Remote Work At The Cheat Sheet
* As of February 2020
The Cheat Sheet Remote Company Q&A
Meridith Burrows, HR Manager & Eric McWhinnie, Senior Editor - Interview with Remote.co
What does your remote-friendly company do?
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Did you switch to remote or start out that way?
We did start out remote. This was a deliberate choice from the get-go.
How important is remote work to your business model?
Remote work is vital to our business model since we operate in a highly competitive industry. We’re able to seek out the best talent no matter their location in the country.
What do you consider the biggest benefits of a remote workforce?
The elimination of commuting. Instead of fighting rush hour traffic, we’re able to focus on daily goals from the start without aggravation. Research shows commuting contributes to job burnout, and not having to drive to work every day saves thousands of dollars on car expenses.
Also, being able to take effective breaks! Instead of going to the break room to get another cup of coffee or wasting time on the internet, I can visit with my kids who are with the sitter or go for a quick run.
What traits do you look for in candidates for a remote job?
Someone who is accustomed to having a huge part of their social life come from work can raise a red flag. We lean towards candidates who love to travel, value having a flexible lifestyle, or have worked remotely in the past. These types of candidates are often strong culture fits and successful at The Cheat Sheet.
What is your hiring process for remote workers?
A heavy emphasis is placed on whether working remotely will be a good fit for a candidate. People tend to either love or hate working remotely and it is important that we make sure each candidate understands the benefits and challenges of our remote work environment before joining the company. We strongly filter for candidates who are extremely self-motivated, thrive when working individually and are clear communicators via digital channels (Slack, Email, Phone, etc).
Do your remote team members meet in person?
We don’t require it, but we certainly encourage it. We just initiated a new exciting program to incentivize our employees to get together socially. One of the best perks of working virtually is the ability to work from anywhere, and many of our team members love to travel. We have employees located all over the country, so in order to encourage them to get together when they travel, we reimburse a dinner, a concert, or activity- anything they want, as long as they send us a picture of their activity. There is a lot of excitement around this initiative and we hope this will encourage everyone to get together socially and form bonds that make work more fun and collaborative.
From a work perspective, we make frequent use of video chats on Skype or Google Hangouts which does feel more personal than an email or phone call. In addition, I will often meet my colleague who lives in the area at a coffee shop to work together.
How do you measure the productivity of remote workers?
We set clearly defined metrics for all of our team members every quarter. This empowers everyone to work smarter and get their work done without worrying about putting in “face time”.
What is the hardest part about managing a remote workforce?
It takes extra effort to build a rapport with everyone. There are no incidental conversations that happen on the way to the break room in a virtual office. We addressed this need by creating a “virtual watercooler” on Slack, among numerous other culture-building activities. A strong culture is very important to us at The Cheat Sheet.
What is your BYOD policy for remote workers?
We allow team members to use whichever device(s) they feel most comfortable working with. The Cheat Sheet does allocate company computers to our employees as needed as well.
What is your time off policy for remote workers?
We have a flexible time off policy which provides employees with a generous amount of vacation, allowing them to take off whichever holidays they want.
How did you implement a remote work policy?
From the very beginning, our founders (Damien and Derek Hoffman) knew that we would be a completely virtual company. Most media companies are based in New York City, but Damien and Derek don’t subscribe to the theory that NYC is where all the best talent is. The fact is that there are extremely talented employees living all over the country and we want to recruit the absolute best. So this was a conscientious choice.
Can a remote-friendly company have a healthy culture?
Yes! Communication is key for building a healthy company culture. An open-door policy through the entire organization flow chart plays an important role for remote companies since nonverbal cues are lacking in the digital world.
What advice would you give to a team considering to go remote?
If you’re considering the remote working path, start small. Offer remote working options one or two days a week to select employees and evaluate the results. You can expand from there as you see fit.
What are the most effective tools for remote team communication?
A combination of online tools such as email, video conferencing, and real-time messaging apps such as Slack brings everyone together at The Cheat Sheet.
What is your personal remote work environment?
I keep it simple. I have a home office with a desk, laptop, notepad and pen, and a few of my favorite business books.
How do you personally manage work-life balance?
A work life balance can be tricky for remote workers, especially if you enjoy what you do. To help leave work behind on the weekends, I keep my laptop shut and email unchecked as much as possible.
What is your favorite business book?
The Tao of Warren Buffett
Where is the best or worst place you’ve worked remotely?
I’m picky about my work locations so the worst place I’ve worked was a busy McDonald’s, which really wasn’t that bad. The best place is simply my home office.