Step 1: Accept it, Trust your Workers
I currently work for a team in a company that fully accepts the remote work culture. That said I have worked recently for a company who did not at all accept the concept. Strangely the jobs were essentially the same, writing web application back-end API software, and yet one company took a hard line against the remote work culture, to the point where one manager was told more or less, you must move closer to the office or find another job, and so he did.
I truly feel that upper management was the sole reason for this culture. The management was the “Big Boss” style management reminiscent of Cesar and centralized Rome. You had to kiss the ring before approaching with a new idea. In this type of environment, bosses feel the need to be close to the employees, keeping them under constant supervision like teenagers at prom. Said company was very into the concept of video cameras. The “Big Boss” loved the idea of watching his underlings work hard smashing bits.
Obviously this type of company will never accept that the job of software developer can, and arguably should, be a remote work job. They can’t except it due to the ego issues revolving around trusting employees. It is a hard pill to swallow when your founder/leader/management doesn’t trust you enough to allow you to work from your home. If you are in the situation I am describing, you need to get out immediately.
Step 2: Facilitate it, Make Collaboration Easy
The number one reason why bosses do not like remote work culture is the lack of collaboration the team can do. This is a complete fallacy. There is a laundry list of collaboration tools available to anyone for free today. You can use google/skype/apple/whomever for voice/video chats. There are services and software out there, for free as well, to do documentation collaboration, and simultaneous document editing and diagram drawing.
Another reason bosses do not like remote work culture is the “lack of pairing tools” concept.
This is also false. I literally use tmux and vim every single day to effectively pair with my remote co-workers, to great success I must add. For those that are of the graphical ide persuasion, there are plugins for atom/sublime text that allow for pairing capabilities over the internet using websockets. Also screenhero is quite fancy if you must use your mouse to write code with others. :)
Personally I see no issue with remote work collaboration, all you need to do is figure out how your team wants to work together, and then foster that collaboration. It is pretty funny, when my team gets together In Real Life once every six months or so, we are all literally in different corners of the room on the same tmux session, just like our remote work day to day, except without google hangouts and the ability to mute…
Step 3: Allow your Workers to Live Where they Want
I live in a small city, with lots of creative people. There are brewers, artists, bakers, chefs, college professors and many other types of creative people, all with shops walking distance from my house. My house was built in 1905 and has 10 foot ceilings everywhere and a lovely wrap around porch overlooking main street. I love where I live, and I don’t want to drive to an office, or only be able to afford a small townhouse in a big city. With a real remote work culture your employees can truly find a little slice of heaven for themselves, and not be geo-bound.
Moreover, I would recommend that everyone who is capable of remote work, to find a turn of the century city and move there. Everything is walking distance, as that is how it was laid out pre automobile. Often the buildings are built much better than today’s construction. Not to mention the character of old buildings with real structural brick.
A happy worker, is a productive worker.
Step 4: Don’t Become a Hermit
Now there is a tendency for remote work culture to cause people to ONLY work at home. As a remote worker you need to socialize. People are social creatures. Find a co-working space to go to every few days. Find people to get a beer with after work, or grab lunch with. It is unfortunate but some of the people I know fall into a hermit pattern where they just can’t leave the house/work.
As alluded to earlier, you need to separate work from home, when you work from home. I have had tremendous success by creating a dedicated home office. When I am in the office, I am working… When I am not in the office, I am not working. I feel like too many people take their laptops and work on the couch in-front of the TV and time gets away from them and they end up working all night.
This isn’t healthy. Make sure you find friends, co-working spaces to socialize. Make sure you are not a prisoner to work. Find outlets outside of work.