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I can’t believe it’s almost the new year! With 2019 mostly behind us…we made an exciting announcement – we’re going remote starting in January 2020. Here’s my journey to making the decision and some resources that helped me along the way.
If you would have asked me a year go, or ever 7 months ago if I would ever take the company remote the answer would have been, “No way” coupled with a side-eye look that said, “Are you nuts!?”
But – as we all know, things change. And that they did this year for me!
My husband and I had been looking for a house since last December (2018). We went on about 60 different house showings, worked with two different realtors and just didn’t find what we were looking for… until June this year.
We came across an estate sale driving on a road neither of us had been on. Andy decided to take a different way home after we had taken my mom to lunch who was visiting for the day. We turned into a neighborhood in South Downtown and decided, “What the heck, we might as well go to kill some time.”
We turned into oak-lined streets, quaint homes and a neighborhood we’d never heard of to discover the perfect house! We put in an offer that night and the next day, they accepted it before noon. Needless to say, it was the perfect whirlwind.
If you’ve visited our office, you know we put a lot of time and effort into making it ours. We painted the furniture white, added wallpaper and fake greenery, and fixed the front porch to be a welcoming haven to write blogs (pending the good Florida weather!).
After purchasing the house, that’s where I really wanted to focus my energy. Then, a couple of things happened with the office – big things. The AC went out over the summer- in the DEAD of the summer heat. The plumbing needed help, the smoke detectors went off in unison (4 in the small 900 sqft office!) for 5-days straight, and the roof started leaking.
Needless to say, I had no idea what was going on, but everything was going wrong.
Every other week, I meet with two women to talk about business, help each other with tough decisions and to talk about life in general. They proposed the question, “Have you thought about going remote?”
As above, I looked at them like they were crazy… but left the side-eye out of the response this time because I had never really considered it for real. They reasoned with me and recommended a book that I read soon after called Remote: Office Not Required by the owners of BaseCamp.
I read it and immediately they tackled some of my most pressing questions and doubts such as:
- I can never do this
- People expect to come to an office
- My employees won’t work
- I won’t be involved as much as I am now in person
But what it also did was give me a strategy. Each quarter, I sit down with my employees and we talk about how the last quarter went and we also go to lunch in a separate meeting.
I began to ask simple questions about whether or not they thought they needed to work together. The answer was a thought, then, “No, I don’t think we NEED to. Why?”
I would answer, “No reason, just wondering about changes in the future and your thoughts on the environment overall.” I didn’t want to give any indication to what I was thinking, because I wanted to be 1000% sure I was going to do it.
Then, I decided to try 1 day out of the office. We started that in September on a Tuesday.
After setting some ground rules so everyone was on the same page, as well as having everyone sign Telecommuting Agreements laying it all out, we were underway.
The results? It worked great. Everyone was thrilled. They liked that they didn’t have the commute and liked that they could work at home or a place of their choosing.
During this time, I also started getting my clients used to video meetings instead of meeting them in-person. Most were very open to it and I proposed it as a learning experience, so they were familiar if it came up in any other setting. It also saved them and me a ton of time, which they appreciated. They didn’t have to come to visit me and I didn’t need to plan drive time to visit them.
Then, a month later, we added in another day- Thursdays. That went equally as well.
By that time it was almost November and I started asking people about going remote – if they had any advice and started to take notes. In that time, I also read about Buffer’s remote culture and Toggl’s remote culture worksheets.
Both of these companies have more employees than us, but their learnings and findings were equally as helpful in my remote journey.
I also started looking into the programs that we were using to see how else we could utilize them to enhance our communication. At the end of this blog, I’ll share what we do in order to keep on top of all work and to make sure we’re all on the same page.
Then, around November 1st or so, I sat the team down in our weekly meeting and the last bullet to go over was that we were officially going remote at the end of the year. Here’s what I said:
“For the last bullet point to go over, I wanted to let you know that at the end of this year, we’re officially taking the company remote. Yes, everyone still has a job and yes, we’ll still be in business. It just means that you’ll be able to work from home or a place of your choosing. We’ll meet up once per month and sometimes twice to go over reports, touch base and to grab lunch. Now, what questions do you have?”
One additional thing to add, too, is that each month we have a book club. November – December we were reading Remote: Office Not Required and that was my gift to them during that meeting – so everyone was on the same page and so we could learn together.
Now, being one week into December, we’re in the office on Wednesdays and Fridays. Last week was the first Friday we were out of the office and got together for lunch and for our “monthly meeting.”
If you followed our Instagram story, you saw we were at the Hourglass District’s Tamale Co. & Foxtail Coffee. We had a great time, got a lot of work done and then we all left from there. This was a trial run, and with expectations set upfront, all of us were productive and understood what was expected for this meeting.
At the end of this year, we’ll be 100% out of the office on Summerlin. We are getting a part-time office right across the street for the time being to meet with any meetings that need to be in-person, however, most of the clients are completely open to meeting over a video call.
This process has been in the works for 6-months or so and here are the programs and meetings that we put into place to make it happen.
- Slack for daily communication and questions
- Asana for task management and project management
- RingCentral for video meetings
- GSuite for all of our email, documents, and calendars
- Calendly for scheduling meetings and making sure we’re on the same page
- FileStage for editing documents and keeping communication clear
- Add ons for Slack – Look into Slack for these because this helps us still have fun while not working side-by-side. Some we use are:
- Google Calendar
- Google Docs
- Scrum meeting for 15-minutes or less
- Meeting on Fridays for 1-hour
- Meeting to touch base about clients/ needs
- In-person meeting to go over reports and client results
- In-person or phone call with another employee to “touch base and catch up”
- Team building event
- Mentor meeting
If you’re thinking about taking your company remote, or proposing it to your boss, remember, it takes time. This took me about 1-2 months to think about and then 4-5 months to read and research and then 1-2 months to implement. Make sure you talk about communication, have agreements for your team in place so you’re all on the same page and put policies in place too.
The ONE HUGE thing I love about this is it’s helped us to communicate better. We all chat on Slack about our weekend, needs and questions and if someone’s busy, we don’t feel like we’re interrupting because they can answer when they’re between projects.
I also realized I had to be extremely organized about rolling this out too. I spoke with my insurance person, my HR person and my bookkeeper to ensure I had all of my ducks in a row before I announced it and “made the leap.”
Please let me know if you have any questions about our journey or how I got here – I’m so excited about this new chapter and I’ll look forward to writing another blog in the first quarter sharing how it has been going!