Remote Work FAQs:
Answers from WFH Experts

We’ve curated knowledge from the remote community to give you actionable answers to use right now. Content is sourced from key thought leaders, our network’s 20,000+ remote developers, trending Twitter threads, and top-cited articles.

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Top remote work advice, templates, tools, and guides

Remote 101
What remote work essentials do I need to know?
Writing things down does not mean thinking one-line-at-the-time via chat. We're talking fully formed sentences comprising cohesive paragraphs that renders complete ideas. Then give people the time to digest, to think, and THEN respond. Fewer shots from the hip, more from the head.
Welcome to day one of remote work. Your new toolkit: communicate with your team as much as possible, select tools that let you collaborate remotely, and establish processes for everything you do (written and shared with the whole team). Remember to give a little grace, leave your assumptions at the door, and say things as explicitly as possible.
The Basecamp Guide to Internal Communication
A guide for how, where, why, and when to communicate.
23 Essential Tips for Working Remotely
Keep up your morale and productivity at home with these self-care and communication tips.
Preparing for Emergency Remote Work
Use this Emergency Remote Checklist to know what to pull together in order to get started with working remotely right away.
Remote 101
What are the must-have tools for remote work?
Whether it's an analytics tool, a task management tool, a document app that we're gonna use. We really think through the process, not the tool.
Hiten Shah
Although your processes are more important than the tools you use, at the bare minimum, your team needs to decide on both a written and video communication tool to use. Tools like Skype and Slack have both. The basic remote tool stack: [1] An instant messaging tool (ex: Slack or Discord) [2] A video and screen sharing tool (ex: Zoom or Google Hangouts) [3] A project management tool (ex: Trello or Asana) [4] A tool to collaborate on documents (ex: G Suite or Notion).
12 Must-Have Remote Work Tools
Find the essential tools to get you started in this guide, from communication to project management and more.
The 9 Best Online Collaboration Tools for Remote Workers
Use this list with charts for how each tool compares with similar tools.
The Remote Worker's Toolkit: 30+ Productivity Apps and Tools to Help You Work Smarter, Not Harder
Ready to deep-dive on software choices? Use this comprehensive guide by fully-remote Zapier to discover tool options.
Remote 101
How do I immediately transition my team to remote work?
What helps for now (emergency-wfh-setup) - have a #goodmorning channel where people say hi & bye - consider a daily video standup (or written) - discuss stuff publicly.
Andreas Klinger
The first things to do: check in with your employees, communicate the plan, and let everyone know you are open to hearing their feedback and concerns. Next up, you need to remove any work blockers by creating a virtual workspace that they can access from anywhere. Don't forget to centralize and give access to all necessary documents!
How to Transition to Remote Work in a Hurry
Use this guide to understand the basics of a successful remote transition. Remember to have empathy for your team as they go through this huge change!
Andreas Klinger
Close Your Office. Now. How to Operate Your Start-Up Under Lockdown.
Work through this to-do list to understand what to have in place to survive your first week of suddenly going remote.
Tips for Managing a Remote Workforce During Coronavirus — and Beyond
Use these short and long-term tips to maximize stability for new work from home teams.
Remote 101
Which communication tools should I use when?
A tool's a tool. A paintbrush is a tool. But depending on how you are trained to use the paintbrush it's gonna produce different results. Same thing with your Slack, same thing with your video conferences and your meetings, same thing with GitLab and everything. Like, it just depends on how you are using this so communicate as a team, develop some good clean processes and you're gonna see really good results.
Laurel Farrer
To communicate well when working remotely, use the right tools for different purposes. [1] Slack or Microsoft Teams are perfect for most daily communication, answering quick questions, and to give straightforward feedback. [2] Tandem is for instant connections when you need to speak verbally (can also share screens and collaborate easily). [3] Zoom, Skype, or Google Hangouts are for longer discussions or large group meetings. Also use video calls when giving constructive criticism or dealing with the sensitive topics. [4] Email should be used when you require a long-form and thoughtful response (not when you expect instant replies).
The Pyramid of Remote Team Communication Tools
See how Doist separates their asynchronous and synchronous communication tools, and the hierarchy created for them.
Best Remote Working Tools for Remote and Distributed Teams
Find a tool that addresses (almost) every struggle you may face as a remote worker or manager.
Communication Cheat Sheet
Use this chart to understand which communication tools are best (and worst) in different situations.
Remote 101
What is the best way to set up my home workspace?
Making the adjustment to working from home if you've previously worked in an office environment can be a big change. It takes self-control, motivation, and strategy to succeed in working independently and creating your own schedule. Environment plays a major role in those who are able to easily make the transition to telecommuting.
Sophia Bernazzani
Set up your desk in a space that's dedicated to work and avoid setting up on or near your bed (or anywhere too comfy). Here are examples of real remote workspaces and tips to create a productive work setup.
This is What a Remote Office Looks Like
Get inspired on how to set up your space by taking a peek at the home offices of Zapier's remote teammates.
13 Home Office Upgrades You Need if You Work Remotely
Ready to invest a little more? Use this shopping list for the ultimate home office.
Mayo Clinic
Office Ergonomics: Your How-To Guide
Reduce your risk of injury with this straightforward guide and graphic for office equipment placement.
How do we share knowledge and processes within the team?
So if there's only a singular person that can do a singular task, that is a failure point that can destroy your business. So you need to constantly audit your organization and say to yourself, "Where is their sacred knowledge?"
Liam Martin
Remote teams can't rely on passive information-sharing. If somebody knows something, it needs to be recorded and actively shared.
Running Remote
GitLab Handbook: How to Share Knowledge Across Remote Teams
Read this to understand why your organization knowledge needs to be 1) scalable and 2) preserved in written form.
GitLab Handbook Usage
Take inspiration from GitLab's handbook for how to write and structure your remote team's knowledge.
Leading Distributed: The Remote Guide to Management - Creating and Maintaining Documentation
Use this guide for inspiration of what to document, and where/how to store this knowledge.
How do I help my team get more comfortable during remote meetings?
Structured icebreakers don't have to be corny. And they're a great way to make sure that everyone – even your shyest and most retiring team members – have a chance for their voices to be heard.
Jennifer Dunn
Video calls can be awkward. The solution: have icebreaker questions on hand to stimulate conversation.
Know Your Team
The 25 Best Icebreaker Questions for Team-Building at Work
Start your next video call by asking one of these questions.
Icebreakers for Remote Teams... That Don't Involve Trust Falls
Send the icebreaker in advance as part of the meeting agenda so people have time to prepare an answer!
Stop Being Awkward: 6 Tips For Better Video Meetings
Answers to the 6 questions you or your team might be too afraid to ask about video calls.
How do I prepare and run a remote meeting effectively?
Let's go back to the core requirements of a meeting. Number one, it's got to have a true purpose and agenda. So, if you don't have a true purpose and agenda, you shouldn't schedule a meeting and even more so you should never accept the invite for that meeting. So, it needs to have a clear objective.
Ken Weary
In a remote meeting, you can't just show up and wing it. To be productive and efficient, you must be more purposeful and plan in advance. Every meeting should have a clear owner, one central objective, an agenda, reading materials for attendees to review in advance, and a list of action items at the end so people can follow up.
How to Run your Distributed Staff Meetings like Zapier
Meeting template to grab and go for your next meeting.
Owl Labs
Remote Meetings 101: Everything Your Need to Know
Here are the 5 types of remote meetings, with suggested length and goals for each.
16 Secrets of Engaging Remote Meetings
Share with the whole team and discuss what processes you can optimize to ensure effective remote meetings.
How do I make the most of remote meetings?
I think one of the things that remote work can help do is help make you more empathetic to different communication styles because [...teammates are] on a big screen and you can clearly see that these people are struggling to get into the conversation.
Kieran Flanagan
The usual best practices for meetings still apply, but since you won't be in the same room as your colleagues, keep your camera on so nobody is missing out on visual cues. Below are other tips to make sure your meetings are effective for everyone.
Owl Labs
14 Tips for Holding Engaging Video Calls
Get inspiration for your team's video call etiquette (and discover pitfalls to avoid).
Zoomtopia: 10 Zoom Tips and Tricks You May Not Know
From changing virtual backgrounds to touching up your appearance, get practical tips for better video calls with the team.
Kieran Flanagan
The Goldfish Face? 5 Truths About Remote Working
Have a facilitator to make sure everyone's voice is heard and pay attention to "the goldfish face."
How do I keep my cat off my keyboard?
I have lived with several Zen masters — all of them cats.
Eckhart Tolle
The one time your kitty wants to snuggle? Right when you need to be typing. Yay. As it turns out, there is a solution: use a heating pad.
Das Keyboard
Cats and Keyboards: A Guide to Protecting Your Keyboard from Feline Companions
The cuteness comes with some hazards for your home office. Use this list to avoid the worst of them!
Stack Exchange Lifehacks
How Can I Keep My Cat Off My Keyboard?
Use these serious (and not-so-serious!) tips to keep kitty engaged... preferably elsewhere.
Cats and Keyboards
Given up? Share pictures of your cute keyboard monster here!
How do I keep my kids distracted while I'm working?
You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance.
Franklin P. Jones
Are your children doing spontaneous dance recitals in the background of your video calls? One of the most frequently-asked questions is how to keep them distracted during the workday. Here are some tips to direct that cute energy elsewhere.
The Simple Dollar
17 Strategies to Survive Working from Home with Children
From practicing "what to do when a call arrives" to how to plan your day, use these tips to (attempt to) structure your remote work experience.
Working From Home with Kids: 21 Tips from Our Remote Team
Learn from those who are already doing it! The fully-remote Buffer team shares their top tips (and how they embrace kids on video calls).
101 Indoor Games and Activities for Kids
Use this ultimate list of indoor games and activities to keep your little ones busy (hopefully!).
How do I stay productive working remotely?
Tomorrow becomes never. No matter how small the task, take the first step now!
Tim Ferriss
Sure, there's work to be done, but the washing machine just finished a cycle, and that couch is looking mighty comfortable. When working remotely, you need the self-discipline to develop routines to keep you productive. Here's how.
5 Habits for Crafting the Perfect Remote Work Day
Are your remote work expectations and reality not quite lining up? Use these 5 key hacks to ensure a productive remote workday.
How to Work from Home: 20 Tips from People Who Do It Successfully
Use these tips from experienced remote workers at HubSpot to supercharge your day.
Francesco Cirillo
The Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is the most-recommended productivity technique (other than music) by our Arc Devs. Use this time-blocking system to keep yourself accountable and on track.
How to do code review remotely?
As a reviewer: Do not critique but help to ship faster. Don't focus on how you'd do it unless it's objectively better. Focus on high level discussion not implementation details. Never block unless dangerous. Give (thumbs up) by default. As a reviewed coder: Get two +1 before going live. Need to ship earlier? Go for it. We trust you. No code style discussion, ever. Add linter rule or STFU.
Andreas Klinger
Your team should already be doing code reviews on pull requests as a best practice, which can be done asynchronously on repositories like GitHub, so continue to do that. If you need a colleague to quickly review your PR, send them a message with a link to it. For longer PRs, try setting up a quick video call if you think an in-depth discussion is needed.
Andreas Klinger
Engineering Management in Remote Teams
Use this slide deck to have a deeper understanding of how your engineering team gets blocked — and what to do about it. (Hint: it's trust and processes.)
3 Ways That Remote Teams Make Code Review Work Across Multiple Timezones
TL;DR: 1) Write longer but fewer comments in code review. 2) Lean into the pull request as a communication channel. 3) Schedule overlap time and sync up.
How Distributed Code Reviews Can Foster Team Spirit
The 3 steps to design a distributed code review process that is both practical and encourages social interaction.
How do I make sure the team isn't burning out?
There’s a preconceived notion that the CEO should be the strongest person on the team and not share openly, but I try to be almost the opposite and that’s made it easier for others.
Joel Gascoigne
With the uncertainties and concerns during this time, you should expect and increase in anxiety and stress levels. But that doesn't mean you must have all the answers yourself. As a manager of a remote team, it might be harder to check in and make sure the team is doing okay when you're not in-person. First, understand the many factors that lead to burnout so you can recognize the signs. Open your 1:1's with questions to ask how someone is doing. And be transparent about your own worries and stresses.
The Holloway Guide
Morale, Mental Health, and Burnout in Remote Teams
Understand the risk factors and countermeasures for burnout, and the concrete steps you should take.
Non-profit Burnout Index Project
Global IT Burnout Index
Send this to your team to have them check in on their own wellbeing. Anonymous and no login required.
What Most Remote Companies Don't Tell You About Remote Work
Acknowledge that mental health challenges exist in remote work, talk about it, and provide the team with ways to cope with it.
How do I have effective remote 1:1's?
This meeting is not like other meetings. You aren't running it. Your primary job is to absorb the information being shared with you, poke holes to figure out how an employee is actually feeling, let things marinate, and then figure out when you need to do. You shouldn't be talking. You should be listening and scanning for the truth.
Claire Lew
Consistent 1:1s are important for a manager to stay in touch with the team, and especially crucial when working remotely. Here's how to do them right. [1] Be sure to set a regular cadence (biweekly or monthly) and stick to it. [2] Make sure video is on for both people. [3] Ask the teammate to write the agenda in advance, which can be used as your shared notes and to add action items (use a Google Doc or try or [4] Prepare your questions in advance covering any concerns/issues, feedback about work performance, career direction, and connecting personally.
Know Your Team
How to Prepare for a One-on-one Meeting As a Manager
The 4 things you should do to make the most out of your next one-on-one meeting.
A Simple Guide to Better Coaching and Feedback in Your Company
Try the way Buffer structures their 1:1 sessions: celebrate your achievements, discuss challenges, give feedback, and receive feedback.
First Round Review
Question Bank for Better 1:1s
Use this list to prepare the questions you ask during your next 1:1. It will help you discuss long term goal development, uncover issues, and give better support.
How do I give feedback or criticism remotely?
If I'm giving someone critical feedback. It really always needs to be a video call. If I can't do a one-on-one meeting with them, I will literally just record a little video of myself talking and email it to them because like you said, the context is just so important.
Laura Roeder
When working remotely, you will find yourself using text to communicate more often. But a text-only message can appear harsher and more confusing than intended. Remember to praise publicly (email, Slack, etc.) but use video for any constructive feedback when you can.
How to Give and Receive Feedback at Work: The Psychology of Criticism
Learn to deliver criticism the best way possible without making the listener go on the defensive.
Fast Company
Your Feedback Emails Sound Too Harsh — Write This Instead
A step-by-step template for how to write written feedback if you can't do it by video call. And concrete examples of how to deliver harsh messages such as stating the [change made] and [reason or result].
5 Tips for Providing Feedback to Remote Workers
Give effective feedback to your remote team with these key tips.
How do I know the team is getting things done?
If you're gonna hire someone onto your team, then you have to be okay with giving them some level of autonomy because if you've hired them, you think that this person is good. If you hire that person on the team and then you spend most of your time questioning the work they do and needing updates every couple of hours on what they're doing, then you've either hired the wrong person or you, as a manager, really need to figure out how to be okay with giving more autonomy to people on your team.
Kieran Flanagan
Trust can be especially difficult when switching from a colocated to distributed setup, as "management by walking around" is no longer possible. Aside from solid project management and tools, systemizing trust and having processes in place will help you know whether or not your team is being productive.
Andreas Klinger
Engineering Management in Remote Teams
Understand the importance of systemizing trust through processes, communication, and more.
Claire Lew
Building Social Trust in Remote Teams
Schedule virtual coffee breaks to connect. Be more deliberate about building affective trust.
11 Tools for Tracking Your Remote Staff's Productivity
If you really insist on needing more formal oversight of your team (we suggest just trusting them, though!), use this roundup of productivity tracking suggestions to find the best fit for you.
How do we do team bonding and run social events remotely?
Every Thursday we have a company thread with questions to facilitate getting to know each other. They range from personal, "What's your favorite ice-cream flavor?" and "Where did you vacation as a child?" to more serious or work-related questions, like "What do you find challenging or frustrating about working here?" and "What could you mentor others on?
Ali Greene
How do you bond with your team when you're not bumping into them at the office? Remote team bonding needs to be done purposefully, and often planned ahead of time. Set a date and time to answer trivia questions, play online games, have a #watercooler Slack channel, or even have virtual office hours. Use these resources to find what works for your team.
15+ Social Events and Games for Remote Teams
Decide on a game to start with and schedule regular bonding events (weekly or bi-weekly).
Remote Team Building Activities: The Ultimate Guide
Try these activities and get inspired to create your own versions of them.
How to Do Remote Team Building for Engineering Teams
Use this guide to understand why remote team bonding is so essential — and how to do it successfully.
How do I get updated on progress without constantly asking?
We’ve also introduced a small workflow using reactions. Often someone will make a request and another person will “claim it” by marking it with the eyes emoji to say “I'm going to take a look at this.” Once the question is answered and the task complete, that same person will mark it with a white/green checkmark to let members of the channel know it’s done. If you leave your mentions and reactions activity sidebar open, you’ll know the moment someone completes your request.
Matt Haughley
You need timely input on something you're working on. Did they even see your Slack message? How do you know if something is currently in progress or if it's just been lost in communication? It's hard to tell when you aren't sharing the same office. Work with your teammate to come up with a low effort solution, such as using emoji reactions to indicate when a task is being worked on and when a task is complete.
Slack Emojis ✌️Our Team’s Secret to Effective Remote Collaboration
Try out this standardized emoji system for efficient team communication on Slack.
9 Ways to Get a Quick Status Update From Your Team
If you're managing a project, ask your teammates to put a quick list of items completed and any obstacles they are facing at the end of the day.
A Brief History of Emoji and How We Use Them at Zapier
A fun guide to get ideas on how to use emojis to improve your communication with coworkers.
How do I build strong relationships with my teammates remotely?
There needs to be some amount of empathy for the things that go on in those people's lives. Understand a little bit about them beyond just the things they're accountable to at work, which means basically just like, you have to want to have a relationship beyond just the metrics or the things they're accountable to.
Kieran Flanagan
Teamwork makes the dream work! But if you're finding it awkward to bond online, switch up your thinking: everyone's in the same boat. Bonding for remote teams needs to be done intentionally. Reach out with an icebreaker or a movie recommendation, and feel free to overshare.
4 Ways To Make Strong Connections As A Remote Worker
Check out this guide to building relationships in a remote team.
How to Build Strong Relationships in a Remote Team
Try out these tips for building rapport with your colleagues remotely.
How to Connect with Colleagues When You Work Remotely
Learn how to connect with your remote colleagues online.
Remote 101
How do I handle loneliness when working remotely?
Another challenge for remote workers is loneliness. If you're planning to work from home long-term, it's worth building working habits that help you have regular connection to others. It doesn't happen serendipitously, as is often the case in an office environment.
Joel Gascoigne
Feeling isolated and alone? If you're used to being around others, the change to working remotely can be a shock. What you need to do: reach out to your colleagues, work in shared spaces (if possible), and do videocalls with the camera on. Remember: remote doesn't mean socially isolated.
Owl Labs
10 Tips to Avoid Loneliness When Working From Home or Working Remotely
Whether you're a team member or a manager, use these tips to reduce the risk of facing loneliness through remote work. When building your routine, don't forget to include some variety, find chances to connect with your industry (e.g., conferences), and engage with people in your physical vicinity.
A Guide to Conquering Remote Work Loneliness from Remote Workers Around the World
Get inspired by these loneliness-reduction suggestions from long-term remote workers.
How to Do Remote Team Building for Engineering Teams
Not just for engineering teams — use these ideas to bond with your fellow remote co-workers and create meaningful personal connections.
How should decisions be made when working remotely?
Engineering Management 101: My favorite one… what i call "Opinions vs Decisions”. Basically: [1] At any point it needs to be clear who makes the decision on a given topic. [2] Ideally the people who need to "live with it" (eg implement). [3] Everybody else "just adds opinions”.
Andreas Klinger
Remote teams can easily get blocked if you don't make it crystal clear who is making decisions. The solution: having a clear process, distinct decision-making roles, and ensuring the correct information is given to the right people. Here's how.
Documenting Decisions in a Remote Team
Copy Buffer's four-step remote decision-making process: clarify the decision, decide and share the decision-makers, share that the decision will happen, and document the decision.
Cloverpop (on Forbes)
Proven Tips for Making Work Decisions When Working from Home
Tips include: use polls, be deliberate, and share decisions transparently. One of the most important things: distill context about decisions into as few sentences as possible.
All-Remote Management: Separating Decision Gathering From Decision Making
Understand why all-remote team GitLab does not seek for consensus when making decisions within their team. Ensure that you know who your Directly Responsible Individual is for the decision.
How can our team collaborate across time zones?
A time difference gives you the freedom to code or write without distraction. Then, when the rest of the team is online, you'll be more focused at what you need to discuss with them before it's time to get offline.
Matthew Guay
Is your team online? When can you expect them to respond? And what time is it over there, anyway? Collaborate effectively across time zones by using the best calendar tools, choosing written communication over meetings, and share the burden of having to stay up late.
How to Work Across Time Zones as a Remote Team: A Best Practice Guide
Optimize your cross-time zone communication practices. Three key questions to ask: Is this meeting necessary? Does the person have enough information? How can we do this asynchronously?
How Our Team Manages Collaboration Across Nine Time Zones
Use Groove's playbook to help develop your own cross-time zone processes, including their exact cadence and agenda for meetings.
15 Tips for Working Across Time Zones
From "Always state the time zone" to remembering that different cultures have different work patterns, use these tips to collaborate better.
How can I look better in videocalls?
Three ways for remote workers to shine: 1) Purchase a selfie light: Add light to your face so people can see you. 2) Dark background: Sit against a dark backdrop so the camera isn't over-exposed. 3) Learn to write: Remote workers communicate less by voice, and more with words.
David Perell
You've got the basics sorted: awake, caffeinated, and wearing tidy clothes. But how can you take your videocalls to the next level? Remember: you may be at home, but you're still working. Lighting and an appropriate background go a long way towards professionalism.
The Verge
How to Hide Your Messy Room for a Zoom Video Conference
Here's how to use virtual backgrounds to hide your pigsty. (Don't forget to turn on "Touch Up My Appearance" within Zoom, too!)
Popular Science
Look Better on Video Calls Using Pro Photography Techniques
Lights, camera, action! The lighting is important. Here's how to get it right so you look your best (spoiler: light size and color count!).
How to Stay Chic on a Video Call
Time to get a little bit extra? Venerable British style magazine Tatler's tips will help you up your game: we say yes to statement lamps too!
Remote 101
What tools can I use to share visual feedback or record my screen?

A screenshot/screen recording saves time, is useful to add to documentation, and aids async communication. Before you begin, think about what the "final product" should look like (what's the structure, what you want to convey, etc.).

Tools to try:

Links to tools: Loom, CloudApp, Nimbus Capture, LiceCap

How can I pair program with another coworker?

You can use a pair programming platform, a code editor with live sharing functionality, or screensharing tools with remote access.

If you have the budget, specific pair programming platforms will typically provide a smoother experience and better remote functionalities than the other options. For the latter options, your team will need to use the supported code editors or screensharing tools.

If you're looking for a mentor to pair program with, you can also use a pair programming platform (like Codementor)

How can I block out my background noise during meetings?

Background noise can be annoying and even if you're working in a closed-off room, it's sometimes unavoidable. If you're using the mic on your laptop, try using headphones with a mic instead.

Some other tools to try:

Links to the tools: ModMic Uni, Krisp, Noise Blocker, Bose QC 35 II

What tools can I use as a whiteboard or to collaborate visually?

It's important to ask yourself, how do you normally collaborate visually with your team? If you like to use sticky notes, write things on a whiteboard, draw mindmaps or tables, there are online whiteboarding tools that you can use.

Some tools to choose from: