Remote Work At AgileBits

80%

Remote

65+

Team Members

Toronto, Canada

Headquarters

* As of October 2015

AgileBits Team

AgileBits Team

AgileBits Remote Company Q&A

AgileBits - Interview with Remote.co

What does your remote-friendly company do?

We are the folks who make 1Password. 1Password is the premiere password and identity manager built for the Mac, Windows, iPhone, iPad, Android, and the 21st century.

How important is remote work to your business model?

Hiring from around the world allows us to hire the best talent and provide the best product and support to our customers.

What do you consider the biggest benefits of a remote workforce?

We are able to have people join our team who are passionate about building and supporting great software. There are advantages also for providing support with a wider range of time zones, along with having folks who speak a variety of languages to help make getting support easier.

What were the main reasons to integrate remote work into your workforce?

Pragmatism. We were looking to build a customer-focused company and hiring globally allowed us to hire the people that best embodied that ethos.

What traits do you look for in candidates for a remote job?

A prospective hire should be confident of their skillset and have a positive disposition.

How do you conduct interviews for remote jobs?

E-mail and Skype, usually. There was that one occasion on which we ran out of time and ended up taking a prospective hire with us on our annual retreat.

How do you convey your remote culture in the recruiting process?

We’re simple and straight-forward. New folks are generally thrown in the deep end and expected to swim.

Do your remote team members meet in person?

We have an annual, week-long meeting (lovingly named AGConf, inspired by the geeky conferences we endeavour to regularly attend), 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.

How do you measure the productivity of remote workers?

We are 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 customers are happy, we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing.

What elements are key to successful working relationships with remote teams?

Good communication is key. We rely on both synchronous and asynchronous communication tools to collaborate and share information.

What is the hardest part about managing a remote workforce?

Balancing socialising 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 coffeemaker.

How do you keep remote employees engaged and feeling part of the bigger picture?

All of our team members are part of at least one mini-team and we have weekly team meetings to share information and ideas. AgileBits is a very flat organization where people are encouraged to take their ideas and run with them. We are also encouraged to do everything we can to make our customers happy. It is extremely empowering to not have to get permission from someone else to do what we think is the right thing.

What is your BYOD policy for remote workers?

We don’t have hard and fast rules. This applies to both expenses and time off. 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.

What is your time off policy for remote workers?

Be respectful of company deadlines and crunch times, and also be respectful of your health. We continue to work on improving redundancy so that no one person keeps the house standing.

How did you implement a remote work policy?

It started organically as the company grew.

Can a remote-friendly company have a healthy culture?

Yes, we believe so. We work very hard to maintain a very positive and supportive culture where questions are welcome.

How do you nurture your company’s culture in a remote work environment?

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. While occasionally sharing a particular struggle is fine, we work hard to maintain a really positive atmosphere.

What advice would you give to a team considering to go remote?

Communication is key – if you are not able to collaborate and connect, then you won’t be able to move forward. Companies considering remote work should encourage healthy work habits. Being remote means flexibility for personal appointments, which is great, but it can also lead to forgetting to take your personal time. Encourage people to take their time and avoid burn-outs!

What challenges have you encountered building a remote team?

Managing without micro-managing. 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.

What are the most effective tools for remote team communication?

We rely on Slack and Basecamp pretty heavily. We also have regular group and one-to-one voice chats using Screenhero, Hangouts and Skype.

 

What has changed about how your remote team operates?

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.

What is your favorite business book?

Getting Real, 37signals