Remote Work At ICUC Social

80%

Remote

600+

Team Members

Canada

Headquarters

* As of July 2015

ICUC Social Remote Company Q&A

Nicole van Zanten, Director, Marketing and Communications - Interview with Remote.co

What does your remote-friendly company do?

ICUC provides safety, connection and understanding for global clients. At our core, we protect the world’s largest brands online, providing 24/7, 365 coverage of their social media accounts. Think of us as your eyes and ears on social media. Once brands are protected online, we work with our clients to develop meaningful connections with their communities through social media, and introduce the added benefits of community management and social listening.

Did you switch to remote or start out that way?

We have always been remote at ICUC.

How important is remote work to your business model?

ICUC was built on a remote workforce. With a global client list and service offering, it is critical that we focus on the management of results, not the management of people. The remote work model is very compatible with a results-based management style.

What do you consider the biggest benefits of a remote workforce?

Without set work hours and a physical office, working remotely gives employees the freedom to complete their projects and achieve results on their own time. Removing the barrier of a 9 to 5 allows employees to focus on their work and increase results.

What were the main reasons to integrate remote work into your workforce?

It might be a surprise to some, but ICUC has never had a physical office! Our company was built with a  remote work environment from day one.

What traits do you look for in candidates for a remote job?

We focus on individuals who excel and thrive in self-directed, entrepreneurial environments.  We are also very focused on cultural fit, we seek to hire people who will work well within the ICUC team culture this would include personality, confidence, openness, and communication style.

How do you conduct interviews for remote jobs?

Interviews are conducted on Google Hangouts and we also use Skype.

Do you have remote communication protocols for your remote workers?

We do not have specific communication norms. We focus on results and work, not the management of people. If a project is immediate and requires a prompt response from an employee, that is the expectation.  The freedom that careers at ICUC offer introduces a desire to always have such freedom and as such, people are made aware of just how important their results are to preserving their positions here.  It is a win-win for employees and the organization.

How do you measure the productivity of remote workers?

We work with project management tools and have set goals and KPIs. We rely on Asana, a project management tool, to keep track of projects and due dates.

What elements are key to successful working relationships with remote teams?

  1. Rely on the technology available. From Google Apps to Cloud offerings, explore options that will suit your company best.
  2. Set regular meetings (as long as it make sense!) We’re not a fan of meetings that produce minimal results, so make sure your meetings have set agendas and outcomes. We do, however, recommend that you keep these regular meetings in your calendars. In my department, we have weekly catch-ups every Monday to set the tone for the week; we also meet every Friday to review projects and campaigns head.
  3. Mobile is your friend. Working remotely gives you the option to work from anywhere – that’s the best part, isn’t it? Whether you’re grabbing coffee or heading to the gym mid-day, rely on your mobile device. If I leave my home office, my mobile device is always in hand, ready to respond to emails or messages on Google Chat.
  4. Trust. As we work in a results-only work environment, trust of our colleagues and one another is of the utmost importance.

How did you implement a remote work policy?

There is no ‘policy’ at ICUC, it is simply a reality for us, we have no office building.  At ICUC, remote work is part of our DNA.

How do you nurture your company’s culture in a remote work environment?

We have an incredible Director of Culture and Development who is focused on developing a strong culture in a remote work environment. Examples of some of the unique initiatives include:

Happy Hour: These are held on the last Friday of every month. It’s an open Hangout with a theme associated to it (such as dressing up for Halloween or sharing favourite recipes). Employees are welcome to pop in and out over the course of the hour to share some laughs and continue to build their relationships with their colleagues.

Cluster Parties: With employees in over 30 countries, it’s not possible to have a holiday party or a summer picnic with the whole team in attendance. So, our Director of Culture hosts numerous cluster parties in cities where we have clusters or groups of employees based. The parties include a team-building activity, dinner, and lots of laughs.

Sherpa Program: All new hires are assigned a Sherpa, someone that spends some time with that new hire over the course of their first month on the team. The Sherpa is not the new hire’s manager and is intended to be a friend or act as a guide as the new hire as they are just starting out in their new role. This program helps new hires feel connected to and that they are a part of and belong at ICUC.

What advice would you give to a team considering to go remote?

Utilize the resources available to you. At ICUC, we are built on Google Apps. From meetings through Google Hangouts to conversation on Google Chat, we always feel connected and engaged with our employees.

Also, don’t be afraid to roll out the remote workplace gradually. I would recommend beginning with departments, or offering 1 day each week as a ‘remote’ day to start, so employees can adjust to the transition.

What challenges have you encountered building a remote team?

As we began remotely and scaled to over 600 employees, we have grown with the business. As technology has evolved, we have also moved forward – further adapting options such as Google Apps and Asana, as two examples.

How do you personally manage work-life balance?

I set my calendar each and every week, making sure I integrate social activities and exercise. On Sunday evenings, I review my week and block out times to head to the gym, do groceries, grab dinner with friends and other activities. I find it is very important to ‘shut off’ and allow yourself time to re-charge throughout your week.

Where is the best or worst place you’ve worked remotely?

Great question! I love taking my laptop and finding a great, local restaurant (with wifi and outlets) for an extended lunch once each week. Otherwise, I typically work from my Vancouver apartment or local coffee shop.