Coast to Coast: Succeeding as a Fully Remote Team

Christine Luo
May 8 · 5 min read

More than 8,000 folks call themselves Indeedians and an overwhelming majority sit in one of our many offices to work. And then there’s my team: Indeed Assessments, with remote employees spread out across the US and Canada. We’ve got product managers in Austin, designers in Ohio, engineers in Vancouver, I/O psychologists in Philadelphia and industrial designers in North Carolina. Here’s how we’ve made it work.

Remote workers on the Indeed Assessment team, coast to coast in the US and Canada

Indeed Assessments originated in a different way than the standard Indeed team. We were originally part of Interviewed when Indeed acquired the company in August 2017. At the time, the dozen or so members of the team that would eventually morph into Indeed Assessments were already fully remote. Interviewed leveraged remote work as a key part of its culture, integral to its hiring success, and as a way to save on San Francisco’s high office rents.

When Interviewed joined Indeed, so did its remote culture, and Indeed Assessments became Indeed’s first fully remote team. Indeed decided to keep the remote team as an experiment, which has proven to be quite successful.

Communicating virtually

Indeed Assessments team members are avid Slack users for work and personal conversations. Slack acts as our virtual water cooler, where we’ve dedicated channels to #pets, #kids, #food, #books, and of course, our catch-all #social channel. Alongside those, we have channels for #releases, #alerts, #e2etesting, #content, and #product. The lines do blur, but then again, they blur in the office as well.

In addition to Slack, we are consistent Zoom video conference users, which allows us to see one another frequently. Our daily virtual stand-up meetings sometimes are the only time we see each other, so team members frequently join early and catch up on how life is going. It brings me joy to join a Zoom room and see my team members already there, laughing and catching up on their personal lives.

Collaboration versus heads-down productivity

As a remote team, we rely on continual communication for our success. We expect speedy responses to Slack questions, the flexibility to jump on impromptu Zoom calls, and up-to-date status messages so we know when somebody is on vacation or heads-down working. Our team is great at quick responses, which can be a blessing and a curse. Frequent context-switching can prevent the uninterrupted deep thought that’s especially important to creative work.

Many of us also have marathon meeting days that leave us exhausted without accomplished much on our to-do lists. This is why we’ve instituted “No-Meeting Wednesdays” — a staple in our team’s culture. We’re fiercely protective of this time when other teams try to schedule meetings on our calendars for that day. It has become a big stress reliever; when we see our projects piling up, we know we’ll make a big dent in that work on Wednesdays, every Wednesday, week after week.

Cheers from coast to coast

One challenge of Indeed Assessments being remote is that we can’t give in-person thank-yous and high-fives to recognize and celebrate accomplishments of all sizes. One way we’ve found to gauge how the team is feeling is the TinyPulse app, which we love. We’ve integrated it with Slack, and it sends us weekly surveys asking questions like “How valued do you feel at work?” and “Is your promotion and career path clear to you?” We then act on the responses. When a team member suggested that we could do a better job recognizing good work, we found several to show off our coworkers. These include TinyPulse Cheers, which enables fantastic GIF usage; shoutouts in our weekly Engineering summaries; and acknowledging wins in our biweekly All-Hands meetings.

We’ve needed some practical guidelines to make our remote team work smoothly and successfully.

We only hire folks within North American time zones to enable near-constant communication. Our largest time difference is no more than three hours between our furthest east employee in New York and our furthest west employee in Vancouver, which is useful when we’re discussing issues with one another.

Also, we don’t hire remotely for every role. For example, product managers who interact with many stakeholders work from Indeed’s headquarters in Austin. This ensures that we’re able to meet with other teams’ decision makers physically in that office. While our team is fully remote, we still need some people at Indeed headquarters to represent Indeed Assessments to the rest of the company.

From virtual reality to real-life reality

Twice a year, the whole Assessments team gathers together for a three-day offsite. We get to meet team members we usually only see on Zoom, strategize large initiatives for our team’s future, and spend time with one another. We spend half our time on work, and reserve the other half for social activities. We’ve visited museums, played board games, and gone mountain biking, whitewater rafting, horseback riding. These offsites are invaluable for the bonds they create, which help us understand each other better on a day-to-day basis.

Cultivating a remote culture at Indeed

Indeed already does a great job taking care of its remote employees. For example, we enjoy quarterly snack box and home office stipends, and can communicate easily via Zoom and Slack. In the last 1.5 years as a fully remote team within Indeed, Indeed Assessments has been able to influence the company’s culture to be more remote-friendly than it already was. Engineering training sessions that historically required in-person participation now allow remote attendance and many other initiatives are underway.

We’ve also helped make other fully remote teams a possibility. Since our inception, Indeed has spun up one other fully remote product-engineering team that follows our same model, and Indeed Engineering hiring has opened more positions for remote developers.

Within the past year, our team, spread out over North America, has built a great product that tens of millions of people use. Job seekers use Indeed Assessments to showcase their qualifications. Employers hire more efficiently. Our own team members love the opportunity to work from home while solving challenging problems. I’m excited to see what we can build in this next year and onwards!

Christine Luo

Written by

Product Manager @ Indeed. Formerly Corporate Development & recovering Investment Banker. Penn Grad. Minnesotan sweating it out in Texas. Lifelong Soccer Player.

Indeed Engineering

Stories from Indeed Engineering

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade