1. Could you please introduce you?
I work from home in Massachusetts three days a week and from our Cambridge, MA headquarters two days a week. Although remote work has always been a focus at HubSpot, as you can expect, with the growth of our remote population, it was time to focus on providing them a great experience full-time.
My role was recently created to serve this growing population of remote employees, improve the remote experience, and manage the rollout of a global philosophy around remote work that includes both high level company-wide guidelines as well as team-based flexibility.
2. How, when and why did you become a remote team or distributed company with employees working remotely?
At HubSpot, we currently have over 200 remote employees [both domestic and international] and our remote workforce has grown significantly in the past few years. In 2018 alone, we saw the remote population grow by approximately 117%. But remote working isn’t new to us at HubSpot. In fact, we’ve had remote employees since 2007 and our longest standing remote employee has been at HubSpot for 12 years.
Our remote employees work across all departments and teams with the majority in sales and marketing. Over the years, we’ve seen our employees request to work remotely for a variety of reasons, but overall, we’ve leaned into remote work as a company in order to attract, support, and retain our incredible employees.
3. What have been the advantages to become a remote company or having a distributed team?
For us, having remote workers is business critical. Research has shown that when employees work remote, they are more productive, efficient, and are overall less stressed. Having remote employees throughout the world has allowed us to solve for time zone challenges, which has in turn allowed us to solve for our customers in a more time efficient manner.
While we see a variety of reasons of why people work remote, it’s really about supporting employees and where they work best and want people to build work around their lives, not the other way around.
4. Have there been any disadvantages and obstacles?
One of our challenges is how we ensure that what we promise (an amazing, dynamic and inclusive place to work) is what we deliver for remote employees.
We’ve put a lot of time and effort into making sure that the culture we’ve built and are proud of, is also inclusive of people who don’t work directly in the office. We’re constantly experimenting and evolving our processes to be more remote friendly, and we rely on our remote employees to let us know where we can improve when it comes to feeling as if they are an integral part of our culture.
Equally as important is training our managers to support our remote employees, both personally and professionally, and creating a team that is thoughtful about their experience and their career growth within the company.
We’ve partnered with our HR Business Partners, our Learning and Development teams, and our Management and Leadership team to ensure that we’ve equipped our managers with the strategies they need to manage a remote employee successfully.
5. How do you do to operate effectively as a remote or distributed team?
The culture our co-founders have built at HubSpot is one where we value results over the number of hours you work, or where you work and therefore we’ve always been really encouraging of remote workers.
That being said, when you grow a remote workforce at scale, there are some organizational and also team-level habits that shift. First, we’ve equipped all of our spaces with remote-friendly technology such as video-conferencing, instant messaging, and smart whiteboards to ensure that our remote population can engage in conversations, meetings and trainings.
In addition, we’ve also layered on best practices and trainings for our employees to ensure that we’re always thoughtful around our remote workforce.
For example, making sure our internal communications, company meetings, or in-office events are remote friendly if and where possible, or providing tips and hacks to managers running team meetings with either fully remote, or partially remote teams. We’re still learning and evolving, but we’re more conscious as a company to ensure our remote workforce is included.
6. How do you hire remotely? What’s the process that you follow?
We have several open positions available for fully remote employees at the moment, and the process is nearly the same for in-office employees, although we rely on Zoom for interviews.
We’ve also dedicated time and resources to train interviewers globally to be more thoughtful about the role they play in driving an efficient, effective, and empathetic hiring process for our remote candidates.
This includes asking more behavioral and open-ended interview questions rooted in our core values found in our Culture Code (that has over 4M views on slideshare) that spell HEART (humble, empathetic, adaptable, remarkable, transparent).
By using more open-ended questions, the interviewer can practice more empathy by talking less, and listening more. We also provide tips and trainings for our interviewers to help make candidates feel comfortable over video in order to ensure that the hiring process is both inviting and engaging.
7. What would you say to companies that don’t believe to hire employees who work remotely?
Companies that don’t consider remote employees I think are missing out on incredible, talented, and dedicated employees. By shifting the mindset to allowing remote work opportunities, companies can dramatically increase their pipeline and get the best talent for the role they are looking to fill – regardless of that individual’s location.
In addition, the ability to work remotely is a great way to delight and retain your employees who may otherwise have to leave the company due to moving out of the area.
8. What are the tools that you use or help you to work remotely?
For our remote employees, their laptop is, essentially, their office – and our Collaboration team has worked hard to ensure that all remote employees are set up for success in that sense. We ship an IT kit to all new employees and have an on-call HelpDesk team member available at all times for our remote population.
We also rely heavily on Slack, Zoom video conferencing, and smart whiteboards to ensure that we can collaborate across dispersed teams and engage with our remote population.
9. How do you manage the business, salaries and things like taxes as a remote company?
Our co-founders, Brian and Dharmesh, wholeheartedly believe that every employee should be a shareholder. With this in mind, we do not follow the contractor model that many remote companies leverage.
All of our remote employees are full-time employees, which means we need to be properly set-up with taxes, payroll, and benefits, for them to work in the states and countries they work in.
With this in mind, we’re very transparent with our employees that we allow remote work in the six countries where we know we can support remote work.
10. What advice would you give to companies that are starting to work remotely or establishing a distributed team?
Don’t try to do everything at once. Start small, ask for feedback, and evolve your processes from there. For example, if you don’t have a Work From Home policy, you could start there and learn from your existing employees about what works well and where the blindspots are.
From there, you can continue to build on what works for your company culture, your business model, and your employees. Remote work can be a big change for companies, but it’s worth it!