Remote Work At AgileBits
* As of October 2015
AgileBits Remote Company Q&A
AgileBits - Interview with Remote.co
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.
Hiring from around the world allows us to hire the best talent and 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 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.
Pragmatism. We were looking to build a customer-focused company and hiring globally allowed us to hire the people that best embodied that ethos.
A prospective hire should be confident of their skillset and have a positive disposition.
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.
We’re simple and straight-forward. New folks are generally thrown in the deep end and expected to swim.
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.
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.
Good communication is key. We rely on both synchronous and asynchronous communication tools to collaborate and share information.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It started organically as the company grew.
Yes, we believe so. We work very hard to maintain a very positive and supportive culture where questions are welcome.
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.
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!
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.
We rely on Slack and Basecamp pretty heavily. We also have regular group and one-to-one voice chats using Screenhero, Hangouts and Skype.
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.
Getting Real, 37signals