Support Breakfast Podcast | Episode 24: How to be Remote(ly) Happy

This week, we skip over customer stories and get right to the meat right now.

If you want to talk to us, have questions you want answered or just want to say hi, give us an email at

Our remote setups:

Dave: 75 remote Buffer members with no office – 100% distributed by-design.

Kiwi Sarah: Most team members work from NZ office, but there’s 2 remote people in London. They cover most of the day, during the week (24/5 coverage)

Lisa: Just switched from Moz to Geckoboard. Moz was mostly in the office in Seattle, one person in Australia and 2 in the UK, which just about gave them 24 hour coverage. Geckoboard is more distributed with just a couple in the UK office, then a handful distributed all of the world.

Nomad Sarah: now works nomadic (hence the name), but at Kayako they had mostly people in offices with a few satellite remote support people as well. They also used a night shift to get 24/5 coverage (shift based, not follow-the-sun model)

Conor: Expensify has a few offices all over the world

How do you train remote employees?

Onboarding someone remotely is a really great way to find where your internal documentations holes and gaps.

It’s much easier to be onboarded if you get thrown into the deep-end. Dave agrees that remote onboarding relies on your ability to self-teach, self-learn and be self-sufficient.

You have to be much more sensitive about things that would be obvious in person, like uncertainty.

If you don’t have enough overlap, you’ll find people staying late just for the company or the handoff. It’s not a great symptom…

Nomad Sarah experimented with working split shifts (morning and nights) with a snowboard break in the middle which worked really well to make sure she had time with all her remote team members.

A big challenge – how to be self sufficient and communicate with developers when they aren’t in your time zone.

Lisa talks about how processes can make a big difference in good communication. For example, Slack might not be the best way, but JIRA or Clubhouse will fall into their workflow much better.

Kiwi Sarah talks about awaking developers from their slumber to fix big issues.

Make sure you check out Kiwi Sarah’s blog post from a couple years ago about starting to work a remote job.

Lisa is transitioning back to part office and part remote with Geckoboard and there’s a few challenges. Commuting is definitely not the best part of working in an office!

Conor did a very similar transition with Expensify, but he built the office around him (he was the only remote person, and now they’ve created an office). He misses the flexibility, and has gained a lot more meetings.

It’s difficult to participate with a group of people all in one place when you’re not in that place – Conor

Kiwi Sarah mentions that you have to make an effort to create moments for connection with remote people. Buffer does a lot of syncs with different teams (for example Tuesdays they have a culture sync where they get to know each other better)

Nomad Sarah talks about the necessity of scheduling purposeful remote talks, like remote coffee because it doesn’t happen organically like it does in the office.

Don’t assume culture only happens in the office. – Lisa

Kiwi Sarah talks about the feeling that everyone is having conversations without you, and some of the responsibility does fall on you to keep in the loop.

Conor uses videos to make sure his beautiful face stays familiar to everyone

Recommended Reads:

Nomad Sarah – Simon Ouderkirks’ Overcommunicate

Lisa – Trello – six rules to live by when you work in an office but have remote staff

Kiwi Sarah – Remote and Rework + The Year Without Pants

Join Support Driven! It’s a Slack community, and there’s lots of people who do support as a lifestyle. Or job if you want to call it that.


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