Remote work has been the norm at Buffer for many years now; we ditched our office in 2015 and have been hiring remote teammates since 2011. We now have over 85 teammates spread across 10 different time zones.
Over the years, our team has experimented and learned tons about productivity, tools, collaborating, communicating, and disconnecting as they each relate to remote work.
Here’s a full list of all of our resources on remote work. Comment below if you have a question and we haven’t written about it before!
Communication & Collaboration
Communication and collaboration are complex issues, especially for remote workers – in our last three years of State of Remote Work reports they have been in the top three struggles for remote workers.
Here are some of the ways we communication and collaboration at Buffer:
We try to communicate asynchronously when possible. This concept simply means that work doesn’t happen at the same time for everyone.
We’ve also been able to successfully experiment with asynchronous meetings. We do still have meetings on Zoom for many teammates but we have the option to move to asynchronous when it feels best.
Establishing best practices
Like many other remote teams, we primarily gather in Slack. We’ve found it’s helpful for everyone to be on the same page when communicating and so created these 10 Slack agreements for our team.
Running hack weeks
Our engineering team recently hosted our third hack week. Here’s exactly how they were able to do that remotely.
We’ve paired everyone on the team who has opted-in to Masterminds with another person on the Buffer team. Masterminds look like structured, 1-hour sessions on at least a bi-weekly basis with someone at a similar peer level. They are designed to establish a deep connection with a peer outside a teammate’s immediate area for long-term support, accountability, and continuity.
Every other month, we host an all hands for the whole Buffer company on Zoom. Here’s exactly how we run our all hands.
Tools & Products
We wouldn’t be able to operate remotely without the easy-to-use tools that we’ve implemented across the Buffer team.
The top 12 tools we use on the Buffer team
1. Video chat: Zoom
2. Team handbook: Notion
3. Discussion and decision-making: Threads
4. HR dashboard: Zenefits
5. Security and password management: Okta and 1Password
6. Tracking time off: Timetastic
7. Reviews and career conversations: Culture Amp
8. Instant messaging and watercooler: Slack
9. Achievement and recognition: HeyTaco
10. Real-time collaboration: Dropbox, Dropbox Paper
11. Tasks, transparency and more: Trello
12. Planning meetings: Calendly
Here’s a bit more about how each of those tools is leveraged:12 Remote Work Tools Buffer Can’t Live Without
Since we use Slack quite a bit, we’ve implemented several Slack bots to better help our team collaborate, show recognition and praise, and to bring our team together in fun ways.
Products our remote team uses
Buffer teammates each have favorites when it comes to the gear they use to work remotely. Here are all of the products that our remote team loves:
Routines & Productivity
Remote work can be quite challenging at times. Several folks on the Buffer team have written about their routines and overcoming specific challenges (like working from home with kids).
From Marcus, our Mobile lead, here’s a step-by-step process for creating a remote work routine that works from you.
For a specific example, check out our CEO Joel’s morning routine:
Working from home with kids
Working from home with kids isn’t for everyone, and it might not be possible for you or your situation. Certain roles might lend themselves to more flexible hours and as children go through different stages, work styles might have to adapt as well.
At Buffer, there’s no one family that approaches this the same, though there’s an overwhelming gratitude for the unique opportunities that remote working affords.
If you happen to be working at home with kids or thinking about it for the future, here are a few bits of advice and lessons from our Buffer parents:
Leveraging a calendar
Calendar’s are a staple at most workplaces, even regular offices. For distributed teams, since you can’t walk by someone’s door to see if they are available, calendars become an essential tool for checking availability. We use them at Buffer to book calls with one another, or just check if someone is ‘at work’ that day. Here’s advice from Marcus on how he mastered his calendar:
Getting deep work done
Getting deep work done, while also balancing being able to answer questions to unblock teammates and switching context can be challenging. Here’s what Harrison did to get three days of deep work a week:
Lessons From Remote Work
The more you work remotely, the more you learn about your preferences for remote work and what works particularly well for you.
Being a better remote worker
Jose, a Senior Software Engineer on our team, shared several lessons that have led him to be a better remote worker over the years.
Lessons from 4 years of remote work
At her four year mark of remote work, Courtney, our Director of People, wrote down 40 lessons from working remotely. Everything from “Close your laptop and mean it at the end of the day.” to “Go outside sometimes, if you can.”
While remote work is something we’ve always been very grateful for on the Buffer team, that doesn’t mean that it is flawless. Remote work can come with feelings of isolation, and troubles disconnecting from work.
Disconnecting from devices is a challenge for most people. For remote workers, it’s especially difficult if there’s no separation between work and home and your devices become your office. Here’s advice from the Buffer team on disconnecting from your devices:
Twenty percent of remote workers point to loneliness being their biggest struggle to remote work. Combating loneliness might look different for everyone. Here are a few tips from our Community and Engagement Specialist, Arielle.