Home > Companies Q&A > Working Remotely > How did you implement a remote work policy?

    How did you implement a remote work policy?

  • Codebusters, Inc.

    It started very organically; we tried lots of different things and would discuss what we liked and disliked the most. From there, we were able to develop basic outlines which we used on new employees. With their feedback, we were able to develop an easy-to-understand and efficient way of communicating with each other and others. At that point, we implemented a much more formal exercise for getting new hires acquainted with remote work best practices.

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  • Articulate, Inc.

    Founded it from the beginning.

     1 vote |
  • Batchbook

    In the beginning it was definitely more organic. As our team has grown, we have implemented more of a formal policy and some systems that help us stay in touch and get our work done well.

     1 vote |
  • CloudPeeps

    It happened both organically and formally. Formally in that it was something we deliberately wanted to champion and structure. Organically in that during 2014, we were struggling to find the balance of remote and non-remote – and it did come to a turning point in the company where we had to decide what we wanted to be. The decision came to the forefront when we’d just hired an incredible team member who was based in a different city than the current team. This meant we had to switch communication to be online versus in-person. Slack was a huge catalyst for making this transition seamless. All in all, I think remote work functions best when a company has committed to it. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing – in that some people might work in a centralized office, and others in satellite locations. It just has to be part of a company’s cultural fabric, processes and communication flow to work best.

     1 vote |
  • FlexJobs

    I would say both. It was a natural step to build the company with a remote workforce, but it was done with mindfulness and intention. We feel that is the key to success–acknowledging and embracing the differences of managing a virtual team and doing it well.

     1 vote |
  • FlexProfessionals, LLC

    Definitely organically. FlexProfessionals is owned by three moms. We started by working remotely ourselves, when it was just the three of us. Our remote workforce grew from there. We do have policies and structures in place, and we make a concerted effort to regularly review and tweak them. They need to work in a business environment that is constantly growing and evolving.

     1 vote |
  • 10up Inc.

    It was our policy from the beginning!

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  • Acceleration Partners

    Organically, we are growing and learning as we grow how to continually make this a great place to work and how to remove (or make better) obstacles in remote working.  We are always looking at industry best practices.

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  • AgileBits

    It started organically as the company grew.

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  • Aha!

    We did not implement a remote work policy. Building a distributed company was our intention from the start. Dr. Chris Waters (my co-founder) and I were the first two employees of Aha! We were also self-funding the business, so there was no reason for us to have an office at that point and we wanted to leverage the lessons we learned while working at Citrix about the benefits of remote teams.  

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  • American Express

    While American Express has had a number of virtual roles for some time, our focused effort to expand the remote customer care team began about a half decade ago.

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  • AnswerConnect

    For our core business, live answering, the implementation had to be formal. We needed our customer experience associates to be able to take our clients’ calls with the same reliability they had in the call center. In addition, in order to realize the cost savings of a smaller office, we needed many employees to make the switch at the same time. So, we tested a remote location before making the change, and then moved iteratively.

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  • Appen

    Organically. Appen has been operating mixed remote and in-office teams for many years.

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  • Appirio

    From its inception, Appirio has had one headquarters with the rest of our United States employees working remotely. Globally, we have six offices: Indianapolis, San Francisco, Tokyo, Jaipur, Dublin, and London. Each of our global offices has varying levels of remote work flexibility. However, the remote work flexibility has been in place from day one of Appirio. We provide the tools and technology that allow our team to work anywhere in the world!

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  • Attentiv

    With a startup, it’s hard to get things done being too formal–the less red tape the better. Luckily, the entire team had been used to working remotely from previous jobs, so it formed organically for us.

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  • Authentic Form & Function

    Our remote work policy is very structured and clearly defined from the beginning. While everyone is remote, we still need our team available during (roughly) the same business hours. Before any new team member is brought on board we make sure those expectations, as well as the general daily workflow, are understood and agreed upon.

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  • Balsamiq

    Very organically. We started remote, and we stayed optimized for working remotely. We didn’t get an office until year 3, I think.

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  • Beutler Ink

    This was absolutely an organic development, rather than something we decided to focus upon.

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  • Blossom

    We don’t have a formal remote work policy like tracking time or something like that. We mainly look at defining outcomes that we want to see using OKRs and then work towards them individually or in pairing sessions. This has worked quite well so far. I guess it helps if you have a team of people who are already familiar with remote and distributed scenarios.

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  • Bright!Tax

    Organically.

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  • Chargify

    It began organically — the company co-founders lived in different geographic areas. As the company began to grow, it made sense to implement a remote work policy that was a bit more formal, though we focus less on stringent remote work guidelines and more on a culture of trust and transparency.

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  • Ciao Bambino! Inc.

    Formally. All hires are brought into the company under the premise that they work remotely.

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  • Collage.com

    Remote work has been part of Collage.com’s company culture since starting the company in 2007 as a college hobby project with my friend and co-founder/co-CEO Kevin Borders.

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  • Crossover

    More formally. It started with the CEO, Andy Tryba, who works remotely from Austin, Texas.  As the company grew, more and more people were hired, and they all came on as remote workers. Now we have more than a hundred Crossover team members, and they’re spread throughout the world.

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  • DataStax

    Remote work is a core part of our culture. It is not a policy.

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  • Doist

    The team was started as a remote work team. So we didn’t really implement anything. It came naturally and organically.

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  • DVMelite

    It was the beginning model.  Our model has grown organically into a formal model while maintaining flexibility and autonomy for our contractors.

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  • Edgar

    Organically. We don’t even have a headquarters-type office – we’ve always hired remotely.

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  • Envato

    As with most things at Envato, what started organically has become a little more formal now that the Envato team is around 280. Formally acknowledging guidelines also ensures everyone knows what’s available to them! In the HR team we make sure all our guidelines (the word ‘policy’ sounds a bit too formal for us!) are written in plain English. And there is usually wiggle room for personal circumstances too. We like to trial things first, see if they work, get some feedback, iterate and then try it again. We copied this idea from our amazing product delivery teams!

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  • Eyeo GmbH

    Organically

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  • Fire Engine RED

    One person at a time! We’ve been all-virtual since our founding in 2001. When we were hiring our first team member, the “perfect” candidate lived in Colorado, not in the Philadelphia area. We decided not to let her location stop us from hiring her, because our services aren’t location-dependent. For our second hire, the “perfect” candidate lived in New York. Again, we hired her despite her location. After these two initial hires, we realized that by allowing people to work virtually, we could attract and hire top talent no matter where they lived.

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  • Five Q

    Since we’ve always done it, it’s been a bit of both. It’s dynamic and continuous improvement is a must. We must adapt to the best communication platforms and consistently be growing our team’s EQ. It’s who we are, so when someone new comes on board we need to help them adapt easily and comfortably into this “world” if it’s new to them.

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  • Fog Creek Software

    We put certain formal rules in place, but the culture of our remote teams continues to organically form. We pay close attention to our remotes, get a lot of feedback, and form policies based on what they need/want. For example – as our teams have grown, we’ve added communication coaching & tools and changed our offsite and structure to better suit teams’ needs.

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  • GitHub, Inc.

    I’d definitely say it came about organically as a result of both the way the company grew and the nature of our product. We’ve always tried to be clear and explicit about our policies around remote work though, because it’s really important to us that everyone’s expectations are on the same page.

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  • GitLab

    It started organically. We didn’t know how it was going to be, but every week we add important information to our GitLab Handbook. We like to have everything there and to keep it clear for everybody. We want it to be great, so we fix and improve it all the time.

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  • Go Fish Digital

    It started day 1.  We were an early company to be fully remote (6 years ago), so it is just so natural for us now. We started with almost no ground rules, but over time we’ve added in some tools and standards so that expectations and communications are clear.

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  • GobySavvy

    Our remote work policy started organically when the founder, Ryan O’Connor, unexpectedly attracted clients from around the world–Australia, UK, India, U.S.– looking for help improving the User Experience of their apps and websites. As a small agency, it made perfect sense to recruit talent from around the world to support this global need for talent.

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  • Goodway Group

    As we transitioned from being a traditional print marketing company to an all-digital firm (in 2006), we simply began hiring remotely. And once we began hiring remotely, we treated our existing Philadelphia staff the same, allowing them to work 100 percent from home, though they do have the option to go into the office if they wish.

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  • Greenback Expat Tax Services

    Greenback has been 100% remote since the beginning. We have learned so much over the years about how to manage a remote workforce and feel that we have created a successful, positive and productive environment in which our team members can thrive. Our hiring process is very stringent and in-depth to ensure that the team members we hire have the right skillset, as well as the outstanding communication and technological skills to be productive in a remote environment.

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  • Groove

    It was completely organic; our very first employees were remote.

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  • Hanno

    At the beginning our approach to remote working was pretty ad-hoc. But as the years have gone by, we’ve begun to understand more about how to do remote work well and we’ve actually started to document our processes and policies in much more detail. As a natively 100% remote company though, we don’t have to wrestle with the same struggles that many newcomers to remote work might need to handle. That makes things a lot easier for us and means that we don’t really have to impose rigid rules to protect our team members who might be working remotely.

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  • Help Scout

    Organically. It was a part of the vision from the inception. Yes, there would be a headquarters, but there was a clear understanding that most of the team would be remote (with the option of coming to Boston as well).

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  • Hippo Education

    Right from the start.

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  • Hubstaff

    Our work policies are more organic than formal. Part of the reason we love remote work is because we can work whenever and wherever we want, which means if a team member wants to disappear for a few days, as long as he or she makes sure the work gets done it’s fine with us.

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  • ICUC

    There is no ‘policy’ at ICUC, it is simply a reality for us, we have no office building.  At ICUC, remote work is part of our DNA.

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  • iDoneThis

    That grew more organically, even though by now we consciously make decisions that favor remote work.

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  • Incsub

    We were 100% remote for the first 7 or 8 years of the company. How we work remotely has changed considerably as we’ve grown from a small team of just a handful of employees to the larger and separate teams we have today.

    How we work and communicate is something we certainly will continue to work on. We’ve gone through cycles of relying heavily on email, to regular skypes and hangouts, too, as we are at the moment, regular real-time chat communication via ‘Slack’.

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  • Inpsyde GmbH

    Organically

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  • Inspired HR

    It was a formal process that included doing a lot of research, creating boundaries and parameters, and including our clients in the process.

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  • Intridea/Mobomo

    Organically for the most part.  We have some structure in place, but our company is results-driven – so if you prefer to work from 9pm-6am, and you turn out exceptional work – more power to you!

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  • InVisionApp

    Our team being remote was an intentional decision from the inception of our company.

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  • Jackson River

    Totally organically. We did what felt right, we learned from our mistakes, and we continue to evolve by listening to what our staff needs.

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  • LoveToKnow

    We have been a virtual environment from day one, so it was a decision that was organically reinforced by its own success.

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  • Lullabot

    Formally, from the hiring process onward.

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  • Melewi

    The remote working policy that Melewi has has been there from our very first days. Our founder, Melissa, had already been a digital nomad for a few years and when the team was put together, the same freedom and autonomy was extended to everyone too.

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  • Modern Tribe

    We’ve been a remote company since the beginning, so I guess that makes it organic. When we hire team members, it’s always with the understanding that we’re 100% distributed and your office is wherever you park your laptop.

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  • Mokriya

    Organically. We learn as we grow. Thanks to the generosity of the remote community, there is a lot of best practices being shared and we hope to contribute to that as we continue to learn and grow as a distributed team.

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  • MomsRising.org

    We have always worked remotely.  In fact as a start-up not having to fund an office was financially very helpful.

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  • NodeSource

    Our company quite literally started complete remote, so it was part of our formation.

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  • Origin Eight

    It emerged organically, but my company started as a distributed company.

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  • PeopleG2

    Initially, we had formal guidelines and documents on the “how to’s” of working remotely.  As we have adapted to this virtual/remote office model, the policies have become more organic in nature, adjusting to integrate work/life balance and the autonomous nature of remote work.

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  • Plex

    Because we have always been mostly remote-based it wasn’t necessarily a policy that had to be implemented – it’s just how we have always worked and even though we have a small headquarters it’s important that everyone keeps a 100% remote mentality so that our culture doesn’t develop a sense of “us vs. them” (meaning office workers vs. remote workers).

    We realized fairly quickly that we had to have a set of tools that could stand on its own in the absence of daily in-person interaction. We developed a simple, yet powerful, dashboard that provides real-time visibility for everyone in the company. It includes information like who is currently working on what team, company priorities, team priorities, project due dates, weekly status updates etc. In addition, we use a number of great commercial productivity tools such as Slack for real-time communication, Github for code management, Hangouts and Zoom for video conferencing and Trello for project prioritization. Whether your team is distributed or local, it is so important to implement the right tools for clear communication, visibility and context setting. Having everyone sit in the same room won’t necessarily solve the communication challenge for you.

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  • Project Ricochet

    We’ve been distributed from day one. Our only requirements are that our team be available for our morning scrum, that they track both their billable and unbillable time in Toggl (our time tracking software), that they are available for the projects they are a part of, and that each team member is available for a weekly one-on-one with either my partner or me at a time that works for each of us.

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  • Sanborn Media Factory

    We started organically with a few employees to test tools and processes. After that, we offered it to everyone, along with the option to keep their desk in the office. Initially a few folks kept their desks, but a year later, and no one has a desk. We converted our office spaces into shared workspaces that anyone could use, anytime.

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  • Seeq

    Our remote work policy was a formal part of our business plan from the beginning. The company is now 3 years old (formed, 2013).

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  • Simple Texting

    We use Slack to communicate throughout the day; Google Hangouts and Skype for group calls and demos; Jira for spring planning, executing, and bug tracking; and Trello for general product and marketing planning.  Except for sprint planning, we don’t implement any strict policies and work mostly organically.

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  • SitePen

    Organically.  We implemented policies where we felt we could do better and from lessons learned over time.  Team understanding (why we need it) and buy-in (how it’s going to help you) are necessary for implementing any work policy, remote or otherwise!   Our team is very opinionated and highly conscious of inefficiencies so we’re quickly able to identify what works and what doesn’t.

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  • Sococo

    As is typical with many startups, it evolved organically. Given that facilitation of remote work is at the very core of our existence, it was only natural that we support a remote workforce from day one. We truly are a location-agnostic company.

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  • SoftwareMill

    First of all: confidence. Relations have to be built on trust. Each team that is working for a client takes responsibility for all the issues: financial stuff, agreements, customer relations, etc. It wouldn’t make sense to have one person managing all these projects. When one of the developer teams needs to buy iPads for everyone to do the job well, why force them to ask the board for permission. They know best what they need for their project.

    Furthermore we have a wiki. We put all the rules we have in the company. There’s a starter page for everyone to read through. And it just describes all the basics and how we are running. That’s a good thing to have. And when there are things we just can’t agree upon, we vote. And the result becomes a law. And there’s a special place for such laws in our wiki. But the laws become official only when we feel the need to make something official, because it itches us not to have The Way Of Doing something. So formality grows organically 😉

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  • Speak

    Our policy isn’t formally written down but everyone knows that as long as they get the assigned work completed and have a degree of time crossover everything else is up for grabs. For example, our English engineer is about to spend the summer working in Barcelona – why not?!

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  • Stack Overflow

    It started organically, but we have formalized things along the way. Mostly we expect people to be effective communicators and get stuff done.

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  • Sticker Mule

    It was completely organic. We noticed that we had more success with remote workers than local talent so we stopped caring about the proximity of our employees and focused on hiring the best people regardless of location. We don’t have a formal remote work policy. Our attitude is simply to try to hire the best possible people and accepting remote candidates let’s us do that.

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  • StudySoup

    Our culture dictates people’s remote work within the company. It’s not a formal process, but I think people catch-on pretty quickly.

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  • Summit CPA Group

    Both, we had a team member move to another state and we used her as our Beta. Originally, only a few wanted to work remotely – accountants hate change, so we then kicked everyone out of the office for 1 month and forced them to work remotely.  They surprised themselves and found out that they actually liked working from home.  All but 5 team members work primarily outside of the office.

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  • Taksa Technology Solutions

    Organically. As we grew and worked through this work model and faced different challenges and overcame those challenges, we shaped up a better and a stronger communication pattern that forms as our work policy and also acts as a special ingredient of our secret sauce.

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  • TaxJar

    From day 1 we made the decision that renting an office was a waste of money. We’ve never looked back.

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  • TeamGantt

    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.

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  • TeamSnap

    It was entirely organic. The biggest challenge as we’ve grown has been not letting the trappings of traditional office policies creep in. For instance, once we hit about 60 people we considered whether to implement a vacation, sick leave or PTO policy. But we realized that it made no sense to track what hours people weren’t working, when we don’t track what hours they do work. We focus entirely on what people produce.

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  • Teleport

    I would say remote work for us is more about the culture (the values and norms), rather than the process. Even though I know that as we grow we need to spend a bit more time on the latter as well, to make sure that the people joining later get on the same page and become as effective in this environment than the early joiners are.

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  • The Cheat Sheet

    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.

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  • The Geller Law Group

    We did not have to implement a remote work policy because it was a premise that we were founded upon.

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  • ThirdPath Institute

    Organically

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  • Timely

    Policy is a dirty word in a healthy remote working culture I think. As soon as you have to legislate your remote work, you have lost. It works best when you have a team of people passionate and connected to a cause.

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  • TNTP

    We make a call about whether a position is virtual as we shape the job description. While the majority of our jobs are flexible location, meaning staff can work from a home office every day, anywhere in the United States, we do require certain staff work on-site: some central staff who need to interact face-to-face in our central office (such as our office manager and software developers), and some program staff, who work from client offices. Having staff embedded in district offices helps us better understand the challenges our clients face and provides us with real-time insights into how our work is playing out on the ground.

    We expect all staff – virtual or on-site – to follow the personnel policies outlined in our employee handbook, which outlines our typical work hours, computer policies, and so on. Yet we generally approach working from home flexibly, providing advice and resources but giving staff the leeway to figure out what works best for them. To help new staff adjust to that flexibility, we provide guidance to ensure that staff who work from home have the support they need to excel (from practical considerations, like a home office budget, to opportunities for connection, like our Work from Home Affinity Group).

    As we’ve grown, we’ve evolved our systems to better support our virtual employees. For instance, when we became too large for everyone to stay connected via email and phone on a regular basis, we invested in an interactive intranet – our wiki – for folks to share news and updates on their work, find resources, connect and collaborate.

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  • Toggl

    We knew that in order for it to work, everybody in the team had to become “remote” workers and adopt the new mindset. So the switch from the old system to the remote work affected everybody, even those who are based in Tallinn, Estonia and choose to come to the office every day – they also needed to adopt the reality of remote team.

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  • Toptal

    Organically. At first we had no choice because I was still in school. Once we realized how much more effective it was, we made the formal decision to continue this way.

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  • Tradeconductor

    Over the past 7-8 years I have been traveling more and more, and therefore I needed people to be more and more flexible. When I hire people I am upfront with this. It is all about finding the right people. With a little training most people love it.

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  • Trello

    Remote work has been in Trello’s DNA since day one- we build a tool that helps people collaborate and get projects done, so our team are HEAVY Trello users who build a product we rely on every single day.

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  • Tropical Travelers

    The company was started as such.

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  • Universal Mind, Inc.

    The remote workforce grew organically based on our hiring philosophy, which remains to hire the best people in the world, no matter where they live.

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  • Ushahidi

    Organically, we have always been remote.

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  • WooThemes

    We knew no alternative so many policies were as natural as breathing. We tried to develop and lean on trust rather than develop policies.

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  • Wordfence

    My co-founder Kerry takes all the credit for setting up our amazing guidelines, policies, compensation packages and benefits programs. She worked closely with a Seattle based HR expert who has helped guide us in all aspects of HR. Creating remote policy is not that different from traditional brick-and-mortar HR policy. We have had to set up things like 401k, medical, dental, PTO and so on.

    We run a fairly relaxed environment and we have core hours from 10am Pacific time to 1pm. That ensures the team is guaranteed to all be online at the same time for a few hours every day.

    Besides some basic guidelines and policies, we rely on being able to trust our team members will do a great job. “Trust” is a core value of ours – if you’re able to trust your teammate to do a great job and not have to constantly check in on how they’re doing, everything else almost takes care of itself.

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  • Workfrom

    It’s ingrained in our mission and vision … not sure if that makes it formal? It’s certainly intentional.

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  • Working Solutions

    Organically.

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  • World Wide Web Hosting

    WWWH has been a remote company since day one, so we’ve simply adapted to changing needs as the company has grown.

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  • Worldwide101

    We started the company as remote, so there is no other way for us!

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  • X-Team

    Our earlier years had one office, in addition to a remote team. But eventually the office became irrelevant and, if anything, a way to make us less productive. So moving to 100% remote was organic, but ultimately the best decision for achieving our goals of maximum productivity and being able to help change lives across the world.

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