Remote Work At Appen, HR/Recruiting

Parent Company


Visit Appen



Sydney, Aus



Appen Team

Appen Team




Team Members


% of All Employees

Ric Mercuri, VP Global Human Resources

Interview with

What does your remote-friendly company do?

Appen is a global leader in speech and search technology services. With expertise in more than 150 languages, Appen partners with leading technology and ecommerce companies as they develop new offerings and expand them to global markets. Our solutions help companies create engaging products with accurate speech interfaces and relevant content ranging from web sites, to maps, images, and merchandise.

What does your virtual team do within the company?

Our combined human resources and recruiting team helps identify talent around the globe for our corporate, full-time openings, as well as the numerous independent contractor roles we have available for search engine relevancy and linguistics projects.

Did you switch to remote or start out that way?

True to Appen style, our HR and Recruiting team has been both remote and in-office from day one.

How important is remote work to your business model?

Remote work is the backbone of our company. Although we are headquartered in Sydney, a major portion of our teams are spread out across the globe in remote work settings.

What do you consider the biggest benefits of a remote workforce?

Higher levels of productivity, teamwork, flexibility, and a robust corporate culture, no commuting time, work-life balance.

What were the main reasons to integrate remote work into your workforce?

As a company with projects in over 80 countries and 150 languages, we must be able to keep close to our customers and independent contractors.

What traits do you look for in candidates for a remote job?

People who have worked remotely before are ideal candidates. We also look for people who have a strong work ethic, exhibit the ability to work independently, and possess strong communication skills over all platforms.

How do you conduct interviews for remote jobs?

Have we mentioned how much we love Skype? It really is a part of our daily operations. All of our pre-screening is conducted through Skype. If a candidate cannot be met for an in-person interview, we conduct our interviews through video chat.

Do you use third party testing or evaluation services when hiring remote workers?

For certain key positions we utilize robust credential and background checks.

Do your remote team members meet in person?

Each year we hold a company meeting and try to gather together as many remote teams as possible. These meetings last a few days and provide the perfect space to help further foster our connections and teamwork.

What elements are key to successful working relationships with remote teams?

Clearly defined feedback mechanisms, high levels of daily contact, use of communication tools such as Skype, Fuze, or GotoMeeting to create face to face exchanges. A willingness to operate in different time zones and a scheduling system that optimizes people to people contact.

What is the hardest part about managing a remote workforce?

Developing cultural sensitivity and acumen that allows one to manage their own style and preferences so they can connect with different people around the world.

How do you keep remote employees engaged and feeling part of the bigger picture?

Clear and precise communication, including town hall meetings, fireside chats, e-learning training sessions, and reward programs reinforcing performance.

What is your time off policy for remote workers?

Our full-time employees receive four weeks of vacation a year. One of our most prominent core values is work-life balance, so we encourage our teams to take advantage of their PTO to rest and rejuvenate.

What were your biggest fears in managing remote workers?

In regards to our independent contract remote workers, making sure they have represented themselves honestly and that their credentials are valid is a common source of worry. We must constantly be on the lookout for potential instances of fraud.

How did you implement a remote work policy?

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

What advice would you give to a team considering to go remote?

Make sure work obligations are completely understood, that communication capabilities and a robust technology infrastructure are fully embedded in the organization, and that you have clear job descriptions for all remote workers.

What challenges have you encountered building a remote team?

Ensuring everyone is receiving the same level of training and developmental programs can be a challenge.

What are the most effective tools for remote team communication?

We are Skype addicts. Everyone across the company is on Skype at all times during the work day. In addition to instant communication, we also maintain a digital company newsletter that is open to all employees. It has greatly helped to share news and foster a stronger relationship across all departments, be they remote or in-office.

What has changed about how your remote team operates?

We’ve grown at such a rapid pace that adapting and scaling has become second nature. Because we are now spread so widely across the globe, we have mastered the art of covering multiple time zones in order to stay connected.

How do you personally manage work-life balance?

Being part of a remote team has made work-life balance a much easier thing to accomplish. I make sure that my down time is preserved as much as possible, and also that my fellow colleagues and I can cover for each other whenever a personal need arises. My daughter is currently attending college across the country and I am able to visit her without sacrificing my daily job necessities or adding an extra workload on my colleagues.

What is your favorite business book?

The Power of Nice by Ron Shapiro

Do you have a favorite quote or bit of business wisdom?

“Seek first to understand before being understood.” – Steven Covey