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Remote Work at FMTC

Team Members
Austin, TX
*As of July 2017
FMTC Remote Company Q&A
Eric Nagel, CTO - Interview with Remote.co

FMTC provides tools and data feeds for affiliate marketing publishers.

We’ve always been a remote company.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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!”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

We’ve always worked remotely, so our policy is rather organic. As problems arose, our policy has been adjusted to answer those challenges.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.