TaxJar Remote Company Q&A
Mark Faggiano, CEO - Interview with Remote.co
TaxJar is the leading sales tax compliance service for ecommerce. Our software helps ecommerce business save time by doing everything from calculating how much sales tax should be collected from customers using your shopping cart, to compiling how much tax was collected by state, county and city, to filing returns automatically. In other words, we take on an administrative-hassle that no business wants to deal with. (And we make it a lot more fun than it sounds.)
We’ve been remote since Day 1. And we’re proud of it.
From a financial perspective, the cost-savings from remote work is significant which allows us to deliver an amazing product to our customers at an affordable price. That’s huge in our space.
From a company culture perspective, remote work is also one of the most important parts of running our business. We all value working hard and enjoying life at the same time. Working remotely has allowed us to move faster than our competitors and effectively disrupt the market that we’re in.
It allows us to find the best talent and offer that talent the chance to work with a fun, talented team, a business that’s growing like crazy, and the right balance of life and work.
The earliest employees had all worked together before and were excited to work together again. None of us lived in the same city, so we made it work.
One of the biggest is a candidate has to have worked remotely before, preferably for at least 2 years. Bonus points for working previously for a completely remote team. If someone has thrived in that environment before, that’s a good sign they can join TaxJar and contribute right away. Also, a majority of our team members have operated their own successful businesses before. That proves they can be self-motivated and get things done.
We use hangouts (or any kind of video screenshare tool). It’s critical to be able to see a person instead of just talking to them on the phone.
We’re transparent with candidates about what it takes to succeed at TaxJar. We also have a Life @ TaxJar blog that we use to give candidates an inside look at TaxJar.
We’ve done both in-person and remote onboarding. Which one we use with each new employee is based on location and availability.
We meetup as an entire team at least twice per year. We call them JarFests. We work hard to plan them in a fun city with great food and weather. Everyone looks forward to hanging out together and talking through our goals and priorities for the upcoming months.
TIPS: plan at least of couple of GREAT meals. Give everyone on the team spending money (we give gift cards) to use for gifts for their kids or if they want to stay out late enjoying some adult beverages. It’s also important to have team members share the planning of your retreats.
We encourage employees to work together in person whenever it helps make them more efficient.
We have a MANDATORY vacation policy. We realized that an unlimited vacation policy was having the opposite effect – team members weren’t taking the time they needed to rest and recharge. Now we require everyone to take at least 2 weeks per year off, and we offer a $250 stipend for each of those two weeks. Our culture is based on rockstars who spend their days executing, and it’s important to use that we not burn out.
I never had any fears. We’ve been told countless times that at some point we need to get an office and have a headquarters so we can be a real company. Our team is very proud of the business we’ve built and will continue to build for years to come. And we did it without wasting countless hours commuting!
From day 1 we made the decision that renting an office was a waste of money. We’ve never looked back.
This all comes down to hiring. It’s critical to hire like-minded folks who genuinely want to work together. For us, we have way too much opportunity in front of us to waste time on drama and egos. So we make sure to hire team players only. As a result, we’ve created an environment where execution and fun go hand-in-hand.
We hire folks with extensive remote experience. We know they’ll thrive in our environment. We get the team together in person 2-3 times per year for fun with a little bit of planning and strategizing thrown in. We also talk a lot internally about how thankful we are to be a remote team.
Do it. And never look back. Your family, your sanity, and your employees will thank you for it.
Processes can take a little longer to develop. But if you hire the right people that works itself out.
We hate meetings in general, but every day each team does a brief 15-minute stand-up call to make sure we’re executing and anyone who needs help can get it right away. We also encourage people to over-communicate on Flowdock so the rest of the team will know about impactful changes to our app, customer feedback, changes in our domain, etc. When needed, we’ll jump on a hangout for a quick face-to-face.
I eat every meal I can with my kids (most days 3 meals per day). It’s the perfect way to get your brain off of work and focus on what really matters. I also make sure I get to the gym or workout outside at least 3x per week. It’s a great way to keep your energy up and relieve stress.