Remote Work At Workfrom
* As of February 2020
Workfrom Remote Company Q&A
Darren Buckner, Founder & Jewel Mlnarik, Founder - Interview with Remote.co
What does your remote-friendly company do?
We make it easy to find a good place to get work done when you need it. We’re all about people and places supporting the work from anywhere culture, and we do it through recommendations, inside knowledge, perks and community connections.
Did you switch to remote or start out that way?
Yes, from day one we’ve been a remote team.
How important is remote work to your business model?
Our model is in many ways built around remote work. The traditional office is going away and people are working from places and spaces of their choosing. At the core of what we do is help surface those places and spaces.
What do you consider the biggest benefits of a remote workforce?
Superlatives are challenging. People who choose to work remotely typically have other passions that drive them in life. We work remotely so that we can work around our lives, versus live around our work. The cross pollination that happens between diverse personal passions and work passions breeds creativity, efficiency, respect, inspiration, empathy, good work and a huge social impact. It allows us to support our communities wherever we’re living, whether it’s a rural area or thriving metropolis.
What were the main reasons to integrate remote work into your workforce?
We built our company to serve a pain point and make it easier to work remotely. So we’ve been remote since day 1. Our founders both live in Portland, so they make an effort to meet face-to-face a few times a week, but rarely at the same place. Our first intern was remote, working with us all the way from Missouri. Even our lawyer is famously remote as well, splitting his time between Portland, NYC and the rest of the world.
Starting a business is extremely time consuming, challenging and demanding. If we didn’t give ourselves the freedom to work from anywhere, it’s very possible we’d have burnt out by now! Being able to bend work around our personal lives means that we’ve been able to maintain some semblance of a personal life while starting Workfrom.co
What traits do you look for in candidates for a remote job?
Emotional maturity, strong written communication skills, time management, self-direction, appreciation of animated gifs and virtual high-fives.
How do you convey your remote culture in the recruiting process?
It’s our brand, so we don’t have to work hard to infuse it into our recruiting.
Do your remote team members meet in person?
We host weekly meetups for all remote workers living in or visiting the Portland area — and anyone we’re working with is invited to join us for any meetup. As we grow, we’d like to incorporate periodic gatherings for everyone, wherever they are at the time.
Our core team in Portland meets fairly often in person.
How do you measure the productivity of remote workers?
It’s really up to the individual to assess their productivity. As a team, we focus on group goals and results. Periodically we revisit those goals, our performance and take a time to assess, learn and set new short term goals.
What elements are key to successful working relationships with remote teams?
Personal interactions, whether it’s a daily hello, virtual toast or asking how was your evening/weekend/morning? We can often take small personal interactions for granted when in the same space each day. And since we are often not, we find other ways to say “hello in the hallway”. We give a lot of virtual high-fives.
What is the hardest part about managing a remote workforce?
It used to be finding reliable, productive places to get work done—but we nailed that problem 🙂
What is your BYOD policy for remote workers?
Bring them if you got ‘em! We’re bootstrapped and remote workers are used to blurring traditional lines of process and policy. Typically for the better. More so than ever, good work is getting done on all kinds of devices, connecting from all types of places. It doesn’t make sense to swim against that current. We are champions of working in ways that produce the best outcomes, and often that means working with the comfort and efficiency of your own devices/apps.
How did you implement a remote work policy?
It’s ingrained in our mission and vision … not sure if that makes it formal? It’s certainly intentional.
What advice would you give to a team considering to go remote?
Do it. Whether you’re a small company or a large organization, embracing remote workers allows you to find talent outside of a geographic location, increase the happiness of your team and often save significant costs.
What challenges have you encountered building a remote team?
We’ve been remote workers before Workfrom. We’re pretty well versed in the challenges that face remote teams. Most challenges revolve around easy yet reliable communication, understanding and appreciating one another’s work styles and setting each other up for success. Since context can often be gleaned by facial expressions, tone of voice and disposition, it’s challenging to adapt to communication that often is void of sensory context. It becomes very important to pay attention to details and ask questions often.
What has changed about how your remote team operates?
We’ve only been around for about one year now. Our culture and operations are evolving.
What is your personal remote work environment?
It changes every day! We work from cafes, coffee shops, breweries, coworking spaces and even parks.
How do you personally manage work-life balance?
We struggle with this. As boostrappers, we went all in. We lived off our savings and lived all things Workfrom for a year to get it off the ground. Yet, when we talk to each other about company culture and the company we’re working so hard to build, we don’t want a company of people working all the time. We want work to work around our lives. We want to swap photos of our great hiking, camping, road tripping, fishing and family adventures. We made a pact: we’d encourage each other to reach our pre-Workfrom physical fitness — as we realized the relationship between our fitness and ability to handle stress, make decisions and do good work. What we found was that by having this simple goal, we naturally began making and protecting “our individual time” … and could use this discipline to set better boundaries in other areas of life/work.
And we make sure that the other person has some unplugged time each week. It can be easy to see a Slack chat or email message come in at an odd hour and want to reply, but it’s ultimately more efficient to hold off and only check messages when you’re “plugged in” and ready to work. Some days this might mean we “bite our tongues” and share messages when it’s most conducive for the team, versus ourselves. This one’s still a struggle!
All in all, it’s a personal commitment to helping each other be the best humans we can be.
What is your favorite business book?
Traction is a recent favorite. Good to Great and Blink stuck with us.
Where is the best or worst place you’ve worked remotely?
In a car, on the side of the road near Hell’s Canyon (in Oregon) was both one the worst and one of the best. The worst, because it was hot and I was pretty sure that a rancher up the road would think I was stalking their place and come out with a rifle. The best, because I’d just camped in Hell’s Canyon, got a sunrise hike in and didn’t have to take a day off of work. I just had to drive out of the canyon a ways and find cell phone reception on the side of the road to call into a meeting and get some coding done