Remote working solutions in Teamweek and Toggl
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Implementing Remote Working In Teamweek

Remote_working

Last year the decision was made in Teamweek and Toggl about defying geography and office environment in general. Instead we focused on employing people by their skills, not locational preferences. How our remote works?

Why?

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 are things 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. Although mentioned a lot as the most innovative, technological, start-upish country in the world (for example here), Estonia is still too dark, too cold, too far or too…strange for the most to move to (actually it is not, but let it be for now).

So the decision to implement remote working was the natural thing to do. And not just for foreigners, but remote working is available also for the locals living in the same city. At this moment there are 7 remote people working for Toggl and Teamweek. Let’s go over the pro’s and con’s we have discovered.

PRO’s

Commute. No travelling. No commuting. People are working from their homes and do not have to spend time for going from one place to another. This could save hours.

Interruptions. In case a person feels most productive at home, then why stop them. Office environment often has too many distractions for focused tasks or some people simply prefer the solitude of their own place.

From 9 to 5. These have been the working hours for ages now. Not making any sense for some modern professions. If one’s daily routine is different and tasks do not require co-working with others, let the employee choose when and how they do their things. It’s about productivity, not hours spent in office.

Amount of candidates. By removing the country-borders for the job, the selection of people is much, much bigger. How to handle the selection process, we will write soon but as a teaser check here. No need to go through hundreds of similar-looking resumes. Test makes the first draft. And we can get the best of the best. Not just the best who are available in the region.

Support. As our products need to have a fast customer support then with the remote people working in different time-zones it is much more reasonable and efficient to be available during more hours. No need for night-watch or users do not need to wait until we wake up in Estonia .

CON’s

Face-to-face. Regardless to the fact that normal person mostly can not understand technology people, we are still humans. And humans need to interact. It’s useful both in personal and professional way. To solve problems quickly, to discuss things faster without having to organise a video-conference. Lack of instant and personal communication is definitely a con. People also might get a feeling of not being part of the team.

Boring. Working at home can get pretty tedious. Occasional happenings in the office that some might call “stupid pranks” or “pointless chats that are unproductive” are actually important so we can be different from, let’s say, robots. And some of the greatest ideas can come up in a non-formal meetings.

How to deal with cons?

  • Find people who have the remote experience (for example us) and learn from them, ask them questions
  • Have a remote bootcamps for all members of the team so everybody could get into remote-people’s shoes
  • If home is not an option, find a place for your employee in a co-working space
  • Make sure that your people have at least 4 hours of overlapping hours for communication and meetings
  • Define the core hours when it is necessary to be available for others
  • Webcams in the main office for remote people to see, just for the general feeling of being together with others
  • Recurring monthly event with each team member where you use Skype or Google Hangout to chat. Not just about work matters, but also about personal growth, ideas and general things.
  • Record company presentations and events, set up a video archive
  • 2-4 times a year there must be a company get-together. Whether it is a leisure or working challenge, does not matter. But people need to meet in person.

To conclude here’re some links about technical solutions to make remote company happen.

  • Slack – This our main tool for the communication. Different professional channels, general information, casual chats – everything is in Slack. It also has replaced our in-house emails.
  • Teamweek – to manage and schedule the team. Everybody can see what others are up to.
  • Sqwiggle – remote environment, broadcasts video from office etc.
  • iDoneThis – E-mail digest for the whole team concluding what people have been doing.
  • Trinet – good help when hiring from the US.
  • Hellosign & Signwise– for digital signatures
  • Wide Teams – a weekly podcast featuring interviews with people who are making dispersed teams work day by day.

As you can see, I did not write about the security issues. As the levels of security are too different depending on the company and it gets pretty technical quickly, then I won’t dwell into that subject today and plan the remote-security issue for later blogposts.

Tarmo Tähepõld

Tarmo likes the Internet and writing. Generating leads for Teamweek requires both, so it's dream-work come true. His background is culture management and he's constantly promoting some strange performances to others. He also likes cars, but that's not cool, so he keeps quiet about it.

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It’s so much easier to plan & estimate with a small team when I can see everyone & all projects at once.

–– Darren | We Three

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