Remote Work At NodeSource
* As of February 2020
NodeSource Remote Company Q&A
Joe McCann, CEO - Interview with Remote.co
What does your remote-friendly company do?
NodeSource is a software company focused on providing Fortune 500 companies with enterprise level support, expertise and tooling for an open source technology called Node.js. What Redhat does for Linux, we do for Node.js.
Did you switch to remote or start out that way?
Yes, we are distributed by design!
How important is remote work to your business model?
Vital to our business as we are distributed by design, meaning, we built our business to be completely remote and distributed from the ground up. This allows us to attract the world’s top talent while also reducing op-ex since we don’t have offices, etc. Of course, this may change over time, but while we were bootstrapping our business, it has been a boon.
What do you consider the biggest benefits of a remote workforce?
Attracting top talent. In tech, there is a never ending war for talent and being tethered to a particular market, San Francisco for example, ends one up in a zero sum game. Talent hops around constantly and the costs from salary increases impact the business. This is radically reduced when one adopts a distributed model. We can hire talent from anywhere and they are incentivized to stay, because our work/life policy is heavily favored toward life. We have an incredibly high retention rate.
What were the main reasons to integrate remote work into your workforce?
We firmly believe that one’s life is more important than their job so why not focus on things like the time with your family, friends, spirituality, etc. as opposed to being in a car commuting or being trapped in an office all day. It’s a human decision for us that happens to have massive business benefits.
Do your remote team members meet in person?
Yes, absolutely. Face to face communication is vital so we have teams break off and have quarterly offsites. The Engineering team is going to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic for a week in August, leveraging our AirBnB benefits!
How do you measure the productivity of remote workers?
In many cases, it is activity in Slack, commits to source control, responses to clients, etc. It’s challenging, but from experience of working in traditional environments the productivity of our team is some of the highest I’ve ever experienced.
What is the hardest part about managing a remote workforce?
Making sure people are consistently aligned with the mission. People can start to lose track as they get heads down on the day to day stuff, so maintaining alignment and providing context on the bigger picture is a full time job as CEO.
How do you keep remote employees engaged and feeling part of the bigger picture?
Every week I put out in our General (all company) Slack channel the “NodeSource Executive Brief To Everyone at The Company™”. The title is a bit cheeky, but that’s the point. All hands, weekly meetings are sometime boring and routine, but ultimately necessary. So we cover topics every week in the brief, such as the state of the products we are building, open source community participation, sales pipeline, etc. but the part that people really like is the “Did you know…” section. This section is specifically allocated for learning something new about someone at NodeSource – the human aspect. Our most recent addition pointed out that Sara, who runs Marketing, loves to cook and specializes in certain sauces. Those little things matter a lot to reclaiming the human side of work that are lost in distributed companies.
What is your time off policy for remote workers?
Unlimited. We encourage people to take time to recharge. Over the long term, people are more productive and frankly happier when they have time to themselves without being held to some archaic “accrual” system for PTO. We simply don’t buy into that model. Finally, since we are globally distributed, the concept of only 2 weeks paid vacation is ridiculous to nearly every non-American worker so unlimited vacation days is a win-win for everyone.
How did you implement a remote work policy?
Our company quite literally started complete remote, so it was part of our formation.
What advice would you give to a team considering to go remote?
For companies forming from day one, I would start incorporating remote work immediately. Attempting to move a centralized business to a distributed one is incredibly difficult.
How do you personally manage work-life balance?
I absolutely do not check email (personal or work) or Slack messages on the weekend. I’ve found this to be immensely powerful for balance.
What is your favorite business book?
From Zero to One – Peter Thiel
Where is the best or worst place you’ve worked remotely?
Worst place is definitely any airplane without wifi or worse, slow wifi.
Best place is Montego Bay, Jamaica.