Managing a fully remote team
“Your team is fully remote? You’ve never met most of your co-workers? How can you trust them? That’s unbelievable!” I get these questions every other day.
I have spent years working in offices for companies of all sizes and stages, and I have never experienced anything as efficient, fulfilling and stimulating as working the way we do at Wisepops.
So here’s the top questions I get asked regularly about building and managing a remote workforce. (If you’re sitting at your office desk, waiting for the clock to tick over to 6:00pm, this might make you feel a little dizzy.)
1. All your team is remote – no offices at all? ⇒ 100% remote. There is no Wisepops boardroom. Since all our team is in different locations spread across continents, we find it better to have the full team work remotely, rather than mixing office and remote. My staff set up home offices and enjoy the flexibility of being in their own space (and wearing whatever they want).
2. You never see each other! How can that be a “team”? ⇒ We all work towards the same goal and are aligned with the same values. That makes us a team. We make progress every day that we all share, we meet (virtually) at least once a week as a team, with many smaller sub-team meetings as needed.
Now let’s look at it differently: at Wisepops we aren’t limited by offices, no one in the team will miss a discussion because they couldn’t make it to lunch or weren’t hanging out at the coffee machine at the right time. One hundred percent of our communication is online, and everyone can keep track of everything that’s happening.
Also, we don’t need to play the social game – there’s no office politics or gossip. We work together, we trust and respect our team members for their skills alone. There’s also no pressure to socialise or interact outside of work.
3. Will you ever meet up? We’ve had a few meetups in the past when we were a small team and everyone was based in Europe. Now there’s nearly twenty of us and we have just found a date for our first big meetup. We’ll have team members flying in to the French Alps from 7+ countries to spend a few days planning for the next year, skiing, eating and enjoying a glass or three of champagne.
4. How do you hire someone you haven’t met? There’s no difference at all. We interview them over several video calls, and do calls for culture and team fit as well. We have the applicant complete a test relevant to the role, just like any normal interview in this field. In fact, many international organisations interview the very same way as not everyone is in the same city.
5. How can you be sure people don’t spend the day at the beach? We don’t care if they spend the day at the beach as long as they meet their goals. Our team can work where they want, when they want. If someone doesn’t achieve their goals and doesn’t share the same ambition and dedication we all have, it becomes apparent very quickly. Faster than you’d think, and it frustrates everyone. We can’t be fooled by someone who arrives first and leaves last at the office – if the work isn’t done we have a problem. Only results count, not hours at the desk.
6. Don’t you feel alone working from home? Yes, it can happen. But I find it happens less than the feeling of being bored of living the same day over and over in an office. We don’t watch the clock – if we’re feeling flat, lonely or uninspired we get out of the house and see friends, play sport, walk the dog, hang out with our kids, etc. We can change the scenery and see the people we choose to see.
Also our team is just one click away – there’s always someone to chat to in Slack or have a meeting with if we want.
7. What tools do you use? Our team collaboration would be nearly impossible without tools like Slack. As a team, we prefer Slack to email as it is more inclusive and real-time. We have channels for different projects and anything that isn’t confidential is discussed openly. We really value transparency.
Of course, we use email as well. Notion is another great tool for collaborating on documents and tracking goals.
8. Why else would you recommend going fully remote? Not convinced yet? Here’s some stories from the Wisepops team about their experiences and the opportunities they have had working remotely.
Lisa, our Head of Customer Success, moved from Paris to Marseille to enjoy some sun and a better environment. Now Lisa is working on establishing more balance in her remote-working life by exploring ways she can connect with her community, such as teaching daytime yoga classes. “It’s a great life harmony: being able to do your job well, achieve your goals, feel good about your work, while taking care of yourself and listening to your needs.”
Our CTO, Clement, has embraced his remote working lifestyle and hit the road. All while maintaining his role as CTO.
In Clement’s words: “By working fully remotely my fiancé and I were able to leave Paris and go travelling through France to discover the regions of our beautiful country.”
As I type this he is in Biarritz and preparing to head to Toulouse (south), Évian-les-Bains (near Switzerland), Annecy (in Savoy), Bonifacio (in Corsica)…the list goes on.
Our UX Designer, Ghev, lives in Bali and travels around while working. He also spends his free time building villas and motorbikes. Not something he could do if he was forced to sit at a desk all day. Next up on Ghev’s agenda: “I’m planning on learning how to fabricate steel so I can make my own bike modifications.”
Wisepops obviously isn’t alone in being a remote workforce. Post-pandemic a lot of companies are shifting to remote or hybrid models, from tech companies to banks. In the words of Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke, “office centricity is over”.
Well, we were remote before it was cool 😘.