This post by Joe Golden, who’s the co-founder and co-CEO of Collage.com is part of Hubstaff’s “Remote Work Month” series. In them, some of the most authoritative sources in the world of remote work, share their best advice on how to succeed as a professional, and a team, while telecommuting. Follow and participate in the discussion on Twitter with #goremote.
April might be Remote Work Month on Hubstaff’s blog, but at Collage.com, we celebrate it every month. Our company, which makes custom photo products easy for anyone to create online, is 100% remote. We’ve been that way since our start, and we have no plans on changing anytime soon..@collagedotcom shares their best advice on how to make remote work for your team Click To Tweet
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Remote work benefits both our team and our company
Remote work benefits our employees, because people are happiest and most effective when they have control over their own working conditions. Giving our employees autonomy and control over their own working environments pays off. For some of our employees, that means the freedom to work at a coffee shop or coworking space. Others find they can get more done working from a spare bedroom, or at home with their children. With an all-remote company, we’re able to give employees that flexibility.
Remote work benefits Collage.com, too. We’re able to hire the very best people from across the country, instead of limiting our search to just cities near our office. In a world where communicating with someone across the globe takes as much time as communicating with someone next door, this is a no-brainer. (We’re always looking for great people to join our team; learn more and apply if our remote team sounds good to you.)
Even our job interview process is 100% remote. We have potential employees meet with multiple members of our team over Google Hangouts or Skype, so we can evaluate job candidates the same way we’d work together day to day. While this might seem crazy at first, it’s worked very well for us, and ensures our focus is on what a candidate can bring to our team – not on superficial factors that ultimately don’t matter.
Remote work has worked for Collage.com. We’ve grown from a college project to a profitable company with about 40 employees. Last year, we did $22 million in revenues, up from $15 million the year before. And, we were recently honored as one of the 2016 Michigan 50 Companies to Watch.
Our tips on making remote work work
How can your business apply what we’ve learned about remote work? Here are a few tips:
- Not sharing an office doesn’t mean not sharing ideas. We communicate constantly as a team using a variety of different tools. For example, we’re able to meet “face to face” using Google Hangouts or Skype. We use instant messaging tools for quick questions and answers. We assign work and track big projects with JIRA, a project management tool. We provide more detailed feedback internally through email or shared Google Docs. And, we get to know each other personally on HipChat and in a private company Facebook group. To make remote work work, you have to keep lines of communication open.
- Give your team the tools they need to do their jobs. Not having a physical office doesn’t mean skimping on equipment employees need to do their jobs effectively. We ensure our team has access to the best equipment they need for work (within reason, of course). We also provide home Internet access reimbursements to our team.
- Provide flexibility in hours and scheduling. We don’t set a fixed schedule for our team, and instead, trust each employee to get their work done on time. After all, what difference does it make if the work gets done at 9 am or 9 pm if it’s still ahead of schedule? Remote work ensures we measure employees based on their actual performance and contributions, not how long they occupy a desk each day.
- Meet in-person every few months. We find it really useful to meet as a company every few months to share ideas, work on long-term planning, and just build closer relationships for our day-to-day remote work. We typically meet in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where our company was born. Our team will spend the workday meeting, and then go out for company-sponsored fun at night
- If you can, go all in on remote work. Because our entire company is remote, no one’s left out of office discussions – as can happen with some teams that are half-remote and half not.
I’d love to hear how your business makes remote work work. We’re always looking for ways to improve, too. Feel free to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment here.
I hope your business has as much luck with remote work as we have at Collage.com!
Joe Golden is the co-founder and co-CEO of Collage.com. A native of Troy, Michigan, Joe first met Collage.com co-founder Kevin Borders in middle school. Joe holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and economics and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Michigan. Prior to devoting himself full-time to Collage.com, Joe worked as the staff economist at Elance-oDesk, an economist at Google, and as a software engineer at Microsoft.
Joe lives with his wife Lindsey in San Francisco, CA.