Why these 4 tech companies look for remote employees

by Kelly O'Halloran
August 18, 2016

Spotty video conferencing, balancing time zones, no pants no problem — these are all part of the life of a remote employee. As the remote work force surges in popularity, it allows companies to recruit top-of-the-line talent from across the world without having to relocate candidates. These employees abroad, in turn, get to live that remote lifestyle, taking advantage of the freedom and flexibility that comes with it.

We connected with Austin companies boasting a large remote team to learn how they manage so many out-of-office employees, how they integrate them into company culture, and what advice they have for companies looking to integrate remote players. 

 

Answers from Christopher Pepe, Praecipio Consulting Partner and remote employee 

How many in-office vs. remote employees? 

We have 35 (and still growing) employees in our Austin HQ offices and eight remote folks across the U.S. (including Houston, Colorado, Atlanta, Indianapolis and Vermont).

Do you worry that two-thirds of your employees are just sitting around in their underwear watching TV all day?

I don't worry about it at all. That's the dream I'm living. But really, no. We are in constant contact and can tell that the throughput is high on remote folks. As we use the Atlassian toolset (the software which we deliver client solutions around), we get great visibility and collaborative functionality to work with our team members across the country.

How is it maintaining company culture with employees working remotely?

It's hard to not be at all the events, but we have biannual whole company events and everyone is always welcome at the Austin office. When we can be together, it's like old friends — we pick up where we left off last time.

Do you have suggestions for companies considering hiring remote employees?

If it fits in your culture, it's great. What works for us is that Austin employees have ample opportunity to work from home, so there isn't a lot of resentment towards remotes. Only senior folks are remote and they are high visibility, so no one thinks they're goofing off more than in-office folks are. Finally, we have a strong sense of family, much more so than anywhere else I've worked. That can't hurt.

 

 

 

Answers from Nada Lulic, Talent Acquisition Manager at Zenoss

How many of your employees work remotely? How many are in office?

About 40 people work remotely in field sales and sales support all over the country and a small but mighty team in the U.K. Here in Austin we have about 140 employees.

Do you worry that two-thirds of your employees are just sitting around in their underwear watching TV all day? 

Not at all. We have a highly collaborative culture and use multiple platforms like Slack to chat, share files, talk, etc, as well as Google Hangouts, Skype and WebX for presentations. Because our culture is so collaborative, we’ve got to be connected. The video, it’s helpful because you know who you are talking to. You get the face with the name. 

How is it maintaining company culture with employees working remotely?

Our remote employees typically come in at least once a quarter. If they don’t come in, we broadcast our quarterly all hands meetings so everyone can participate. Additionally, all new employees come to Austin for our new hire orientation, which is every quarter and includes two days of introductions to the business and history of Zenoss, and a day slated for Zenoss Cares, a company-led organization dedicated to giving back to the community. 

We also have non-business related Slack channels to help foster personal relationships between employees. 

Any suggestions for companies considering hiring remote employees?

Make sure that you train your managers so that they are conscious of adapting their communication for remote employees and are encouraging their team members. We have a contest during new employee orientation that allows for everyone to vote on it and participate. Have mindfulness of how we share what we’re doing, where we are and how we get them to share back.
 
*Also have an unlimited travel budget and and a teleport. 
(*not serious)
 
 

Answers from Krista White, Product Manager at BP3

How many of your employees work remotely? How many are in-office?

We have 120 employees total. We have about 40 employees that come into the office on a regular basis. 

How do you keep your team communicating effectively with people out-of-office?

We use Slack for internal communication. We do a lot of video conferencing which helps a lot in places that might be hard to communicate through email or phone calls. We have a monthly newsletter and wellness challenges that keeps people talking about things outside of work. Our philosophy is that we are not afraid to get on a plane. If something isn't working out remotely, then get on a plane and come to the office. Finally, we regularly have all hands meetings that are pretty open with dialogue coming from all over the world. 

Do you worry that your remote employees are sitting around in their underwear watching TV all day?

I wish that was a concern. I think our biggest concern is that our remote employees aren't taking enough personal time. I think it is hard for employees that always work from home to strike a good work/life balance, but if anything we try to make sure they are taking PTO on a regular basis and not burning the candle from both ends. 

Is it tough maintaining a good workplace culture with people working remotely?

I'll start by saying that we work really hard when we are interviewing a candidate to make sure they are a culture fit. During our on-boarding process our founders make sure to take the time to introduce the BP3 culture to the new employee. Finally, we have an annual all hands conference where we get together physically (including all of our team outside the United States) to just reinforce what it means to be a BP3er. 

Do you have suggestions for companies considering hiring remote employees?

Have a clear definition of your culture. I think that when any employee understands what drives your business forward you don't have to worry about when they work or if they are working everyone is in the same boat paddling towards the same goal. 

 

 

 

Answers from John Price, CEO at Vast

How many of your employees work remotely? How many are in-office?

We have 150 remotely across the world and 50 in office.

Do you worry that two-thirds of the employees are just sitting around in their underwear watching TV all day?

No. We're online with our remote employees all day every day. We all live in Google Hangouts and an instant messenger world. Everybody, no matter where you are, we're always on.

How do you keep your team communicating effectively with people out-of-office?

We actually prefer to communicate through online means instead of in a meeting room for those of us in the office. 

Is it tough maintaining a good workplace culture with people working remote?

The truth is, an American culture is very different than that of an international culture. But we all share something in common, and that is the tech industry language. It's a universal language. Most of the tech world resources are globally shared, which leads to a global understanding and vocabulary to communicate across countries. The culture follows that. We're the dorks of society; it helps us connect. 

Do you have suggestions for companies considering hiring remote employees?

Create a frictionless environment for everything: chat, grabbing documents, products, etc. Rethink about what it means to work. Most people think that work is "going to work." I think that's a mistake. The work is what we're hired to do, the job itself, what you're doing. Not the patterns of going to work. Don't have a printer. You don't use them for anything.

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