Going remote. It feels like everyone’s doing it at the moment, right? I can’t count how many medium posts I’ve ready lately with titles like “5 great resources for remote startup teams” and “How working remotely saved my life”.
Now, Weirdly is a team of contrarians. When the whole world is running in one direction, our instincts generally tell us to investigate the opposite. But in this case, the remote buzz is resonating.
Weirdly is built on a mission to make work more fulfilling for everyone and that, of course, includes our own team. We work hard at building a strong culture where people feel valued and supported. A big part of that, for the Weirdly team, is the ability to be flexible about where we plant our laptops everyday.
Lots of our team have young kids and two of our guys are also expecting new babies in the next few months. Making sure they can be available in a practical, hands-on way to their families is really important to us (and, you know, obviously to them too).
Other members of our team just really, really love working in a quiet, empty house where they can focus without any interruptions.
In fact, the people in our team who love a hustling, bustling office are generally speaking, the ones who aren’t actually in the office much. They’re out on sales calls or flying overseas to meet with partners and clients.
For the past couple of months we’ve discussed this over shared lunches, after-work drinks and the occasional team-icecream session. Inevitably we keep coming back to one solution: Moving out of our office space and going remote.
So next week we’re making the leap. We handed in notice to our awesome GridAKL community, we’re packing up our monitors and we’re launching out into the unknown.
Arguments for (and against) going remote
As a rapidly growing startup with a really tight culture, disbanding and heading off into different corners of Auckland is a bit of a scary choice.
As you can imagine, there have been heaps of pros and cons conversations had over the planning of this move. We reckon other founders may have some of the same fears as us if they’re considering going remote, in the spirit of sharing, we’re laying ours out on the table here:
- ? Our product team are chuffed and it means they can work in exactly the way they love to: Absolutely focused and in their own environments.
- ? ?It’s an awesome way for our new dads to spend time with their brand new kids.
- ? Really convenient for the other parents in our crew who have had to juggle school drop-offs and meetings with getting in and out of the office all day.
- ? All that money we were spending on rent can now be funnelled into more sales and partnership trips to the US and UK.
- ⏰ Less time commuting means more time working. For some of us, that’s 15hours per week we’re not sitting in the car or train. FIFTEEN HOURS. That’s practically a part-time job!
- Losing the advantages that come with being part of the GridAKL/BizDojo community. This place has been invaluable when it comes to connecting with investors and expert advisors, building our brand and bouncing issues around with other experienced founders.
- Putting our awesome team culture at risk. Will we be able to keep the close vibe alive without seeing each other everyday? Will Simon’s jokes still be funny over slack?
- Creating decision-making issues. Lots of founders have warned us about a remote working phenomenon we’re referring to as “Remote renegadism”. That’s when small clusters of the team get together to discuss an issue or hurdle and, in the process of that discussion, make decisions that are actioned without other key people having input. It’s not malicious, it’s just an outcome of a disconnected team. For us, this could be decisions about a new sales market, a change to our PR strategy or tweaks to a new feature. When a team is small and the business is growing so fast, decisions can’t be made in isolation.
- Risking our productivity falling. This is the really big one and will require constant monitoring.
Getting past the cons list
For us, the pros outweigh the cons right now. I say right now because who really knows until we try? We’re approaching this as an experiment. We’ve committed to three months with monthly reviews (as well as keeping a close eye on productivity stats).
We’ve also come up with some ways to mitigate some of those cons:
- We’re leaving our permanent spot at GridAKL, but we’re keeping our foot in the door. We’ve decided to continue with a couple of casual memberships in the shared space. That basically means a couple of us can pop in and hotdesk whenever we need to – as well as attend the meetups and keep access open to the awesome network of advisors and contacts.
- We’ve set up a series of regular team meetings that will help us keep on top of our productivity and help keep the culture alive. Some of these are based in slack or google hangouts, founders catch-ups and one big team meeting IRL. We’re also keeping up with our regular morning standups (although they’re more likely to be google hangout sit-downs now) each morning, and we’ll be using our Wellness Challenge generator to keep our #weirdlywellness tradition alive.
Testing productivity and how well this is working for all of us will be an ongoing and evolving process. We’re excited to give it a go though – even if it means joining that tidal wave of hipsters on Medium.