Remote Work At FlexJobs
* As of October 2022
FlexJobs Remote Company Q&A
Carol Cochran, VP of People & Culture - Interview with Remote.co
What does your remote-friendly company do?
FlexJobs is the leading career service specializing in remote, hybrid, and flexible jobs. We provide the highest quality database of vetted remote and flexible job listings, such as part-time, freelance, contract, at-home, seasonal, temporary, flexible, and alternative schedule opportunities. FlexJobs works with leading companies of all sizes to recruit quality remote talent and optimize their remote and flexible workplace. We make the job search experience better, faster, safer, and easier by supporting job seekers in all phases of their career journey with extensive resume reviews and expert advice, career coaching services, webinars, thousands of career articles, virtual job fairs, and other career-driven resources.
How important is remote work to your business model?
Remote work IS our business model. As a company that specializes in and promotes flexible work options, our own remote workforce is showing that we walk the talk. FlexJobs is proof that virtual companies do work and can be successful.
On a more micro level, remote work is the foundation of our culture. It’s humbling to see where and why team members really need to utilize that flexibility. We’ve seen people work from hospital rooms while a family member recovers from major surgery and from hotel rooms while searching for a loved one who has disappeared. We’ve had a director working from bed as she recovered from a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. Each of those people were able to take time off. The ability to keep working actually helped them get through difficult times and situations. At the same time, remote work also allows our team to create schedules that fit more wholly into their day to day lives, whether that means having the flexibility to attend kids’ school and sports events, walking their dog during a coffee break, or taking a mid-day hike during lunch. Our culture is based on the understanding that life happens. That speaks volumes about how we value our people.
What do you consider the biggest benefits of a remote workforce?
The ability to hire the best talent with no geographical boundaries. The efficiency, productivity, and loyalty that comes from giving professionals the room to build better work life fit. Plus, the lack of office politics is refreshing!
It’s important to not overlook the benefits that come from treating your workforce like professional adults and giving them the freedom to develop the best possible work life integration possible––at any given time. We strongly encourage people to take advantage of the fact that they can work from any location with internet access. Everyone works remotely from their home offices (or their latest travel destinations), and most of our team members have the ability to set their own hours or have a flexible schedule. As a result, we’ve had people working at the beaches in Hawaii, on summer-long road trips across the United States, and from the mountains of Germany.
What were the main reasons to integrate remote work into your workforce?
Our CEO & Founder, Sara Sutton, founded FlexJobs in 2007 while she was pregnant with her first son, in response to her frustrating search for flexible work that would fit with her career and her family.. Having also co-founded an entry-level employment service in 1995, she has long been passionate about helping people find jobs that make their lives better, and she was thrilled to apply her own experience as a working mom to help others who want or need work flexibility. As a result, it was a natural fit to build a company that operates with a remote workforce.
What traits do you look for in candidates for a remote job?
We’ve developed a hiring process that allows us to assess communication skills, attention to detail, and critical thinking. We want people who are comfortable working independently and can be decisive, yet enjoy collaborating with a team, too. We’ve developed a practical exercise for most of our positions that give the candidate a good look at what kinds of things the job really entails and gives us a sense of their ability to do the work. For example, if I were hiring someone to be a company description writer, I might send them a company and ask for a writing sample. Beyond that, we look for a good cultural fit and a passion for what we are doing.
How do you measure the productivity of remote workers?
As a fully remote company, we’re results-oriented by necessity. We’ve identified key metrics for most of our team that allow us to see results, and regularly have team meetings that focus on progress, plans, and problems. It allows individuals to update on projects that are in motion, what is coming next, and any blockers that might be slowing them down. There are many studies showing that remote workers are actually more productive than their in-office counterparts. It simply requires managers to be focused on the tangibles instead of who is physically present.
How did you implement a remote work policy?
It was a natural step to build the company with a remote workforce, but it was done with mindfulness and intention. We feel that is the key to success––acknowledging and embracing the differences in managing a virtual team and doing it well.
Can a remote-friendly company have a healthy culture?
Definitely. FlexJobs has been a remote company for over 15 years, during which we’ve developed an award-winning culture recognized by Outside, Quartz, Entrepreneur, and many more. Like every other aspect of leading a remote team, a thriving company culture requires an intention and sense of mindfulness.
The true culture of a company is woven into the fabric of the business model, the structure and organization, and the leadership. Programs and initiatives can be built that support and extend that culture out to a remote workforce. Companies that operate with a distributed team should have someone dedicated to keeping their fingers on the pulse of the team and to be actively exploring opportunities to engage the team and demonstrate the value they bring to the company.
How do you nurture your company’s culture in a remote work environment?
With great attention and intention! The little things really make a difference, such as acknowledging birthdays and work anniversaries on our company-wide Slack channels, or giving a variety of opportunities to get to know people outside of their role at the company. We’ve done Happy Hour Trivia, Virtual Yoga, Coffee Breaks, and Lunch Hangouts. We’ve sent welcome packages to new hires, candy at Halloween, coupons for free ice cream in the summer, and gifts to commemorate milestones in the company.
On a more personal level, we recognize and respect that everyone has things in their life that will take up time and energy. Sometimes that time and energy may impact their schedule or their focus. We preach the importance of communicating in a very open and honest way. We practice that style of communication by providing opportunities for regular check-ins with managers and HR, as well as platforms and norms for easy one-off discussions. Additionally, our People and Culture team actively provides solutions and support to help everyone take care of themselves like subscriptions to meditation apps, healthy snack delivery services, digital and in-person exercise and gym options, reimbursements for ergonomic home office equipment, and more. Perhaps most importantly, we offer flexible schedules so our employees can better meet their personal and professional responsibilities in ways that best suit their individual needs.
Finally, we train our managers to be compassionate and flexible with their teams, and when necessary, get creative to meet business goals.
What advice would you give to a team considering to go remote?
Do it. Be mindful and intentional with your policies. Determine which roles are conducive to remote working. Establish clear operating norms and train your managers to lead a remote workforce. Remain agile; you’ll need to routinely evaluate your programs to see how they are working––or not working. At FlexJobs, we use a platform called 15Five for a weekly pulse check on how every team member is feeling generally, as well as their wins, immediate goals, and areas of opportunity. Managers have regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings with their direct reports to find out how they are doing and what they need to be more successful, in addition to annual performance reviews and monthly, company-wide meetings. Twice a year, we also schedule time with everyone in our company to talk about how things are feeling for them. We ask what they need to do their job better and give them an opportunity to ask any questions they might have. It gives everyone an opportunity to take a step back from the day to day and really think about how things are going.
What are the most effective tools for remote team communication?
We have a few different platforms and standards for communication. First off, each team has weekly Zoom meetings to discuss progress on various projects and what things are happening in other areas that might impact them.
In terms of platforms, we use Slack as our primary chat and collaboration tool. I can’t say enough about how great this has been for us. With person-to-person and group chats, as well as the ability tor quickly have a call with people has allowed for more natural and impromptu conversations. Our various Slack channels serve as our knowledge database and a virtual water cooler of sorts. In our #random channel, we ask questions designed to spark conversation. We post facts that team members share with us, allowing people to get to know more about one another and find common ground. We also have different interest groups around topics like health and wellness for people to bond over. Finally, we celebrate things like work anniversaries, birthdays, new babies, and personal accomplishments there. It’s a great resource for keeping people connected.
How do you personally manage work-life balance?
Every day is about choices. There are always things that I’m giving up. It might be the opportunity to finish a project before 5pm or having lunch with one of my kids. I don’t pressure myself by looking for the perfect balance. I recognize that I can’t give everything in my life the full time and attention I might want to give, but I do give my best to my career and my family. If I’m being honest, I need to work on doing things for myself a little more often.
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