Remote Work At Crossover
* As of January 2020
Crossover Remote Company Q&A
Rukma Sen, Head of Content and Media Relations - Interview with Remote.co
What does your remote-friendly company do?
We source, test, and create remote teams for our clients. After creating customized teams, we also manage them for guaranteed productivity. In other words, we take the guesswork out of hiring remote teams and managing them after they’re hired.
Did you switch to remote or start out that way?
We’ve been remote from the get-go. It’s at the heart of our company, and it wouldn’t make sense for us to have it any other way.
How important is remote work to your business model?
It’s definitely at the core of our company. Our mission is to find the best talent in the world and match them with jobs according to their skills. We couldn’t do this without utilizing a remote workforce. Even within Crossover we all work remotely–everyone from sales, marketing, and support to the CEO himself. It makes a lot of sense to us: if the best talent has no zip code, then of course we should be capitalizing on this as well!
What do you consider the biggest benefits of a remote workforce?
- Access to talent, regardless of geography. In the past, companies were restricted to a talent pool in the immediate vicinity of their office building. For companies based in densely-populated areas such as San Francisco and New York, this was fine. But now we can hire anyone from anywhere. We find the best talent, they find the best jobs. It no longer matters where you live. It’s very liberating for everyone involved.
- Increased productivity. Offices are arguably one of the most distracting places to work. There’s noise, office drama and politics, and employees tend to be interrupted throughout the day. Finding a good workflow is nearly impossible, Remote workers, on the other hand, don’t have to deal with the same amount or frequency of distractions. It’s much easier for an employee to hit their stride if they’re comfortable and happy, and for most people that’s in a home office or another working space.
What were the main reasons to integrate remote work into your workforce?
We started out remotely for several reasons: we wanted Crossover team members to come from the top of the talent pool and we could only manage this by opening up that pool on a global scale. It also made the most sense financially. Our product isn’t something that needs to be physically handled or based anywhere, and outside of meetings and other forms of communication–all of which can be done easily through Skype and email– it made the most sense for everyone to work where they were already based.
How do you conduct interviews for remote jobs?
We have one of the most rigorous assessment/interview processes, for both Crossover team members and the contractors we hire as part of these remote teams. For the contractors, we first send out a job posting, then screen resumes for the basic skills we need. Next, a portion of the applicants are chosen to take assessments to demonstrate their skills. For software engineers, for example, we give them a sample project– a problem or project we have personally had to work through at Crossover. They are given three days to complete this, and it usually takes about 10 hours. Next, they are interviewed by several people, and they are finally offered the job. It’s not an easy process by any means, but it means that our contractors really are the best of the best.
How do you conduct onboarding for remote workers?
It varies by position, but all new team members go through an onboarding process 1-on-1 with their manager, who helps lead them through everything. They are given a thorough manual detailing their job, what’s expected of them, lingo they should know, etc. It’s a bit of a trial by fire, since we move so quickly. By their second week, team members are expected to start contributing to the company. It’s all very exciting and fast-paced.
Do you have remote communication protocols for your remote workers?
There is no hard and fast rule, but as a general rule of thumb, the quicker the better. Because we are a startup company, things move very quickly. But everyone understands that things like different time zones, time off, and people being done for the day when you’re just starting yours are all inevitable. Everyone is very flexible.
How do you measure the productivity of remote workers?
We use a productivity-tracking tool called Worksmart, which helps managers and their team members assess how team members spend their time. Worksmart has a variety of features, and you can customize them based on how in-depth you would like your metrics to be. For example, the most in-depth tracking involves screenshots and webcam grabs, as well as a list of the applications the team member has used (and for how long they’ve used them). If this level of tracking is unnecessary, any of these can be disabled. But our whole company uses all the features–even the CEO gets his picture taken, just like us. It’s great to see how much time we spend on any given project. In fact, clients who use Worksmart with their contractors have found that their team’s productivity increases by 40-50%, mainly because managers and team members can find out where any unproductive time is going, and work to fix that.
What is the hardest part about managing a remote workforce?
The most difficult part is helping your team stay motivated and feel part of a team when they have never met. In the office, a sense of camaraderie is hopefully achieved through daily interaction and rallying around a common goal. The same is true for remote team, minus the daily interaction in the traditional water cooler sense.
What is your BYOD policy for remote workers?
We have all of our team members use their own computers, but we provide all the apps necessary.
What were your biggest fears in managing remote workers?
As is the trend with other remote companies, we worry about workplace culture. It’s a bit harder to foster when you only see one another on Skype, but that’s where our love and passion for our job comes in. We rally around our mutual desire to help our company, and that unites us more than anything else.
How did you implement a remote work policy?
More formally. It started with the CEO, Andy Tryba, who works remotely from Austin, Texas. As the company grew, more and more people were hired, and they all came on as remote workers. Now we have more than a hundred Crossover team members, and they’re spread throughout the world.
What advice would you give to a team considering to go remote?
Stop considering and take the leap! We started out as a remote team and we didn’t look back. We think the numbers speak for themselves: employees who work from home are more productive and happier than their office-bound counterparts. From the company’s fiscal standpoint, it also saves a lot of money–an estimated $11,000 annually for every remote employee, according to one study. And employees save both time and money by avoiding the commute. There’s probably never been a win-win quite like remote work.
What are the most effective tools for remote team communication?
We have different levels of communication. For anything that needs to be written at length, we use standard email or we ping each other on Skype. For meetings between two or three people, we use Skype as well. Anything larger than that, we use Slack. A messaging platform like this is helpful because people can direct message to one another, or everyone can be reached all at once by messaging the entire Crossover company. We save that larger thread for big news or when we need help and want to call on everyone.
What tips do you have to disconnect when working remotely?
Once you’re done for the day, really try your best to be done for the day. It’s tempting to check in on your work email or that latest project, but that type of habit can quickly lead to burnout. It can help to keep two distinct spaces in your home, if possible: one primarily for work, and the other for everything else; this helps keep a mental separation as well as a physical one.
What is your favorite business book?
We have all our new team members read the book Remote: Office Not Required by David Heinemeier Hansson. It gets at the heart of why we work the way we do, and how best to adjust and get the full benefits of working outside the office.