remote-business

Why I Built A Remote Business (And Why You Should, Too)

My dad has a tough time understanding how we’re able to collaborate without being in the same room. I could have kept consulting on my own, handling a few clients from Ireland, paying myself a nice salary and live a “normal” life.

That wasn’t for me. I wanted to go all-in.

A few books changed my life. “Remote” by Basecamp (formerly 37Signals) is one of them.

I believe that remote work is the future of work ever since I read this book. I discovered the guys from Basecamp a few years ago. I don’t remember when exactly. I think it was when I was blogging for my French blog (read the context part of this post).

If you haven’t read “Remote”, do it. Do it now.

It’s one of those books that changes the way you think about stuff you took for granted. It’s also one of those books that teaches you things you didn’t know you didn’t know.

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First, How We’re Organised

We are three people in Slices, working remotely.

  • Serina, our Experience Designer, is based in Seattle, United States.
  • Marco, our Researcher, is based in Barcelona, Spain.
  • Louis, yours truly, is based in Dublin, Ireland.

We all create our own schedule. We use Basecamp, a project management software, to communicate and collaborate. We talk together every Monday at 5pm Irish time (6pm Spanish time and 9am West Coast time). I have one-to-ones with Marco and Serina once every two weeks for an hour. We meet in person every few months.

Other than that? We all do what we want.

serina-home
Serina’s “office” at home.

It Prevents Me From Being A Shitty Manager

I have a strong personality and can be stubborn. Yes, I can be a prick at times (I’m getting better). When I’m tired or in a bad mood (I have mood swings) I can become quite controlling.

This isn’t something I want to project on my team.

Working remotely allows me to control myself to let the team do what they have to do.

Having a screen between us makes me think twice about what I say.

Working remotely allows me to control my temper.

Access To The Best Talent In The World

We got 600 applicants for our last job post. Yes, 600 people applied to work with us. For a small company like us, this is almost unreal.

I posted the position on only two job boards: Remote OK and We Work Remotely.

Our job post
The intro of our latest job post.

We got applicants from almost every state in the US, Europe, South America, India, Australia…

Having access to the best talent in the World is just fantastic. We can hire the best person for the position, regardless of where she is.

We don’t settle for “good enough”. We want the best person. The one that fits our culture perfectly. There is no “maybe” in hiring. It’s a “yes” or a “no”.

Hiring remotely allows us to build the best team.

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Trust

Aren’t you afraid that your team will just do nothing all day?”.

Nope.

It’s a matter of trust. If you hire people that you don’t trust, there’s a big problem.

We are here to deliver work for our clients. We judge our work on results, not the number of hours spent sitting on an office desk.

I spent literally months doing nothing at the start of my career. I was surrounded by managers. It didn’t change anything. I was still browsing Facebook all day. People work because they want to. If they hate their jobs they won’t do the work. Even if you try to control them.

This concept has been theorised in psychology. It’s called reactance. The less freedom you have the more you’re going to fight against it. On the other hand, the more freedom you have the happier you are.

Freedom

Freedom.

Freedom to take two hours off if we want to. Freedom to work from home if we want to. Freedom to be flexible with our time.

We know when we have to deliver something for a client or work on a project. It doesn’t matter if one of us starts working at 11.30AM and finishes late. Whatever rocks our boat.

We can also work from anywhere (as long as the Internet connection is great). I’m spending more time with my friends and family in France. Marco and Serina have been travelling to Germany or Greece without any impact on their productivity.

Working from an airport lounge
Working from an airport lounge…
The view from Marco's co-working space
The view from Marco’s co-working space in Barcelona…
Serina's office in Cyprus.
Serina’s office in Cyprus…

Letting people be is so fulfilling. It makes me proud and happy.

An International Business From Day One

We’re able to work with clients from Africa, America, Europe…

We can work with clients across America, Europe, Africa without changing our schedule.

This wasn’t necessarily planned but this is definitely a nice-to-have.

Serina is based in Seattle so she can get in touch with clients across America. Marco and I are almost on the same timezone. We can get in touch with clients in Western/Eastern Europe and Africa.

It Makes People Happy

The first question I ask during our one-to-ones with the team is always: “Are you happy?”.

Happiness.

Isn’t it what’s important? We spend more time working than with our loved ones. It’s much better if we can enjoy it. I can feel that we’re all happy. Happy to choose their schedule, happy to work from where they want, happy to fight for the same vision.

Being able to pay my own salary thanks to the work I’ve put in in the last year is great. Having a team of happy people is even better.

It’s The Future

Technology is giving us freedom.

Internet is liberating us from the stupid 9-to-5, Monday to Friday, mentality. We worked with Serina four months before meeting her in person. We got 600 applicants to our latest job post. We communicate with clients almost exclusively with the Internet.

Remote work is the future of work. It gives our freedom back.

Try it, it’s addictive.

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Also published on Medium.

  • fernandorbaroni

    This is my dream, working remotely, thank you for sharing your experience, more managers needs to understand that remote working is better for everyone, it’s better for trust, for productivity and for the most important one: health.

    The hardest part is to find a job that accepts remote working, most of the jobs posted in sites like RemoteOk will receive that 600 applications.

    Let’s hope your post will inspire more people to do just like you, and to succeed in this new way of working.

    • Hey! Thank you so much. I doubt that all the posts will receive 600 applicants. Don’t give up.

      Do everything in your power to stand out when applying:
      – answer to the questions in a detailed and organised manner,
      – don’t be afraid to show your personality,
      – go above and beyond the traditional way of applying (CV + Cover Letter): create a site specifically for the job application, send them something over the post…

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