Remote-friendly vs. Remote-first

A lot of companies are switching to remote work, but not all of them have the same collaboration model. Let's look at the two types of companies that are similar at first glance but very different in details.

Remote-first companies

  1. All team members work remotely or have the opportunity to do so. Working from the office doesn't give any advantage.
  2. All information is documented and equally accessible by all employees. If you had an important talk of in the office, you post it to Basecamp, public Slack channel or whatever team collaboration tool you have. Literally, every single bit of information is accessible by anyone.
  3. All meetings are available for everyone. There are no meetings for office folks only. Videocall is the default option.
  4. When there's a chance of promotion, all employees are equally considered for it.
  5. A remote candidate can occupy any position at a company.

Remote-friendly companies

  1. There's at least one office, and part of the team is required to work from there. Sometimes, even people who work remotely asked to be present in the office.
  2. On-site employees have an advantage when it comes to updates about anything that happens within your organization. Most of the information is not documented and appropriately discussed or shared with delays.
  3. Some meetings are only available for those who can appear in the office, or there's no adequate equipment for sharing quality video and sound.
  4. Remote employees can't be promoted to senior positions. No one will tell you didn't get a promotion because you are working from home, but you need to read between the lines.
  5. Majority of the positions are not available for remote candidates. Remote departments are usually narrowed to engineering and customer support.

It can be tricky to find out what type of remote a particular company belongs to, especially when they don't specify this precisely or don't share many details about internal workflows. In this case, the easiest way to identify this is to browse the list of their open positions. If you see that working from home is available only for software engineers and customer support reps, it's the main sign of not fully remote company. Unfortunately, it's the most common scenario, but it might not be bad at all.

Both approaches are beneficial for job seekers

If you feel like there's a negative sentiment for companies that are not 100% remote, please don't. Most remote-friendly employers will try to create comfortable conditions for everyone. You'll be treated the same way, and you'll get the same level of benefits, both monetary and non-monetary, except for the office treats of course.

Keep in mind that not so long ago even this level of autonomy was something out of this planet. So let's give credit where it's due for executives who started the shift towards distributed teams. Another positive trend for partly remote companies is that eventually, many of them will go full remote.

Conclusion

While looking for a remote job, be aware that not all companies look at remote collaboration the same way. Of course, remote-first companies are a much better option, but it doesn't mean that you shouldn't consider others. Absolutely not. Their processes for distributed teams may not be robust and polished, but you'll have the opportunity to make contributions and improve them, making an impact for all who'll come after you.