Hiring and Managing a Remote Team: 3 SaaS Success Stories
Ever considered hiring a remote team for your SaaS company? The fact is, more and more companies are choosing to hire remote workers in 2018. Not only does it help to cut expenses while hiring top talent all over the world, it also encourages company growth. It may sound surprising, but remote workers can really […]
Ever considered hiring a remote team for your SaaS company? The fact is, more and more companies are choosing to hire remote workers in 2018. Not only does it help to cut expenses while hiring top talent all over the world, it also encourages company growth.It may sound surprising, but remote workers can really help your company grow and glow. Are you interested in learning how a remote team can help you scale your SaaS company? Let’s take a look at some examples of successful SaaS businesses that have used remote teams to grow. But first, what are the benefits of hiring remote?
Benefits of Hiring a Remote Team
Access to the best employees
Top talent doesn’t always just come knocking on your door…Significant effort is always required to build a world-class team. Of course, you have to carefully consider candidates during the hiring process. This often involves creating a team member persona, or in the case of a remote hire, a “remote persona” (just like you create buyer personas for your customers).You should look for people who meet your criteria in the following areas:
Decision-making skills, etc.
One of the benefits of hiring remotely is that it gives you more options than limiting yourself to local employees. When distance isn’t an issue, this allows you to cherry pick the most relevant people who will help drive the business towards success. How many great employees have companies missed out on because of “no remote work” policy? If you choose to broaden your horizons and decide to hire remote workers, you will be able to find excellent team members anywhere in the world. The A-players that you hire around the globe will surely help your company grow.
Employees with flexible hours are happier
The fact is, employees who are allowed to set flexible schedules are happier than those who have to live under the rule of the clock.They tend to have fewer family conflicts than their colleagues who work at the office. Moreover, employees who work from home say managing balance between work and family is much easier for them. Not surprisingly, the happier your employees are, the more productive you can expect them to be, which leads to faster company growth and good company moral.
Low employee turnover
According to 2017research,32% of people would quit their job as they are not allowed to work remotely. Many companies take this fact into account as losing an employee and hiring a new one involves significant expenses. As a result, smart companies embrace the remote work policy to keep their employees turnover rate low.
Having a team of remote workers allows you to lower your overhead by cutting office expenses.Recent calculationsshow that companies would save more than $500 billion a year on office rent, utilities and turnover if they chose remote work schedule. Instead of spending money on maintaining your office, you will be able to invest it in your business.
Challenges of Going Full Remote
Apart from the benefits, there is also a handful of inevitable challenges. What do employers fear the most?
They are afraid workers will decline in productivity
They worry that employees will not be able to separate work from home and vice versa
They fear teamwork and communication will suffer
And even when companies decide to give remote work a shot and offer employees flexible working hours, they still rack their brains trying to find answers to:
How to manage time zone differences?
How to make remote workers feel a part of the team?
How to promote company values among the distributed team?
How to track productivity?
How to build and promote a unified company culture?
Fortunately, our team at Chanty has interviewed three well-known SaaS companies to find out their secret ingredients for effective remote team management. These real-life examples will answer the above questions and give you some insight into how hiring a remote team can help you scale your SaaS business. Let’s dive in.
3 Examples of SaaS Companies Who Effectively Utilize Remote Teams
Interview with Nicholas Heim, Director of Marketing at HotjarQ: What is your greatest challenge with hiring and managing a remote team?A: The easy cop-out answer here would be managing time zone differences when we have team members situated all over the globe. But I would say that one of the biggest challenges is nurturing team camaraderie and culture in a fully remote atmosphere.Q: How do you deal with it?A: We do this from many angles.Recruitment: We’ve worked tirelessly to build and refine Hotjar’s recruitment process to ensure that we’re bringing on board the most talented individuals who also share in our company vision and values. A culture of trust: When you give someone the level of freedom we do at Hotjar, it’s empowering, especially when you couple it with an extreme level of transparency. Our monthly leadership calls are open for any team member to join, the company financials are accessible to everyone in the team and on monthly company calls, everyone is encouraged to ask anything they’d like to be answered openly with the entire team.Special projects and prizes: When we hit important company milestones we give everyone a budget to get out of their home offices and do something special. You’d be surprised how much initiatives like these bring people together. As one team member remarked: ‘I learned more about my co-workers in 2 months at Hotjar than I’ve learned spending 2 years at other companies.’Meeting in person: We meet twice a year as an entire company in some fun and pretty remarkable locations; places like Malta (where Hotjar is headquartered), Park City, Utah, and Marbella, Spain. We also meet twice a year in remote locations at the department or team level. This allows us to collaborate on big-picture team goals and tighten up on team dynamics.Q: What would be your advice to SaaS companies who plan to go remote? A: Process, commitment, and culture. Build simple right-sized processes as early as possible.It’s never too early to begin creating processes, even if you’re a small team. Having basic processes for things like recruitment, company financial reporting, metrics and KPIs, internal communications and individual performance reviews gets you thinking about these things early. Start with simple processes, stick to them, and improve as you go.Go all the way or don’t do it at all. We’ve seen some companies take a hybrid approach to remote work, keeping a portion of the company in a physical office and allowing another portion to work remotely. Although this approach can work, it can also create divides. If you’re looking to take this approach, be open and communicative with the entire company on your goals and intentions for remote work. Set your core values to drive your company culture. Remote alone isn’t enough to build a special company culture. Allowing your team to work from anywhere is a perk but it’s not an identity. Challenge yourself early in identifying the core values that you want to stand for. These values should be the bedrock for your company beliefs and character, and will serve you well in developing the type of culture you and your future co-workers believe in.
Interview with Matt Handford, SVP of People at HootsuiteQ: What is your greatest challenge with hiring and managing a remote team?A: While there are certainly a number of logistical challenges associated with multiple teams spread across continents, what we’ve been most concerned with is ensuring all of our employees feel valued as a Hootsuite employee. We want everyone to feel a part of the Hootsuite Team, not just those working out of our headquarters.Q: How do you deal with it?A: We developed a simple hashtag called #hootsuitelife which empowers our employees to take the ideals and values of Hootsuite beyond our office walls and incorporate them into their personal lives. While #hootsuitelife may have been born out of a corporate setting, it’s almost exclusively fueled by our staff and how they choose to express that hashtag in their own instagram worthy moments. It’s a rallying point for staff, and connects our entire global team by showcasing moments where our team members champion the brand and values we represent.Q: What would be your advice SaaS companies who plan to go remote?A: Have a clear plan of attack with how to not only communicate with remote staff, but keep them engaged and feeling a part of the team. Try to limit the channels of communication as well, burdening teams with multiple channels of communication can bog down the process and it’s likely to confuse and frustrate team members.While the last piece of advice may sound easy, engaging remote employees can be a real challenge. I made a list of a few tips that make engaging and managing remote workers easier:
Constant communication.Miscommunication is one of the biggest issues when it comes to remote schedule. Therefore, it’s very important to keep employees updated and on the same page. It’s hard to overestimate the power of team communication tools like Slack, Chanty or Stride when sharing the updates and latest news in your distributed team.Avoiding isolation. Quite often remote workers feel isolated due to a lack of social interaction. As a manager, try to make sure all your employees have an opportunity to join a standup meeting. Let them know how much you appreciate their work and how they contribute to the project. Show them that you are always open to conversation and ready to help when needed.Giving regular feedback.It’s impossible to keep an employee engaged in what they are doing if you have no idea about their feelings, ideas and fears. Keep in touch with your mobile workers and comment on their job. This doesn’t need to be only appraisal. Be sure, grounded feedback with detailed comments will be appreciated.
Interview with Kevan Lee – Director of Marketing at BufferQ: What is your greatest challenge with hiring and managing a remote team?A: A couple things come to mind. The first challenge is how to get in the habit of giving constructive feedback to teammates when you may not interact with your team in the same way or as often as you would in an office environment. The second challenge I’ve felt is that I’m not able to see how other people manage and so I have to work a lot harder to improve my skills and find sources of inspiration. Q: How do you deal with it?A: With the feedback challenge, we have a few different methods that have helped get me in a better habit. We have checkpoints where managers and teammates get together 1:1 to discuss results of the past quarter, growth opportunities, career next steps, etc. And on a smaller level, I feel empowered to share feedback on day-to-day activity in a quick medium like Slack. With the challenge of seeing how other managers manage their teams, we have a couple built-in ways to share knowledge peer-to-peer. We have a dedicated Slack channel for leadership. We are encouraged to connect with peers 1:1 to share challenges and learn from one another: I’ve been chatting with a peer leader for three years now. Q: What would be your advice SaaS companies who plan to go remote?A: If you’re hiring for a remote position, we’ve found that it’s important to find people who are comfortable and effective working remotely: they are self-starters, highly motivated, clear communicators, and accountable for getting work done on time and at a high quality. Employees with these characteristics are quite easy to manage remotely!
Building and Managing a Remote Business: Key Takeaways
There is no universal solution for building and managing a remote business. However, learning stories of other well-known tech companies and following their recommendations can help you develop your own policy if you plan to go remote.Start by hiring highly motivated people who are comfortable and effective working remotely, people who share company visions and values. Make everyone feel a part of the family by having annual offline meetings, encouraging employees with special projects and prizes or even developing a company hashtag to promote company values beyond the office. Schedule short daily standups for each team to update them and discuss agenda for the day. Additionally, you can run one general weekly meeting for all teams to discuss past week progress and make plans for the next one. To make your meetings more effective and productive we suggest you follow6 simple rulesto make the most of your meetings that will definitely result in improved workflow. At least twice a year conduct a one-on-one interview with each employee to find out if they have any issues, concerns, ideas or something they would like to bring to your attention.Make sure to find a convenient and easy-to-use messaging app for communication and collaboration with your remote team. Remember that having a transparent company culture helps build trust with employees. Think of using a time tracking software (like TimeDoctor or Harvest) that will give you insights on how productive your employees are. Use a task manager so that everyone could see their co-workers’ agenda for today, this week or even month. Our marketing team likes Trello while developers depend heavily on JIRA boards. Remote team management is impossible without team communication and collaboration software. Make sure to invest in those tools, but limit the number of communication channels not to frustrate your remote employees. Employees who work remotely tend to be happier and more satisfied with their job than those who spend their hours at the office. Remote workers are usually more creative and productive, therefore, they can definitely invest into your company’s growth. Despite the fact that creating and managing a remote team is not easy, it’s definitely worth trying if you have the tools to be successful. What kind of issues have you experienced while managing your remote team? Feel free to share in the comments.
Chief Marketing Officer
Olga Mykhoparkina is a Chief Marketing Officer at Chanty a simple AI-powered business messenger and a single notification center. This powerful and free Slack alternative is aimed to increase team productivity and improve communication at work. Having a 9-year experience in digital marketing field, Olga is responsible for Chanty’s online presence strategy, managing an amazing team of marketing experts and getting things done to change the way teams communicate and collaborate. Follow Olga on Twitter or feel free to connect on LinkedIn.