Baremetrics is a remote-only company, meaning we are a geographically dispersed team that communicates virtually. We don’t have a main office or headquarters; in fact our employees, who work from home or from co-working spaces, are spread across all four U.S. time zones. Many people assume that this means we work in our sweatpants, do whatever we like with our days, and generally have it pretty easy. The reality couldn’t be more different — except maybe, on occasion, the sweatpants.
Many people think remote-only is right for their company, and even more people think it’s right for themselves as they’re job-hunting. But working from home can be challenging, and managing a distributed workforce is a nightmare without the right people and systems in place. If you’re considering establishing your business as remote-only, establish strong habits for these four business practices.
We’ve turned remote hiring into a science. This has been a necessity; so many people are drawn to the idea of working from home that they apply for jobs they may not be qualified for, leaving us with a lot of resumes to sift through. So finding a method to interview people properly has allowed us to separate strong candidates from the rest of the crowd quickly and efficiently.
The most important thing to determine with remote candidates is if they communicate well. Strong communication is the backbone of a virtual team, so learning early if someone is able to initiate communication and articulate themselves well is critical.
Piggybacking off that last point: once you have a strong team in place, establish the ground rules of your virtual communication. When you don’t have an office, you miss out on those little day-to-day interactions, the “watercooler” conversations. (Don’t downplay those interactions. You may find that they are very important to you and to your company culture, in which case, don’t go remote! Set up an office, instead.) Because all work talk happens virtually, you must establish clear codes of conduct. Telecommuting can be efficient, but it can quickly become sloppy.
Decide with your team when and how often you want to have meetings. What software or resources will you use to help you? What items are good for email or written communication, and what items are best to talk through on the phone or on a video call? Who should you go to with questions? More than in a traditional office, establishing these practices is critical.
Every company uses software to help their workflow. But again, just as with communication, there is a heightened urgency to select the best tools for your remote-only company because you will use them day in and day out, and so much more often than you would in a traditional office.
A few tools that we use here at Baremetrics to help our virtual team work together include: Trello, Airtable, Slack (we do the bulk of our communication here), [Haley/Josh – any others to call out?]
The final piece in creating a successful remote-only company is to set up a successful workflow. You should do this for yourself, and your employees should do it for themselves. Everyone works a bit differently, and knowing how you work best is important when you work from home. We’ve seen many would-be remote employees fail to succeed because they didn’t know how to create a workflow that allowed them to thrive outside of the structure of a traditional office.
You may need social interaction in your day-to-day. If that’s the case, perhaps you need to find a coworking space. Maybe you know you work best first thing in the morning, before anyone else is up. Carve out that time for yourself. Do you need music or silence? A desk, or the couch? Exercise in the morning, or midday? Know your work habits and create a routine that is clockwork. There are no other employees around to distract you, but then again, there are no other employees around to focus you. So build a workflow and stick to it. Our team has figured out our own best practices and have plenty of suggestions for a successful remote worker.
Building a remote company is not a small decision. In fact, it will impact your entire company culture and workflow. So take each of these items into account and consider them carefully. A distributed workforce is not for everyone. But, if you do decide that remote work is for you, we’ll admit — it can be pretty great.