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Remote working tips from Zapier for startups

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Zapier is a global remote company that allows end-users to integrate the web applications they use. Often described as a translator between web APIs, Zapier lets you automatically connect the apps you use to complete routine tasks.

It is one such company that has its employees spread all across the globe. With over 300 remote employees in 17 time zones and 28 countries, Zapier can offer us some valuable insights on remote working. Here, we try to dig a bit into its experiences and learn a few tips for ourselves that could be useful in today's quarantine situation affecting us all.

Zapier success story on remote working for employers startups

According to their team's analysis, the most critical factors for a successful remote working setup are Team, Tools, and process. It is of utmost necessity to assemble a team that is capable of executing in a remote environment. As an employer, it is imperative to hire doers, who can communicate and write well and who one can trust. Remote workers should also be such who are comfortable without social work and, in fact, thrive on it.

Tools are essential in a remote workplace as they enable you to organize the team better and keep everyone on the same page. Tools such as Slack, Trello, Google Docs, Hackpad, GoToMeeting, etc., are some that the Zapier team found handy. The 3rd dominant factor is Process. Proper processes let you get work done in the absence of all else and help one measure its progress keeping it flexible. Few Processes that worked for Zapier support from everyone to improve customer service, weekly hangouts, pair buddies, monthly one-on-ones, the culture of accountability, building culture in person, and lastly, automation.

Employees of Zapier have believed that you come to work for the work and not for the foosball or ping-pong. Zapier says, "Here are some examples:

  • How we talk to customers (is speed more important than quality?)
  • How we communicate with each other (is this a phone call conversation or an email conversation or a chat conversation?)
  • How much work do you do (do we work 40 hours or 80 hours?)"

Tools have a vital part here too. In-person meet-ups, local community sponsorship all come into play here.

While evaluating remote team employees, it is meaningful to make new teammates feel welcome from the start, measure their output, not input, look for feedbacks and self-evaluations and, most importantly, trust each other. In terms of improving internal communication, building rapport remotely, listening without interrupting, sharing own stories, asking open questions, staying up-to-date with each other are crucial ingredients.

Even as running remote meetings, setting a time and meeting frequency and structure, and having meeting equipment handy and updated for all is useful.

Work fast and productively

Zapier says:

  • Pull Internal Communication out of your Inbox
  • Rely on the Right Tools
  • Use Differing Schedules to your advantage
  • Think before you send
  • Set up your Best Environment
  • Own up to your Productivity.

To find one's optimal work environment and boost productivity, one must first know or explore what times of the day suits them best and work accordingly. Secondly, adjusting your surroundings to make yourself more productive makes a huge difference. For example, temperature settings, noise level settings, and attending to light around the workspace all depend on the employee explicitly. Also, to make sure that you work productively, try to manage the workload by making chunks of your task, challenging yourself, and just getting started.

Cons of a remote working set up

Some of the few cons of a Remote Working Set Up and how to overcome them; additionally words of advice on cooperating with workmates and balancing work smoothly.

  • There's no constant collaboration, so own your projects.
  • Meetings might be late (or early), so be flexible.
  • It's tough to stay in sync, so check in with your team.
  • You still need to socialize, so have a virtual water cooler.
  • Your work can be overlooked, so work in public
  • Time zones are relentless, so keep your clocks synced.

Another way of collaborating with the teammates of a remote working group, as suggested by Zapier is Company Retreats. The best retreats combine something everyone on the team can work on in person, along with multiple activities that help the team get to know each other better.

Lastly, a few ways to avoid burnout in a remote team are establishing and maintaining a routine, setting and sticking to priorities, creating and keeping boundaries, taking short and long breaks, and making time for human interactions.

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