Remote Work At Pagely
* As of February 2020
Pagely Remote Company Q&A
Rod Austin, Digital Strategist - Interview with Remote.co
What does your remote-friendly company do?
In marketing speak: “Pagely helps big brands scale WordPress.” What does that entail though? Pagely was the first to market a “managed WordPress hosting” provider that smoothed out many of the technical kinks of hosting a WordPress site. Today, we serve enterprise clientele with a hybrid service of AWS-backed, WordPress-specific hosting solutions and skilled DevOps support—leveraging technology and a skilled team to keep the largest and most complex WordPress sites online, secure, and growing.
Did you switch to remote or start out that way?
Yes and no. Way back in the early days, when we were in a completely different line of business, we had an office employees came to. When that wound down and we started this business line, we were fully remote. The switch was easy; there was no real business or employees in the interim.
How important is remote work to your business model?
It’s vital. Today’s economic environment and the gravitational pull of Silicon Valley essentially dictate that if a software/tech company not in the valley wishes to scale with top talent, they must do so by hiring globally.
What do you consider the biggest benefits of a remote workforce?
Diversity of talent pool. Global time zone coverage. Culture. Successful remote employees/workers have defining traits that make them exceptional employees overall, among those traits being self-discipline and self-direction. Every single team member we have is a top performer—it’s their DNA.
What were the main reasons to integrate remote work into your workforce?
At first, it was because we were small and did not want to pay the overhead of office space and we utilized contractors for much of the work. Today, we still do not want the overhead of a dedicated office space, but do utilize various coworking facilities as meet-up points for our team members that may be clustered in the same city. We really cannot envision not being fully remote at this point. It enables us to recruit talent all over the world as needed.
How do you conduct interviews for remote jobs?
Lots of video calls. We typically have 4-5 long video calls with each hire. Starting at the team level, and then company wide, and finally each candidate speaks with the CEO.
How do you convey your remote culture in the recruiting process?
We have written about our culture and point applicants to those articles. Often times the candidate brings it up in an interview, such as, “I was reading X and liked what you had to say about Y, can we discuss that more?” Also our entire team operates on the same wavelength so the candidate is immersed in the culture from the very first interview to the last with the CEO (in which the conversation is typically 90 percent just about our culture and the self-discipline required to work effectively here).
How do you conduct onboarding for remote workers?
- We have a master Trello board we copy for each hire that lays out in detail the access needed/given, the benefits enrollment process (zenefits.com), notes about our culture, and who to talk to about a given topic.
- If we are lucky, we are hiring someone in a town where we already have staff and they will pair at some location for a week or three to get up to speed quickly. If it’s, say, a EU hire, we will ask them to work U.S. hours for the first several weeks to shadow our core U.S. team to get to speed before reverting back to their own time zone and working with the other EU team members. As we grow our presence in other time zones, we will likely do away with the U.S. team shadowing, except for the most technical positions. However, working U.S. hours with us also helps them to get to know everyone and immerses them deeper into our culture.
Do you have remote communication protocols for your remote workers?
Ha, no. This sounds terrible. Where is the trust?
Do you organize remote team retreats?
Logistics are a pain, but the outcome is always worth it. Just allow plenty of time for planning and be frank with everyone that it may not be perfect (may have to share a hotel room).
Do your remote team members meet in person?
Yes, a couple times a year company wide. Some of our team members are clustered in the same city and get together more often on their own.
How do you measure the productivity of remote workers?
We don’t really measure on a hard metric like ‘units touched’ but it’s quickly apparent where any deviations appear.
What elements are key to successful working relationships with remote teams?
Trust. Trust. Trust. It needs to be given freely and earned daily. When it works, it is a thing of beauty.
What is the hardest part about managing a remote workforce?
This may sound like a humblebrag, but our biggest challenge is enforcing our work-life balance culture. We are growing so fast and there is alway work to be done. Remote workers tend to over do it (work). So being mindful of when someone is running out of gas and not letting them crash is our biggest concern. We may not always be able to push them to relax right then, but when the project or issue is over we, as a team, will force them to take few days or a week off and re-charge. Everyone steps up to cover that person in their absence, as they know they may need a break at some point as well.
How do you keep remote employees engaged and feeling part of the bigger picture?
Our weekly video standups really help here. However, we also do company-wide retreats twice a year to get everyone together face to face.
What is your BYOD policy for remote workers?
This is currently under discussion if we should begin allocating a stipend for laptops and such. Currently it is BYOD and we provide the apps.
What is your time off policy for remote workers?
We have minimum three-week vacation policy to prevent burnout. We also provide parental leave of up to 12 weeks. Our team is really good at managing their time and so no formal policy is really needed. If we did have one, it would be to not leave your team hanging. You want to go Asia for two weeks, that is fine. Just make sure you are not putting the team in a pinch and remember you’ll have to cover someone else when they want to go to the beach for a month in the summer.
What were your biggest fears in managing remote workers?
Not being able to meet some people in person means we have to rely more on references and our gut to gauge a potential hire. The fear of hiring a crook or a fraud has not come true.
How did you implement a remote work policy?
It grew organically and is still fairly organic at this point. The policies we have in place mainly deal with security protocols.
Can a remote-friendly company have a healthy culture?
Absolutely. I think being remote defines our culture. It demands self-discipline of all parties, which yields top performers. In our case we leverage a management style in which all parties are given a realm of responsibility, are held accountable for the results, and most importantly are given the authority to make decisions on their own in the context of achieving the company goals.
What advice would you give to a team considering to go remote?
Trust is key. Employers must trust the employee to execute, and employees must trust the employer to give them the space to work. Employers need to measure production and output with remote workers, not hours.
What are the most effective tools for remote team communication?
We utilize Zoom.us for weekly all hands, and individual teams hold their own weekly Zoom standups. Everything else is in Slack. We dislike phones and email, and we dislike meetings.
What is your personal remote work environment?
Currently operating out of a partly finished basement, but working on improving that. 😉
How do you personally manage work-life balance?
As a co-founder, poorly at times. But as our team has grown and we’ve had a family, we are pretty good about balance now. As for individual team members, it is entirely common and encouraged to put life first. Senior engineers commonly break midday or late afternoon to pick kids up from school or run them to soccer game or whatnot. Have a doctor’s appointment? Cool. Prefer to do your banking and grocery shopping 11 a.m. on a Wednesday when the store is empty? A+ life hack right there.
What is your favorite business book?
Pagely is essentially built on the principals of three books. Turn the Ship Around, Extreme Ownership, and Team of Teams. All of them reinforce the idea that we are all leaders and expected to conduct ourselves that way.