Remote Work At Origin Eight
* As of February 2020
Origin Eight Remote Company Q&A
Seth Viebrock, CEO & Founder - Interview with Remote.co
What does your remote-friendly company do?
Origin Eight is dedicated to the artful integration of user-centered design and technology for world-class web and application development. Our team collaborates and partners with clients to produce, support and maintain engaging experiences for business, higher education, government and nonprofits.
How important is remote work to your business model?
It’s essential. We look for the best talent independent of location — that’s a key factor in delivering expertise and high-quality project results. It also allows us to scale more easily.
What do you consider the biggest benefits of a remote workforce?
The flexibility it offers some of my highly-talented staff who are in situations in which remote work is just easier on them; for example, those with families, younger children to take care of, or just an itch to travel a bit and work from wherever they happen to be at the moment. I enjoy this very benefit myself. To the company, the biggest benefit is really the ability to find the best talent independent of location, and how it increases our ability to scale quickly.
What were the main reasons to integrate remote work into your workforce?
My company started out as a distributed team, doing remote work, because I enjoyed the freedom that remote work allowed me in my previous job.
What is your hiring process for remote workers?
The process for hiring remote workers if fairly formal. We follow a four-step screening process with multiple team members, filtering out and interviewing candidates at various stages. I’d say our on-site hiring is actually less formal and led mostly by me.
Do you use third party testing or evaluation services when hiring remote workers?
Really we just use Google, LinkedIn, references, and a user’s Drupal.org profile. It’s a small community, relatively-speaking, in the technology that we specialize in, so this is all we’ve ever needed thus far.
How do you measure the productivity of remote workers?
Through project management and time tracking tools.
What is your BYOD policy for remote workers?
Everyone does BYOD, mostly because everyone has different preferences and environments that make them most effective, but we will sponsor apps at times.
What were your biggest fears in managing remote workers?
Not many fears that I can think of. Really just accountability and showing up, but I don’t feel that’s any more of an issue than non-remote workers; maybe even less of an issue.
How did you implement a remote work policy?
It emerged organically, but my company started as a distributed company.
Can a remote-friendly company have a healthy culture?
Absolutely, but it probably takes more time. The “watercooler” conversations might have to happen in a chat room, and company-related extracurricular discussions and the like might have to happen in Yammer. It takes consistent and thorough communication, documentation and persistence to communicate expectations, the way we do things, what we value, and the like. And it takes leadership to further the culture. I do think it’s helpful, though, to get together in person, if possible, once in a while, even if once or twice a year.
What advice would you give to a team considering to go remote?
The day you have your first remote employee is the day all of the employees working with that employee need to start thinking and acting like a remote employee. You will need to start documenting conversations, writing things down, setting up conference calls, and the like. You also might want to consider a project management tool such as Basecamp or similar to keep all members of your team aligned on expectations and goals.
What has changed about how your remote team operates?
We have gotten smarter about the tools we use, better at documentation and checklists, better at reporting, and we’ve spent more time in-person periodically throughout the year to get to know each other better.
What is your personal remote work environment?
I work at a co-working environment in a 6-person “campsite” dedicated to my company. I also work from my home office, or wherever I happen to be in the world at any given moment.
How do you personally manage work-life balance?
Consciously disconnecting — it’s an art, and something that I continuously refine.