In our last post we covered in detail the remote onboarding and working experiences of 3 Lifers. Let’s continue the discussion and dig a little deeper into their stories of working from home.

How does working remotely impact the company culture and team spirit?

Antonio Chiapetta, a Startuplifer working remotely in San Francisco for Elevate Labs

Antonio feels like part of a virtual family because of many things done by Elevate Labs. For starts they have regular company meetings. Here they discuss strategy, new ideas and ways to overcome the current crisis. For instance to fight the crisis in their own way, Elevate Labs gave thousands of free annual subscriptions to their meditation app. This vision of helping people to feel better through their mind and body, drives Antonio. Moreover, at Elevate Labs he can also join customer interviews, and hear their stories. It’s really nice to learn about the impact the company is making. To hear from people who are having health problems and brain cognition issues, how they’re feeling better because of the app. He truly feels like his company is changing lives for the better.

They also use a really cool app called Bonusly, to praise your co-workers for a job well done. Each month you can give away 100 high fives. Which then translates into gift cards, vouchers at restaurants or donations you can make. During his 1st week Antonio received a lot of ‘high fives’ for working hard on his on-boarding assignments, and he felt really rewarded. He thinks it’s a great way to appreciate each other.

Apart from that, there are Slack channels for random work chatter and lots of virtual social events. On Friday there is happy hour and games night. They played dungeons and dragons, and also tried to sing together on Zoom. He feels it’s a little strange to be in a new country and not be able to meet new people or experience new things because of the lockdown. But his company is making things a lot easier with all this virtual activity.

Joakim Isoaho, a Startuplifer working remotely in LA for Matchmade

At the beginning Joakim found it a little difficult to feel like part of the company. There were good days and bad days. He was fighting an internal battle between striving to do good work and longing to visit the office in Estonia. However, he believes that if you choose an open, flexible and free worklife, it could also mean someone might not be there to watch over you all the time.

Joakim thinks arranging a face-to-face meetup for all the employees at least once a year is one of the best investments a company could make. If this is not possible, he recommends setting up virtual water coolers or lunches, as they did in his company. Essentially, this is a video stream where people from the company can pop in and out. Of course, if you’re operating across multiple time zones, it’s best to take them into account too.

Emmi Linkola, a Startuplifer working remotely in Helsinki for SafetyWing

Emmi admits finding a sense of belonging to the company and the team was a little challenging at the start. However, as she continued to work and had team meetings, she began to feel like part of a virtual office. The more teamwork she did, for example as a developer when she has an intense period of work with a designer, those are the moments that create the true team feeling.

How does working remotely affect motivation and performance?

Antonio Chiapetta, a Startuplifer working remotely in San Francisco for Elevate Labs

Antonio believes it comes down to the motivation of the person who’s getting onboard. Firstly, the employees must be willing to give their 100%. Then the company must have ways to track their performance and involve them in social activities. With this combination there is nothing stopping you from getting great results.

Joakim Isoaho, a Startuplifer working remotely in LA for Matchmade

Joakim says the first step is to make sure the right candidate is hired. Essentially, someone trustworthy whose values resonate with the company. Then as a rule of thumb assume everyone is working even more than what’s expected. Set up working agreements for a person or teams that clearly outlines the responsibilities. Use the many tools that are available today. He believes that constantly doubting the efficiency of a team can easily lead to a downward spiral.

Emmi Linkola, a Startuplifer working remotely in Helsinki for SafetyWing

Emmi thinks it’s kind of funny that some people believe productivity will be an issue with working remotely. If anything employees feel more responsibility to show their results with remote work. Personally, she works even harder and produces visible results to show. Culture and such will always be challenging, but it’s important to trust your team. However, Emmi acknowledges it’s easy for her to talk from the perspective of being in a company seasoned in remote work.

What are the main perks and challenges of working remotely?

Antonio Chiapetta, a Startuplifer working remotely in San Francisco for Elevate Labs

Antonio thinks working remotely is pretty much the way forward. To sum up all the goodness it brings he said, “Imagine a world where you don’t have to feel the loss of time. Or the stress of travelling and getting stuck in traffic. You can cook your own meals during the lunch break. Start working 30 minutes after waking up from your own bed. Also you can hug your children, work from home and enjoy many activities”.  

On the other hand, he advises anyone who’s feeling lonely to look for ways to engage with colleagues remotely. It might be a little strange to always try to interact through a screen. But you just need to be a bit more inventive and think about how things can be done via a camera.

Joakim Isoaho, a Startuplifer working remotely in LA for Matchmade

Moving on, Joakim says this goes back to the argument of structure vs freedom. There’s a lot of time to focus on your own work. You can take the initiative and be proactive, without having to fit into a mould. For instance, Joakim proactively asked access to different tools at the beginning. As a result, within the first 2 months he ended up getting a view into the whole company. He was not stuck or restricted, but rather able to explore and try many things on his own.

Emmi Linkola, a Startuplifer working remotely in Helsinki for SafetyWing

Emmi listed the main benefits of working remotely as follows. First is location freedom, of course when there is no pandemic. Second up is focus time which can really boost your productivity. Finally there’s the freedom over your own schedule, depending on your team and company.

In terms of what’s challenging, she feels you will have to proactively find ways to socialize elsewhere. With remote work it’s also really easy to work too much. After all, you don’t have to leave an office when the work is over. So watch out for that.

Do you have any final thoughts to share?

Antonio Chiapetta, a Startuplifer working remotely in San Francisco for Elevate Labs

Antonio’s motto is, “Don’t limit yourself to a specific location, your ability to move around or being with people in a physical sense. Instead use the technology and connectivity available today. Explore all the opportunities and new ways of meeting and getting to know people. There’s a great big world out there.”

Joakim Isoaho, a Startuplifer working remotely in LA for Matchmade

Joakim’s advise is, “When joining a fast moving company, be prepared for a fast moving onboarding process as well. Your personal affinity with leadership is really important when you need to make fast decisions, especially when working from far.”

Emmi Linkola, a Startuplifer working remotely in Helsinki for SafetyWing

Emmi’s thoughts are, “If the biggest thing you are after is the startup mindset, then whether the job is remote or at an office doesn’t change that. The work is still the same. If you trust yourself and go into a good team that will support you remotely, there is nothing to worry about.”