January 14, 2018

FORCED COMMUNICATION:

Hiring Remote Workers Made My Entire Team More Productive : One CEO explains how surprised he was to find the remote teams he hired reshaping his company's in-office work culture for the better. (DAN SINES, 1/14/18, Fast Company)

We didn't want to lose excellent talent based on location, so eventually we decided to give remote workers a shot. It was a risk considering the culture issues we were already dealing with onsite, but it paid off-and then some. Here's how.

We started slow at first, by hiring our first CTO into a remote role. This led to the hiring of another remote developer, and another. Many of our hires came through referrals, so they had ties to the company already. And to our surprise, integrating them was incredibly easy.

In fact, we realized after a few months that hiring remote workers helped lessen our office divide. The remote workers we hired displayed high levels of self-motivation and responsibility, and were generally less antagonistic and better team players. Over time, those traits ended up rubbing off on other team members. (Of course, it doesn't hurt when you can measure an applicants' personality before hiring them; we build a product that lets us do exactly that.)

Productivity is a top concern for companies considering remote workers. But we found that they actually made us more productive overall. For starters, we're forced to use Slack to its maximum potential to make that sure our team members, whether they're in the office or around the country, feel like they're sitting next to each other all day. While Slack can be a distraction, it can lead to fewer interruptions if your whole team uses it properly (i.e. not for every single thing). For instance, we have a policy that if an update requires more than a quick Slack message or email, we get on a video call. Facetime makes it feel similar to being in the same room as your colleagues, but it forces the requestor to think about priority level (Is it urgent? Can it wait until my colleague says she's free?) and ultimately boosts efficiency.

There are challenges, too. If you're not sitting across from someone, you can miss nonverbal communication like body language, facial expressions, eye contact, and posture, all of which build camaraderie and trust. But we've worked to mitigate that risk by planning team off-sites, work-away trips, and occasional company-wide gatherings, which we hope to make more frequent over time.

There's ample evidence that it is precisely these things--communication generally, informal communication, working on discrete projects, etc.--that make groups more productive.

Posted by at January 14, 2018 8:15 AM

  

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