Remote Work At 1Password
* As of January 2020
1Password Remote Company Q&A
Jacob Wilson, Talent Acquisition Manager - Interview with Remote.co
We make 1Password, a password manager that keeps you safe online. It stores all your personal information—passwords, credit cards, licenses and more—behind a single Master Password that only you know.
We started out remote!
It’s the core of it. Hiring people from around the world allows us to find the best talent, diversity we might not see in just one place, and in the end, be able to provide the best product and support to our customers.
We are able to have people join our team who are passionate about building and supporting great software. There are huge advantages for customers, since they can get support in their timezone—they don’t have to worry that the person they’re talking with is sleeping when they send an email asking for help with something.
Pragmatism. We were looking to build a customer-focused company. People all over the world use 1Password, so hiring globally helps the people who build and support 1Password get closer to our customers, whether it’s by helping them in their native language or learning from how they use the product differently.
A prospective hire should be confident of their skill set and have a positive disposition.
It depends on the team. For the customer support team and some of the development teams, the first interview is text-based. Since we’re remote-first, it’s important that anyone who wants to join the team is comfortable communicating via text for most of the day, and we’ve found this fits really well. After that, there’s either a phone interview or a video one, depending on what the hiring manager for the role prefers.
We’ve been making leaps and bounds here recently and I’d like to share the background to show how things can improve over the years. For quite a while, new folks were generally thrown in the deep end and expected to swim. We looked for lots of self-starters, but after a while we realized that some people would really love to learn how to work remotely.
Since figuring that out, we’ve been striving to document things internally more so that new people can start by reading some of our guides. It’s exciting to get a new job, but it shouldn’t be intimidating. We’d ideally like to minimize stress and instill confidence as much as we can.
We have an annual, weeklong meeting where we all gather to work and play together. We also have occasional mini conferences, during which individual teams gather to work together in a shared physical space, usually at our office in Toronto.
1Password was founded by software developers, so we use a variety of tools to track objectives, milestones, and the resolution of technical issues. Our support team monitors email inboxes, social networks, and forums. It’s very easy for us to monitor productivity: if questions are being answered, bugs are being marked “fixed,” and most importantly, customers are happy, then we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing.
Balancing socializing in a virtual workspace with not working in a silo. When working remotely, it’s so easy to either block out everything and become isolated, or get so caught up in the various conversations taking place that it becomes a challenge to focus. This is especially true because online conversations are archived and readily available, unlike, say, missing the morning banter around the coffee maker.
We don’t have hard-and-fast rules. We expect our team to be adults, and we expect everyone to have a sense of ownership and respect, treating finite company resources as their own. We don’t really have an issue with people requesting reimbursement for certain purchases; if they need something to get the job done and they ask first, expensing a device is usually fine.
It’s quite flexible. We ask that people are respectful of company deadlines and crunch times, while also being respectful of their health. As of early 2020, we offer 15 paid days off per year, and unlimited unpaid days.
It was pretty organic. The first few people we hired were from our customer support forum. They were people who already used 1Password and loved it enough to help us make it better and help other people who were struggling with aspects of it. From there, the team continued to grow remotely by word of mouth for a while, until we started posting jobs more officially in 2017.
Absolutely, but it takes a little more work and doesn’t happen as organically as it would in an office. We have a #water-cooler channel in Slack for people to connect with each other on a more personal basis, whether they’re talking about a new book they’re reading, movie they loved, family event they have planned, or travels they’re excited about.
We have separate channels for music, books, mental health, and even meditation. Intentionality is the key to this kind of stuff happening, and as stereotypical as the “self-starter” requirement in some job postings is, it’s really valuable to have in at least some people on your remote team.
We encourage people to bring their whole selves to their work. We have channels in Slack for people to share their love of games, literature, music, and craft projects. And when things do get hard, people on the team tend to be really compassionate about each other—sharing a particular struggle in your life won’t be met with silence, but rather support and likely someone else who feels similar. We work hard to keep things positive, too, limiting discussions that can spiral into negativity.
Communication is everything. If you aren’t able to collaborate and connect, you won’t be able to move forward. Companies considering remote work should encourage healthy work habits, not expect their team to get more done just because they aren’t in an office. Being remote means flexibility for personal appointments, which is great, but it can also lead to forgetting to take your personal time.
Helping everyone on the team stay mentally healthy is one of the biggest challenges as well, since isolation and loneliness are a lot more likely when you don’t have to leave the house. The best advice I can offer is to encourage people to take time off if they need it—burnout isn’t good for anyone—and make clear separations between work and personal life. Working from home can have blurred boundaries, so setting clear “work times” is important.
Managing without micromanaging. It’s important for our team to be able to allocate their time in a way that works for them, but it’s also important for our work to get done in a timely manner.
By asking questions and saying things, rather than quietly wondering if they should speak up. Asking questions is encouraged and it’s how we’ve all grown and learned from each other—almost everyone on our team truly is here to help.
As our team has grown we have been slowly shifting from a company of generalists where everyone does a bit of everything to a place where we are beginning to see more specialization. For example, I just moved from leading a team in customer support to hiring, which I was doing 30% of the time before. Being able to specialize in something I really enjoy is making my days a lot more rewarding.
The flexibility. I love being able to go to a café and work there for a few hours each day, then return home when I want to listen to some music while working, or actually cook something in my kitchen for lunch. I feel like a more well-rounded person being able to choose how my day goes.
Find something that gets you out of your head and into your body. For me, that’s trail running, cooking, restorative yoga, hiking, playing music, making friends laugh, and building LEGOs while listening to a good podcast—yes, toys and blocks.
It’s a tie between Creativity, Inc., and Getting Real.
“Inspiration is for amateurs—the rest of us just show up and get to work.” —Chuck Close
I’ve worked in 22 countries so far, and that alone has been pretty great. The worst place was in an airplane, which no one should ever do. I got free in-flight Wi-Fi from the airline and just decided hey, let’s see how this goes. It just made the flight more stressful. The best would have been in a small, cozy café in Vancouver, British Columbia. It had a loft in it that you could see the mountains from. I just want to move in there.