Remote Work At FMTC
* As of February 2020
FMTC Remote Company Q&A
Eric Nagel, CTO - Interview with Remote.co
What does your remote-friendly company do?
FMTC provides tools and data feeds for affiliate marketing publishers.
Did you switch to remote or start out that way?
We’ve always been a remote company.
How important is remote work to your business model?
Our work does not have to be done remotely, but it allows us to hire the best fit for the job no matter where they live.
What do you consider the biggest benefits of a remote workforce?
Being able to hire the best individual and offer non-monetary benefits are the best benefits of a remote workforce. Our team spans from coast to coast.
What were the main reasons to integrate remote work into your workforce?
The primary reason our company integrated remote work is because our industry is small and spread throughout the U.S. (and world). When it was time to bring on new contractors or employees, it made sense to hire those with industry knowledge, not those limited by their geographic area.
How do you conduct interviews for remote jobs?
Interviews are conducted over UberConference. We ask a lot of detailed questions during the application process that allows us to narrow down the applicants pretty quickly to make sure we are interviewing not just the job, but who may best fit in with our culture.
How do you convey your remote culture in the recruiting process?
We are very transparent in the hiring process about expectations and the organic culture we have. Our company core values are explained in the job description before they apply and in the written application. We ask applicants what their core values at work are; if they don’t align with ours, odds are it is not going to be a good fit!
How do you conduct onboarding for remote workers?
Onboarding can be challenging for hiring on-site workers, let alone someone who is remote. Luckily, we have really honed in on this process by using tools like DocuSign, checklists, and overly communicating to make it as smooth as possible for everyone involved. Making sure they understand your virtual door is always open helps and so does sending new employee “swag” within their first few days as a “Welcome to the Team!”
Do you have remote communication protocols for your remote workers?
Slack handles a lot of this for us; we can see who’s online and who isn’t, and team members can put themselves in DND mode if they’re focused on a task.
Do you organize remote team retreats?
Airbnb works great and really strengthens the team. Understand any dietary restrictions and assist in any way possible getting your team from their house to the rental property (Uber accounts, flight tickets, etc.). Have someone dedicated to keeping things organized, such as making sure the fridge and snacks are stocked and keeping the team on track with any planning sessions.
Do your remote team members meet in person?
No, not all of them. There’s an industry conference that some of us attend twice per year. The East Coast show is in New York City, which is expensive to bring a large team to, but the West Coast show is in Las Vegas and we rent an entire house and bring a good portion of the team together.
What elements are key to successful working relationships with remote teams?
Communication is key; miscommunication is fatal. If you’re thinking something, take the time to call your employee and discuss it with him or her. I’ve seen so many misunderstandings resolved with a quick phone call, whereas if the issue had been ignored, it would have brewed for weeks until a large issue was on hand.
What is the hardest part about managing a remote workforce?
There’s a lot of communication done in an office that you don’t have with a remote team. The unspoken communication is huge, and we just don’t have that when both parties are behind a screen. I believe that building trust with a remote workforce takes much longer versus a traditional office, but can be destroyed much quicker.
What is your time off policy for remote workers?
We have “unlimited time off” for our salary workers. Our rule of thumb is if you’re wondering if you’re taking too much time off, then you are. At the same time, we review employees time-off calendars and make sure they’re actually taking vacation as well. We’ve issued warnings to vacationing employees to not check in or risk having their accounts temporarily disabled; we value our time off and want others to as well.
How did you implement a remote work policy?
We’ve always worked remotely, so our policy is rather organic. As problems arose, our policy has been adjusted to answer those challenges.
Can a remote-friendly company have a healthy culture?
We host a weekly “Huddle” where the team checks in, gives a quick update on how their week is going, and then answers the weekly question. These questions are just for fun, but allows the team to get to know one another. We also have a #scrapbook channel in Slack where we post photos or stories of what’s going on in our lives.
What advice would you give to a team considering to go remote?
Either go remote, or don’t. Don’t have part of your team in an office with the rest working remotely. Your remote workers will feel isolated if your team is split.
What are the most effective tools for remote team communication?
Slack! I couldn’t imagine communicating as well as we do today without Slack. Our systems (finance, servers, schedules) all integrate with this communications tool, and our team can chat in groups, one-on-one, and even host voice calls.
How does your team address different time zone challenges?
We generally work on East Coast time (8am to 5pm) but have early birds on the East Coast and night owls on the West Coast, allowing nearly 24/7 coverage in some areas. Most of our meetings are between 11am and 3pm to account for timezone changes.
What are the biggest benefits of being a remote worker?
The flexibility is great; when scheduling repair people, for example, my schedule is quite open for them. I also have a quick commute (up 2 flights of stairs; the only traffic is a dog at my feet) and relaxed dress code.
How do you personally manage work-life balance?
When I started working from home, 12 years ago, I was told I wasn’t going to work at home but rather live in the office. I’ve tried to avoid that by having a dedicated office with a locking door (my kids were young when I started working at home). They had to learn when it was OK to interrupt me, and when I had to be left alone.
What tips do you have to disconnect when working remotely?
If you’ve done a good job building your business, you should be able to disconnect and trust your team. I find the first 2-3 days are difficult, then I’m totally relaxed and not worrying about what’s going on back at “the office.”
Where is the best or worst place you’ve worked remotely?
Worst: Waiting room of the mechanic’s garage, waiting to get my car fixed.
Best: Cabana, poolside at an Orlando-area resort while my kids swam.