“Remote work” has become a buzzword. It’s a mythical beast – there’s a lot of talk about it, yet very few people are actually working remotely and even fewer companies are remote-first, or “fully remote.” With so much talk, but little expertise, confusion is bound to arise. In this guide I’ll be sharing a practical, experience-first approach to running a fully remote company.
Teamweek is a fully remote SaaS company. Our product (also called Teamweek) is a beautifully simple project planner that helps managers plan ahead and share schedules with everyone on the team. Teamweek started as a traditional office-based company, so we have the valuable experience of migrating from a co-located company to a fully remote company.
I’ve been working remotely since 2014 and in many different roles: as a developer, a mid-level manager, and finally, as a CEO. I’m currently the CEO of Teamweek and lead its workforce of 15 remote employees.
I had my worries before trying remote work, but after experimenting with it I was quickly sold.
This guide is for anyone who’s curious about remote teams in practice. It’s a great starting point if you’re thinking of trying out remote with your company or already experimenting with it.
Teamweek hasn’t always been remote. We started out as a regular office-based company. For us, remote was most appetising for reasons to do with hiring and scaling the company.
We saw three alternatives to local working and hiring, each with its own set of problems to overcome.
Out of those three choices, going remote seemed like the easiest one to experiment with. So we decided to start off with a “remote work week.” If we didn’t like it we could always go back to the office. After that week most of us didn’t return to the office—and so our choice was clear.
Looking back at the list of potential problems with going remote I can confidently say that all of them are worries, rather than actual problems. Let go of your fear of losing control and trust your team.
When you run an office-based company that’s already functioning well, it can be tempting to broaden your team by hiring a few remote employees while still keeping the local office for the original local team. In practice this doesn’t work and is one of the main reasons people say that remote itself doesn’t work.
Having a local office creates a group of “insiders.” Anyone working from home is left to feel like an outsider. In a remote setting everyone should be treated equally, all information should move through remote channels. The only way to help your remote team achieve equal effectiveness is by going fully remote and eliminating the group of locally based “insiders.”
Here’s how I envision the effectiveness of a team migrating to being fully remote. The drop in the center caused by the partially remote team is not pretty – I advise skipping it all together and simply going straight to fully remote.
After years of working remotely, it has become second nature to us. According to our internal staff surveys, people widely view remote work as the biggest perk of working for Teamweek.
And because people are so keen on remote work and the freedom it brings them, it greatly increases employee satisfaction and reduces employee churn.
And where are we with hiring? This is a screenshot from our past four hiring screening tests. The numbers speak for themselves. When were you last able to count candidates in thousands?
Hiring a remote work force has allowed us to choose amazing candidates from a huge hiring pool. I’ll be adding to this guide periodically, and in my next update I’ll share some of the hiring strategies that have helped us build an effective virtual team.
It’s so much easier to plan & estimate with a small team when I can see everyone & all projects at once.