Two weeks ago, a few of us from the Trainual team packed our bags, hopped our flights, and landed in Bali for the world’s largest remote work conference, Running Remote. It was an incredible experience we’ll never forget and we learned some very valuable lessons along the way.
Running Remote was uniquely relevant to me as I have spent much of the last decade as a digital nomad—creating and working without geographical boundaries as I pursued the intersection of mountains and marketing.
Although my experiences have taught me a lot about how to work remotely and contribute individually, the growth of Trainual meant new territory for me. Trainual is headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ, but my base camp remains a farmhouse on Boston’s South Shore.
And now leading a fast-growing marketing team (tripling our headcount in 6 months!) and scaling a software company from a distance, I’ve had to learn first-hand the importance of what we preach at Trainual—that process makes perfect.
At Running Remote, I had the opportunity to share my story in a closing day keynote, teaching about the importance of process documentation as you scale remote teams. Now thinking back just a couple of weeks later, a few other insights stand out.
Reflecting on lessons learned at Running Remote—
1. Freedom makes people happy.
I mean this one is obvious, isn’t it? But, when it comes to business, worth reiterating. When your employees feel like they have a sense of freedom and autonomy with the way they get their work done, they’ll be happier employees. And that’s good news for your business, too.
Of course, with freedom, you must also have a framework, but when employees are satisfied and engaged with room to craft the way they work, odds are you’ll have lower turnover.
Quick take: Turnover is lower in companies that embrace remote work culture.
2. Remote work will just be called work within 5 years.
As technology advances and new tools are built to help bridge the gap between remote work and in-office work, it’s inevitable that these boundaries, worldwide, will blur.
Within 5 years, younger, digitally native workforces who hugely value work/life balance will begin stepping into leadership roles and keeping your whole team under one roof will stop being the norm. In fact, your business may be more agile and better adapted for the future of scaling if you chose remote first.
Quick take: Hire leaders for their experience and skill, not their geographic location.
3. Team retreats make remote work, work.
One of the best ways to build a strong and lasting company culture and keep remote team members aligned is to plan face-to-face retreats at least once a year, if not once per quarter, for all of your employees.
I travel west to meet with the teams in-office about once per month, and we also try to get everybody together on a monthly or quarterly basis to just have fun together outside the office—for example, racing go-karts! It’s these times spent together that help us work more efficiently apart.
Quick take: Get together often to work better apart.
4. Live and die by process.
If you haven’t taken the time to write it down and clearly communicate expectations, you can’t expect them to be met. Remote teams, maybe more than anyone else, need consistent processes documented.
Process documentation was on the lips of just about every attendee and speaker at Running Remote as one of the most pressing issues at play for effectively scaling remote teams. Which was cool because it just so happens, that’s what Trainual does. And that made for some really fun conversations!
Quick take: Document everything you expect delivered.