Goodway Group Remote Company Q&A
Jay Friedman, Chief Operating Officer - Interview with Remote.co
Goodway Group is a leading managed- services programmatic partner to local, regional and Fortune 500 brand agencies. We plan and execute digital advertising campaigns.
Not at all. Goodway became a 98 percent virtual company in 2006, once we transitioned from being a traditional print marketing company to an entirely digital firm.
It is critical, and we see its impact primarily in two areas. First, we can source the right talent from anywhere in the nation; we aren’t restricted to the over-tapped and overpriced markets of San Francisco and New York. We never have to try to convince the right person to move somewhere he or she doesn’t want to. Second, our employee retention rate is outstanding. We have had dozens of employees move due to changing life circumstances and not have to leave Goodway – they can take their job with them. Also, in a service-based business, retention is key for building relationships. Our clients get to work with the same people for years.
As an all-remote workforce, Goodway is able to get more done in a traditional workday. None of our employees spend time getting ready for work, sitting in traffic or “settling in” at their desk once they arrive. They’re already here. The time we gain for productivity is built in.
Goodway became a 98 percent virtual company in 2006, once we transitioned from being a traditional print marketing company to an entirely digital firm. The majority of the ad tech industry is located in New York. We decided that opening an office headquarters, competing in red waters and paying 30 – 50 percent more for talent wasn’t a good recipe for success. To date, we’ve hired employees in 36 different states. Our employee-initiated turnover is 80 percent less than the industry average, and our client retention rate is 95 percent. The remote business model is working quite well for us.
Every person who interviews with Goodway starts with a phone screen with our recruiter. Then we require Skype video interviews for all interviews with a hiring manager in a different location from the candidate. For all client-facing sales or executive positions, we fly candidates to meet in person with the hiring manager.
We bring it up right away. We feel it’s a selling point for attracting top talent.
Our approach to hiring remote workers has to be different from hiring on-site workers because not everyone is cut out to be a remote worker. We have an extensive interview process where we determine if the person in question has the ability to not only be productive and complete assignments, but the ability to do so from a non-traditional office setting. In addition, they must be a good fit for blending in with our company culture and team. We not only use behavioral interview questions but also have candidates complete personality assessments that measure traits such as efficiency, integrity and sociability in order to gauge fit for working virtually.
Yes. We use Wonderlic and DISC personality assessments for all candidates who interview, plus all employees go through a background check as a final step, verifying education and employment history.
We ship laptops pre-installed with all of the software needed. We have a dedicated training and onboarding team to guide new-hires through getting organized, settled and oriented on all of our systems and processes. All of that communication is done through email, phone and screen share.
We are generally very flexible with working hours and sensitive to everyone working in different time zones. People need to collaborate on which working hours are best for the teams they work with the most. It is impossible to police strict communication policies, so there has to be a high degree of trust. That said, we work in a very fast-paced, client-driven industry, and employees have no choice but to be timely in communication and deadlines. New employees can quickly “feel” the pace of email and calls and have to keep up.
We do organize a company-wide trip twice a year. This gives everyone a chance to mingle and meet face to face. It also encourages the company’s sense of morale and teamwork. Goodway Group is a family-owned business, and these trips help instill our unique culture into our employees.
We encourage regular regional meet-ups. For instance, everyone from the North Texas region will get together for a day, or everyone in the Los Angeles area will meet up. How often we do so varies depending on workload.
Our work is very data-driven and analytical in nature, requiring near constant review. We monitor our digital ad campaigns very closely. It would be pretty easy to spot a productivity lapse. We are also a very flat organization without a lot of layers – each person’s job matters, and it is easy to identify who is dropping the ball.
Constant communication is a necessary element in maintaining working relationships between all of our employees. Because we work remotely, we’re all in constant communication whether that be through phone, email, text, chat or video conference. It allows us to stay as interconnected as possible – a very valuable asset.
Getting everyone to not use their mute buttons on group calls. It can be difficult to have meetings that require brainstorming and input from many on a big group phone call. It is difficult to replace the value of in-person interaction for these kinds of meetings.
At Goodway, we don’t treat our remote employees any differently than if they were in an office setting. They can’t be seen as exceptions or special cases. They should have the same expectations put upon them as if they were in a traditional office setting. In a physical space, it’s much easier to establish the basic rules of the office. With a virtual workforce, this can be more difficult, but it’s absolutely necessary to have firm rules of conduct. For instance, working remotely is not the same as flex time. If an employee is going to be away from their desk, they need to notify a supervisor, just as in a traditional office setting.
We also sponsor two all-company events a year, where we bring all Goodway employees to one location for meetings and face time with co-workers. These meetings are crucial for helping employees to really experience the fact that they are part of a greater organization.
We supply everyone a laptop, which they must use for their day-to-day work. Phones and tablets are personal and must be password-protected if they are used to access Goodway email.
We offer 15 paid time-off days per year.
As we transitioned from being a traditional print marketing company to an all-digital firm (in 2006), we simply began hiring remotely. And once we began hiring remotely, we treated our existing Philadelphia staff the same, allowing them to work 100 percent from home, though they do have the option to go into the office if they wish.
Absolutely. In fact, in order to have a successful remote force, it’s vital to have a healthy company culture to keep employees inspired and working hard. How we work and interact with each other virtually drives a huge part of our culture – being on time for calls, meeting deadlines, a roll-up-your-sleeves approach to work, thanking each other and just being considerate of each other’s time. You can be respectful of other people just as easily virtually as in person.
Goodway tries to have our own level of perks and rewards that are equally as desirable and beneficial to remote employees. We use a program called Recognize to thank each other for a job well done with customized badges, we encourage regional meet-ups and lunches, encourage social media connections, sponsor two all-company events a year, have virtual contests like pumpkin carving during the holidays – all kinds of things you can do to encourage connections and culture.
It’s important to ensure that your company’s business model lines up with having a remote workforce. If your company’s process or area of business thrives off of employees working in one location, having a remote workforce won’t be the best choice. Make sure it makes sense before initiating a decision.
One of the more challenging parts of building Goodway Group’s remote workforce is maintaining company culture as we continue to grow. This is often something that traditional companies struggle with as well. We’ve grown by nearly 50 percent in the past year. Building such a large remote workforce in such a short period of time is never an easy process and does require tweaking and adjustments. Employees need the chance to form personal bonds in order to really thrive working as a team, and working remotely does limit the amount of casual interactions that help to form those critical personal bonds.
We use a number of technologies and platforms that allow for constant communication such as Office 365, Yammer, Skype for Business, Confluence and good, old-fashioned phone calls. We also encourage constant communication amongst our teams and employees outside of our company platforms. For example, our Instagram feed is mostly fed by employees taking photos and tagging our company account – social media helps to drive culture, familiarity and friendliness among employees.
We are constantly looking for new and better tools for sharing and communicating information, which is great because the technology supporting virtual work is only getting better. I think the biggest change we made a couple of years back was moving from a shared network drive to a web-based wiki for sharing and storing information. Life-changing to our productivity and ability to search/find information and collaborate on projects.
Laptop on a docking station feeding into dual monitors. Printers. Dedicated room in the house. Pretty standard.
I keep normal working hours in my home office so I have dedicated work time. Then transitioning to family time at the end of the day is as easy as logging off and walking into the living room.
No excuses, just results.