Did you switch to remote or start out that way?
AirTreks is a 30-year-old company that at one time received Silicon Valley funding and had a big office in downtown San Francisco. We worked from an expensive office for 25 years. Our sales team always had some remote workers.
We got to see how remote working technology has improved from the “front lines”—I’m remembering days circa 2005 configuring servers and setting up VPNs to link our remote team into our phone and customer management systems. Now, it’s easier than it ever has been to work from anywhere.
We made the switch to 100 percent remote work with a formal transition plan for closing our office.
At American Express, we’ve been serving customers for more than 165 years. As the environment and our own business have evolved, we’ve been receptive to new ways we could deliver our customers the superior service they’ve come to expect from American Express. While American Express has had a number of virtual roles for some time, our focused effort to expand the remote telephone servicing team began about a half decade ago.
We like to say we started in a garage and have now happily returned to one, thanks to remote working. Twenty years ago, our co-founders built a long distance telephone carrier up from scratch. As new technologies made long distance a thing of the past, we transitioned into a live answering service, still based in our CEO’s garage. We grew from there into a traditional call center, with hundreds of employees in one large building. This model limited us in terms of space, talent pool, and imagination.
As a company, we believe in small experiments. So our first foray into remote working didn’t take us far—just across the street to the vacant space above a dry cleaner. We set up some computers there and began testing to ensure we could deliver the same standard of service from a “remote” location. When we got it working, we sent our customer experience associates home to take our clients’ calls over the Internet, and we’ve never looked back. That change reduced our square footage radically, while keeping employment even.
Last year, we downsized our office space again, trading in a space we loved but that was really bigger than we needed from 7,527 to an office across the hall that is just 725 square feet. The roll-up door makes us feel right at home, and we have just enough space for some of our leadership and other local employees to work one day a week in the office—if they want to. The rest of our hundreds of employees work out of their homes in five states, with a sixth on the way.
Appirio started out as a remote company. We had a headquarters in San Francisco where local team members could work from the office, but those located in other locations were able to work remotely. Furthermore, those local to the San Francisco office would also have the flexibility to work from home for part of their week.
We did start out as a distributed team, but several of our team members joined from companies with offices. Switching them over to remote working was pretty straightforward: setting them up with the software they needed and making sure they had appropriate technology in their homes (good Internet connection is a must!).
We started out working from home in our initial years, then got an office for just over a year but weren’t really using it much. In 2011, we made a decision to go 100% virtual. However, just before committing to it, I consulted with some folks at Automattic and other startups, read up on companies such as MySQL and others, on how they were operating remotely. After this, I knew we could scale the company as a 100% virtual company and have never looked back since.
We did start out remote, although it originally happened accidentally. In December 2011 our founders raised an angel funding round of $400,000. At the same time though, their visas to be in the U.S. expired and so they left for Hong Kong. In the midst of their travels, they were excited to grow the Buffer team and hired people that felt like a good culture fit, without minding what part of the world they were in. The team started growing in Nashville, London, and other places, while the founders continued to travel. At one point there was the chance for the whole team to work from San Francisco, but our CEO Joel decided to keep the company 100% remote in order to encourage teammates to live and work from wherever they felt the happiest and most productive.
From the very beginning, Greenback has been a 100% virtual company. We are all a highly energetic, positive, resourceful team working virtually across the globe. For our accountants, they have ultimate flexibility to decide where to work from and when to work. If they want to spend a tax season in their home office and in the slower season work a lighter load from Mexico or Bali or the coast of Spain, then great! Many on our accountant team does just that.
We did–we’ve been 100% remote right from the start (although we considered being non-remote at one point in our history). I’m eternally thankful that we didn’t make that mistake–if we had, I’ve no doubt that myself and my whole team would have far less job satisfaction and the company would be much weaker.
We started out as a virtual company with the intent to be virtual. We wanted to embrace modern technology that had never been created or offered before in our sector (specifically for nonprofit organizations and NGOs), but we also set out to experiment as a modern and innovative work environment.
Before Jungle Scout, I was able to replace my income with my ecommerce business, and my wife and I actually left the U.S. to travel the world. Then we started Jungle Scout and since we were already living the lifestyle, the business was developed to have a distributed team. It’s been the start of our culture from the beginning.
Once we had more than one person, we worked in a small office together for the first 2-3 months, and slowly transitioned to just working from home. At a certain point it just wasn’t necessary to be working in the same room, and everyone had a clear preference for their home office work environment over the shared office.
Yes and no. Way back in the early days, when we were in a completely different line of business, we had an office employees came to. When that wound down and we started this business line, we were fully remote. The switch was easy; there was no real business or employees in the interim.
PeopleG2 began as a typical “brick and mortar” company. We ensured all employees had a proper workstation in their home, provided a state of the art internet based system with which to perform the necessary tasks, and offered tips and continued follow up to ensure all employees were feeling successful in this new model.
We’ve been around since 2004, so we didn’t start remote. And we’ve been a company that has relied heavily on collaboration from day one. A large portion of our work is bespoke, uncharted-waters type stuff, so communication and discussion are key. When the remote work tools evolved enough to make that level of discussion and collaboration possible, we made the switch.
SitePen’s deep involvement with the remotely-rooted open source community in addition to our CEO’s aversion to fluorescent lighting was what laid the foundation for SitePen’s preferred work environment. While having physical office space was attempted in the early days, the idea of going into the office never quite took off. It’s easy to see that SitePen’s organizational structure is wholly based on an open source software model – many individuals working remotely toward shared goals for the common good. Remote work is like breathing for us – it just is.
We started out as a small team that was primarily focused on manufacturing. Our first hire in software development was in England and that went over incredibly well. A few months later, our customer service lead asked if he could relocate. Initially I was concerned but then we saw it as an opportunity to improve our processes so that we could support a remote customer service team.
We haven’t aggressively recruited until recently, but we’d often stumble across someone talented that we wanted on our team. These people were rarely local but it was usually obvious they’d make a great addition so we didn’t stress their location. After a while, it became commonplace for our team to be remote.
We were a brick and mortar company for years. The switch was made starting at the top. Me and my partner Adam, started working remotely a couple of days a week so that we could determine what processes, software, etc needed to be put in place in order to make working remote a great experience for the team.
I did not start out working remotely, I started out in a traditional law firm environment. After I had my son, I wanted to make a switch to a job that would permit me more work life balance. The remote work structure of the Geller Law Group permitted me that balance – the ability to be at home with my son during breakfast and dinner, catch up on work after normal work hours as needed, and not have to endure a painful commute wasting precious minutes in the car.
I was one of TNTP’s first employees after its founding in 1997. We were virtual for some roles from the get-go, with CEO Michelle Rhee living in Ohio and other staff based in New York City, Maryland and Massachusetts. While I loved working from our central office in New York (both as an escape from my small city apartment and because it was fun to interact with all the staff who would come into town for meetings), I was also grateful for the flexibility that our virtual culture gave me when I decided I wanted to move closer to family. I now work from a home office in Cape Cod, where I can see the ocean every day and still make a difference for kids in cities across the country.
We went remote about a year ago, and we put a lot of thinking into it. We laid out the pros and cons, talked to our team members and did some research. Once we started going remotely, we had a lot of questions about staying productive remotely, maintaining a company culture and managing a distributed team and we all learned together to make it work.