Revenue Pulse started as a solo mission, but as the business began to grow, I knew I needed to start developing a team that could help the company move forward. I’m in Ottawa, and while I was lucky enough to find some outstanding talent in the city, I quickly hired all the good Marketo consulting talent. I wanted to work with the best of the best, regardless of their location, so I knew Revenue Pulse would need to be a remote company.
I didn’t take this decision lightly. As a former employee of various enterprise corporations, I have been witness to both good and bad company culture. I know how important facetime is among team members, and I knew I would need to be very intentional about building a positive culture for a team that would meet in person only a few times each year.
That team is in place now, but they’re based throughout the US and Canada, which means that while we’re all working toward the same goal, we’re not exactly hanging out at the water cooler or playing air hockey on our breaks. Despite our relative locations, we make a focused effort to build a strong company culture.
Here’s how we make “team” a priority.
Embrace the Unpredictable
Whether your team is on-site, off-site, or a combination of the two, embrace the fact that your team is always changing. Different people work together at different times – this is especially true if you’re working across multiple time zones – and that’s a strength, not a weakness.
When hiring, I look for the most talented consultants in the field, but I also make sure that potential candidates are adaptable, quick-thinking, independent, and resourceful. I intentionally hire people with a wide diversity of skills and expertise, and I look for self-starters with experience working remotely.
As the leader of a remote team, you’re in the unique position of overseeing a team you don’t actually “see” very often. Your team will take its cues from you, so as they see you intentionally foster community, they will follow suit.
We’re very intentional with the collaborative tools we use. We want to make sure our team can work closely in real time, so we rely on:
- Weekly Zoom meetings with all members of the team. Phone calls are OK, but we use video calls to make them more personal whenever possible. Video calls also help the team capture the nuances necessary to keep their projects on track. We try to avoid email and chat for any sort of creative meeting or brainstorming session, and if we’re offering feedback, we make sure to use a video call. We also look for ways to keep the meetings interesting, like asking everyone to wear costumes for Halloween.
- One-on-one meetings. I schedule 1 on 1 time with each member of my team on a regular basis. Operating remotely means that I can’t see when a team member is upset or having an off day, so it’s important that we’re constantly communicating in order to have a sense of what’s going on with each individual. This also gives staff an opportunity to be heard and to know that they are supported.
- Slack. We love Slack, and we use it for everything from work-related to discussions to sharing personal news and memes. The shared conversations keep us up to date on our team’s lives, give us space to celebrate accomplishments and make sure we’re on the same page internally. Slack also integrates with some of our favorite tools, making it easy to work cross-functionally with platforms like Asana, Google Drive, and Salesforce.
- In-person events. Whenever possible, we take the opportunity to connect in person. This means that when there’s a big win within the company, we try to come together to celebrate. We also like to bring new hires to Ottawa as part of the onboarding process. This allows for in-person training and orientation and gives them a chance to meet local team members.
- Our biggest annual team event is Marketo’s Marketing Nation Summit. Most of our team attends, so we make the most of it by scheduling dinners and outings, and regularly syncing up during the summit. In fact, the Summit is the site of our annual karaoke night, and I’d suggest that you may not truly know your team until you’ve spent an evening singing Journey’s greatest hits together.
This year, the local team also participated in Ottawa’s Hope Beach Volleyball tournament, which supports various charities in the city. We had a great time, and we’re looking forward to making this an annual tradition.
These events give us some much-needed face time and make a way for us to connect in a more casual setting. We’re also planning to implement some off-site meetings in the coming year to provide another opportunity for the entire team to get together.
Hiring great talent is one thing, but maintaining a talented team is another. At Revenue Pulse, it’s important that each team member feels valued and appreciated. They work hard, and so we work hard to make sure that they’re happy.
We recently launched a loyalty program, which offers rewards to employees when they hit their 1 year, 3 year, 5 year, and 10 year anniversaries with us. And while we all appreciate the thought behind a commemorative pin or plaque, we wanted to show our employees how much we appreciate them by giving them something that they’ll actually use. We have a great selection of rewards they can choose from at each milestone (like an Apple watch at three years or a home theater package at ten), and we update the choices frequently to keep it interesting.
You Don’t Need Air Hockey
Remote organizations have several other benefits that are worth noting. For example, you’re not spending budget dollars on office space. Instead of pouring that money into candy and coffee makers, you can use your budget to hire the best in the business.
You also have the advantage of having feet on the ground in more than one location. Our Chief Revenue Officer is in San Francisco, which happens to be where several of our clients are located. His proximity to them makes face-to-face meetings simple, which wouldn’t be the case if he were hanging out with me in Ottawa.
If you’re intentional about creating space for your team to grow, innovate, and take risks, there’s no reason your remote team can’t have a strong, vibrant company culture. Encourage them to work with those who think differently, empower them to draw on their unique skill sets to challenge growth, and celebrate your wins as a team.
Your connection points will be different than those of a co-located team, but you may have something even better: you’re working with the best in your industry. Air hockey table aside, that’s something to celebrate.