No Bullshit Remote Work

Here is a complete toolkit and know-how on setting up your organization / teams to perform in a remote work environment. We hope you will find this helpful, feel free to add your ideas/experience and share this manual with whomever you want.

As with any other process change, to implement remote working capabilities, teams need to be supported by the organization.

I believe that the more decisions are left to the team the better, as they make the process and tools their own.

Every tool you find here should be free of charge for small teams, and is easily scalable if you decide to use it in your whole organization.

I decided not to include tools like Salesforce or Github as they are specific to a certain work group. Insted, what you will find here is a universal tool list that you may use to go fully remote.

What you need toolwise:

Jira / Trello:

For your project management. To be honest, Trello is super easy and a great way to start your journey with Scrum or Kanban (more on that later). Jira is way more complex but also has way more options and addons. If you feel like Trello is lacking some functionality - you can consider Jira.

Google G Suite (or your personal account):

GDrive - for all your documentation, remember to keep it clean and tidy. A good way to start is to plan on your file/documentation structure. As you get more documents, pictures etc., a well designed structure can be a life saver.

Gmail - for all asynchronous communication and important decisions. If it's the first time you hear about Gmail then I should probably welcome you to the XXI Century, stranger. Anyway, try using it as little as possible, no one reads emails unless they know it's important stuff.

Google Calendar - for all your plans and meetings. When you work online you need to allow people to see your agenda, so they can arrange a meeting with you or to simply know that you will be unavailable for a certain period of time. The more you keep it up to date, the better - for you and your team.

Slack / Zulip:

For your day-to-day communication. In all honesty I recommend Zulip if you are a software house or any IT in that matter. Biggest advantage over Slack or Skype or Messenger or Google or whatever is that in Zulip you can create threads in channels. I find other communicators more suitable for small non-IT organizations. Don't get me wrong - Slack and others are good tools, the thing is Zulip is Open Sourced with cool features that will make your life easier.

Google Meet / Zoom / Skype:

Sooner or later (but probably sooner) you will need to make a video call, be it with a colleague or a Client. Meet is easy to use, it has screen sharing functionality but not much more. Zoom is awesome but the free version has only 40 minutes per call so yeah... Skype is just Skype - for me it is the last resort.

Remember that online meetings are as important as f2f so be ready before you talk to the person on the other side.

Jack of all trades. Now this is a special entry and a very important one. This is your brain-storming/workshoping/ team creativity releasing / do-what-you want tool. If you work in Agile you will find it super helpful in on-line Retrospectives. Just check it out ok. It's free.


Finding the right place to work:

All you need to do is to find a place that will be your temporary office - it can be your favorite coffee place, but it can also be a corner in your apartment with a desk and a laptop on top of it. The important thing is that when you leave that place you need to stop working. This is crucial for maintaining a healthy work life balance. There is another thing you need to watch out for and avoid at all cost: silence. Silence will be your biggest enemy, trust me. The best way to battle it: listening to music/podcasts or turning one one of those ambient coffee shop sounds if you work from home.

One more thing...

Get a good set of headphones. You'll need them. For work and everything else. Seriously. Just buy them.

Now For The Mindset

Go Agile

There is a reason why everybody is changing their work methodology to Scrum. You work in Sprints (a development cycle lasting from one to four weeks) at the end of which you get a usable, and potentially releasable product Increment. It's based on three core elements: Transparency, Inspection and Adaptation. On top of that there are five values that Scrum is based upon: Courage, Commitment, Focus, Openness and Respect. It's perfect for remote work and it provides you with all the necessary meetings to keep everyone up to date. Check for a free copy of the official Scrum Guide to get you going. Remember to define your sprint goal to keep all of your team on track!

Keep The Team Alive

Ok so you have the tools and you have the methodology to perform well in a team made of people living in different places across the country or even across the globe. Let's stop for a moment and talk about people. To work as a team, you need to be a team, not a group of randoms in one place at one time.

Here is how to do that:

  • Remember your Scrum events - they work miracles.
  • Work in teams of at least two people. It will keep your motivation up, and in case of an emergency you will always have someone to ask for help.
  • If possible ask your organization to sponsor a retreat for the team every now and then.
  • Make informal meetings with your teammates - just add to your calendar a coffee break and invite everyone on the team. Talk about everything and nothing. Enjoy your time together.

Let's Sum It UP

Working remotely can be as effective as working in an office, and if you correctly manage the process and tools you can have your team working closely together and performing. The tools, the ideas are yours. Develop. Enjoy. Have fun.

If you need help in implementation of tools or methodology feel free to contact us.

All the best.

Jan KrupiƄski.
Laboratorium EE