Remote Work At WAKA Kickball & Social Sports
* As of June 2015
WAKA Kickball & Social Sports Remote Company Q&A
Sarah Park, Director of HR & Communications - Interview with Remote.co
Founded in 1998, WAKA Kickball & Social Sports is the largest social sport organization in the country and provides co-ed, social sport recreation leagues, events and vacations across the country in over 35 states for the 21+ demographic.
Yes, the company began as a remote organization from the start.
It is extremely important. The distributed environment allows for a true work-life balance and supports one of our core values, which is Family First.
The biggest benefit is absolutely the ability to have a true work-life balance. I have employees here that have literally taken a 50% pay cut just so they can work here. After years and years of people working long hours and commuting in cities, people want this job because the company has a great culture and allows us to enjoy our families.
We began as a remote work environment right from the start of the company’s inception. Because the company was a small startup operation, for cost purposes it was run out of the Owners’ homes. As employees were hired, it made sense for everyone to work out of their home to encourage work-life balance and do something new and exciting that many companies were not doing at the time.
For all of our part time sales reps, we use the phone. For our full-time hires we use the phone, then Google Hangout or Skype, and whenever possible, a face-to-face interview, depending on where the person lives.
It’s not a perfect science; we have had situations where employees were “skating” for a month or so and we did not notice. But, eventually you notice, no matter what. You have to use a sixth sense sometimes, but mostly we know when work is not getting done, customers are not being taken care of, or if people seem distracted by life.
Communicate, communicate, communicate. And when you are done with that, follow up with good communication! You have to be able to express yourself well on the phone and over email because you lose all the body language piece that face-to-face companies have. You lose the ability to move projects along just by chance meetings at the water cooler, kitchen, etc. You don’t have the ability to have quick chats, plop down in a chair in your co-worker’s office, or discuss business over lunch or at happy hour. You have to be diligent in your communication!
We do not provide any computers, cell phones, etc. since keeping inventory of items like that would be extremely expensive and difficult to retrieve at separation. One of our benefits is the ability to purchase a laptop or software every two years and the company will finance it at no interest.
The remote environment is not for everyone. If a company wants to implement a 100% remote environment, I would highly recommend speaking to an operations or HR professional first. There are many nuances to being able to do it successfully, legally and productively. There is so much more than being able to over-communicate with your team and having good technology.
The main challenge is finding the right fit, since as I mentioned before, it is not for everyone. Remote working can be very isolating, so finding people that don’t have to have the social element that work provides is important. I credit the HR department for truly understanding the types of people that thrive in remote work environments, as we have had some very successful hires (and some, not so much!).
You have to be very disciplined; when you are done with your day, I need to walk away from my office and not go in there unless I really need something! In the summer it is more challenging since I have a young daughter; I break up my day so I can spend time with her and try not to check email while we are together. Sometimes I have to remind myself to stop working!
We like to say here that working from home is 95% awesome! (There are definite downsides!)