Hiring and working from all over the world instead of from a central location.
Flexible working hours over set working hours.
Writing down and recording knowledge over verbal explanations.
Written down processes over on-the-job training.
Public sharing of information over need-to-know access.
Opening up every document for editing by anyone over top-down control of documents.
Asynchronous communication over synchronous communication.
The results of work over the hours put in.
Formal communication channels over informal communication channels.
"Remote is not a challenge to overcome. It's a clear business advantage." -Victor, Product Manager, GitLab
From the cost savings on office space to more flexibility in employees' daily lives, all-remote work offers a number of advantages to organizations and their people. But we also recognize that being part of an all-remote company isn't for everyone. Here's a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages.
You have more flexibility in your daily life (for kids, parents, friends, groceries, sports, deliveries).
No more time, stress, or money wasted on a commute (subway and bus fees, gas, car maintenance, tolls, etc.).
You can choose your working hours based on when you're most productive.
You have the opportunity to meet and work with people from many locations around the world.
Onboarding may be less stressful socially.
Eating at home is better (sometimes) and cheaper.
Taxes can be cheaper in some countries.
Work clothes are not required.
From family time to travel plans, there are many examples and stories of how remote work has impacted the lives of GitLab team members around the world.
“The flexibility makes family life exponentially easier, which reduces stress and makes you more productive and motivated. You can’t put a dollar value on it – it’s priceless.” - Haydn, Regional Sales Director, GitLab
With no commuting employees and no office buildings or campuses, all-remote companies have a smaller environmental footprint (except when they host regular companywide summits or gatherings that require significant amounts of air travel).
For global companies, bringing better-paying jobs to low-cost regions has positive economic impacts.
Despite all of its advantages, all-remote work isn't for everyone. It can have disadvantages for potential employees depending on their lifestyle and work preferences, as well as the organization.
Onboarding can be difficult when you're remote, because it involves more self-learning and you're not physically with your new coworkers and fellow new hires.
The first month in a remote role can feel lonely, especially if you're transitioning from a traditional office setting.
Remote settings can cause a breakdown in communication skills if organizations aren't intentional about creating ways for their people to stay connected.
Some may find it difficult to work in the same setting as they live and sleep, because a dedicated workspace helps to switch the context from their home life to work.
Team members in different time zones may have to compromise on meeting times.
It can be hard to separate your personal and work life. It's important to encourage boundaries and make sure you don't continue to work during your family time.
Differences in currency and tax requirements around the world can create challenges for the employee.
Remote work requires you to manage your own time and be self-motivated, disciplined, and organized.
For your organization
Because it's non-traditional, all-remote work sometimes concerns investors, partners, and customers.
Differences in currency as well as tax, immigration, and labor laws around the world can create compliance challenges for the organization.
You have to be more intentional about cultivating and sustaining your company culture.
Why is this possible now?
All-remote work wouldn't be possible without the constant evolution of technology, and the tools that enable this type of work are continuously being developed and improved.
We aren't just seeing these impacts for all-remote companies. In fact, in some organizations with large campuses, employees will routinely do video calls instead of spending 10 minutes to go to a different building.
Here are some of the key factors that make all-remote work possible:
Faster internet everywhere - 100Mb/s+ cable, 5GHz Wifi, 4G cellular
Video call software - Google Hangouts, Zoom
Mobile technology - Everyone has a computer in their pocket
Evolution of speech-to-text conversion software - more accurate and faster than typing
English proficiency - More people are learning English
Increasing traffic congestion in cities
More demand for flexibility from new professionals entering the workforce
What "all remote" does not mean
Let's address some of the common misconceptions about all-remote work.
First things first: An all-remote company means there is no office or headquarters where multiple people are based. The only way to not have people in a satellite office is not to have a main office.
The terms "remote" and "distributed" are often used interchangeably, but they're not quite the same. We prefer the term "remote" because "distributed" suggests multiple physical offices. "Remote" is also the most common term to refer to the absence of a physical workspace, and being able to do your job from anywhere.
For employees, being part of an all-remote company does not mean working independently or being isolated, because it's not a substitute for human interaction. Technology allows us to stay closely in touch with our teams, whether asychronously in text or in real time with high-fidelity conversations through video. Teams should collaborate closely, communicate often, and feel like valuable members of a larger team.
Working remotely also doesn't mean you're physically constrained to home. You're free to work wherever you want. That could be at home with family, a coffee shop, a coworking space, or your local library while your little one is enjoying storytime. It could mean that you're location independent, traveling around and working in a new place each week. You can have frequent video chats or virtual pairing sessions with co-workers throughout the day, and you can even meet up with other coworkers to work together in person if you're located near each other.
At the organizational level, "all-remote" does not mean simply offshoring work. Instead, it means you're able to hire the best talent from all around the world. It's also not a management paradigm. You still have a hierarchical organization, but with a focus on output instead of input.
All in all, remote is fundamentally about freedom and individual choice. At GitLab, we value your results, not where you get your work done.
Our long-term vision for remote work
There are a few important outcomes we expect to see as remote work becomes even more prevalent around the world:
The majority of new startups intentionally forming as all-remote companies.
Cities in developing countries, particularly in Africa, enabled by all-remote jobs at companies founded by local leaders.
Most startups in the Bay Area with a significant portion of their workforce working remotely.
Increased wages for remote work outside of metro areas.
How we built our all-remote team
As GitLab has grown, we've learned a lot about what it takes to build and manage a fully remote team, and want to share this knowledge to help others be successful.
Read the stories of some of our team members and hear how remote work has impacted their lives.
Contribute to this page
At GitLab, we recognize that the whole idea of all-remote organizations is still quite new, and can only be successful with active participation from the whole community. Here's how you can participate:
Propose or suggest any change to this site by creating a merge request.