OnTheGoSystems is a fully remote company building popular WordPress plugins
Virtual birthday celebration with people having birthdays in the same month
What does your remote company do?
We develop WordPress plugins, WPML, and Toolset. Toolset makes it easier and quicker for users to build a professional website without complex coding. WPML is the world’s most popular multilingual plugin, helping more than 700K websites translate their content. It is integrated with the most popular translation services, themes, and plugins, including WooCommerce. We also also offer professional translation services.
Did you start with a remote team or switched later to remote?
We started as a remote company from day one.
What do you think are the biggest benefits of remote work?
The benefits are many. You work with great people from all over the world, you learn from different cultures, you can choose where to work from, and you save money and precious time on commuting (time that you can use to do things you love, or simply spend more time at home with your family).
How important is remote work to your business?
All of our company members work remotely; headquarters are our own home offices or whatever place people choose to work from. So remote work is crucial to keeping our business running.
Why did you integrate remote work into your company?
We did not integrate remote work into our Company, OnTheGoSystems was born remote.
"I really worked there, the battery of a MacBook Pro is holding ca. 8 hrs at full usage and I work 6, so I can make it thru a day. The device right to the laptop is a mobile router, fed with a PrePaid Mobile Data SIM of TrueMove. They offer outstanding 4G packages of 15GB valid 30 days, which you can as well top up." – Beda, Toolset Support Team
What are you looking for in a good remote jobs candidate?
We want candidates who are positive, really motivated, self-managed, able to work with minimal supervision, and show passion about WordPress and what they do. We look for creative team players who are willing to bring new ideas to our company. To find a great cultural fit we expect to onboard people who are aligned with our core values, which are quality, excellent support, open-mindedness and creativity, a positive attitude, and honesty.
How to stand out when applying for a remote job?
Make sure to inform yourself about what the company does, and come prepared with some knowledge about the company. When we see an application is not just something massive that was copy-pasted but that the candidate took the time to customize the application for the specific role our company offers, the candidate will surely stand out. Also, make sure to communicate very well in both written and spoken, as communication is key in remote work.
How does your remote company's hiring process for remote jobs look like?
After reviewing applications and starting some interactions with candidates that stand out, we set a first interview, which is intended to get to know the candidate better and see if s/he would be a nice fit for the company culture. We also proceed with some personality and aptitude tests. All info is shared with the team leader of the team we’re hiring for. We decide together if the candidate passes to a second technical interview. For some roles, like support, the second interview is the last. For developer roles, the technical part involves two different interviews and a task to be delivered.
"I am working in summer from my Mongolian Yurt out at the garden :)" – Amit, Support Manager at OnTheGoSystems
How do you onboard new remote team members?
After an offer is accepted and contract signed, onboarding starts. We provide the candidate with a company email and all needed accounts, we share a "welcome kit" with the routine of work habits, and we put the candidate in touch with the training leader to coordinate their training. We also introduce the candidate to the whole company.
How do you convey your remote culture when recruiting?
We try to share as much information as possible—we mention our core values and explain how people work in teams.
Do you use third party evaluation when hiring for remote jobs?
We only use a service for personality and aptitude tests, which allows us to have one more indicator before we make a decision. We’re continually looking for ways to improve our hiring process.
How do you measure productivity in your remote team?
Productivity is measured by team leaders on each team, and it depends on the nature of the team. For example, support teams are measured by the number of tickets answered customer’s rating, pace, etc. Our ultimate goal is to make our clients happy with fast and efficient support. On the other hand, the efforts of the marketing team directly affect our sales, so it can also be relatively easy to track the progress by what is working and what is not. So, basically, we use different ways to measure productivity across different teams.
Where does your remote team work from?
We work from home or any place we like (coffee shops, co-work spaces, etc) as long as the Internet connection allows us to work smoothly and have video calls. Some people change locations frequently, others from time to time, and others prefer to always work from home as they have their offices set up comfortably to their liking.
HR manager Laura is working for a few days from Patagonia, the South of Argentina. The photo is from a rooftop coffee bar in Usuahia, well known as the city of the end of the World 😉. What you see next to the laptop is "mate" - a typical Argentinian beverage 🍵
Does your remote team meet in person?
Yes, we meet in person to work together once a year, or whenever we can. Our first event was in Malaga in 2013, and then we met in Tenerife, Porto, Cyprus, and Split. We don’t know yet when or where our next event will take place. You can check out this blog post about our most recent event in 2017 in Split, Croatia. Also, smaller groups meet in WordCamps, especially WordCamp Europe.
How do you keep remote workers engaged and feeling part of the remote company?
We have different means to make sure our company members feel part of the bigger picture. Everyone is involved in quarterly meetings where we update about bigger plans and financial status. This transparency allows everyone to know what’s going on in the company.
We also have one-on-one feedback calls with team members where we can give feedback about performance, talk about goals, and listen to suggestions. On a more informal level, we are all part of a Google+ group, open to post any info or photos members would like to share, from WordCamps attended to a baby being born. And, yes, we even celebrate birthdays online.
In all, we are a big team that cares about one another and works efficiently together to achieve the goals of our support/development/marketing teams, as well as those of the company.
What is your vacation policy for remote workers?
Members have paid vacations plus public holidays off in the country where they live. The key is communication and making sure the time off is reported well in advance so that the team can be organized. Again, good communication comes into play.
How do you communicate in your remote team?
We communicate via emails, Mattermost, and Zoom for video calls.
How do you handle different time zone challenges?
The main challenges are time zones and cultures. You need to make sure projects run smoothly and that nobody is stuck waiting for someone’s reply in order to do their part. Different cultures can interpret a comment, a tone of voice, or even a joke in a different way than the intended one. Luckily in our organization, we all have a good relationship with one another, so things are not misinterpreted.
What are your most used tools in your remote team?
We use YouTrack for all our project management, and we also use Mattermost channels for things that may need immediate attention, and daily and weekly meetings with the whole team happen via Zoom, sometimes meetings may need to involve people from other teams.
What's your advice for companies planning to go remote?
I’d say it’s the best opportunity a company can have to work with talented people from all over the world—you’re not limited to post and hire people locally. If your positions are open to the world, then the sky’s the limit.
Dinner on a river
How did you came up with a remote work policy?
It was built on the go from day one as we were born remote.
What challenges have you encountered building a remote team?
The main challenges are time zones and cultures. You need to make sure projects run smoothly and that nobody is stuck waiting for someone’s reply in order to do their part. Different cultures can interpret a comment, a tone of voice, or even a joke in a different way than the intended one. Luckily in our organisation we all have a good relationship with one another, so things are not misinterpreted.