Interview with Chase Warrington

We are excited to introduce Chase Warrington, Head of Remote at Doist, who will be moderating an important and hot topic at the Running Remote 2023 stage: Fostering connection and culture in distributed teams.

With over 12 years of remote work experience, Chase is a leading authority on the future of work. He has been recognized as a 2022 LinkedIn Top Voice for Remote Work and a leader in the 2022 Remote Influencer Report.

Collectively, Doist supports 30 million people globally to stay organized and productive, and Chase Warrington is responsible for developing and implementing Doist’s remote work strategy. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes, an instructor, and consultant to leading remote work organizations and publications, as well as the host of his own podcast, About Abroad.

Chase agreed to answer some of our questions on the future of work, so you can get to know him a bit better before catching him on stage in Lisbon. 

Join us as we dive into the world of remote work with one of the industry’s leading experts!

Q1: What is the question you get asked the most about remote work? 

Chase: Leaders who are skeptical of distributed work often root their concerns in two areas: 

  • Culture: team connection and cohesiveness
  • Collaboration: communication, project management, creativity 

These are actually very intertwined though. How we communicate, collaborate, create, hire, and manage is exactly how we build culture.

When people think of culture, they are wondering how we’ll reinvent the water cooler, and envisioning miserable Zoom happy hours and such activities that don’t actually create connection and foster strong relationship building. 

My experience is that distributed teams who are really committed to building fantastic operating systems for getting work done in a distributed manner, AND intentionally create high-quality space for teammates to connect with each other outside of work, have an incredible culture that leads to high employee satisfaction, engagement, and retention rates. 

The real concern is with change – because change is hard.

“How we do recreate what we’ve done in the physical space?” You don’t. You start over and create a workplace that is built for the new way of working and avoid the temptation to copy and paste from the old way. 

Q2: What trend in remote management are you most optimistic about? Where do you see remote work in 3 years?

Chase: The infrastructure around remote work from the standpoint of hiring, taxes, insurance, benefits, etc. 

At one time it was seen as a huge hurdle to overcome to hire from abroad in a fully legal and compliant way – for the employee and employer – and this is changing very quickly.

Employers of Record are stepping in to solve this, and governments are taking it seriously now that such a large percentage of the global workforce can access employment from anywhere in the world.

EORs and the surrounding ecosystem enabling global hiring and mobility will evolve quite a bit over the next few years. 

Similarly, employees will also start to demand access to health insurance, benefits, and other perks that previously would have been sacrificed in favor of workplace flexibility. As that flexibility becomes commoditized, those expectations will change and employers will need to provide the solutions to meet that demand. Fortunately, like EORs, companies are stepping up to solve these problems. 

A second area I’ll mention, in a very broad stroke, is the impact remote can have on society as a whole. 

Remote work has been shown to decrease gender pay gaps and positively impact DE&I; assist elderly and disabled people in finding meaningful employment; break down wealth gaps by providing employment to people in emerging economies and impoverished areas; improve work-life balance and provide more time for people to spend with their families and friends; and positively impact the environment by reducing CO2 emissions. 

This is what the future of work is really all about! 

Q3: What’s the best way to work? Async or sync? Fully remote or hybrid?

Chase: My personal preference is remote-first, async-first, which is how we operate at Doist.

It’s important to point out though that we strongly believe that does not mean remote-only, or async-only.

90% of our work is done remotely, with two weeks per year co-located. A similar figure of 90% can be applied to our day-to-day work in terms of time spent working asynchronously. 

This 90/10 ratio means we can fully embrace the benefits of remote, like access to a global talent pool, the non-linear workday, and deep work.

All our systems and tools are clearly geared towards async, removing any inefficiencies or ambiguity in our processes. 

Then, when we switch to in-person or sync, we try to use that time in a very intentional way, with very clear expectations. We see sync as a tool to be used occasionally, not the cornerstone of how we operate. 

That said, it’s clear that we are in the minority on this.

70-80% of companies identify as hybrid, and there are arguments to be made for baking in “anchor days” for in-person collaboration on a regular basis.

My concern with this approach is that it is very difficult to pull off two operating systems, co-located and remote, and the limitations this places on global mobility and location independence.

From the company’s standpoint, you also have to consider the costs of office space and the loss of access to global talent, as well as the increased costs of employment that may come with local hiring. 

There is no silver bullet, each team has different needs and expectations, so I don’t claim one solution is better than the other for all teams.

But my preference and opinion is that remote-first and async-first, with occasional sync and in-person collaboration, provide the best of all worlds. 

Q4: Where do you see AI coming into play with remote work over the next year? 

Chase: I have no doubt this is going to have a massive impact on how all teams work together – especially for remote teams, since tech leads the way in terms of remote adoption, and those teams are likely to be the early adopters of AI. 

An interesting area to monitor will be execution and planning, which is often overlooked in favor of communication and collaboration.

Remote teams spend an exorbitant amount of time planning initiatives asynchronously and often struggle with creating accountability and executing on time.  

AI could help reduce that friction significantly. With better-optimized planning and more timely execution, some of the challenges associated with remote work might be mitigated. 

That said, it’s tough to tell at this point – so I’m excited to see where this goes! 

>> Want to see Chase Warrington on stage in April 2023? Grab your ticket now

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