Giving Remote Teams More Time to Grow: First Quarter Finance Case Study

Giving Remote Teams More Time to Grow: First Quarter Finance Case Study

First Quarter Finance (FQF) exists to provide accurate and actionable consumer information. Wondering which gym has the best memberships? Or, where to get an oil change? First Quarter Finance can tell you.

So, why the name?

“When we publish an article, although it’s a great article, we only see about the first quarter of our work as done. We’re always updating to make sure the information you receive is accurate.”

Going remote for greater productivity and growth

To do this, the company needs a nimble, productive team from all over the world.

first quarter finance homepage

FQF’s consumer-centric homepage

“I wanted to hire the best people, based on their skills, not their location,” said William Lipovsky, CEO of First Quarter Finance. “I just thought that was so limiting to say if I move to this city, I can only work with people within an hour’s distance to where I am, or where the office is.”

As a remote company, FQF’s team is able to work seamlessly together and deliver on their purpose of providing up-to-date, accurate information. Its structure allows the company to reach its growth goals, and its talented team to work efficiently.

remote working with toddler

“One of the things I love the most about working for First Quarter Finance is the flexibility it affords me. If an emergency crops up and I need to work from home, no problem! I can set up my laptop and continue to compile quality consumer information, even if I have a little helper by my side,” said Loren Eaton, contributor.

Right now, two of the company’s main goals are:

  • To grow and provide more consumers with helpful information
  • Remain a remote team in order to find the best talent and stay efficient

Remote work challenges

However, this style of work isn’t without its hurdles. Like many remote workplaces, FQF faced the following challenges:

  • Knowing who is working on what
  • Scaling a remote team to support a growing business
  • Tracking budgets and projects for profitability
  • Allocating the right amount of talent and resources to projects

“One challenge of remote work is making the connection between getting what needs to happen done, without being demanding,” Lipovsky explained.

As Lipovsky explained, some remote team members are really self-motivated, so they just want to know what needs to get done and will take it from there. Others need more guidance or oversight.

By having one remote work monitoring system to track progress, productivity, and hours, it’s easy to check in on teams without being disruptive. It also allows team members to show progress without having to email or message updates.

This led the team to consider a better time tracking software.

William from First Quarter Finance working remotely in the costwolds

Finding tools to streamline remote work

The company decided to review time tracking options as a team, giving everyone a chance to weigh the pros and cons.

For each software, they considered:

  • Is it easy to use?
  • Does it help you remember to track time?
  • Are there any downsides to it?
  • Would this slow down your computer?

Against the other options, Hubstaff quickly rose to the top. It satisfied their core concerns while delivering a better experience.

“The user interface is really good, the support is really good,” Lipovsky said, “which, I’ve learned over the years, is very important.”

In addition to these qualities, a few main features drew First Quarter Finance to Hubstaff:

Hubstaff also proved it could scale with the team, which was important for company growth goals.

“Even if Hubstaff does way more than you want it to, if you grow or want to upgrade, those possibilities are there without having to transition to a new platform,” Lipovsky said.

Overcoming hurdles with Hubstaff

Greater visibility, without the unnecessary check-ins

Once the team started using Hubstaff, many of the challenges they faced as a remote team were addressed or even resolved.

First Quarter Finance uses blurred screenshots to track remote work progress. Lipovsky pointed out that this feature mimics what it’s like to work in an open office environment. You might get a glimpse of what someone is working on, and can inquire further or jump in to help if you all worked in one location.

screenshot example from Hubstaff

“Hubstaff has allowed us to know who’s working on what and how much we’re spending. We’re now able to hit goals with greater ease because we can see which projects need more hours or team members.”

Instead of having to interrupt a team member’s day to see what they’re working on, you can just check Hubstaff.

Future-proofing your business

When you’re running a business and have growth goals to hit, you’re always looking ahead. Trying to find opportunities to scale up or increase productivity is a goal for the whole team at First Quarter Finance.

“Everyone on our team knows you can hack the heck out of anything we do, as long as you can prove that it’s efficient. We can do that with Hubstaff.” Lipovsky said. “We can see a pattern of success, which is great. We have proof of what works.”

In Hubstaff, you can create clients, projects and tasks, so that work hours and progress are automatically recorded where they belong. Your team knows exactly what to focus on because of the tasks and projects assigned to them. From there, you can view detailed reports, or export timesheets to pay team members.

assigging tasks in hubstaff

Using the Projects and Tasks features, “We’re able to essentially use a magnifying glass to focus our energy and start a fire,” Lipovsky said.

Visualizing critical business data

Taking productivity one step further, Lipovsky uses Hubstaff to create budgets for each project. That way, the team can see where time and money is spent — helping the business make better decisions for the future.

adding budgets in hubstaff

“Every morning I look at how much money we spent yesterday, against how much we want to spend overall on a daily basis,” Lipovsky said. “If I see days that we’re exceeding that, I look and see why. What products were inefficient that we can improve? What can we cut?”

Similarly, Lipovsky can see when projects are under budget. He uses Hubstaff data to find projects that need more attention, more research and development, or more people. Tracking budgets helps with all of that.

“It’s a thing I’ve adopted doing every single day.”

Reducing wasted time and money

Once you know where you stand against the budget, you can decide to change the focus or scrap a project entirely. You’ll even get reminders as you approach budget limits so there are no surprises at the end.

“There are so many big companies that must be okay with that much waste. And I’ve seen it. We’ve all seen it,” Lipovsky explained. “But having a tool like Hubstaff, having everyone see what’s going on? It cuts costs way faster.”

Everything is connected, so you can see exactly how your business operates.

“It’s such a good feeling, going to bed and knowing that you’re investing money in the business and it’s going toward great things,” Lipovsky said.

William from FQF at FB headquarters

More time for doing what you love — growing your business

The team has seen impressive success so far, and has plans to grow even more in the future. In large part due to its productivity-focused mindset and ability to use data to improve.

“We cut out the frivolous stuff. Everyone on the team knows that if you’re doing something that makes you feel like you’re hitting your head against your desk, you shouldn’t be doing it,” Lipovsky said.

Reducing the time spent on administrative tasks clears your schedule for high-priority, high-quality work.

It’s a great way of making sure that everything you’re doing is efficient. That everyone’s reason for being with the company is getting fulfilled, so everyone’s feeling fulfilled, and the company’s doing well.”

“I think that’s a big benefit that I didn’t realize before using Hubstaff,” Lipovsky explained.

As a 20-person team with plans to become 25 very soon, First Quarter Finance is continuing an impressive trajectory. You can subscribe to stay in the loop.

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