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Conor Bronsdon for LinearB

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Build Intentional Remote Collaboration - Like GitLab

The office of the 20th century is a testament to design. A great deal of thought goes into the layout of a building. How are the offices laid out? Where are the elevators located? Where will teams meet? But the focus on co-located office space is quickly becoming a relic of the past. To meet the challenges of the 21st century GitLab’s Head of Remote Darren Murph is pushing organizations to put just as much thought into their remote work structure as they would an office building.

For many companies, the transition to this mindset comes with difficulty. They’ve shifted into remote work as a necessity, but maintain the 20th-century ‘office-first’ mindset. While this is passable and **can **work, it’s not ultimately taking advantage of the key benefits of a virtual atmosphere.

To take advantage of the shifting dynamics, GitLab is using their own platform to consolidate all of their virtual collaboration. Providing a single source of truth, GitLab has designed the virtual version of a central hallway where all work is funneled. This breaks down organizational siloes and enables the GitLab team to collaborate with maximum efficiency, by making sure that everything is as visible and as transparent as possible for everyone in the organization.

A company’s ‘central hallway’ is going to look different from organization to organization, but the takeaway for all remote organizations and engineering leaders should be the importance of de-siloing information across your organization. This will encourage virtual collaboration and boost creativity.

Meetings that Support Remote Culture

A Chief People Officer once asked Darren, “How do we make our meetings better?” His response? “Make them harder to have.”

Darren believes that you should have as few meetings as possible because people deserve to be able to focus on their work. From this belief flows the practice with of using tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams to gather consensus asynchronously, and then reserve synchronous time for meetings where only decisions are made or important status updates are shared.

This has the effect of focusing a team’s attention which is important as teams become distributed around the globe, and time zones become a greater issue. It’s far too easy for your entire day to be meeting with teams across your organization, with people coming online in various timezones to fill your day. Instead, the focus should remain on having critical day-to-day functions performed asynchronously — with meetings taking a back seat.

In addition to focusing an organization’s efforts, being thoughtful about structuring remote work also reduces meeting fatigue. We’ve all experienced being on Zoom or other video conferencing software continuously throughout the day. Not only is it inefficient and distracting, but it can lower your company morale and leave you exhausted and feeling like you didn’t accomplish anything during the day.

Darren’s ideas may have seemed radical just a couple of years ago. But he and the folks at GitLab are pioneering — and thriving — in today’s remote environment. The office of the 21st century is undoubtedly going to be virtual, so remember to put as much rigor and thought into your virtual work structure as you would if you were designing a building.

To learn more about how GitLab and other companies transitioned to remote work, check out Dev Interrupted’s Remote Work Panel on August 11, from 9–10am PST.

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Interested in learning more about how to implement remote work best practices at your organization?

Join us tomorrow, August 11, from 9am-10am PST for a panel discussion with some of tech’s foremost remote work experts. This amazing lineup features:

  • Darren Murph Head of Remote at GitLab & Guinness World Record Holder as the most prolific blogger ever

  • Lawrence Mandel Director of Engineering at Shopify & Hockey Enthusiast

  • Shweta Saraf Senior Director of Engineering at Equinix & Plato Mentor

  • And the Panda himself, Chris Downard VP of Engineering at GigSmart

Dan Lines, COO of LinearB, will be moderating a discussion with our guests on how they lead their teams remotely, how the current workplace is changing, and what’s next as the pandemic continues to change

Don’t miss the event afterparty hosted in discord from 10–10:30am with event speakers Chris and Shweta, as well as LinearB team members Dan Lines and Conor Bronsdon.

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If you haven’t already joined the best developer discord out there, WYD?

Look, I know we talk about it a lot but we love our developer discord community. With over 1500 members, the Dev Interrupted Discord Community is the best place for Engineering Leaders to engage in daily conversation. No salespeople allowed. Join the community >>

Top comments (3)

devinterrupted profile image
Dev Interrupted

Can't wait to have Darren at our event tomorrow!

nobilitypnw profile image

He's right on the money about remote org structure. Companies in the virtual space absolutely need to be intentional about how they design and implement their remote work environment.

nickhodges profile image
Nick Hodges • Edited

I love anyone that makes it harder to have meetings!