Remote Work At TeamGantt
* As of February 2020
TeamGantt Remote Company Q&A
Nathan Gilmore, Co-Founder - Interview with Remote.co
What does your remote-friendly company do?
TeamGantt provides simple project scheduling software used by thousands of customers in over 60 countries to plan, track, and manage their projects online.
How important is remote work to your business model?
It’s extremely important for a few reasons. One is that we are much more productive working from our homes where we don’t have the office distractions. The other is that it’s a great way to hire talent that lives further than an hour from your main office. It broadens the talent pool greatly. It also makes people happy that they can work from home.
What do you consider the biggest benefits of a remote workforce?
The ability to focus for long stretches at a time. So we can turn off IM, email, slack, etc. and have hours at a time of pure focus with no distractions. It gives us a competitive advantage of being more productive with a smaller team. We go up against companies with much larger teams, but we are able to compete since we work remotely.
What were the main reasons to integrate remote work into your workforce?
We bootstrapped the company back in 2010 and really didn’t have the budget at the time for an office. Now that we could afford it, we still don’t simply because it works well for us working remotely.
What traits do you look for in candidates for a remote job?
They should be a good self-starter that doesn’t have to be micromanaged. It’s extremely hard to micromanage remotely and not something that we want to have to do. We look for people that don’t just have certain skillsets, but who also have proven results at previous jobs.
How do you conduct interviews for remote jobs?
We use Skype. I’ve tried just regular phone interviews and it’s not even close to as good as Skype. I really felt like I know someone after Skyping with them. If we did just a regular phone call, I really didn’t get that same feeling.
How do you convey your remote culture in the recruiting process?
People love this when looking for a job. It really excites people that they can do a job that they love while working from home. It provides them freedom and convenience that they can’t get at other jobs. It’s a great way to attract top talent. We are sure to put this in our job ads and on our website.
Do your remote team members meet in person?
We were meeting together about once or twice a month in person. Now we will probably shoot for about twice a year to get everyone together. I also go over to John’s house once a week to work in person on product. It’s nice for us to be able to do this. We’ve found it’s a nice routine to have 4 days to just focus on cranking out work (design, code, etc.). But then on Friday, we get together and usually either brainstorm or maybe tweak a release of a new feature before it goes out live.
How do you measure the productivity of remote workers?
It depends on what they are doing. We have two people that handle support emails. It’s very easy to run reports and see their activity. As for others, we plan out our projects in TeamGantt and they can update their progress as they complete their tasks. We can also use TeamGantt to see how their workloads are coming up for the next few weeks.
What is the hardest part about managing a remote workforce?
The hardest thing is just making sure to stay in touch with everyone and make sure everyone knows that they are part of the team and that their role is very important.
What is your time off policy for remote workers?
Everyone has a set amount of days per year that they can use as they like.
How did you implement a remote work policy?
Organically. It started with just me and John for the first few years. Than as we hired people, it was natural for them to work from their homes as well. That was a big selling point for those who wanted to work at TeamGantt as well.
How do you nurture your company’s culture in a remote work environment?
We make sure to all get together as a company on a regular basis. For example, we have two team members that live out of state. So we flew them into Baltimore for a few days and we took a little bit of time to work, but mostly just spent time together doing fun activities like eating, playing miniature golf, and fishing on the Chesapeake Bay. It was really just a time for the team to spend time together face to face and really get to know each other.
What advice would you give to a team considering to go remote?
Be careful to put some limits, boundaries, or at least advice around things like email and instant messaging. If these tools aren’t used correctly, then they can actually reduce some of the benefits of working remotely. The most important thing is to have at least two big chunks of your day with these tools turned off.
What challenges have you encountered building a remote team?
There really haven’t been many challenges to be honest. We’ve loved the entire experience. There are so many perks to remote working that it hasn’t been much of a problem. There are some little details like taxes and payroll for people in different states but a good payroll company and accountant can help handle those items.
What are the most effective tools for remote team communication?
Skype – This one is awesome. Skype really helps when getting to know someone. It’s a great tool for interviewing people too. You really feel like you get to know someone better over Skype then just a regular phone call
Google Docs – Super easy way to collaborate on documents/spreadsheet type files.
TeamGantt – We manage all of our projects through TeamGantt. This way we have all of our project schedules, files, and communications in one place.
What has changed about how your remote team operates?
We used to all be in Maryland. We had four team members in Maryland and it was really easy for us to all get together for lunch on a Friday once or twice a month. Now that we have two people outside of Maryland (MA and OR), we have to make sure that they come visit in person.
What is your personal remote work environment?
I spent a lot of time over Christmas break re-designing my office this year. I added a new couch, photos from sailing trips, and some old reclaimed wood shelves. I also installed some recessed lighting to compliment the natural light from outside. There are two windows in my office and I find that especially important. I couldn’t work without some natural light 🙂 I also have a few plants throughout the office too.
How do you personally manage work-life balance?
That’s a huge thing for us here at TeamGantt. We encourage the team to not work more than 40 hours a week. Everyone has things outside of work (family, church, hobbies, etc.) and it’s really important for everyone to have time for those things.
We also encourage a good routine. I work from 8:30 – 5:00 pm. This way I know what time I need to be downstairs and in my office by each day. My wife and kids also know my schedule and respect it. Then at 5:00 pm, if I’m not out of the office, my wife starts letting the kids in to help remind me to stop working. And I’m totally fine with that. Family is really important and I want to make sure that they have my full attention after 5:00. And by having a strict schedule, it works both ways. My family knows that I need to be focused on work from 8:30 to 5:00 so that I can have time on the evenings and weekends to be with them. So we recommend this type of work day to others at TeamGantt. They may shift their hours earlier or later, but the important thing is that they have structure to their day.
Do you have a favorite quote or bit of business wisdom?
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. – Colossians 3:23
Where is the best or worst place you’ve worked remotely?
Worst: Starbucks with bad internet.
Best: From a boat 🙂