Fully remote CEOs are becoming more commonplace as companies operating virtually without a physical office space increase. As the C-suite goes remote, there are some leadership strategies that can be smart to implement. Below we’re featuring five fully remote CEOs whose companies are also Remote.co companies that participated in our Q&A section. Each of these full remote CEOs provides words of wisdom about how to go virtual, how to run a virtual company, and how they find success.
5 Fully Remote CEOs
Skillcrush is an online coding school that focuses on helping “women, people of color, LGBTQ+ people, people with disabilities, people without college degrees, parents and caretakers, or people who’ve taken long breaks from the workforce” get into the tech world. Adda Birnir is the founder and remote CEO of this virtual company. When it comes to running a remote company, Birnir has some tips:
“Open communication is really key—and as CEO, I believe that my team deserves the respect and security to know what’s actually going on in the business. By promoting full transparency in everything from revenue to how salaries are determined, I’m sending the message to my team that they have a seat at the table and that they deserve to have all the same information everyone else has.”
Alice Hendricks is the CEO of Jackson River, a technology and strategy firm that seeks to help nonprofits get the best technology solutions. Started in 2008, Jackson River is a virtual workplace with more than 30 employees working across the U.S. Hendricks had this to say about running a remote team and finding flexibility:
“You have to focus on building a culture. You hire well, you create mini-teams so everyone is working deeply and collaboratively with each other, you use video chat and a lot of Slack, and you be as honest and transparent as you can. I don’t really buy into this work/life balance concept so much, because you work as part of your life, your life includes your work. You want to be able to do all the things you do: you’re writing code, you’re on client calls, you’re driving to soccer practice, you’re getting dinner on the table, you’re walking the dog…”
PeopleG2 provides background screening solutions in a hands-on manner. The company is almost fully virtual, and CEO Chris Dyer believes a healthy remote culture starts at the top:
“Remote companies can have a healthy culture. In one sense, you don’t have the constant interpersonal contact that can sometimes damage relationships which might inadvertently hurt the culture. On the other hand, not having that interpersonal communication can be a challenge for some. Like any company, however, the culture is established by the leadership through clearly defined expectations and the sense of accomplishment towards the company’s end goal and mission by the employees. At the center of it all, like any company, is communicating the expectations and making sure people are on board with how things should be.”
Joe Golden started Collage.com as a remote company in 2007 with his friend and co-CEO Kevin Borders. In describing his typical day, Golden said: “Even though in theory I could have a more unusual schedule, I typically work a very typical workday during business hours (getting to sleep a little more of course, since my 10-second commute involves walking to the next room over), then break for dinner, then work a more flexible amount in the evening that depends on how busy I am with different projects and responsibilities.”
In an interview with Upwork, Golden said remote work is key to the success of his company. “Being totally remote lets us recruit the best employees from anywhere, instead of limiting ourselves to one limited geographic area. It provides our employees with complete control of their working environment: most of our team loves working from a home office; some folks love to work at a favorite coffee shop; some like going to coworking spaces. Additionally, by reducing our overhead costs, we’re able to invest even more in our team through great salaries and benefits.”
Kate Kendall is the founder and remote CEO of CloudPeeps, a marketplace that matches businesses with the world’s top freelancers. She’s worked remotely around the world and has good advice for any company looking to implement remote work:
“Start by working on your company culture and having a good look at your founding or executive team’s values. It’s harder to build a remote work company if you don’t have buy-in from management. Ask yourselves what you want to prioritize and how you want to go about prioritizing it. If you want to ‘move fast and break things’ and get a lot out of all-night hackathons like Facebook’s culture, remote work might not suit.”
For even more motivation and guidance, check out the rest of our Q&A section, which features answers from remote CEOs and companies about how they hire, manage, and work remotely and why being remote is important.
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