an inside look directly from the team members who work at Toptal.

We hope that you enjoy gaining insight into Toptal and are able to apply the knowledge that you learn here to build a successful remote organization of your own.

-Taso Du Val, CEO, Toptal

The Toptal Playbook for Remote Work:

  • Part 1. “People: Building and Sustaining a Strong Remote Team” describes the human resource work of a distributed company, from recruiting, hiring, and onboarding to goal setting, mentoring, and career development.
  • Part 2. “Culture: Creating a Values-based Culture” explores the techniques needed to build and sustain a strong culture in a remote environment.
  • Part 3. “Productivity: The Path to Effective Remote Work” answers key questions about getting work done at home, holding meaningful meetings, and enabling self-management through metrics.
  • Part 4. “Security & Support: Staying Secure and Making IT Work” addresses Toptal’s perspective on security and IT support for remote teams.
  • Part 5. “Tools: Software for an Asynchronous and Organized Workplace” provides details and examples of the best daily tools to use and how to make the most of them when working remotely.
  • Part 6. “Common Problems: Getting Ahead of Pitfalls While Working Remote” explores how to anticipate and avoid potential difficulties for remote organizations and workers.

Read more

Learn More About Toptal

Top Self-Storage Company Enables Thousands of Employees to Work from Home through COVID-19

My Post (17).pngReady for a positive business story in the era of COVID-19? One of the world’s top self-storage companies has found a way to maintain operations across its thousands of facilities—and keep its large staff employed—through this pandemic.

The company’s strategy: Leverage their cloud-based, work-from-anywhere communications solution to enable everyone in the organization to collaborate, communicate, and serve customers from home.

A Different Type of Disaster Leads to Cloud Communications

The organization actually switched to RingCentral’s all-in-one cloud-communications solution long before the coronavirus outbreak. Senior management decided to move off its legacy phone system, and do so as quickly as possible, when a series of rolling outages took down phone service to many of its locations over the course of a week and a half.

In researching their telephony options, several factors led the IT team to the unified communications solution from RingCentral—including the company’s reputation for platform stability, RingCentral’s ability to implement solutions rapidly for new customers, the wide range of integrated communication features available, and the solution’s future capabilities.

Of course, as it was rolling out RingCentral’s cloud-communications solution to all of its locations and employees, the company had no idea that one of those “future capabilities” would be its ability to respond to a worldwide viral pandemic by transitioning immediately to a 100% remote staff.

A Rollout So Quick and Smooth it Shocked the Company

With contracts signed, the IT team prepared itself and the rest of the organization for what it assumed would be a slow and frustrating migration to their new communications solution—but it turns out the transition period was neither slow nor frustrating. – Read more

Learn More About Ringcentral

How to Manage a Public Meeting Remotely

My Post (16).pngAs stewards of public funds, government leaders must operate transparently. Sharing information publicly and creating opportunities for citizen oversight and feedback have long been recognized as prerequisites of quality service. In times of crisis and uncertainty, open communication is even more vital as citizens look to public sector leaders to provide information and necessary support.

States Provide Flexibility and Clarify Rules for Public Meetings

Recognizing the conflict between social distancing guidelines from public health officials and traditional open meeting laws, Governors around the country have issued executive orders to provide additional flexibility and clarify remote meeting rules.

  • In California, Governor Gavin Newsom suspended specific provisions of the state’s open meetings laws and allowed local government agencies to hold meetings telephonically or electronically without public access to the meeting site.
  • In Wisconsin, the Department of Justice prepared an advisory explaining that teleconference and videoconference may be an appropriate way to comply with the law’s requirement to hold meetings that are reasonably accessible to the public.
  • In our home state of Indiana, Governor Eric Holcomb issued an Executive Order requiring public agencies and governing bodies to conduct essential meetings only. In addition, he allowed them to be conducted electronically by phone or video conference.

While states have relaxed legal requirements around quorum and physical location requirements, don’t forget that government bodies are still obligated to provide public notice of meetings and a way for the public to participate remotely. Here are several examples of various states’ emergency open meeting rules: ArizonaCaliforniaConnecticutNew YorkIndianaNebraskaNorth Dakota; TexasWashington, and Wisconsin.

Two Ways to Manage a Public Meeting Remotely

Technology like OnBoard makes it possible for a public board to conduct necessary government operations in a remote environment without sacrificing transparency and still keeping the public informed. In fact, 2500+ meetings were held using OnBoard in March alone. – Read more

Learn More About Passageways