NoHQ is the newly emerging community for remote work. It has many great features and aims to provide support to new and existing remote companies. While we are watching it grow, we asked its CEO, Dominic Monn, some questions.
What is NoHQ, and what inspired you to build it?
NoHQ is an educational resource for people building remote teams or exploring remote work. We write blog posts, guides, product reviews, and interviews all about the remote work industry, and hope to teach people the up-, but also the downsides (or rather sacrifices) that remote work brings with it. We also have a collection of amazing remote work tools, a community, and a “remote work dictionary”, which can be fun to check out.
I’m really passionate about remote work myself, but as the first international remote worker in my day job, I got to experience first-hand how difficult it was for a company to get into that remote-first thinking.
Initially, I thought “there must be a tool for this”, or at least that I should build one. Turns out, a lot of the issues are just about awareness, education, and having the right mindset. That’s where NoHQ helps.
There are many useful tools in the toolkit section- which ones are your favorite and which ones we should look out for?
There are so many great tools coming out. Remote work is just getting started, so there are tons of tools out there that solve amazing problems, and new ones are popping up every day.
The obvious ones are all about collaboration and communication. I really enjoy RemoteHQ for synchronous work and collaboration. It’s kind of a nice take on pair work, be it programming or simply working on a Doc together.
Twist is probably my favorite “Slack killer”. It’s this beautiful thing between email and instant messaging, which works really well as a remote team.
Then, hiring people is really hard. Especially if you’re used to the “loose” employment system in the US, it can feel really baffling to hire someone in Europe and have them do all these deductions, pension funds, social funds, etc. It’s tough to stay compliant and be in the loop about labor laws. That’s why we’re talking here on the Deel blog, of course.
What do you think are the most prominent disadvantages/challenges in remote work?
Having to deal with timezones is the most significant disadvantage, and one that’s (presumably) unsolvable. Instead, remote teams need to learn how to work around that, and that’s not easy at all.
The key thing that remote teams need to learn, and often struggle with, is asynchronous communication. Early remote teams truly need to “do what big companies need to do, just earlier and better”. That usually means being very mindful of messages, time zones, resources, and documentation. If you need quick replies from other members across the globe, that’s just not going to work.
That’s often unattractive to early startups who like to have that certain type of momentum, which is difficult – but not impossible – to achieve with a distributed team, which in return leads to environments that are not very remote-friendly and tend to become difficult to turn around with scale.
Can you tell us more about the NoHQ membership? What are the benefits of joining?
We offer a so-called “Pro Membership” for people who want to get some extra content and support the work we are doing. Members get access to a small, but growing range of premium content, which usually are a little more extensive, and often worked on in collaboration with remote founders and teams.
We offer a range of other goodies – access to our support network, discounts for some leading remote tools (including Deel!), and invitations for our members to live interviews if there is a chance. There are a ton more goodies on their way, so since it’s a one-time charge, you could say that the membership is getting “cheaper” over time, which is nicely aligned with our goals!
Our existing Pro Members are entirely different from what we had expected, so it’s a really versatile membership:
- Remote Teams looking to learn more about how to be productive
- Investors looking for intel about the remote work industry
- People looking to build tools for the remote industry
- Writers & Journalists
How do you find experts on remote work to learn from?
People in this industry are usually very helpful, so often a simple email is enough :)
Some founders and managers have remote work “figured out”, so I really see these folks as pioneers of a new way of working, and they definitely want to help others avoid the mistakes that they had to go through in the beginning.
Remote work is so fresh, and there’s no handbook of doing things. Every bigger remote company has its own way of doing things, and I’d like to capture these so that their founders and managers don’t have to explain everything 100 times.
For scenarios that are not part of that general handbook, we offer a support address for our members. There are a handful of founders we work together more closely, and always great to get their feedback on this type of stuff. Most issues are quite general though, for example, how to structure meetings or how to do daily standups (which we’ve written about).
In your opinion, what is the future of work? Is it remote or will it stay mainly co-located?
Well, I’d be out of place if I’d say co-located :)
Seriously though, I don’t think remote work will take over the way we work this or next year. The biggest share of work will still come out of big companies with factories or tech megacomplexes. Apple, Google, Facebook & co. don’t have big issues attracting talent, and the cash to build big shiny offices.
I do know from early-stage founders that attracting talent for a smaller company is hard though, and tech hubs are getting so expensive; it simply doesn’t make sense to build there. What’s left in that case? Investors seemed to frown upon remote companies two years ago, and now you’re being frowned upon if you don’t have a proper remote work strategy. That’s all part of that change.
I think Gitlab with its 800+ employees and upcoming IPO are a good sign that having an office is no prerequisite to having success. In a few years, with the needed knowledge and tools, it’ll merely seem illogical to start a co-located company.
How do you see NoHQ evolving and supporting the future of work?
As I said, making remote work work has its challenges. Tools solve a lot of them (imagine trying to build a remote company without Zoom or Slack, or the internet?!) and make it possible to work together remotely. Getting to peak productivity and seamless collaboration is still a workflow problem, in my opinion.
I hope for NoHQ to become the handbook for remote work. A founder should be able to study this resource and have all the answers to their problems. We’re a long way from that, but I hope that near-term, we’re able to help a handful of founders building a better remote team and supporting this way of working.
Can you share any funny stories from when you were just starting out with NoHQ?
I’d say we are still just starting out, but there’s always an earlier stage :)
Before we had even publicly launched the site, I posted the toolkit part on a popular development site, and overnight got 15,000 eyes on that page. It was extremely random, but people were battling to get their own spot in the toolkit! On a site that had previously had maybe 100 users on it.
Not sure what the moral of the story is, maybe: Put things out there, and you’ll get rewarded :)
Dominic is a maker, remote worker and advocate, teaching modern teams how to run their operations more efficiently with educational content NoHQ. You can follow his journey on NoHQ.co and @dqmonn or @nohqco on Twitter.