Toptal has spent a decade pioneering what it means to be a totally remote company. The lessons learned—about technology, productivity, culture, and simply making it work when there is no office at all—serve as a roadmap for both companies and workers finding themselves in this suddenly remote work environment… UppLabs is here to tell you about the best practices of the remote work! Remote Playbook by Toptal is one of them.

In the conditions of worldwide quarantine, we all were compelled to do remote work. The companies experienced these challenges differently. Some of them adapted easily to the new work conditions, others have long thought about the need to adapt their remote work practices and finally experienced them in practice. More businesses say now that if they tried these practices before, it would be easier for them now. But it’s never late to try. The predictions say that even in the promised post-quarantine time, work from the office will not be fully restored soon. Let’s check whether you are ready for this perspective, find the Remote Work Playbook by Toptal.

The Toptal Playbook consists of 6 parts featuring topics of remote work regarding people, culture, productivity, security & support, tools, and common problems.

Building a remote team

UppLabs already gathered the best remote team management practices and shared them with you. The Toptal remote playbook explores People Framework and the differences and opportunities in managing the full range of human resources work within a distributed company. They share the journey of building and sustaining a strong remote team, from recruiting and onboarding to the learning and development programs and the approach to performance management. 

The Toptal says: “For a distributed team, a successful approach to performance management requires methodical organization, transparency, and accountability. Frequent and detailed feedback throughout the entire process is essential, from goal-setting to performance reviews and ultimately setting action items.”

Of course, there are challenges of a remote team that needs to be faced, like:

  • Structure;
  • People;
  • Process;
  • Technology

The Toptal has created an efficient system, leveraging integrations and technology, to thrive as a fully distributed team, built and developed tools and processes that offer an array of advantages not found in an office setting. Their recruiting process capitalizes upon a virtually limitless talent pool unbounded by geography, and our technology allows for rapid video interviews that accelerate the hiring process to secure the best talent.

Creating a culture

Values affect culture directly, and they permeate throughout the company. In this part, Toptal discusses the need for creating a strong culture within a fully remote company, and how they maintain it.

The Toptal says: “Our criteria for selecting the values that we adhere to were made in spite of being remote, as value should always be chosen based on what you and those who you work with believe in. We asked ourselves three questions:

  1. What values are most important to ensure our success as a company?
  2. What values will help us achieve our mission to be the greatest talent company in the world?
  3. How do we create and maintain a culture in a fully remote environment?”

Effective remote work

Productivity requires clear goals, strong alignment, and proper accountability throughout the organization. When these three elements are working together, a highly productive team can be expected.

At Toptal, team members generally don’t need to push from management to encourage productivity. While this may very well happen, many of their team members are focused on clear goals, with a prolonged focus on accomplishing them.

To keep the team members productive and to avoid burnout, the Toptal offers:

  • Sustaining a healthy work-life balance
  • Holding meeting that matter
  • Use the benefits of asynchronous work
  • Instill accountability and goal setting to ensure alignment
  • Establishing a true “office” environment

Staying Secure

A remote workforce has no centralized environment to act as a strong point for protection. Instead, fully remote companies must conduct virtual barriers to defend themselves against outside-world attacks.

Over the years, Toptal has developed the “tools and techniques to keep a fully remote team and data secure using these virtual barriers. This part describes the specific policies they employ to achieve this essential function and begins by describing the key responsibilities of our Security Operations Team:

  • Establish company-wide security policies and optimize when needed.
  • Build and maintain attack vectors and remediations database.
  • Create and distribute security training across the company.
  • Maintain a toolset to periodically execute security audits for all products and teams.
  • Manage and triage security incidents.
  • Improve coverage and effectiveness of security controls.”

Tools for organized work

This part offers the tools Toptal uses for the remote workforce and the best ways to make them count. These include communication software such as Slack and Zoom, productivity tools like Miro and Confluence, people operations instruments such as Top Team and Polly, and developer tools such as JIRA and GitHub. Time-tracker software also helps anyone, from an individual to a business owner, to learn how you and your team are spending time, as well as how productive your time management is. 

Toptal has also created customized in-house tools for both People Operations that empower all their team members to set personal goals, monitor their own performance, and plan their career trajectory at Toptal. The developers use specific project management tools such as  Google’s G Suite and Miro that enhance their productivity and collaboration. UppLabs actively use the tools and software as well, especially now, when everyone needs effective remote team management. 

Predicting problems

To help you handle the confusion and anxiety caused by the virus, we’ve already brought together some main steps that should be first on your list as you produce your pandemic contingency plan with today’s needs. 

In the Remote Playbook, the Toptal “addresses special challenges remote teams and organizations face, including establishing and maintaining trust while remote and the need for team members in a fully remote organization to have healthy habits and the right state of mind.” They offer guidelines on:

  • How to establish trust
  • How to avoid miscommunication
  • How to build relations and collaborate
  • How to balance work and personal commitment
  • Client-related challenges

As we can see, remote work presents challenges, but if you have developed solutions to each one, it can lead to greater rewards and new levels of development. Toptal created the Playbook that reaffirmed their passionate commitment to remote work, and we hope that you also find it useful while working remotely in your company!