#17: It begins like this...distributed work isn't for us

Welcome to the first issue of remote valley! We explore both the lovely and challenging bits of work from home culture and share how companies and people are adapting or not to WFH life.

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p.s. if you missed our last email check it out here. we’ve changed our format and name from remote newbie to remote valley.

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A quote to stop and read

Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics, said the coronavirus crisis will be a “tipping point” for WFH programs.

As we see the adoption of WFH break into workplaces we start to see a small opportunity. Both teams who were open to it from the beginning to teams who have been against are in it now.

Companies from all over the world have transitioned their teams to work from home. Prepared or not they’ve had to make the switch.

Take Zillow. The CEO Rich Barton announced that the Zillow team was being granted WFH through 2020. This came 2 months after the team had been fully working from home.

This situation has dramatically changed how we envision our future of work and we expect this experience will influence our decisions going forward.” - Zillow CEO

Zillow is a large company of about 5,000 employees. Can you imagine taking a company this size remote? From one day to the next going sending everyone to work from their homes and intercepting new hires from jumping into their first day virtually instead of biking into the office.

Distributed work isn’t for us is a phrase you may have heard a lot and may will keep hearing. And usually, it’s because it’s hard to imagine a team who has worked in an office for the past 10 years to no longer do so.

It’s different to start and end your day at home while still getting a ton of work done. Transitioning takes effort. Process. Research. Buy-in. And sometimes it’s even easier to say that working from home isn’t for us.

Now many knowledge workers have had to give it a chance. They’ve had to somewhat embrace it.

How do you think remote work will look like in the next few months? Will more folks embrace it? Will it show that remote work isn’t for everyone?

Thank you for reading!

Here’s what you can expect from us in 2 weeks:

  • An interview with a remote-first company. It’ll be a great one!

See you then! And share this post with others, if you enjoyed it.


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Hello, remote valley. Farewell, remote newbie.

Zoom security issues, 1:1 meeting template, and big updates.

Irma here! Welcome back. I’ve done a bit of thinking and experimenting with this newsletter. Moving forward this newsletter will go through a bit of a transformation.

Some cool changes

Remote Newbie will become Remote Valley. It will have a core focus on offering more news and content about the future of work and remote work for folks in tech. What you’ll get if you stick around:

  • bi-weekly letters (2x emails per month). emailing at this frequency ensures you receive a top-notch letter hitting your inbox

  • deep dives into remote-first companies how they hire, benefits, tools, and more

  • a look inside a remote workers day called Life as X Working Remotely

  • occasional AMAs and interviews with HR, founders, and managers

  • tips to get more done and work smarter

  • fun gifs and links here and there!

Why should you stay subscribed? Get insights that you can experiment with and apply to your day to day or your role as a remote worker.

Still interested? Stay subscribed. No longer your jam? This is a great time to unsubscribe, no hard feelings. I understand we may not be a fit anymore!

Our first revamped letter will hit your inbox the first week of May. Expect the letter to come from Remote Valley (we’ll be changing the name here on Substack).

In the meantime…

Chris DeLuca, founder of The Memo joined us for an AMA - we talked about ways to stand out during the job application process

Irma: Hi Chris! Can you tell the Remote Newbie community a little about your background?

Chris: I spent about five years as a reporter, covering a range of VC-backed companies in tech and healthcare for Mergermarket. I then transitioned into a marketing and comms role with an early-stage crypto/blockchain startup, while building out a newsletter focused on early-stage startups and the process of raising capital. While building out that newsletter, I saw that…keep reading 

Oh no, Zoom ran into a ton of security issues - are you re-thinking using Zoom?

We interviewed 3 hiring managers and recruiters about how they transitioned to remote due to the COVID - If you’re interested in learning more about processes and how startups are handling hiring freezes take a peek at the webinar

1:1 Meeting Checklist - available as a template for you to copy and use!

Hope to see you stick around for Remote Valley. Thanks for reading. As always, hit reply to this email and let me know what you think or if you have questions.


Q&A w/ Chris DeLuca

What do hiring managers look for when hiring remote applicants?

Welcome, everyone! And hello to new readers of the newsletter. I had the chance to meet and chat with Chris DeLuca, founder of The Memo a newsletter that focuses on connecting job seekers to remote jobs. Check our AMA with Chris and


Keep reading 👇

Irma: Hi Chris! Can you tell the Remote Newbie community a little about your background?

Chris: I spent about five years as a reporter, covering a range of VC-backed companies in tech and healthcare for Mergermarket. I then transitioned into a marketing and comms role with an early-stage crypto/blockchain startup, while building out a newsletter focused on early-stage startups and the process of raising capital. While building out that newsletter, I saw that many startups were willing to consider remote candidates for roles but who didn’t brand themselves as remote-first and weren’t broadcasting that fact in their job placements. I saw an opportunity to connect job-seekers with those roles and The Memo was born.

Irma: Right now you're leading things up at The Memo. Tell us about who The Memo is for and what inspired you to start it?

Chris: From a high-level, The Memo is for anyone that’s interested in finding a remote role. They don’t need to be fully sold on the idea yet but they’re at least interested in seeing what types of roles are out there.

That said, there are a few customer/member personas that I’ve defined. One is people that have recently gone through a coding boot camp and eager to find a new role. Another centers around technical folks, not necessarily programmers, who have worked at legacy tech companies and who have recently made a move to a new city.

As I mentioned above, the inspiration to start The Memo came when I learned of companies that were willing to consider remote candidates for roles but who made no mention of that publicly. It can be really difficult to land a role and I wanted to create a community where I could give people a leg up in the application process.

The other motivation to launch the newsletter was that I was seeing many early-stage startups that were openly hiring remote candidates but who weren’t offering stock options/equity in the company. Working for an early-stage startup is incredibly difficult and all employees, whether they’re working in-house or remote, should have exposure to the upside if the company is a success. I wanted to specifically highlight roles where remote-friendly early-stage startups offered equity but I’ve since come to learn that the problem is much more complex, especially for international startups with employees in many different regions.

It’s definitely something that as the newsletter and community grows I want to devote more attention to shining a light on and serving as an advocate for. 

Irma: From your perspective, what's the biggest challenge your community of remote workers and makers face in terms of finding a remote job?

Chris: The biggest challenge is finding the time or energy to either find a side door into the company and/or create a personalized application that’s really going to stand out. I do some interviews with startups and whenever I hear that they’re hiring remotely, I try to connect someone in our community to the hiring manager. 

Irma: On the opposite end, what's the biggest challenge you see companies face in terms of hiring qualified remote candidates?

Chris: They’re being inundated with candidates that don’t match the criteria for the role and going through the entire pipeline of candidates takes time and resources. But, from a job applicant perspective, they apply to one role, don’t hear anything back and don’t have any feedback that they can use to strengthen their application moving forward. I imagine that if hiring companies provided more feedback about why they’re passing on a candidate it would be net better for all parties. 

Irma: What advice would you give to someone who's looking to stand out when applying to a remote job? What steps can they take?

Chris: A few things: first, find someone’s email address at the company. Bonus if you can find someone that can make an intro. Second, craft a highly personalized cover letter; go out your way to demonstrate both enthusiasm for the problem that the company is trying to solve and that you can add value. Finally, have someone review your CV. For members of the community, I’ve offered to review their CVs and cover letters and at this point I’ve gone through hundreds of CVs. Biggest takeaways: keep things simple and demonstrate impact with concrete numbers rather than listing tasks. 

Irma: What are you enjoying outside of running The Memo? (books, hobbies, traveling, communities, etc.)


In terms of hobbies, I’m into optimizing nutrition and improving my three-mile run time (which has been put on hold because of social distancing). 

Irma: Where can people go to learn more about you? Your newsletter/blog?


Enjoyed this AMA? Stay tuned for more and make sure to follow Chris!

Know of any friends or co-workers who would love to check out this Q&A? Forward them this email or they can sign up here.

Checking-in / feedback / office hours

Hi everyone and welcome new readers!

It’s been a few weeks now since many of us have had to enter lockdown. I hope you’re staying safe and finding ways to keep healthy at home. First thing, how are you doing?

I haven’t sent out a letter this past 2 Wednesdays, thanks for bearing with me. I’ll keep this one short as I’m re-evaluating Remote Newbie after these past weeks have placed a few things in perspective. Keep reading to find out more!

Your feedback is valuable -> Leave your feedback over here.

This letter has been around for a little bit now and I’d love to get your thoughts, concerns, and overall feedback on the future of Remote Newbie. Remote Newbie came to be because I was never able to find a one-stop blog, community, or hub where I could learn about remote work but also how to work remotely effectively and keep it going year after year without feeling burn out. What do you want to see out of this letter? Courses, jobs, AMAs? Tell us in the survey above.

How can I help? -> Grab time on my calendar

Whether you’re on the job hunt for a remote job or need guidance on managing your remote team. Or just want to grab a casual chat and talk about life, let’s do it!

Feeling isolated because of this pandemic? -> Find a virtual lunch match

We’re in beta with Cafecito, a community platform matching you with like-minded remote workers. If you sign up, email me and let me know.

Thank you always and stay safe.

- Irma

Week #16: Links that made us happy.

Welcome new readers! Heads up - this letter will be different than usual.

Hope that you and your families are safe. If I can help, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

This letter will be a little different focusing on happy things. I came across really great articles, how-to’s, artists doing live performances on Instagram this week and I’d love to share that with all of you. I know it’s super stressful right now but hopefully, some of the links today give you a small break :)

A tiny bit about my situation where I live: bars and restaurants are carryout only, coffee shops have a mobile ordering system where you can drive up and your coffee will be brought to you, our gym is renting out equipment for the next few weeks, and schools are closed until sometime in April, maybe even later than that. Hoping we return to semi-normal soon.

  1. Virtual cooking classes: Massimo Bottura is offering free virtual cooking classes on Instagram

  2. John Legend sings: He hopped on Instagram today and sang for the world. This is part of a virtual concert series headed by the World Health Organization and Global Citizen called Together, At Home: Who-Global Citizen Solidarity Sessions

  3. Learn UX design online: Free courses by Butter Academy

  4. A schedule for kids at home: Khan Academy put together an amazing schedule with lots of play team balanced with learning for kiddos

  5. Step away from your desk: A few home exercises you can incorporate into your day to day while working from home

  6. Cabin fever support: Here are a few ideas to not go stir crazy while you work

This is a new space dedicated to readers who are interested in tools, tips, and templates to help them build or improve their remote team dynamics.

  1. Read this: A Notion template for your remote team to track to-do’s, shared reading lists, and more!

What videos, memes, etc. made you smile this week? Post them in the comments and share it with other readers 💖

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