Remote Work At SimpleTexting
* As of February 2020
SimpleTexting Remote Company Q&A
Felix Dubinsky, Co-Founder - Interview with Remote.co
What does your remote-friendly company do?
SimpleTexting provides Text Message Marketing and SMS Solutions. The company combines their intuitive web-based application with a superior commitment to client support.
SimpleTexting works with organizations in every industry to deliver targeted text messages to consumers who have opted in and are ready to respond. Using the SimpleTexting application, companies are able to distribute text coupons, send appointment reminders, hold text-to-win sweepstakes, and more, all for a nominal monthly fee.
Did you switch to remote or start out that way?
We’ve used freelance remote workers almost from the beginning as hiring in NYC where we originally started was unaffordable for bootstrappers like us.
How important is remote work to your business model?
Our business is highly dependent on it. Without remote employees we’d grow at a much slower rate.
What do you consider the biggest benefits of a remote workforce?
Ability to hire talented people from across the globe especially if you’re in an area where the talent pool is lacking necessary skills for your business.
What were the main reasons to integrate remote work into your workforce?
Budget, Compliance with having full-time employees, Skilled workers
What traits do you look for in candidates for a remote job?
Same traits as in conventional candidates. If a candidate is flighty—moving from job to job frequently, they may be a bad fit. Candidates who speak poorly of prior employers or co-workers are a no-no. Those that exhibit very strong opinion for certain tools or doing things in a very particular way we also shy away from. Having strong opinions may be good, but we’re a small company and we usually need utility players. Guys and gals who are willing to help and use whatever tool is best for the job, not the tool that is best to grow their resume.
How do you conduct interviews for remote jobs?
Depending on the role. With non-technical candidates, it’s a conventional process we suppose—we just talk to them and then talk to them some more to gauge their abilities. No google style brain-teasers here. Maybe we’re a little cavalier when it comes to hiring, but we’re not afraid to take employees for a trial run to see how they perform in real-life situations and to fire them if they are not the right fit. This can be tricky of course, because we don’t want to take a person from a stable job and fire them a week later. But we make it work.
When it comes to hiring developers, our lead developer asks for a screenshare and poses programming questions that must be solved in real-time.
How do you convey your remote culture in the recruiting process?
The best way to do that is to allow the candidate to speak with existing remote employees and to ask them questions. Plus, with the digital nomad trend there is a large pool of people who, at least in the outset, are less interested in culture and more interested in the luxury of working from anywhere. Of course culture is important long term, but it’s much like dating: looks attract and personality keeps—so too, remote opportunity attracts but the company’s personality keeps.
Do you have remote communication protocols for your remote workers?
We expect people to be online during their scheduled workday. If they’re not going to be around or stepping out for whatever reason we ask to be notified.
Do your remote team members meet in person?
Not yet. Skype and Google hangouts are what we use.
What elements are key to successful working relationships with remote teams?
Being able to measure the output of your employees. Trust.
How do you keep remote employees engaged and feeling part of the bigger picture?
Informal water-cooler style conversations about company goals and vision. People want to work for a company where they like the product, trust the management, and feel like their contribution is meaningful.
What is your time off policy for remote workers?
We’re very loose with time off and people don’t take advantage. We don’t have a formal sick-days policy either—so you can call it unlimited. It’s all about trust.
What were your biggest fears in managing remote workers?
People being dishonest about the amount of time they are spending working on your project and doing things on the side. There are big brother style tools to prevent this, such as Worksnaps.com to track your employees presence, but people generally don’t like them—and neither do we.
How did you implement a remote work policy?
We use Slack to communicate throughout the day; Google Hangouts and Skype for group calls and demos; Jira for spring planning, executing, and bug tracking; and Trello for general product and marketing planning. Except for sprint planning, we don’t implement any strict policies and work mostly organically.
What advice would you give to a team considering to go remote?
Don’t hesitate to hire and fire someone who’s not working out. It’s more difficult to hire remote employees but when you get the right ones it’s as good or better as having them sit next to you.
What challenges have you encountered building a remote team?
Developing a high level of trust and collaboration with people who are half-around the world. It’s a challenge, but it’s possible, and as the various digital tools improve so does our ability to collaborate.
What are the most effective tools for remote team communication?
Weekly phone calls, daily status reports from the technical employees, Slack
What is your favorite business book?
4 hour workweek by Tim Ferriss
Where is the best or worst place you’ve worked remotely?
Worst: working at home with my daughter crying in the background.
Best: On the beach somewhere tropical like Dominican