Remote workforces are a major challenge for many startups. Accessing the affordable talent you need might require stitching together a team scattered around the country, or even the world.
So how do you keep everyone on the same page in a fast-growing business?
Work180 is a recruitment platform for women that encourages major companies to promote and strengthen gender-fair policies like paid parental leave, pay equity, and flexible working arrangements. They’ve gone from strength to strength over the past year, all on the back of an almost entirely remote workforce.
We spoke to Gemma Lloyd about how they’ve managed to achieve this and how they intend to scale.
GLF: How many Work180 staff are remote workers?
GEMMA: All of our (40) staff — who are spread across Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane — are currently remote workers.
GLF: Why did you make the decision to encourage remote work?
GEMMA: My co-founder Valeria Ignatieva and I started the business while working remotely, and we found it so much more productive than working at a desk in a more structured office environment.
When you’re not chained to a desk and rushing around in the morning to get to work by a certain time, it’s much easier to relax into the day and work at your own pace.
So that’s how we structured our business, and we found that our employees find it helpful to not have to stress in the morning and to be able to bypass the often long commutes. We’ve also noticed that people get less sick when they remote work, which is an added bonus!
GLF: What are the challenges of remote working, and how have you overcome them?
GEMMA: At the beginning, people found it a little difficult to feel connected to their co workers.
While everyone at WORK180 values the flexibility remote working enables, it’s still important to know who you’re working with.
Valeria and I therefore decided to bridge that gap in various ways, which includes introducing an app called Donut, which pairs our employees with another colleague in their state, which they then meet in person to forge that interpersonal connection.
We also run monthly casual dinners to foster that sense of collegiality, as well as fly everyone up to the Gold Coast twice a year for as offsite to help with bonding.
GLF: How do you promote company culture with remote workers?
GEMMA: Valeria and I have worked really hard to create a company with strong ethical values, and we expect that they’ll be upheld by everyone who works for, and with, WORK180.
Promoting our company culture begins at the interview stage, where we make it clear that transparency, inclusivity, empathy and feedback are all part of our daily lives.
Then, we make a lot of effort inducting people thoroughly, where we set the scene and reiterate our feedback-driven and empathetic approach to work and business.
We also promote culture with remote workers in various ways: through Slack, which, aside from being used for work purposes, also has side groups about pets and plants that people can bond over; as well as making sure to ask everyone for feedback to create an accepting culture.
GLF: How do you intend to grow this remote work policy as the company scales? Do you see it changing as you grow?
GEMMA: As we grow, we intend to experiment with co-working spaces for our teams. Depending on the demand, we will look at exploring a more permanent location for those who prefer the option of working from an office.
If you find yourself running a distributed team, consider:
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