Vooza CEO takes on Jason Fried about working remotely.
Signal vs. Noise is a founding member of The Deck advertising network
We’ve been running our job board since 2006 and connected thousands of talented people with great jobs. It’s been a great place for people who got the ethos of REWORK to find like-minded individuals. More than 100 positions are currently listed.
It’s been a great run, but it’s time for something new. As a company, we’re obviously big supporters of working remotely. We’ve been doing so for the last decade. 75% of our people are working remotely. We just wrote a new book, REMOTE: Office Not Required, about the why and how. Now we want to help highlight forward-looking companies who’ve decided that they too could benefit from the best talent regardless of where they live.
WeWorkRemotely.com is our brand new job board, reserved exclusively for remote job listings. We’re making it completely free to post for the first 24 hours! After that, the 30-day rate is going to be half of what it was on our old job board, just $200.
The traditional you-must-commute-to-our-office job situation has plenty of outlets. Here’s an outlet for those who go beyond that. Enjoy!
In addition to Jason’s regular “Get Real” column in Inc., the magazine reprinted several chapters from REMOTE: Office Not Required. If you haven’t already read it or ordered your copy, they’re a great sneak preview!
Hey, Marissa Mayer, You’ve Got it Wrong: Telecommuting Isn’t A Bad Thing. It’s The Future
If you ask people where they go when they really need to get work done, very few will respond “the office.” If they do say the office, they’ll include a qualifier such as “super-early in the morning before anyone gets in,” or “I stay late at night after everyone’s left,” or “I sneak in on the weekend.”
Why Face-To-Face Meetings Are Overrated
How many breakthrough ideas can a company actually digest? Far fewer than you imagine. Most work is not coming up with The Next Big Thing. Rather, it’s improving the thing you already thought of six months — or six years — ago. It’s the work of work.
Working From Home Boosts The Quality Of The Work
When you can’t see someone all day long, the only thing you have to evaluate is the work. A lot of the petty evaluation stats just melt away. Criteria like “Was she here at 9?” or “Did she take too many breaks today?” or “Man, every time I walk by his desk he’s got Facebook up” aren’t even possible to tally.
How To Work With Clients You’ve Never Met Face To Face
It may be irrational but, if you’re local, the client often feels that, if worse comes to worst, they can knock on your door. They “know where you live.” But when you’re remote, they’re going to be more suspicious when phone calls go unreturned or emails keep getting “lost.”
The True Challenge of Managing Remote Workers: People Who Work Too Hard
A manager’s natural instinct is to worry that her workers aren’t getting enough work done. But the real threat is that they will wind up working too hard. And because the manager isn’t sitting across from her worker anymore, she can’t look in the person’s eyes and see burnout.
The Two Biggest Drags On Productivity: Meetings And Managers (Or, As We Call Them, M&Ms
These two staples of work life — meetings and managers — are actually the greatest causes of work not getting done at the office. In fact, the further away you are from both meetings and managers, the more work gets done. This is one of the key reasons we’re so enthusiastic about remote work.
Find more opportunities at We Work Remotely.
Name: Peter Baumgartner
Company: Lincoln Loop
Employees: 12, all remote
What does Lincoln Loop do?
Primarily web development, design, and consulting using the Django Web Framework. We’re also working on a couple of our own products. Ginger is actually geared towards improving communication for remote teams.
Did you start out as a remote company?
Yes. I started the company in Steamboat Springs, a small mountain town in Colorado. I was a ski bum/freelance developer who happened to stumble upon a good thing (Django). Pretty soon, business was booming and I needed help. The whole operation was bootstrapped so I didn’t have the budget to relocate people. Even if I could, I’m not sure I could entice them to be in the mountains and neck-deep in snow half the year. I wasn’t interested in moving to a “tech hub” and wanted to pull from a bigger talent pool than I had locally. Already being plugged into the open source world, working remote didn’t seem like a strange choice.
What challenges did you face in setting up as a remote company?
Like many others, I was enticed by cheap outsourcing arrangements. That was a nightmare and I quickly learned the value of having people you can trust implicitly on your side. After that, I was much more interested in cultivating a team of “managers of one” than attempting to micromanage a team of cheap outsourcers. Communication was rough at first, but we’ve got it pretty well dialed in now. It’s a combination of chat (IRC), voice/video (usually Hangouts), and asynchronous discussion (our own tool, Ginger).
What do you see as the major benefit of letting employees work offsite?
It puts them in control of their own lives. Autonomy is the number one indicator of happiness, and we can give them a lot of it. Interestingly, commuting has the exact opposite effect (lack of control and persistent source of unhappiness). We don’t lose people because they want to move, even if it’s to a different country.
Which would you rather have, a ping-pong table and a fridge full of sodas or the freedom to live anywhere in the world?
I’m living near the beach in Mexico now. Another one of our developers has lived in the Caribbean, France, and the Netherlands over the last few years. As far as job perks go, it’s huge in attracting new talent.
Which would you rather have, a ping-pong table and a fridge full of sodas or the freedom to live anywhere in the world?
Any advice for other companies who are considering going remote?
Trust and communication are the key components. If you don’t trust your employees, you need to fix that first (and perhaps ask yourself why you are working with people you can’t trust). Communication can be tough for somebody who is used to having lots of verbal communication and meetings in a co-located environment. Sticking to those patterns is setting your remote workers up to fail. They’ll always be out of loop.
Nat Friedman has a great post titled Everyone Dials In, where he describes how even co-located workers in his office called into meetings to ensure everyone was on equal footing. I think that’s the frame of mind you need to be in. Push all your communications to platforms where remote workers have equal opportunity to participate and soak up information.
Visit Lincoln Loop.
We’re looking for another support team member! Specifically, we’re seeking a native English speaker in Asian or Australian timezones, so our local customers there don’t have to wait until the sun rises in the UK for help.
You’ll be responsible for providing tremendous customer service via email for Basecamp, Basecamp Classic, Highrise, Backpack, and Campfire. You’ll also help us answer questions via Twitter, create and edit help documentation, and maybe run some online classes.
You’ll be expected to answer about 75 emails per day once you’re fully up to speed (2-3 months or thereabouts). This is a significant volume, so be sure that you’re ready and able to deal with that kind of daily load — you’ll get all the love and help you need along the way!
We’re looking for some great writers who love helping our customers, so you should enjoy making complicated situations simple and painless and have a passion for our products.
If you want to join Chase, Chris, Emily, Jim, Joan, Kristin, Merissa, and Natalie in making our customers happy, please apply!
How to apply
Please submit a cover letter explaining:
1. Why you want to work in customer support.
2. Why you want to work at 37signals and not somewhere else.
3. A description of a great customer service/support experience you had recently, and what made it great.
Also, pick three of the questions from customers below and answer them like you would if you worked here:
1. Does the new Basecamp offer time tracking?
2. Is the new Basecamp offered in any other language besides English?
3. I’m interested in your products, but not sure which one is right for me. What’s the difference between Highrise and Basecamp?
4. I’ve been a Basecamp Classic user for years and see you have a new version. What’s the difference between the versions, and why should I switch?
5. Is there a reporting function in the new Basecamp?
We offer heaps of lovely benefits, plus a progressive work environment. Starting salary is $45k USD, depending on experience.
Email everything to email@example.com. Include “Customer Support” in the subject line. If you’re attaching a resume, please send it as a PDF. We look favorably on people who get creative with their applications. Note: This is not a position for designers/programmers who are looking to work their way into another job at 37signals; we are solely looking for someone interested in and dedicated to support.
We look forward to hearing from you!
Take a tour to see why others use Basecamp every day.
I started working remotely with Jason from Copenhagen, Denmark way back in 2001, by responding to a post on this very blog about programming. Since then we’ve grown our company to 41 people with 30 of them living and working from outside of Chicago. (I’m writing this from Malibu, California). We’ve built Basecamp, Ruby on Rails, and many other products and projects together as a remote company. This book contains all that we’ve learned and the reasons why this new way of working is ready for prime time.
It’s not just about making work better, though. It’s as much about making life better. As our employees will tell you, the flexibility and the freedom that comes from remote work is liberating and a real boost to quality of life. The world has made such great leaps in terms of productivity, and it’s time we spent some of those spoils making our work-life balance better.
So please enjoy this book. It’s been an absolute pleasure to write it. We can’t wait to hear what you think about it. Thank you for reading.
A few weeks ago, we asked you to submit your commuting sob stories and promised to share the best (worst) of them here. The entries more or less fell into the following categories:
1. My commute sucks
2. My commute used to suck
3. I work remotely, so neener-neener
4. Hey, I actually like my commute, you pro-remote work bullies!
Thanks to everyone who submitted stories. It’s wonderful to hear that some folks don’t mind (or even enjoy!) their commutes. For everyone else, here’s hoping REMOTE can help spark conversations about the freedom to work from wherever you want.
Some highlights and excerpts from the submissions:
We’d like to welcome two new members of our programming team.
Tom Ward hails from London and has been active in the Rails community since 2005. He was responsible for the SQLServerAdapter back in the day and has a cool 37 commits(!) under his belt for Rails. He’s formerly of Go Free Range, the team behind big parts of the GOV.UK project. We’re very happy to have him here, thanks to the great recommendation of fellow UK employee Pratik, who made the connection.
Zach Waugh is from Baltimore and the creator of the awesome Flint iOS and OSX clients for Campfire. Much of 37signals have already been enjoying Campfire through Zach’s clients, so we are thrilled that he’ll be able to join.
Both guys will of course stay where they’ve chosen to live and work remotely. We have a lot of both web and mobile projects to dig into, so great to have them both here. That now makes 41 of us!
Harvard Business Review has another rah-rah piece for Silicon Valley. While on the surface it looks like a well-researched article, its error lies not in methodology but in definition. In the minds of the author, the definition for startup success is confined to this:
If you judge entrepreneurial success as surviving or selling (including raising follow-on funding, being bought, or successfully IPO’ing) as no doubt your investors do, then your odds of success are lower outside of the superhubs.
What a shitty definition of success! The world outside of Silicon Valley is rightfully not succeeding by the narrow definition of success espoused by proponents of the Valley VC model. DUH.
But there are many other definitions of success to measure yourself against. We’ve long been campaigning for the success of bootstrapped, proud, and profitable. Businesses, who like 37signals didn’t get off the ground by a Series A round of funding, and who do not see IPO, acquihire, or any other form of acquisition as a successful outcome.
This is how most of the world’s businesses work! And not only work, but prosper, and sustain themselves in the long run. But that’s the boring path of turning great products and services into profitable outfits in less than the average 10+ years it seems to take most Silicon Valley startups.
Do not let the VC merchants and their stooges tell you what success looks like. Do not accept that this path has to go through their 10:1, or 100:1, lottery funnel. You do not have to pick up their shovel and dig gold only where they have marked the X.
The best ideas and the best talent in the world is not confined to these tiny geographical areas, except in the minds of those who live there. Start your business wherever you want to live with pride. Recruit the best remote workers where they want to live with vigor. Success on your terms will come soon enough.