Remote Work At Groove
* As of February 2020
Groove Remote Company Q&A
Alex Turnbull, Founder and CEO - Interview with Remote.co
What does your remote-friendly company do?
We build help desk software that makes it easy for teams to manage customer support emails together.
Did you switch to remote or start out that way?
Yep, remote from day one.
How important is remote work to your business model?
Remote is a core part of the way we run as a company, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it a part of our “business model” in the financial sense.
What do you consider the biggest benefits of a remote workforce?
- It lets us hire the best talent, regardless of location, and
- It lets our team get work done and answer customer emails 24/7, without anyone having to work a night shift
What were the main reasons to integrate remote work into your workforce?
We were remote from the start, and the main reason was simply that I didn’t find the team I wanted locally, so I began looking around the world for the best talent available. Nearly four years later, here we are.
What traits do you look for in candidates for a remote job?
Candidates must have experience working remotely or running their own business. They have to have already built the accountability and productivity skills required for remote work.
How do you convey your remote culture in the recruiting process?
We’re very open about it on our blog, and that’s where most of our new employees find us, so it’s pretty front and center.
Do you have remote communication protocols for your remote workers?
We have daily standups in Slack and standards for answering customer support tickets, but other than that, we haven’t had to set any other rules in place. Our team knows how important communication is and how important everyone’s time is, so it hasn’t been an issue.
Do your remote team members meet in person?
We’re planning our first retreat now 🙂
How do you measure the productivity of remote workers?
We focus on output rather than time spent. We track our weekly goals closely to ensure that we’re doing what we set out to do. We also have daily standups in Slack where team members share what they did the day before, and what they’ll be working on that day. It keeps us all on the same page as to who’s working on what.
What is your BYOD policy for remote workers?
People can use whatever device they’d like, as long as they can use the software and apps our team is already on 🙂
What is your time off policy for remote workers?
You must take time off. That’s about as far as the written policy goes. We don’t have limits; it’s especially easy to get burnt out working solo, so it’s important that the people you hire are mature enough to know — and not be afraid to say — when they need a break. Vacation time is valued here.
How did you implement a remote work policy?
It was completely organic; our very first employees were remote.
How do you nurture your company’s culture in a remote work environment?
We do very regular team calls, and we have a “virtual water cooler” room in Slack where we talk about anything not related to work; it helps us build real relationships rather than just distant professional ones.
What advice would you give to a team considering to go remote?
Do it! There have never been more resources and tools to make remote work less challenging and more effective. My two biggest pieces of advice would be:
- Look for employees with experience working remote or running their business. A great developer (to use one example) isn’t necessarily a great remote developer. Remote working is a skill like any other, and you need to hire for it.
- Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Schedule team calls and one-on-ones very regularly, and not just about work. Help the team get to know each other just like they would around a real water cooler.
What challenges have you encountered building a remote team?
The biggest challenge has been hiring; primarily making the false assumption at the start that any talented employee would make a great remote employee. It’s simply not true, and remote work is a skill that you need to look for when you hire.
What are the most effective tools for remote team communication?
Slack, weekly team Skype calls, biweekly one-on-ones, and with private notes in Groove.
What has changed about how your remote team operates?
We’ve definitely made communication a bigger focus. It’s not necessarily going to happen organically, so it needs to be somebody’s job to ensure that communication gets prioritized.
How do you personally manage work-life balance?
I live across the street from the beach, so taking frequent breaks is easy. Plus my dog, Honey Badger, tells me when it’s time to go outside.
Do you have a favorite quote or bit of business wisdom?
You don’t get what you don’t ask for. It’s probably the most valuable lesson most first-time entrepreneurs learn.
Where is the best or worst place you’ve worked remotely?
Best is from any beach 🙂 Worst is probably the floor of any airport.