Remote Work At Batchbook
* As of July 2015
Batchbook Remote Company Q&A
Christelle Lachapelle, Brand Manager - Interview with Remote.co
Batchbook is the Best CRM for Small Business. It is an easy-to-use central location for gathering all the information you need about your customers, which helps you grow your business.
Remote work is very important to our business model. Because we are open to remote employees, we have access to a much bigger talent pool. Also, because Batchbook is a SaaS product, we are working with customers from all over the world. Having a distributed team helps us to be available at different times and in different time zones for our customers. We also understand the challenges that other businesses face when sharing information and collaborating with team members, which Batchbook is a great tool for!
There is a freedom and sense of trust that comes with remote work that attracts a certain type of employee. Not everyone is able to make the remote lifestyle work for them, but those who can tend to be hard-working, creative, passionate and loyal.
Batchbook started with a remote team. The company was several years old before we started to rent a conference room for local employees. It was a year or so after that, when we got a “real” office. Remote employees have been part of our team since day one and we wouldn’t have it any other way!
We try to hire the best person for the job, whether they are local or virtual. A good culture fit is much more important than geography!
We don’t have a specific policy for how soon or how often things need to be communicated. I’d say the Golden Rule applies here and it’s important to treat your team members the way you’d like to be treated. We all have some form of chat software running, so it’s really easy to touch base with team members if you need to communicate or are waiting for feedback on a project.
We set goals and deadlines, the same way we would if our team was working in an office together. The team here at Batchbook works really hard to meet the company goals and we use some different apps like PivotalTracker and BaseCamp to track our progress.
Keeping remote employees engaged is definitely a challenge. You need to make an effort to check in with co-workers and learn about their lives and families. It’s a bit harder to make friendships remotely, but I’ve found that the bonds of friendship are very strong.
We have weekly full-staff meetings where local employees will come in to the office and then remote folks are on Skype. At least once a week the whole staff gets to check in and hear about what’s new. We also try to get the whole staff together in person at least once per year. It’s great fun to spend time with the whole team and their families; it feels like a family reunion!
It can be difficult to connect with co-workers on a personal level when you’re rarely face-to-face. Those personal interactions while waiting for the coffee pot or foraging for snacks in the company fridge are lost when people work virtually. It’s really important to take the time to get to know your co-workers on a personal level and that doesn’t come as naturally in a virtual environment.
In the beginning it was definitely more organic. As our team has grown, we have implemented more of a formal policy and some systems that help us stay in touch and get our work done well.
Try it! You’ll need to trust that employees who work remotely will be able to get their work done. But just like employees that work in a shared office, if you can’t trust them then you have the wrong employees.
Set up good systems for communicating with your team. There are tons of options for chat like, Slack, Skype and HipChat. Project management tools are incredibly helpful as well, especially when people are not all working during the same office hours. We use BaseCamp and Pivotal Tracker for that. Of course we use Batchbook to store and share all the important information about our customers!
We actually started as a fully remote team. So one change was having a “home” office and having some of the staff working together in “real life”.
I’m fortunate to be close enough to work from our Providence office sometimes. I share an office there with two lovely and passionate co-workers. When I work from home, I often sit in the kitchen, even though I have a “real” desk, too. Sometimes I need a change of scenery and I’ll work on my porch or head to a coffee shop.
I was at an awards ceremony earlier this year where someone said “There is no such thing as work life balance, it’s just life.” I have to agree. There are times when there is a lot to accomplish at work, and that takes precedence. At other times, family needs are more important. The beauty of working in a virtual-friendly environment is that I don’t have to miss my kids’ special events. Or I might be writing this really early in the morning, from my couch (I’ll never tell). When both work priorities and family priorities collide, I’m fortunate to work with a team of professionals who act like family and are willing to help out so no one’s family has to suffer. It all works out.