Remote Success Stories: Joe Friend, Stack Overflow

Remote Success Stories: Joe Friend, Stack Overflow

From Hello, Remote Life, this is Remote Success Stories, an interview series exploring successful transitions into remote work in the technology world. Interested in transitioning to remote work? Want to chat with other fellow remote workers? Join our global remote work community at!

Our interview today is with Joe Friend, a product manager at Stack Overflow.

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m a product manager for Stack Overflow, where we help developers learn, share and build their careers.

What appealed to you about beginning to work remotely?

Flexibility, no commute, no bullshit busy work.

How did you first approach the subject with your employer? Had other employees been working remotely before you?

I attempted to do some remote stints at Microsoft. Honestly, it doesn’t work well if a company isn’t all in and MSFT is definitely not all in. I looked at moving to a team that was more remote friendly, but finally decided to leave the company and move to a remote-first company.

What does it mean for a company to not be “all-in” on remote work?

An “all-in company” optimizes things to create a level playing field for all employees (remote or co-located). An example is everyone attending meetings from their own device, instead of a bunch of folks getting in a conference room with remote people on “the call”. I worked on the Skype for Business team at Microsoft, and even that team didn’t do this right. Being “all in” requires a company to think about remote and optimize for remote in every possible way, including tools, processes, benefits, culture, and everything you can think of.

What do you recommend for a company that wants to support a distributed team? What first steps can they take to make that transition easier?

The first step in creating an even playing field for remote workers is probably communication and meetings. If you make those work, you make a huge impact on the day-to-day life for the remote worker. Moving to more async communication via chat, and creating online water cooler experiences, so that remote workers don’t miss out on the “hallway conversations”, is critical. It’s foundational to also ensure that everyone is remote for meetings, if anyone is remote. Finally, providing reasonable support for outfitting a home office. That makes the remote worker feel like you’re really investing in their success.

What surprising things have you discovered about working remotely?

Stress is dramatically lower. I don’t really miss the “camaraderie” of the office like I thought I might. No commute is way more amazing than I ever imagined. And, I’m probably closer to some of my coworkers than ever, despite being remote.

Have there been any downsides to beginning to work remotely?

Approaching my first winter as a remote worker, I’ve just realized something. Any snow (or even the threat of snow) can shut down Seattle. But it won’t keep me from walking across the hall to my office, so I guess snowdays may no longer be a thing.

Are there any tools or software that you’ve found particularly effective?

Chat is critical (we use Slack and our own internal chat product). All of our meetings are video chats (hangouts and some Zoom). Trello for project tracking. Lots of documents with more comments/collab than you can imagine.

Joe Friend is a product manager at Stack Overflow. Follow him on Twitter.

Source: Medium:Remote Working
Remote Success Stories: Joe Friend, Stack Overflow

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