What were the main reasons to integrate remote work into your workforce?
We didn’t integrate remote work – we intended to be remote from the start!
I’ve mostly explained the rationale in answering the previous question: I wanted to build a higher scale team, while remaining cost competitive, and bringing in the best talent within a niche skillset (which was distributed).
I’d add that:
- The timing was right in 2011. Tools for remote collaboration were “good enough”.
- We had good role models: 37signals (now Basecamp), and closer to home for our business, Automattic.
- When I started the company, I didn’t know where *I* wanted to live in a year or three years, and didn’t want my own freedom to live and work where I preferred at different times to be constrained by my company. I imagined other prospective employees would feel the same.
Aha! has never had an office of any size. Employees around the world continue to work from home or other locations of their choosing. While that has helped us grow by reducing our overhead, remote work also gives us access to a larger, deeper pool of talent. We aspire to make employees’ lives better, and inviting them to work with Aha! without asking them to relocate is powerful proof of our sincerity. Remote work means we do not disqualify skilled, values-driven people based on geography.
We are intent on finding people whose skills and passion for service would make them a great fit within our Relationship Care culture. We’re excited to present home-based opportunities for people whose location or personal situation may not allow them to apply for one of our jobs at a service center.
For us, one motivation looms above all the great advantages of remote work: climate change. The magnitude of this global challenge dwarfs even the significant benefits of saving time and money. As a data-driven company, we simply can’t ignore the numbers on the dangers of continuing the status quo when it comes to carbon emissions. For us, the model of “bathtub cities” (filling up in the morning, emptying out at night, spewing exhaust all the way) simply doesn’t work anymore. Luckily, we believe remote working offers a partial solution that also brings with it the additional benefits, like saving employees an average of 51 minutes per day in commute time and thus allowing for more time with families or pursuing interests outside of work. Remote working truly is a boon to the Triple Bottom Line: people, planet, and profit.
To allow for continued growth as a company we integrated remote work. The major benefits have been the redundancy of our operating system by not having all employees working in the same location and the ability to continue to hire to stay ahead of our growth as a company. Not to mention the benefits to our employees by allowing them to work from home.
We integrated remote work to best support our clients that are located throughout the United States and globally to provide a flexible environment for our employees. We look for individuals who are self-driven, motivated, and entrepreneurial so a flexible and remote environment allows our team members to thrive.
We (Bryant and myself) always felt that working in a cubicle, driving a long commute, and generally rushing around to get somewhere was a great way to flame out as an employee—in any industry. We think that promoting a results-oriented company where each team member can work wherever is most productive is a great path towards high quality work. With a higher quality of life, too.
Batchbook started with a remote team. The company was several years old before we started to rent a conference room for local employees. It was a year or so after that, when we got a “real” office. Remote employees have been part of our team since day one and we wouldn’t have it any other way!
The remote working aspect was part of our company from the start. Bill began the company out of his home office and hired contractors from his professional and personal network who tended to be in different locations then him. It worked, and so we continued hiring based on skill rather than location.
Blossom was always distributed from the start. We never had a formal office. We still mainly use coworking spaces, cafes, drop by at companies from friends or just work from home. This also comes in handy whenever some of us are visiting family or traveling to conferences. There are no empty offices left behind that need to be managed.
Remote work was important to our CEO Joel Gascoigne from the start as he himself is someone who greatly enjoys traveling. He wanted the whole team to have the freedom to live and work from the place in the world they felt the happiest and most productive, and have the courage to discover where that might be. In the early days of remote work, it was quickly discovered that having teammates spread out around the world was an excellent customer service benefit. Customers could be responded to at all hours of the day, and there was often an engineer online if ever there was any trouble that needed immediate fixing.
As an Open source company we are already supported by the Ubuntu community that has a global reach. It made sense for us to have the same approach to permanent employees and thus potentially being able to engage the Ubuntu community in every country with the ability to offer permanent employment to the right people.
Chargify has been a remote team since day one. From inception, we wanted to be able to work with the best and the brightest, regardless of their physical location. Finding ideal candidates that are not only qualified, but are a good culture fit is easier when not bound by location. Plus, being a 100% distributed team means we don’t have all the overhead costs related to an office space which allows us to be more efficient.
One of our advisors and angel investors is Joel Gascoigne at Buffer. I’ve long been an admirer of how he’s built his company and work culture so it was a big inspiration to me when creating CloudPeeps. Perhaps, selfishly, I also wanted to create a company with an environment I wanted to work in. I like to focus on productivity, creative rhythms and energy management while working – sleep, exercise and non-work relationships are important to me. We still work hard and long as well as smart at CloudPeeps but we have freedom to do it in a format that suits each team member (e.g. hours/location/environment). Another reason is that we’re still an early-staging company and can’t really justify the cost of a large office. I know some companies in the Bay Area spend upwards of $45K each month for their offices and I’d rather put that back into our salaries, benefits or company retreats.
Remote work has been at the core of the company’s DNA since its inception. From the start, the company CEO saw the value in hiring outside of any geographical limits. By widening the scope of the hiring process, the company became a stronger organization from its beginning.
The data systems our jobs use are all technological and internet-based, so it behooved us to get a leg up on developing efficient and strategic remote work policies at the first sign of remote jobs coming through. Our industry is constantly developing new ways to make more work do-able from home.
Collage.com is fundamentally a software company: we develop great software tools that our customers use to customize physical products, and then provide excellent customer support. Since we don’t print our own products or interact with customers in person, we had no need for a physical office.
We started out remotely for several reasons: we wanted Crossover team members to come from the top of the talent pool and we could only manage this by opening up that pool on a global scale. It also made the most sense financially. Our product isn’t something that needs to be physically handled or based anywhere, and outside of meetings and other forms of communication–all of which can be done easily through Skype and email– it made the most sense for everyone to work where they were already based.
DataStax provides products that are “wrapped around” open source software. The early employees were engineers who came from the open source world where there is no HQ and everyone already collaborated from around the world. We felt it was important to keep that culture as the company grew. Additionally, as the company matured and hired a worldwide sales team we found that much of sales was also remote.
Dell builds technology that enables people to do their best work at any time, from anywhere in the world. So it only makes sense that we were early adopters of flexible work arrangements for our own team members. Recognizing that today’s global work environment promotes creativity and collaboration outside of traditional office hours and locations, in 2009 we created our work flexibility program called Connected Workplace.
We were remote from day one. I used to commute for 3 hours a day to my last job, working solo from the office with merely a couple of hours overlap with my client’s time zone. The conservative old-school model was apparently doing it wrong, and it was my duty to ensure that innovative models supporting creativity and energy over presence are the pillars of our team.
- Access to the entire world’s pool of talent, rather than just limiting ourselves to professionals in one specific geographical location.
- Lower costs– there are less overhead costs and salaries on a global level are much more reasonable than those in tech hubs like Silicon Valley. This means we can invest more in providing amazing benefits to our team and giving back to the causes that we feel strongly about.
- Happier employees– our team members have the flexibility to work on the schedule that they choose, in the location they choose.
Our company has always been 100% remote, and a big part of that has been because it all started with one person! We’re completely bootstrapped, so the company evolved from what started as a social media coaching business to info products to, eventually, the development of Edgar. As the company grew, so did its needs, and we’ve been able to grow one person at a time by always finding the best candidate for any given job, wherever they may be.
We say Envato was ‘born global’, which is as much about our team as it is about our community. From (almost!) the start, we have had people work for Envato who are based all over the world. The Co-founders, Collis and Cyan Ta’eed, wanted to travel and work so when they set up the business they had that in mind. In the beginning they even ran Envato remotely while they travelled the world for 18 months. Remote work has always been a part of Envato. It allows us to encourage amazing people all around Australia and the world to work for us and it gives people who have responsibilities or other passions the chance to fit them into their daily lives.
As a digital company, at the outset we were natives hiring natives to use technology like this. It allowed us to scale up at a reasonable pace with no traditional overhead. Now, we’re able to grow our talent base and in the cities that make the most amount of sense for where our existing and new partners are.
We need to attract — but cannot afford to pay top dollar for — the best and brightest professionals. Offering remote work allows us to attract the top talent because we can now give them the flexibility they strongly desire. At the same time, a remote work model allows us to not have to invest in expensive office space, keeping our costs in check.
Our CEO & Founder, Sara Sutton founded FlexJobs while she was pregnant with her first son, after she experienced first-hand the frustrating search for professional jobs that also offered flexible work options. Having also co-founded an entry-level employment service in 1995, she has long been passionate about helping people find jobs that make their lives better, and she was thrilled to apply her own experience as a working mom to help others who want or need work flexibility. As a result, it was a natural fit to build a company that operates with a remote workforce.
Formstack was founded in 2006, so we existed as a fully local company for seven years before making the decision to transition to a remote workforce. In 2011, we decided to hire our first remote employee, a developer based out of Poland. Not too long after, my wife was offered a job in Oklahoma that led me to try my hand at remote leadership. Our official decision to go remote was formally made after several organic discussions about other team members moving out of state. As previously mentioned, several of our former Indy employees now live in other states, and some of our early decisions with remote working made that possible. We’ve had several trial-and-error experiences with technology, communication, in-person meeting best practices, and other remote working aspects, but we’re strengthening our remote team every day.
In the early days of the company, there was no physical office. The founders and very first employees in San Francisco all communicated using web-based chat services instead from wherever they were working, whether that was from home or a coffee shop. Many of our early hires were people who lived outside of San Francisco too, and this continued as the company grew. Remote work being the default has always made a lot of sense for GitHub, because it meant we could ensure our product worked for teams regardless of where people were located.
As a company, we are trying to be as progressive as possible. And in the tech industry, there are a ton of options to choose from. For us, staying current with tech innovations and trends involves establishing a global presence, creating and having access to a global workforce that can work in different timezones, and building work environments that lead to happy, productive team members. Not to mention the expenses cut compared to brick and mortar!
Goodway became a 98 percent virtual company in 2006, once we transitioned from being a traditional print marketing company to an entirely digital firm. The majority of the ad tech industry is located in New York. We decided that opening an office headquarters, competing in red waters and paying 30 – 50 percent more for talent wasn’t a good recipe for success. To date, we’ve hired employees in 36 different states. Our employee-initiated turnover is 80 percent less than the industry average, and our client retention rate is 95 percent. The remote business model is working quite well for us.
With the explosion of technological advances, we don’t believe that businesses today need a physical location to operate successfully. So we don’t view our structure as “integrating remote work”, but rather ensuring we create a business structure that focuses on supporting the initiatives that most benefit our clients. It is our responsibility and desire to have the best talent from around the globe, to have team members who understand the expat life from personal experience and to focus our business spent on the areas that generate the most value for the client. We truly don’t believe that an office environment would allow us to do that.
Right from the start as a small team, we found ourselves working remotely as we were split between London and Russia. It wasn’t our intention to be quite so committed to being remote (we originally harbored intentions of opening up a ‘proper’ office in London), but remote ended up being a core part of what we do. For us, it just works, and we can’t see any other way of doing things. With an international team, many of whom don’t want to be tied to a single country or location, remote is the only way we can build a company that delivers what every team member is looking for.
It stems from the founder’s vision of building a company where people are autonomous and take ownership of their work. The acquisition of talent should not be obstructed by proximity. By being remote, we can build a team without borders, and in turn, improve the quality and diversity of our team.
We are nontraditional in just about every way. It was kind of a no-brainer. We expect a tremendous amount of productivity but if you are the kind of person that needs to clock in and out of an office by mandate in order to have someone monitor your productivity… you’re not our kind of person.
We did the research and found that clients no longer what to pay for expensive offices, overeducated people, and huge project teams for relatively simple tasks. Instead, they want authentic relationships and genuine value added to their organizations. Further, we had been consistently advising our clients to work from home, adopt flex-time, and ditch their office spaces, however the irony was that we were not following this model ourselves. We decided it was time to practice what we preach and go remote!
I built the business out of a desire to support my family while maintaining the flexibility to live wherever I wanted and live a balanced life, so it was only natural that the business be created to support remote work.
The company started as an all telecommuting venture, partly as an experiment to see if an office was really necessary and to avoid a commute for people. We realized it was a great way to source excellent talent from around the world. Once we got rolling, we never looked back and don’t see any limits to it going forward.
We didn’t so much “integrate” it as we built on it as our foundation. We did so because our two founders were in different cities and already working together well without being in the same place. As we’ve grown, being fully distributed has been an advantage not by simply broadening our talent pool for finding the awesome people that make up our team, but also by creating a passion for and intentional focus on communication within our company culture and way of doing things that has served us well as a business.
The beauty of the digital age is that a lot of good work can be done entirely online, and this means that you have access to some of the most talented and amazing people to work with regardless of geographic limitations.
Another thing we really believe in is work-life integration. How this is different to the traditional “work-life balance” is that you’re no longer confined to a set time schedule and fixed workplace based off somebody else’s preferences or rules.
So if you’re more of a night person than morning person, or you might need some time off in the middle of the day to go pick up the kids, or you might decide that you want to work in front of the Eiffel Tower or on the beaches of Bali, you absolutely have the freedom to because your location no longer is pertinent to the quality of the work that you can produce.
The autonomy to decide how, where and when you work is now entirely up to you. And if you’re good at what you do, then you’d be able to make the right decisions for yourself that would be undoubtedly better for you than somebody else’s decisions.
Modern Tribe has never had an office until just recently, and those are simply a couple people who decided they wanted someone to arm wrestle with when they weren’t working with the team.
We began as a distributed collective of freelancers, collaborating on projects which were larger than any individual could handle on their own. While the company has evolved into different industries and now has employees as well as contractors, we remain predominantly dispersed. The reasons for the approach were varied. I cut my teeth on the dot com bust in 2001 and after losing five jobs in two years, I became very attuned to any approach to business that managed risk and cost. While I would not claim that distributed is cheaper as our company got bigger, it was a very nimble way to do business. Access to talent was a major incentive. I live in a small surf town. Close enough to Silicon Valley to make a day trip of it, but as a distributed company, I have access to the entire world. The natural flexibility of the lifestyle I was looking for as an owner is a very nice fit for remote work.
We firmly believe that one’s life is more important than their job so why not focus on things like the time with your family, friends, spirituality, etc. as opposed to being in a car commuting or being trapped in an office all day. It’s a human decision for us that happens to have massive business benefits.
- Unique recruiting advantage, with access to a wider pool of talent
- The costs savings are substantial
- The convenience factor of not having to commute
- The access to inexpensive tools that facilitate the process of communicating remotely
- The ability to focus on work with fewer distractions
At first, it was because we were small and did not want to pay the overhead of office space and we utilized contractors for much of the work. Today, we still do not want the overhead of a dedicated office space, but do utilize various coworking facilities as meet-up points for our team members that may be clustered in the same city. We really cannot envision not being fully remote at this point. It enables us to recruit talent all over the world as needed.
Working remotely offers our employees many benefits. First and foremost, different people prefer different environments to reach their peak focus and their peak creativity. Having a distributed team allows us to “swarm” on problems we encounter as a company. It keeps our team members happy, because they can work when and where they want.
It’s been proven through our Remote Year participants, and our own employees, that work flexibility results in fewer minutes wasted and more hours spent drumming up creative solutions (as a result of constantly interacting with different cultures, fresh faces, and new ways of working). We’ve also seen firsthand that happier employees are more productive employees.
Initially, going remote was a matter of equally good talent working from countries with lower living costs. I learned that I, as the founder, really enjoyed the freedom of working on a remote team and decided to keep it that way. I wanted to give this freedom to everyone else. While it’s true that we could start an office, I do not think it would be beneficial for the business. We’re remote only, and we intend to keep it that way.
There are a couple of reasons. First, we’ve always been about doing great work. Freeing ourselves from the office gave us more time to focus on work, and less on commuting, scheduling personal appointments, worrying about seeing our families too little, etc. Also, we have a very low turnover rate. When people did leave the company, it was often because they were moving. We didn’t want that to be a reason to part ways anymore. Remote work takes that out of the equation.
Scrapinghub was built around the success of a very popular open source project (Scrapy) and we constantly apply things learned managing a large open source project, one of them is managing a fully distributed team. From that point of view, it felt like the natural way to run Scrapinghub.
Before starting Scrapinghub, I ran a dev shop in Uruguay where we offshore development to companies in Europe and US. I had to commute 2 hours a day and sit down in an office just to work remotely, something I could do from home to begin with. I realized how absurd this was and promised myself to address this problem on my next company, and so I did with Scrapinghub where everybody works remotely by default, and only attend coworking spaces if they prefer to work in the company of other people.
Cultivating a team of talented editors around the world was part of Scribendi’s business model from day one. Knowing that we wanted to provide high-quality services to clients worldwide, we needed a workforce that could handle not only a high volume of work but also around-the-clock deadlines. The best way to do this was to draw from a global talent pool.
We integrated remote work right from the beginning because it was the only way we could create the company that we wanted to create with the team members we wanted. Our founding team was distributed and it was not an option to require people to move in order to be in one physical location together.
[A]’s reasons for working in a distributed team include:
- Access to the best [A]gents wherever they reside or move.
- Ability to hire local [A]gents where our clients live and work.
- Improved diversity of all kinds.
- Improved efficiency and time impact versus commuting and managing physical logistics.
- Reduced physical constraints to growth.
- Improved experience for our [A]gents.
- Providing our clients and partners a strong distributed platform for project collaboration, improving their experience with [A].
Remote work is the number one way we’ve found to give ourselves flexibility, and to stick with our intersectional, feminist ideas that say if we’re going to create a company, we’re going to create a company that can work for anybody—where people from all over the world with different life experiences can contribute, and most of all, feel welcome.
As CEO, I care deeply about creating the best possible work environment for the Skillcrush team that offers them freedom, flexibility, and happiness—and for us, that means remote work. As Simon Sinek (Author of Start with Why) says, “Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.”
We chose to be location agnostic from the company founding. This meant that we could hire the right people – no matter where they live. Even being based in the tech epicenter there are still many more fantastic people all around the world! As mentioned above, this also has the added benefit of being very capital efficient and for those that we hire the flexibility of being able to work from their home or whilst traveling is hugely appreciated.
From the start we wanted to fuse technology with manufacturing, but the best developers didn’t live in our region. We turned to open source to find our first developers by engaging with the Spree Commerce team. It’s fairly common to see open source teams spread out across the globe so this conditioned us to believe that remote teams are viable.
Additionally, in manufacturing there’s a common belief that putting customer service in the factory allows you to provide the best possible service. The usual thought is having people next to the machines let’s them quickly react to customer demands. We looked at this differently and felt that if customer service was constantly engaging with the factory it meant something was wrong. By letting our customer service team go remote it forced us to fix a lot of flaws in our processes that ultimately made our operation run much better. Long term the improvements we were forced to make so that we could support a remote team have paid dividends.
Early-on we didn’t have much of a choice. When we started the company, Jeff lived in Santa Barbara, while Sieva was living in San Francisco. As we started interviewing and hiring people we noticed that they hated to commute to work, and we could find high quality talent all across the country. Also, this allows us to keep our costs down.
- More Productive
- Work/ Home Balance
- Save on Travel Time & Money
- Comfortable Work Environment
- Give the savings that gets incurred from office space overheads back to employees as bonuses and benefits.
We started as four people working out of our home offices, and as we grew we never saw a reason to change the model. Everything happens in the cloud these days, so why would we go to the hassle of opening a giant office and moving people around the country when we can just spin up best-in-class employees wherever they happen to be? Remote work makes us more flexible to hire, onboard and retain talent.
From the past experience at Skype (where we had our first 200 people spread across 10 locations), I know that it is _way_ easier to build location independence into the DNA of your company very early on. Most of the failure stories you hear are about how tough it is to embed the first remote guy or girl on your team where 20 people already sit in the same office somewhere. As European immigrants starting a company in Silicon Valley, but having most of our networks of best people back in the Old World, we knew that we’ll never have the single office luxury anyway. So let’s get it right from the start for everyone.
TNTP has always had a central office, but we’ve also always been primarily virtual. From the very beginning, we knew our people were our biggest asset, and we wanted to be able to hire the most talented people we could find – regardless of where they called home. On top of that, from a strictly practical perspective, office space was a big expenditure, which made remote working an attractive option.
Over time, our virtual structure has driven growth. It’s far easier to expand seamlessly to new locations when we don’t need to set up offices. And it provides for a much greater talent pool, as we can recruit applicants from distant cities without asking them to move.
Most important reason is because we became too monocultural. Our users are the World, but our hiring-radius was 10 km. We wanted diversity, different angles and backgrounds. Why hire a consultant to know how things are done in the States when you can hire a person from the States to work full-time and bring the knowledge in the house.
Secondary reason was the competition in the market. As in everywhere, there is a huge deficit of good developers also in Estonia, especially if you narrow it down to specific programming languages or skills.
It began out of necessity. I was a full-time engineering student living in a dorm room at Princeton when we started. I didn’t have time to go meet anyone face to face. Instead of doing a few in-person meetings per day, we were able to schedule ten to twenty daily virtual meetings using Skype as our office. Skipping the costs and commutes associated with physical offices made so much sense that we decided to turn down the typical Silicon Valley approach and practice what we were preaching by being distributed from day one. I’ve written about this early decision to go remote in more detail here.
When we started the company, Jeremy (my co-founder) and I were living in different cities and working on other things. Jeremy was in film school in Los Angeles, and I was working for Google in San Francisco. We didn’t immediately quit either to work on Tortuga, so we started by working remotely. We’ve known each other for years and have a bit of a mind meld, so working remotely was easy for us. As we grew and started to hire, we stayed remote even before it was a trend that everyone was talking about. Now, being remote is a more popular choice with a strong community talking about it.
Because I want MY freedom. It is MY preferred work style. That impacts the way I design and lead my org.
I want to be able to work from where I want. I like/need to travel and do not want to sit in an office.
As an example, I have had the same PA for three years. She used to be in Copenhagen. This last year she has been traveling in Asia. I have no idea where she is. I really don’t. I have to go on Facebook or Instagram to see her pictures—to know where she is! She responds to my emails and that is good enough for me.
I do not need to see people to know that they work.
- We started that way, as a handful of technologists from Kenya but living in different places we creating a tool to respond to the 2008 political crisis in Kenya and try and understand what was happening on the ground back home.
- As an open source product, our first volunteers were from all over, and they became our first employees.
- As a non-profit gave us access to great talent who are driven by the mission at a price we could afford.
Our students want to learn from American and Canadian teachers, but it’s not possible for them to study overseas. There’s also a limited number of Western teachers in China.
With our model, Chinese kids can get a Western education experience from home. Also, teachers can run their own classroom from their home. It’s a win-win!
The founding team started remote—one in New Zealand, the other two in Berlin, but with the CEO always in another country. In addition we had relatively little money from the founders and other investors, so we wanted to get as much high-quality functionality delivered for a reasonable (low) price. We found this combination in Ukraine and our dev team is based there.
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.
We’ve had physical offices as two co-founders in the past but when we started hiring we were working from home and it was working well for us. We tried it out with our first part-time remote hires and it worked great. Then we tried it out with one and then two full-time team members. That worked amazingly well. We scaled it from there.
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
The benefits of a remote workforce are so great; we never seriously considered the alternatives. Our business model is to run as lean as possible, and bringing a physical office into the mix adds complexities and challenges we simply don’t need.
Our industry and how we have structured our company lends itself to operating virtually, and we’ve spent many years developing and promoting our company culture.