Simon's Blog

Remote done Well Part 1

September 27, 2022


After I had spent several months working remotely for my previous employer due to pandemic restrictions I realised that:

  1. I wanted to work remotely every day for the forseeable future
  2. I wanted to do so at a company for which remote was a feature not a bug

I have now worked at Hotjar for 1.5 years now. It has been operating fully remotely since it was founded in 2014 and as a result has very strong processes which allow it to continue to operate efficiently, especially as it grows in terms of headcount.

I want to document the more hidden and nuanced parts of working at a company where remote is done well, the kind that you aren’t really exposed to in a job vacancy (we’re hiring by the way).

Meetings are often recorded

You need to miss the weekly all hands because you need to pick up your aunt from the airport? That’s fine, you can watch the recording later.

Not every meeting is recorded. Whilst meetings with large audiences or workshops tend to be recorded, team stand-ups, syncs and refinements typically are not.

This allows for an incredible amount of flexibility with your schedule, especially useful since employees are spread across multiple timezones.

Strong documentation culture

Over my tenure I’ve reversed my sequence of acquiring knowledge. It used to be:

  1. Ask a colleague
  2. Read the code
  3. Check documentation (if it exists)

Now it is:

  1. Check documentation
  2. Read the code
  3. Ask a colleague

Given that colleagues are spread around the world and may be still asleep, just waking up, ramping up focus after their first hot beverage or eating lunch at any time, relying on synchronous communication all the time is highly counter-productive.

As a result, it is more productive to see if it’s been written down somewhere before asking someone about it. Even when I end up asking a colleague, I have a 50/50 chance that their answer will include a link to a document that my confluence-foo was unable to surface.

Occasional, intentional social calls

One of my colleagues once asked me: “do you really sit on a call watching each other eat food at their desk? Isn’t it just awkward munching?“.

It is only awkward if you make it awkward.

Over the past 1.5 years our team has perfected the fortnightly social call:

  • Order some food (covered by our Work Together perk)
  • Talk about anything but work (pets, life, achievements, drugs, etc) for the first half hour or so
  • spend the next 45 minutes playing games together. Scattergories, Skribbl, Gartic Phone and Geoguessr are all awesome options.

Every 2-3 weeks run an optional, no-agenda social call for the last 30 minutes of the day on Friday. Right before the weekend starts there is not anything you can accomplish that cannot wait until Monday morning.

A remote environment does not allow easily for natural conversations and social relationship building. It does not mean you cannot have social relationships with your colleagues, it just means that you need to be intentional about it.

Core hours

There are three hours in the day where there’s an expectation that you can be reached if you are working that day: 14:00 - 17:00 CET.

Other than that, there are no particular restrictions about when you should be ‘butt in seat’.

Teams tend to converge and settle on a steady state of meeting & ceremony times that work for all their members, such as starting a daily sync at 11:00 CET to allow for people who wake up later as well as people in earlier timezones to join comfortably.

Salary Equity

A common criticism of remote work is that it allows work to be farmed out to countries with lower cost of living, resulting in cost saving due to workers more often than not being temporary contractors and accepting of a lower salary.

At Hotjar, the gross salaries are the same for the sheer majority of roles. There’s no reason that someone living in Nigeria should be paid less than someone living in London for the same work. Pay and perks are also the exact same regardless of whether you are an employee or a contractor.

Whether this is a fair approach due to difference in taxation is another debate entirely, however it is definitely more equitable.

This also leads to…


I never realised how mono-cultural my previous roles were before I worked at Hotjar. Often enough I find myself on a call with people spanning multiple continents. The focus on equity contributes heavily towards a beautifully diverse team.


I’ll definitely write another post as I continue to muse more about these points.

Did I mention we’re hiring? Come work with me!

Written by Simon who lives in Malta. You can find out more about me on the about page, or get in contact.