14 Mental Models for Remote Work Success

A collection of simple, yet powerful principles and rules of thumb for doing your best work when working remotely.

Running a remote team or company isn't easy, but it doesn't need to be so difficult

Covid may have forced you to shift your team to remote work overnight. Many months later, you may still be trying to figure things out.

You need to hire people without meeting them in-person. You need to understand how your team is performing (and feeling), without the passive water-cooler conversations at the office.

This is all new to you.

You may have spent time researching best practices online. You probably have listened to several podcasts on the topic. But there's so much advice and so little of it feels applicable to your team or company.

We get it.

That's why we've established a set of 14 guiding principles for running a remote team that are crucial to making sure remote work, well, works.

These principles (also known as mental models) are based on many years of trial and error. These high-level concepts can help you build specific playbooks, policies, and tactics that will work for your team or company.

We hope you learn from our mistakes!

Model #1: Remote work isn't about working remotely

Contrary to what the name suggests, remote work is about so much more than being able to work from your home office 💼.

Model #2: If it doesn't persist, it doesn't exist

Successful teams move their most important work from short-term memory (RAM) to long-term storage (a hard-drive) 💿.

Model #3: Communication pumps keep information flowing

Communication flows like water 🌊, you need a series of pumps to help regulate the "flow" and keep everyone connected.

Model #4: Poor visibility is a liability

Previously, the office engaged your senses, giving you real-time visibility into what was going on 🎺. When remote, you need to find a way to bridge this "data gap."

Model #5: Communication pipes come in different types

The message is the medium. The communication method (or tool) you use shapes the way that you communicate and influences how you are perceived 👩‍💻.

Model #6: Your coworker isn't Darth Vadar, but it's easy to feel that way

Remote work can make you feel like your peers are robots 🤖, but you can't let this happen.

Model #7: Clock results, not hours

It's impossible to keep track of hours worked, butts in seat, or if someone is online on Slack. You should probably stop trying 🤣

Model #8: Remote work accelerates what already exists

Remote work pours gas on the 🔥 , but it isn't the 🔥 itself.

Model #9: Don't take WFH literally

Remote work can be socially isolating if you spend your day at home. That's why you shouldn't take WFH literally 🏠.

Model #10: Process makes perfect

If you want a predictable outcome, you need a predictable system to achieve your goals ⚙️.

Model #11: You can change just about everything, except timezones

Businesses, teams, and processes are malleable and can be changed. But you can't change timezones ⏰.

Model #12: Have fewer, better meetings

Too many meetings is the #1 barrier to workplace flexibility. Fortunately there's a way to get the same output in less time 💪🏽.

Model #13: Remote work success starts with personal responsibility

Remote work creates variance in each person's work experience. The only way to overcome this is by taking personal responsibility 🥳

What are mental models?

A mental model is an attempt to summarize a principle or a way of thinking about the world and how it works. While we think the name itself is pretty cheesy, we think it's important to try to present powerful concepts in a simple way that's easy to remember and incorporate into your daily work.

Why did you create mental models for remote work?

There's a lot of remote work advice being thrown around these days with so many people working remotely due to Covid, but a lot of it is too tactical.

Instead of spoon feeding you tactical tips, we thought it would be more valuable to teach you principles that you can apply, no matter what scenario you find yourself in when working remotely.

In short, we're trying to teach you how to fish vs. fishing for you.

I have a mental model that I'd like to recommend

Awesome! Drop us a note and we'll add it :)

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