Remote leads to higher productivity, engagement and employee feeling

Remote Work Stories
25 March, 2022
Anoop Dawar

Can you please introduce yourself?

Anoop is an engineer turned full-stack product leader (learn, build, market, sell) that has led product and other functions in three startups over the  last 11 years (GTLB, HIVE (Acq EXTR), MapR (Acq HPE)). He has wide experience from Data, AI, Developer, SaaS, Open Source, Infrastructure, and PLG.

What’s your profession, what do you do?

Anoop leads a product management team at GitLab to build industry's leading DevOps Platform delivered as a single application that helps everyone build secure software faster.

What company do you work for? Are you a freelancer or Digital Nomad?

I worked for GitLab.

How did you start with a remote work journey?

I had commuted 30 miles each way for over a decade and knew there had to be a better way. I actively looked for companies that may offer this option and found GitLab. I read through hundreds of pages of GitLab handbook online and instantly fell in love with the culture and the remote-first habits. I waited patiently for about 4 months before a role opened up that matched my interests and qualifications and then applied for it.

What do you think are the main benefits of working remotely?

Done right, remote leads to higher productivity, higher engagement and employee feeling more connected with their own community. The freedom also makes people feel more in-control of their life.

Do you think there are disadvantages or that you’re missing something by working remotely?

Working effectively as a remote person is an acquired art. It takes hard work, intentionality and time. We have to find new and creative ways to build relationships and connect with everyone.

From what cities or countries have you worked since you have become remote? What are your favourite countries or cities to work from?

I've stayed in California for the most part.

From what type of places do you prefer to work? Home, co-working spaces, coffee shops, or others?

All of the above. However, I've found it is important to establish routines and have a delightful dedicated space to work from. Occasionally I change things up -but generally speaking I've found it important to create a dedicated space where I can work from.

What places would you like to travel to while working remotely?

All over the world.

What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them? Share your remote productivity, communication, management, etc. tips based on your experience!

I am fortunate to work at GitLab that has a remote-and-async-first culture. This has helped make my transition easier. The typical challenges are that of interacting with other parts of the organization that may not be as deeply immersed in the remote and async first culture and then adapting back to the "old style". It is also harder to build deeper personal connections with customers as travel has been reduced due to COVID-19.

My recommendation is to be intentional and try to do things async first. Pretend that sync time with others is ten times more expensive than async. So if doing something async is twice the work - it is still better to do it async. Finding your own mode of async communication is important. Writing, recording short audio or video narratives to share your point are helpful. Helping each other create time to review materials and collaborate prior to meetings is important. Having well established and generally accepted decision making principles also goes a long way. Bringing everyone's work into transparent systems and trusting everyone to do their job is important. Building systems that measure outcomes instead of outputs also helps create autonomy and reduces anxiety.

What tools do you use to improve productivity and manage work efficiently?

How do you manage your business and taxes as a remote working professional?

Fortunately I have a homebase where I operate from and therefore this is not been an issue for me.

What advice would you give to people looking to work remotely?

Take ownership of your role. Be proactive. Write things down. Learn to be succinct. Communicate what you are going to do and when.

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