So You’ve Been Told to Work From Home. Now What?

Advice for individuals, managers, and teams on how to navigate remote work

working from home
Illustration by Yin Weihung

At Doist, we’ve always believed that remote work is the future. But no one expected it to become a necessity for so many companies and their employees with next to zero warning.

Workplaces all around the world have told their employees to work from home, taking precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. And while for some people, this comes as a relief, others are understandably unnerved and frustrated, dealing with the tech glitches, communication challenges, social isolation, and general feelings of uncertainty. It’s one thing if an office prepares to go remote; it’s another thing entirely when it’s forced on you from one day to the next.

For anyone who may be struggling with the transition, we’re sharing what we’ve learned as a company when it comes to getting work done as individuals and as a team when you’re not in the same location. Over the last 10 years, we’ve grown from 2 people in 2 countries to 72 people working across 29 countries — all remotely. Along the way, we’ve documented our ups, downs, and best practices that have kept us organized, productive and balanced.

Whether this moment ushers in a full-on remote work transition for your company, or is as temporary as we hope the current situation is, we hope we can help you ease stress and navigate this transition:

Advice for Individuals

First-time remote work for individuals means adjusting to being away from colleagues while navigating logistical challenges like spotty wifi and awkward video calls. Here’s some of our advice for crafting your remote work day and managing these new challenges:

Habits for Crafting the Perfect Remote Work Day

Are you new to remote work? It can definitely feel a little weird at first. Here are 5 little tweaks anyone can make to their routines to add more structure and predictability to the remote work day, from setting a schedule to figuring out where to work to maintaining separation between work and life.

The Remote Working Parent’s Survival Guide

Are you working from home while your kids are kept home from school? Here are a few key tips from team members and parents at Doist for getting work done and prioritizing family time.

How Exceptionally Productive People End the Workday

While managers often worry that their remote employees will slack off, studies show that people put in more hours working from home, not less. It’s no wonder that 18% of remote workers say that “not being able to unplug” is their biggest struggle. Our editor Becky Kane shares a 7-step “workday shutdown” ritual that will help you fully disconnect at the end of the day, be present with your loved ones in the evening, and set your Future Self up for success the next morning.

Proving Your Value at Work – Why It’s So Hard and How to Do It Anyway

Proving the concrete value of your work in the “knowledge economy” is hard enough as it is. Add to that the fact that your boss now can’t even see you at work, how do you demonstrate the value of what you’re accomplishing at home in a concrete way?  Jeremey Duvall, a customer success engineer at the remote company Automattic, shares a step-by-step guide on how to make sure your contributions are recognized even if they’re hard to measure and especially if you’re working remotely.

Home Office Upgrades for Working Remotely

Remote office workers share 13 upgrades to help maintain maximum comfort and efficiency while working at home, including comfortable seating, healthy natural light exposure, and a yoga mat for stretching.

A Quick Security Checklist for Remote Workers

Our CTO at Doist Gonçalo has put together the minimum steps individual remote employees should take to safeguard their company’s data (not to mention your own personal data) when working remotely.

Best Practices for Teams

Here are some of our blog articles and guides to educate teams about the benefits and drawbacks of remote work, and help you figure out the right technology, project management strategies, culture, and more to create a successful remote workplace.

What Most Remote Companies Don’t Tell You About Remote Work

We’re not going to sugarcoat it: remote work can feel lonely and isolating. Our CEO Amir shares his ups and downs working remotely and how companies can acknowledge the mental health challenges of remote work to help teams navigate the transition.

The Pyramid of Remote Team Communication Tools

Here’s a walk-through of how we at Doist have designed our virtual “office spaces” to keep over 70 team members connected across 29 countries, including how we decide when to communicate in real time and when to use asynchronous strategies.

Asynchronous Communication: The Real Reason Remote Workers Are More Productive

When you read about remote work, you may start to come across the term asynchronous communication. Asynchronous communication, or async, simply refers to communication that doesn’t require an immediate response. Drawing on his experience of running a remote and largely async company, Doist CEO Amir explains how async drives team productivity and the concrete steps you can take to start building a workplace that gives employees time for “deep work” and schedules real time interactions the right way.

The Art of Async: The Remote Guide to Team Communication

If you’re interested in taking a deeper dive into asynchronous communication, and when it works and when it doesn’t, check out this Twist guide on how to strike a balance between real time and asynchronous communication for remote teams.

8 Lessons from the Best Remote Companies in the World

Through years of trial and error, distributed teams have experimented with and found unique solutions to get the most out of remote work while sidestepping some of the downsides. This article shares lessons that all-remote companies like Automattic, GitLab, Buffer, Help Scout, Toggl, and we here at Doist have learned along the way.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Measuring Employee Productivity in the Knowledge Economy

Right about now, many managers might be racking their brains trying to figure out how to measure employee productivity when everyone is working from home. While this article was written about measuring and improving employee productivity in any knowledge-based workplace, the advice applies doubly in a remote setting where it’s impossible to fall back on poor proxies for productivity (like how many hours someone is in the office). This mindset shift will be helpful even after everyone can go back to the office.

How to Build Trust in the Remote “Workplace”

At Doist, our success as a remote company is tied to establishing a high trust culture. In this article, we push back against behavior-monitoring tools that undermine trust and share tips on how to build a high-trust remote culture at all stages of the employee relationship.

Remote Projects 101: The Remote Guide to Project Management

When companies transition to remote work, coordination and prioritization become more difficult. Here’s a guide for managing projects as a remote team, including collecting and share ideas and customer feedback, prioritizing that feedback, and assigning work in remote teams.

Beyond the Team Retreat: Small Things Remote Companies Do to Build Team Culture

In-person interaction is essential for building a strong team. That’s why so many remote companies spend thousands of dollars bringing their teammates together at all-expense-paid retreats. But smaller, everyday interactions are just as important for creating a strong team culture remotely. Borrow these 8 ideas for smaller (completely free) things remote companies like HelpScout, Buffer, Automattic, and Doist do to build team camaraderie from across the world.


How is working remotely working out for you and your teams? Share advice you have, or what questions do you have for us, on Twitter @doist or in the comments below!