How to Transition from Office First to Remote First (Step by Step)

Sowmya Sankaran / Reading Time: 6 mins

The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated remote work for many traditionally office-based companies. Now, data shows that productivity thrived in distributed models, along with advantages like access to global talent and reduced real estate costs. As a result, more organizations are looking to make remote-first a permanent strategy. Successfully transitioning from an office-first culture requires rethinking processes, interactions, and tech infrastructure guided by proven frameworks.

Evolution of Remote-First Companies

Remote work is far from a new concept. Trailblazing companies like Automattic, the developers behind WordPress, have allowed remote work since their founding in 2005. Their 1,700+ employees across 77 countries collaborate through robust knowledge sharing platforms and asynchronous communication. Other pioneers who proved remote can excel include software firm GitLab, social media management platform Buffer and email app Front.

However, remote-first gained widespread adoption out of necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic as office doors temporarily closed. According to PwC research, 55% of executives say they now have increased acceptance of remote work. Leaders saw productivity remain steady, along with advantages like reduced real estate costs and the ability to tap talent globally.

As a result, remote and hybrid models are here to stay at many major companies. Technology giant Siemens expects 140,000 of its 300,000 employees to work a few days a month in offices going forward. Multinational conglomerate Hitachi plans to double its flexible remote workers to 20%. And major software company Adobe envisions over half their workforce fully remote post-pandemic.

According to multiple surveys, over 70% of organizations plan to maintain increased remote work compared to pre-2020 levels. Driving this shift is a desire to attract and retain top talent unbounded by geography. Employees equipped with collaborative technology have shown they can be productive and engaged outside traditional offices. Done thoughtfully, remote-first unlocks benefits like innovation, productivity, diversity, and improved employee satisfaction over legacy fully onsite models.

Evolution of Remote-First Companies

How to Transition from Office First to Remote First: Step by Step

The transition from an office-centric to a remote-centric model is not merely about changing where work gets done; it's about rethinking how work is done. This section provides a step-by-step guide, detailing the key phases and actions necessary for a smooth and effective transition.

1. Assessing Readiness and Planning

Begin by conducting a comprehensive evaluation of your current office setup and its suitability for a remote transition. Assess factors like employee readiness, technological infrastructure, and the potential impact on your company's culture and workflow. Engage with different departments to understand their specific needs and challenges. Once the assessment is complete, develop a detailed transition plan that includes a realistic timeline, identifies the necessary resources, and sets clear objectives for what you aim to achieve through this transition.

2. Infrastructure and Technology

The backbone of a successful remote operation is its technological infrastructure. Evaluate your current IT setup and identify the upgrades needed to support remote work, such as faster internet connections, secure VPNs, and reliable cloud storage solutions. Choose collaboration and communication tools that best fit your team's needs – consider options like Slack for messaging, Zoom for video conferencing, and Trello or Asana for project management. Ensure that all team members have access to these tools and that they are properly set up and secured.

3. Policies and Procedures

Redefining your company's policies to suit remote work is crucial. Establish clear guidelines around work hours, availability, communication norms, and data security policies. It's important to consider the diverse situations of your employees, including time zone differences and home office setups. Document these policies thoroughly and make them accessible to all employees. This step ensures that everyone is on the same page and helps to maintain a structured and efficient remote work environment.

4. Training and Support

Transitioning to a remote-first approach requires a shift in skills and work habits. Provide your employees with training that covers best practices in remote work, effective use of communication tools, and strategies for maintaining productivity. Additionally, ensure that a support system is in place for both technical and non-technical issues. This could include IT support for technology-related problems and HR support for concerns about work-life balance or mental health.

5. Communication and Collaboration

Maintaining effective communication and collaboration is one of the biggest challenges in remote work. Set up regular team meetings and one-on-one check-ins to ensure everyone stays connected and aligned.

6. Monitoring and Feedback

Implementing a system for monitoring progress and performance is essential in a remote work setting. Use tools to track productivity and project milestones, and establish KPIs that reflect the remote work context. Equally important is creating a feedback loop. Regularly solicit feedback from your employees on their remote work experience and be open to making adjustments based on their input. This ongoing process of monitoring and feedback will help you refine your remote work practices and ensure continuous improvement.

Tip: Engage a remote team manager to smoothen the transition.

Dos and Don'ts of Transitioning Into a Remote-First Company

Transitioning to a remote-first company requires a careful balance of planning, communication, and adaptation. While it offers numerous benefits, it also comes with unique challenges. Here are some essential dos and don'ts to guide you through the process:


  1. Do Establish Clear Communication Channels: Ensure that there are established, reliable communication channels for all team members. Clear communication helps in maintaining transparency and keeps everyone on the same page.
  2. Do Invest in the Right Technology: Equip your team with the necessary technology and software to work effectively from remote locations. This includes laptops, high-speed internet, and access to cloud-based collaboration tools.
  3. Do Set Clear Expectations: Define clear expectations around work hours, availability, deadlines, and productivity. This clarity helps employees manage their time effectively and aligns everyone with the company's goals.
  4. Do Foster a Strong Company Culture: Remote work can lead to feelings of isolation, so it's crucial to build a strong, inclusive company culture. Engage in virtual team-building activities, celebrate achievements, and encourage informal interactions among team members.
  5. Do Prioritize Security and Privacy: Implement robust security measures to protect sensitive company data. This includes secure VPNs, strong password policies, and regular training on cybersecurity best practices.


  1. Don't Micromanage: Trust is a key component of remote work. Avoid micromanaging your employees; instead, focus on outcomes and give them the autonomy to complete their tasks.
  2. Don't Neglect Employee Well-being: Remote work can blur the lines between personal and professional life. Encourage your employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance by setting boundaries and respecting their off-work time.
  3. Don't Overlook Training and Support: Transitioning to remote work requires new skills and adaptation. Don't overlook the need for proper training and ongoing support for your team, especially in the use of new tools and technologies.
  4. Don't Ignore Feedback: Regular feedback is vital for continuous improvement. Don't ignore the concerns and suggestions of your employees. Use their feedback to refine your remote work policies and practices.
  5. Don't Forget to Celebrate Successes: In a remote setting, it's easy to miss out on celebrating team successes. Don't forget to acknowledge and celebrate milestones and achievements, as this boosts morale and reinforces a sense of team unity.

How to Transition from Office First to Remote First


Shifting to a thriving remote-first company requires evolution across tools, spaces, processes and culture guided by proven frameworks. With careful strategy guided by those thriving in distributed environments today, traditional office-based organizations can unlock the array of benefits accessible through hybrid and remote models.

Category: Remote work

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