We Work Remotely recently put together a round up advice from remote people leaders and were nice enough to include my two cents. It digs into all the good stuff: building a positive culture, making the right hires, and getting shit done… remotely!

You can check out the article (and a picture of me with a camel ūüėā) on the We Work Remotely blog.

More requirements, not required

‚ÄčThe‚Äč ‚Äčhiring‚Äč ‚Äčprocess‚Äč ‚Äčmost‚Äč ‚Äčof us‚Äč ‚Äčare‚Äč ‚Äčusing‚Äč ‚Äčthese‚Äč ‚Äčdays‚Äč ‚Äčis‚Äč ‚Äčbuilt‚Äč ‚Äčon‚Äč ‚Äčthe‚Äč ‚Äčpremise that‚Äč, ‚Äčin‚Äč ‚Äčorder‚Äč ‚Äčto‚Äč ‚Äčquickly hire the best candidate,‚Äč ‚Äčwe‚Äč ‚Äčneed‚Äč ‚Äčto‚Äč ‚Äčnarrow‚Äč ‚Äčdown‚Äč ‚Äčour‚Äč ‚Äčpool‚Äč ‚Äčof‚Äč ‚Äčapplicants as much as possible.‚Äč And it assumes‚Äč ‚Äčthat‚Äč ‚Äčthe‚Äč ‚Äčbest way‚Äč ‚Äčto‚Äč ‚Äčdo‚Äč ‚Äč‚Äčthat‚Äč‚Äč ‚Äčis‚Äč ‚Äčto‚Äč ‚Äčput‚Äč ‚Äčup‚Äč ‚Äčbarriers‚Äč ‚Äčfor‚Äč ‚Äčapplicants‚Äč ‚Äčat‚Äč ‚Äčthe‚Äč ‚Äčvery‚Äč ‚Äčbeginning, which often leads to us‚Äč ‚Äčwriting‚Äč ‚Äčwish‚Äč ‚Äčlists‚Äč ‚Äčlonger‚Äč ‚Äčthan‚Äč a kid‚Äôs ‚ÄčChristmas‚Äč ‚Äčlist‚Äč ‚Äčand‚Äč calling ‚Äčthem‚Äč ‚Äč‚Äúrequirements‚ÄĚ for the job.‚Äč

‚Äč‚ÄčI‚Äč understand‚Äč ‚Äčwhy‚ÄĒwe‚Äôre‚Äč ‚Äčall‚Äč ‚Äčbusy,; ‚Äčwe‚Äôre‚Äč ‚Äčall‚Äč ‚Äčsick‚Äč ‚Äčof‚Äč ‚Äčwading‚Äč ‚Äčthrough‚Äč applications from ‚Äčspammy candidates‚Äč ‚Äčwho‚Äč ‚Äčdidn‚Äôt‚Äč ‚Äčeven‚Äč ‚Äčread‚Äč ‚Äčthe‚Äč posting,; ‚Äčand‚Äč ‚Äčwe‚Äč all ‚Äčneed‚Äč ‚Äčhelp‚Äč ‚ÄčRIGHT‚Äč ‚ÄčNOW OMG‚Äč. ‚ÄčAnd the‚Äč ‚Äčtruth‚Äč ‚Äčis,‚Äč ‚Äčwe‚Äč ‚Äčcan‚Äč sometimes ‚Äčhire‚Äč ‚Äčsome‚Äč ‚Äčgood‚Äč ‚Äčpeople‚Äč ‚Äčthis‚Äč ‚Äčway. But‚Äč ‚Äčif‚Äč ‚Äčwe‚Äč keep doing ‚Äčwhat‚Äč ‚Äčwe‚Äôve‚Äč ‚Äčalways‚Äč ‚Äčdone,‚Äč ‚Äčwe‚Äôll‚Äč continue getting what ‚Äčwe‚Äôve‚Äč ‚Äčalways‚Äč ‚Äčgotten:‚Äč ‚Äča toxic‚Äč ‚Äčindustry‚Äč with a‚Äč real diversity‚Äč ‚Äčproblem. We‚Äč ‚Äčcan‚Äč ‚Äčand should do‚Äč ‚Äčbetter,‚Äč ‚Äčand‚Äč ‚Äčthe‚Äč ‚Äčgood‚Äč ‚Äčnews‚Äč ‚Äčis that our job postings are an easy place to start.

A‚Äč ‚Äčjob‚Äč ‚Äčposting‚Äč ‚Äčis‚Äč ‚Äčoften a candidate‚Äôs‚Äč ‚Äčfirst‚Äč ‚Äčtouchpoint‚Äč ‚Äčwith‚Äč your ‚Äčcompany, and ‚Äčthe‚Äč ‚Äčgatekeeper‚Äč ‚Äčthat‚Äč ‚Äčdecides‚Äč who will ‚Äčbe‚Äč ‚Äčin‚Äč ‚Äčyour‚Äč ‚Äčcandidate‚Äč ‚Äčpool‚Äč. So, you should make sure your job posting isn‚Äôt throwing up unnecessary roadblocks that deter good candidates from applying.

Those roadblocks might look something like this:

  • 5-7 years of experience required
  • Bachelor‚Äôs degree in x or y required

If you aren’t hiring a doctor, lawyer, architect, or another professional required by your jurisdiction to have a degree, I urge you to think about whether or not requirements like these should make it into your job description. Especially if you work in tech.

Here’s why.

Continue reading “More requirements, not required”

How We Build Company Culture as a Remote Team

Skillcrush is a completely distributed company, meaning that we have no central office and are located all over the world, spanning languages, continents, and timezones. With the exception of a few clusters (several of us live in New York City and we have a bustling Florida contingent), most of rarely see each other IRL‚ÄĒif ever. The entirety of the Skillcrush team has never physically been in one place together, leaving us to guess at each other‚Äôs heights. Instead, we do everything digitally, from meetings over Google Hangouts to daily chatter on Hipchat.

You might think that working in your house or coworking space‚ÄĒfar away from your coworkers‚ÄĒis lonely. In fact, we recently talked about fighting isolation as a remote team on the first episode of our podcast, Hit Refresh. In the episode, our producer Haele commented that most of our institutional solutions for building culture on the team fall to me, our Director of Operations.

I‚Äôm embarrassed to admit that the thought had never really occurred to me. At least. . . not really. There are times where I feel like the team mom‚ÄĒthe one who makes sure everyone gets a gif party on their birthday‚ÄĒbut, honestly, I think that has less to do with my job and more to do with my personality. So the episode got me thinking about culture-building and how it really has to be a team effort instead of a top-down initiative instituted by managers or executives.

I often encounter skepticism from people who assume we couldn’t possibly know each other the way co-located teams do, and that a bland company culture must be the price we pay for flexibility. But we are anything but boring! In fact, in a recent anonymous survey, the five words most used by our team to describe our culture were fun, friendly, empowering, supportive, and welcoming.

On a day-to-day basis, we make a point to talk about (and celebrate!) things other than work, and to let team members take the lead on team-building activities. We chat about our weekends, our kids, and our lives just like any other coworkers. We have real friendships over our computer screens‚ÄĒboth in one-on-one chats and in group settings.

Just as critical to our daily interactions are the special events and clubs we make happen to foster our company culture and relationships. Here’s a look at some of the things you might recognize from your own office, just moved online.

Continue reading “How We Build Company Culture as a Remote Team”

Paying it forward

I already mentioned that Skillcrush recently launched¬†Hit Refresh, a podcast about the¬†other¬†tech industry‚ÄĒthe one that doesn‚Äôt require computer science degrees or a wardrobe full of hoodies.

This week’s episode (our third) is all about¬†tech companies adopting a practice of radical transparency. I’m interviewed about the salary tiers that I developed with our CEO. I talk about why and how we made the switch, and the results we’ve seen since.

You can listen to the episode (or read the transcript) on the Skillcrush Blog.

Supporting mental health at work

One of the big projects I’ve been working on at Skillcrush this year is improving our benefits package. Some we immediately improved or started offering, others are going on our long-term benefits roadmap.

One of the ideas that came up recently was a desire to support team members in taking care of their mental health.

Our company insurance plans cover mental health services, but not everyone has insurance with us – our provider won‚Äôt cover anyone working less than 20 hours a week, for example. (We also have a number of independent contractors, international team members, and employees who are covered under their partner’s plan instead.)

We started looking into mental health benefits that would work for our remote team Рstipends, remote subscriptions, or some combination thereof. We’re still figuring out what makes the most sense and when we could start offering such a thing, but realized some of our research could be helpful on its own.

Continue reading “Supporting mental health at work”