Remote Work At LoveToKnow
* As of February 2020
LoveToKnow Remote Company Q&A
Ann MacDonald, Director of Content Strategy - Interview with Remote.co
What does your remote-friendly company do?
LoveToKnow is an online media company. We have a number of websites that provide information and other online solutions.
Did you switch to remote or start out that way?
Yes, I was remote from the start.
How important is remote work to your business model?
Remote work is integral to our business model at LoveToKnow. We really focus on the work and don’t need offices or a location to conduct business. It allows us to tap into a diverse workforce, bringing expertise around the world to our websites’ visitors.
What do you consider the biggest benefits of a remote workforce?
I think there are several huge benefits. Since we are not geographically limited, we can seek the best team members from anywhere in the world.
- With remote work and flexible hours, it is much easier to achieve greater work-life balance. Many of us have kids and it allows us to do things like volunteer at school or attend important daytime events while still being productive workers. Not only are balanced workers an asset due to their great attitudes and productivity, but it allows some people who might not be able to work on-site to contribute with us.
- We all avoid the stress, time and financial costs of commuting – this helps keep our whole team happy, healthy and focused on the work instead of the freeway traffic.
- Team members report great satisfaction at having flexible hours and being able to telecommute. We think happy team members are more productive and just great to work with!
What were the main reasons to integrate remote work into your workforce?
The company started as an all telecommuting venture, partly as an experiment to see if an office was really necessary and to avoid a commute for people. We realized it was a great way to source excellent talent from around the world. Once we got rolling, we never looked back and don’t see any limits to it going forward.
What traits do you look for in candidates for a remote job?
One trait I look for is great communications skills – We stay productive by staying in touch, offering status reports, working through challenges and these things are all easier when everyone is communicative.
Also, while it isn’t required, I like hearing that potential candidates are experienced with remote work already. It means they have already learned how to manage their time and organize their day for working from home. It also usually means they like it and appreciate that style of work, versus someone who might think it sounds appealing but discover they miss the hubbub of a busy office environment.
What is your hiring process for remote workers?
We only hire remote workers. We do most of our hiring by running online job ads. We post them a variety of places including FlexJobs and Craigslist. We screen applications and resumes and then set up email or phone interviews depending on the role. The biggest difference in our hiring compared to non-remote companies where I have worked is we don’t usually do “in person” interviews.
Do you have remote communication protocols for your remote workers?
The norms generally depend on the role, but we do have some. Editors are expected to respond to submitted work within 2 business days. Customer service issues are addressed within a business day.
In addition, we strive for responses to emails / calls from our team members within 2 business days when they are working – a shorter time frame wouldn’t make sense because people are on flexible schedules in different time zones.
We also have regular phone meetings with employees; these help keep us up on issues
Do your remote team members meet in person?
We do not routinely meet in person. Some of our management team has met a couple times and when I am traveling, I’ve made a point to meet people who live in those areas, but we really don’t depend on face-to-face communication.
How do you measure the productivity of remote workers?
I don’t think this challenge is all that different for remote workers – someone can be onsite and unproductive just as easily as someone can be remote. That said, we look at tasks accomplished and focus on measurable goals so that we can easily view progress and productivity.
What were your biggest fears in managing remote workers?
I think my biggest fears are when we lose touch with someone. Every once in a while, someone will just “disappear” – they don’t answer emails, phone calls or other contact. In those instances, I’m left wondering – “Are they dead or just flaky?”
How did you implement a remote work policy?
We have been a virtual environment from day one, so it was a decision that was organically reinforced by its own success.
Can a remote-friendly company have a healthy culture?
Yes! It is a different kind of culture, but you can definitely have one. In a lot of ways, you eliminate some of the annoyances when you are not sharing physical space – you don’t have to hear the people in the next cube humming or clicking or smell their lunches. Speaking of health – nobody at LoveToKnow has ever caught a cold from a co-worker!
We do regular scheduled meetings – phone and chat depending on the groups – as well as sending out regular news and this helps everyone feel connected. In addition, we have closed Facebook groups for our teams so they can connect on all kinds of topics – both work related and not. For example, our Facebook page might include some “kudos” for a job well done to a worker, some news about the company and a thread about what everyone’s favorite things to drink while they are working are. You’ll find pictures of people’s offices and furry office assistants there, too.
What advice would you give to a team considering to go remote?
I think that it really can work quite well and is easier than you might think. The main thing is to set expectations for great communication. We use so many ways to keep in touch and share ideas/work together. We utilize instant messaging programs a lot for quick chats and questions. We email constantly and used shared documents. We talk on the phone and we also use conferencing services. All these things together serve to keep us in tune and in touch.
How do you personally manage work-life balance?
For me, the ability to work remotely and flexibly lets me be there for all the important moments for my family. I can volunteer at school and attend special daytime presentations. The flip side is that I often am doing part of my work at night or on weekends, but it is well worth it to me to be able to prioritize my time the way that is best for me.
Working from home can make it a challenge to balance things because there is always work; there are always household chores and family obligations, too. I never fully close the door on any of those things. However, I enjoy having a lot going on, so it works well for me!
What is your favorite business book?
I don’t have a *favorite* but I love getting great tips from inspiring leaders!
Where is the best or worst place you’ve worked remotely?
I’ve answered work emails from a lot of places. The worst has probably been public restrooms while waiting for a kid to “go”. The weirdest? Maybe on an amusement park ride. The best – definitely on a balcony overlooking the ocean in Maui.