Scribendi Remote Company Q&A
Sara Pegg, Director of Operations - Interview with Remote.co
Scribendi is an online document editing and proofreading company.
We’ve always had a remote team, and the plan was always to recruit and retain a remote workforce. As such, our platform was built with the benefits of remote work in mind, so we were prepared for the challenges of such a structure.
Remote work is fundamental to Scribendi’s business model. Through the power of the Internet, we are able to connect people in need of editing services to professional editors around the world. Without our remote editors, we would not be able to build such a qualified and diverse workforce, nor would we be able to keep up with the demand for editing and proofreading services.
We have remote workers located across the globe, which is why we are able to offer our services 24/7. In addition, our pool of potential candidates is much larger, which allows us to hire and cultivate only the most talented editors. We also have access to a unique pool of workers—those who either cannot or do not want to work in a traditional environment with a traditional schedule. Our editors work where and when they want, tailoring their schedules to their lifestyles, preferences, and other commitments. Whether editing from an apartment in Toronto, a house in Sydney, a cabin in the Alps, or a beachfront bungalow in Fiji, as long as the work is done well and on-time, it doesn’t matter if the editors work at 2 a.m. or 2 p.m.
Cultivating a team of talented editors around the world was part of Scribendi’s business model from day one. Knowing that we wanted to provide high-quality services to clients worldwide, we needed a workforce that could handle not only a high volume of work but also around-the-clock deadlines. The best way to do this was to draw from a global talent pool.
It is vital that our remote workers can complete their work to a high standard and on time. Our online testing and mock assignment are good indicators of quality. The ability to meet deadlines can be more difficult to ascertain, but the clarity and timeliness of communications during the application and interview process are often predictive of subsequent performance. Similarly, if an applicant has difficulty following instructions during the application process, this is an indicator that communication could be an issue later on.
We conduct interviews through video conferencing. This is one of the last stages in the recruitment process, and it’s a good chance for us to clarify our processes and for the applicant to ask us questions.
The application process for remote workers occurs entirely online, and it concludes with a video interview. This is a bit different from the hiring process for on-site workers, as we conduct more extensive in-person interviews for these positions.
We give our remote workers a lot of freedom. Every order placed through Scribendi has an accompanying deadline selected by the client from the available turnaround times, and our remote editors then select their own assignments based on their preferences and desired work schedule.
As long as the editor completes the work in an appropriate manner and returns it by the order’s deadline, we don’t interfere with their process. We hire experienced, professional editors, so we trust them to manage their own workflow and avoid micromanaging. In offering autonomy to remote workers to determine their own productivity, we create a team of engaged professionals that together can meet the needs of the team.
Clear expectations are critical for remote workers. Training a remote worker is different than training an in-house worker; it is doubly important to be clear about what is expected of them and to ensure that the processes and policies have been defined and all the necessary tools are accessible. You need to be available to answer questions and provide constructive feedback.
Given the nature of our business, we require all of our remote workers to have their own secure PC in order to avoid compatibility issues and to ensure that clients receive a consistent service.
Our editors work according to their own schedules, as much or as little as they want. Our only requirement is that they edit at least 10,000 words per month (which translates to approximately 10 hours of work).
Although certain policies have evolved as the company has grown and our needs have changed, we have always had remote workers and have always known that clear and formal policies are important for protecting both the company and our remote workforce. In addition, each remote worker completes an extensive company training course upon joining our team to ensure that they are adequately trained and able to fully leverage the Scribendi platform to reap the benefits of this business model.
Our online forum is an important part of our company, a place where everyone can share ideas and chat—a virtual water cooler, if you will.
Establish expectations early in the hiring process and implement controls to ensure you are hiring qualified candidates. Furthermore, make sure you have an organized and easy-to-use communication system. It is important to create a sense of community and to support your remote workers, responding to any questions and concerns they may have.
Finding and vetting qualified editors from around the world to meet the volume demand during busy periods has been one of our main challenges. Because of this, we have focused on optimizing and streamlining each stage of the hiring process to ensure that we are finding the best editors in an expedient manner. We want to know, as quickly as possible, who our applicants are and whether they can meet our high quality standards.
Time zone differences can cause confusion within a remote team. Luckily, while the overall workflow has to be coordinated, the specific tasks for providing our services do not require simultaneous collaboration between workers in different time zones. And since we have remote editors around the world, we have no difficulty in handling these specific tasks in different time zones. As a result, time zone issues are less of a concern for us than for some companies. In addition, our customer service team is available seven days per week to help facilitate a smooth workflow, and the in-house team at headquarters is similarly available throughout the week to help remote workers resolve any issues that arise while editing.
One of the biggest benefits is the flexibility it offers. It allows workers to strike a balance between work, family, and other responsibilities.
When working remotely, it can help to set designated times for work. You can still retain flexibility, obviously, but working at certain times each day (such as when the kids are in school or when you are least likely to be interrupted) will create productive work habits while helping you to avoid the guilty compulsion to always be working. It can also help to have a designated work space, such as a home office or a coworking space. When you’re there, you will know it’s time to work; outside this space, you can put work away and focus on the other aspects of your life.