Remote Work At Chargify
* As of January 2020
Chargify Remote Company Q&A
Adam Feber, Director of Marketing - Interview with Remote.co
What does your remote-friendly company do?
Chargify’s billing software helps companies that collect recurring revenue simplify their subscription management and recurring billing. We work with thousands of companies of all shapes and sizes, from startup to Fortune 500. When using Chargify, these companies don’t have to worry about all the complexities that come with recurring payments, so they can focus on what is important – improving their product or service, serving customers, and growing their business.
Did you switch to remote or start out that way?
Yes, Chargify has been 100% distributed since day one.
How important is remote work to your business model?
Pretty important. Not only does it make finding talent easier (covered in other sections), but having a remote team, across multiple time zones, allows us to provide better support. We also have a lot of customers that also have distributed teams, and they appreciate that we are a distributed team.
What do you consider the biggest benefits of a remote workforce?
One of the biggest benefits of a remote team is being able to attract and retain top talent anywhere in the world. We have Chargify employees in Brazil, Australia, and all across the United States. Being able to collaborate with team members from different geographical locations and cultures is something many of our employees tout as a benefit as well. Chargify employees enjoy what they do and the perks of working remotely is an important part of our culture and success.
What were the main reasons to integrate remote work into your workforce?
Chargify has been a remote team since day one. From inception, we wanted to be able to work with the best and the brightest, regardless of their physical location. Finding ideal candidates that are not only qualified, but are a good culture fit is easier when not bound by location. Plus, being a 100% distributed team means we don’t have all the overhead costs related to an office space which allows us to be more efficient.
How do you conduct interviews for remote jobs?
After going through resumes and narrowing it down to a select few, I start by sending an email with a few questions asking the candidate to go over in more detail points that pertain to the job. In a remote job a lot of communication takes place via text so how well they communicate back to me via email is important. If the email goes well, I’ll schedule a phone interview (either by phone or Skype). We prefer to meet a candidate face-to-face prior to making an offer, but this isn’t always possible.
Do you use third party testing or evaluation services when hiring remote workers?
Since Chargify is a PCI compliant company, security is extremely important and background checks are a necessity.
How do you conduct onboarding for remote workers?
Onboarding can be done remotely, but frequently the new employees will meetup in person with their immediate supervisor for onboarding. It can be a nice introduction to meet face-to-face during onboarding to add a personal connection.
Do you organize remote team retreats?
Socializing and team building is important when we all get together. It isn’t all about productivity and getting work done (which we do throughout the year). Visit cities that are walkable and have a lot to offer for adventures and having fun.
Do your remote team members meet in person?
We just started doing quarterly management meetups that allow us to align priorities. We also do an annual company-wide meetup. These annual meetups act as a retreat to review annual priorities and goals as well as socialize and general team building. On top of these structured meetups, team members will unite at different times throughout the year. For example, our development team recently all went to ElixirConf together.
What elements are key to successful working relationships with remote teams?
Trust, communication, and transparency are key. One of the most common questions I get from people who work in more traditional offices is, “How do you know if people are actually working?” We use a variety of tools and encourage everyone to reach out with questions at any time. It’s better to ask questions and get positive reassurance than to tackle a project blindly and risk not getting it right the first time.
How do you keep remote employees engaged and feeling part of the bigger picture?
In addition to daily standups and monthly company-wide video calls, we also have annual company meetups. Once a year the entire company has a meetup in a different location to discuss annual priorities and goals. Previous meetups have been held in Vail, Miami, Boston, Savannah, etc.
What is your BYOD policy for remote workers?
While you are allowed to bring your own device, Chargify will provide a computer of choice when needed. With the exception of one team member, we are all Mac users 🙂
What is your time off policy for remote workers?
4 weeks paid vacation
What were your biggest fears in managing remote workers?
My biggest fear is having a team member that is not dedicated and pulling their own weight. This is harder to identify when not working together on a daily basis, but in a smaller team it is easier to identify. Luckily, we have not run into this issue yet.
How did you implement a remote work policy?
It began organically — the company co-founders lived in different geographic areas. As the company began to grow, it made sense to implement a remote work policy that was a bit more formal, though we focus less on stringent remote work guidelines and more on a culture of trust and transparency.
Can a remote-friendly company have a healthy culture?
Absolutely! A company culture is embedded throughout everything the company does, not a result of all employees being in the same physical location. We also have a #random channel on Slack to discuss non-work stuff. Being able to share jokes, funny gifs, and personal stories allows remote employees to socialize and builds team morale.
What advice would you give to a team considering to go remote?
Hiring is key for a remote workforce. In addition to all the skills required for specific job positions, there are other things that can identify potential employees as being able to be successful in a remote environment. Examples: previous experience working remotely, owning their own business, being able to demonstrate mature decision making, good communicator, etc. Remote work isn’t a fit for everyone, so it is important to hire employees who will not only succeed remotely but also enjoy it.
What challenges have you encountered building a remote team?
It’s not always easy to collaborate on projects when working remotely. Collaboration is different when you can just stop by someone’s desk. To address this, some sort of online project management tool is necessary. In marketing, we use Trello. Our development team uses Sprintly for iteration planning and tracking. Making sure the priorities are clearly defined and well organized helps keep our distributed team on track.
What are the most effective tools for remote team communication?
We use Slack to communicate via chat throughout the day. Each team has its own channel in addition to company-wide channels. Every day we use Jell (previously Flock) to publicly post online standup reports to each team’s Slack channel. Then each team uses Zoom to have a quick video conference standup. The daily standup is a quick 15 minutes, but that time helps everyone get organized for the day. The leadership team has a separate standup as well. Once a month we have a company-wide video conference on Zoom to discuss projects, progress, and company goals/roadmap.
What is your personal remote work environment?
For me, an external monitor is key. I have a massive 32 inch Samsung display at my cowork space that I favor over my Apple cinema display at home. I also just got a Jarvis standing desk that allows me to switch between standing and sitting throughout the day.
How do you personally manage work-life balance?
After working remotely for 6+ years, I decided to start working at a cowork space for a few days a week. I have found that getting away from the house provides better work/life balance, has allowed me to interact with other technologists in my community and made me a happier, more productive person.
More tips from the entire Chargify team.