Hi there. I’m Natasha, Head of Operations at Mavenoid.
Like many companies, Mavenoid made a rapid transition to a fully-remote workplace a year ago. In hindsight, the changeover was pretty smooth. The team’s happiness and productivity improved, pets were thrilled, and we began bringing in talent from all over the world.
I’d love to say that our Operations and People teams were responsible for this. But the truth is that Mavenoid got most of the way there by leaning into a few simple principles. None of these were a major pivot from the way we were operating before— it was just a question of holding ourselves to a slightly higher standard.
I thought I’d share these principles in case they're useful for other organizations on their own remote-first journey.
3 principles to guide remote work
1. Write it down.
We are separated by geography, time-zones, and glowing screens. But to move forward, we need a steady flow of information, ideas, decisions and feedback.
Comments and decisions in a meeting or a casual conversation won't cut it. They won't be documented. They won't be disseminated. And they will be forgotten. Trust me, we've been there.
Every one of these contributions needs to be thoughtfully and intentionally captured. You'll find that once something is documented— a decision, action item, metric, etc.— people will naturally become accountable for it.
So ensure your team has what they need to move forward, and write it down.
2. "Spam" by default.
"Spam" may not exactly be the right word, but you want to practice active transparency. What do I mean by that?
If you’re working in a noisy office, situational awareness can happen by osmosis. In a remote workplace, it needs to be deliberate.
That means having a conversation with Joe about topic x in the public Slack channel called #topic-x, so that Jane (who has subscribed to the channel) can “overhear” and chip in with new information. This same principle applies to email. In fact, especially to email!
We need to debate, compliment, joke, and inform in a public channel, just like we would have done out loud. So at Mavenoid, we "spam" by default.
3. Focus on output.
I’m not going to win your trust by staying late in the office, joining you for a beer, or looking you in the eye. Winning trust in a virtual world is about setting visible goals and delivering against them.
There are a lot of resources available on how to set the right goals. Goals that are S.M.A.R.T, metric oriented, and align your teams. But holding yourself and the rest of your colleagues accountable with actual results is just as important in building trust in a remote workplace. These measurable results, or outputs, are the easiest way to judge accountability.
Evaluating ourselves and each other becomes simple when we choose to focus on output.
For those guiding a remote transition...
Remote-always suits some people just as office-always suits others.
My colleague Mike will proudly tell you that his home-office isn’t on Google Maps, and Mattias enjoys photographing the northern lights from his “office hut”. Meanwhile, Jon misses afternoon coffee-runs with teammates and while I do enjoy being around to watch my little son throw his lunch on the floor every day, after a year at home I’m ready to seek out somewhere quieter.
At Mavenoid, many of us would prefer a combination of office and “WFH” days. But we’d never be able to agree on exactly what the ideal mix would be. Even if we did manage to pin it down, that ideal mix would likely change for folks over time based on external factors, personal circumstances, or even just the weather.
So for all those Ops leaders considering writing a “remote-first playbook” filled with best-practices, survey responses, and links to useful resources, my advice is to hold off as long as possible. I did, in fact, write one and can safely say that it has been absolutely no use.
Instead, solve for the individual - and don’t overthink it.
One final note...
Allowing employees to decide for themselves on any given week how, when, and where they work is behind Mavens’ increased happiness and productivity.
If we start to overthink the concept of “remote-first” and tried to create a one-size-fits-all approach, we’d lose that magic.
Offering absolute flexibility to employees feels good. It works for us, and we’re going to keep it up for as long as we can.
If you think Mavenoid's remote-first approach may be a good fit for you, check out our Career's page to find our open roles. We're always looking for world-class people to join the team!