Six-month update: I took my company remote

Feb 22, 2024
Six-month update: I took my company remote

Find Your Superpower newsletter 047

Read time: 7 minutes

Topics covered: remote work, work from home, work from anywhere, hybrid work, flexible work, return to office, professional women


9 in 10 companies will announce a return-to-office (RTO) mandate by 2024, according to Resumebuilder.

Also from the article, the majority either already track or will track employees to ensure in-person attendance, 72% of them say RTO has improved revenue, and 28% say their company will threaten to fire employees who don’t comply with mandates.

In 2024, the number of companies that have announced RTO mandates is growing daily: Amazon, Meta, Google, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup have joined the ranks. Ironically, Zoom is one of them.

I fully understand that the companies above operate on a scale very different from my small business, which is where the allure of small businesses can be found—the flexibility, the close-knit teams, and the ability to customize our company policies to be inclusive of many people, including moms, which I will get to later.

In August 2023, I wrote a LinkedIn post about taking my company fully remote and the reaction and virality of that post was unbelievable. 

Here’s what happened next:


A quick refresher of why we went remote

To provide some context, I had invested around $30k on renovating my office and more than $20k on furniture, video equipment and office consumables. Probably another $20k if you count all of the other stuff. And while we used the office for meetings and distribution of books and magazines, the office was severely underutilized.

More philosophically, I believe that we are on the right side of (work) history, and that the future of work will look more like my current set up with a much smaller carbon footprint. Imagine if fewer people had to travel to work every day in a city of 5-10 million people. How much energy would we collectively save? How much time would we collectively save?

Next, on employee satisfaction. I have never had anyone complain about our 100% WFH or WFA policy: I’ve had colleagues work remotely while traveling around the world. In fact, during every six-month performance review they always bring up how grateful they are not to have to commute and fight traffic jams daily.

On the topic of how much time we would save, I calculated in another LinkedIn post that we save on average one full month each year working remotely. 


Here’s an average daily time investment working in an office:

30+30 min getting into + getting out of office attire

45+45 min commute to + commute from the office

30 min admin time in the office (often more)

= 3h daily

Here’s an average annual time investment working in an office:

3h x 20 business days = 60h/month

60h/month x 12 months = 720h/year

720h/year โž— 24h = 30 days/year

= 1 entire month

Honest question: wouldn’t you want one month of your life back?


Is remote work suitable for everyone?

On this topic I’ve always been very clear that not everyone is suited to remote work. We have different personalities and levels of professional experience, and changing needs at different stages of our career.

As I told CNBC Make It’s Goh Chiew Tong, there are just two non-negotiables when hiring an excellent remote worker, and the lack of either one of them will result in a poor hire:


1. An excellent virtual communicator

Here’s what I said in the interview: While it seems rather self-explanatory that a remote worker should be able to communicate well virtually using apps like Slack, email or Zoom, Chan said that from her experience, not everyone fares well in that department. Chan stressed that a good virtual communicator should be able to “ask for help and self-report problems” too.


2. A highly accountable person

For remote work to be effective, employees also need to be fully accountable for their work performance. “This is a gamechanger: if everyone agrees to be fully accountable … It is possible to create high-performance teams that have never even once met their remote colleagues in real life, while operating nearly autonomously,” I told CNBC.

While low-accountability workers are also a problem in an office setting, the problem is compounded in a remote setting as even their immediate supervisor has zero visibility on the matter.

After the CNBC article came out, many entrepreneurs reached out to me and confided to me that my interview gave them clarity on why some of their remote hires had bombed so spectacularly. Without revealing any confidential discussions, they told me how miserable and exhausted they were having to play a cat-and-mouse game with remote workers who took advantage of the remote work format to cut corners, contribute less, and in some egregious cases, disappear for hours (and even days) at end.

Looking at the team that I have built so painstakingly with blood, sweat and tears, I would say that I am lucky in that I never spend a moment wondering if my team is contributing or not. I trust their judgement and accountability, and I believe that creatives need breaks to recharge, think, innovate and get our creative juices flowing.


Heres our six-month update

If you wonder whether I am drinking the Kool Aid and fail to see any value in face-to-face interactions, I want to categorically state that I’m a huge supporter of face-to-face meetings and social interactions with colleagues.

I identify as extrovert!!!

Which is why I have taken the office savings and consolidated it into an annual fully-sponsored 3D2N company retreat.

In 2022, I flew all of us and our executive coach Yeo Chuen Chuen out to Langkawi, Malaysia where we ate, danced, drank, learnt about our Clifton strengths and went sightseeing. Even my son came along.

In 2023, I took my team to Bali, Indonesia. We had a blast with white-water rafting, and we visited Balinese temples. Strangely, I am closer to my remote teammates these days than I ever was when I ran an in-person team.

Getting ready for a 10-kilometer white-water rafting expedition


But most importantly, could we talk about the moms?

From Adam Grants Instagram account


As a mother of two, I can attest that mothers love working remotely, plus I love hiring mothers.

Moms are true warriors. They very seldom complain or blame others. Instead, they are excellent troubleshooters and can be trusted to solve problems. Moms don’t have any time left to waste and therefore won’t waste your time either. Another plus is they do teamwork very well and support their teammates like they do their kids.

Not only does remote or flexible work level the playing field for career women who are pregnant, or moms to babies and toddlers, it also levels the playing field for people with disabilities, and those with medical conditions that hinder commute to or work in an office. And for everyone else, it will return you your time and sanity.

I would say being a mom + boss simultaneously has been one of the biggest challenges in my life so far. The COVID-era school lockdowns and having to homeschool my kids while running a virtual team and scaling a company taught me resilience and grit.

All the moms in my company tell me that remote work is a gamechanger for their ability to juggle childcare and a professional career simultaneously.

I am grateful for remote work.



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Thanks for reading issue 047 of my weekly Find Your Superpower newsletter.

For those of you who are new to my newsletter, Find Your Superpower is subscribed to by 34,000 people on LinkedIn and email, and discusses the following three goals: (1) Making a career transition, (2) Professional branding on LinkedIn, and (3) Reinventing ourselves for the future of work.


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