Effects of the Pandemic
The direct effects of the pandemic are real: loss of life, disrupted families, economic uncertainty, and high unemployment rates. The indirect effects of the pandemic are more subtle but equally real: parents navigating distance learning while working, strained relationships at home, and Zoom fatigue (yeah, it’s a thing).
Personally, I feel fortunate: my wife works a full-time job, we have a 4-year old son who isn’t in school yet, my parents offer free babysitting twice a week, we’ve gotten to know our neighbors (and we like them), and our friends and family are safe and healthy. Professionally, I feel fortunate too: we were able to pivot the business quickly to virtual Team Connecting™ and have been very successful.
We hear from clients nearly every day explaining the difficulties of keeping their remote teams connected and motivated attempting to survive this uncertainty. But we know companies can not only survive this – they can thrive with a remote workforce!
Take our friends at TaxJar. We sat down with Founder and CEO, Mark Faggiano, to understand how he built TaxJar with a remote workforce from its inception in 2013 and why it’s so successful today.
Here’s what he had to say:
What’s the most important factor determining a remote workforce’s success?
Trust. You have to trust your team that they are doing the right thing without micromanaging them.
How do you make sure people are getting their work done?
We have implemented processes and tools that can track productivity. We are also really good at communicating, especially in the written form, to make sure there are really clear expectations about deadlines and deliverables.
Can you point to one thing that has led to TaxJar’s success as a 100% remote work company?
The success of our company is really dependent on our people. We have taken great care to hire the right people who fit in a remote workplace culture, who are dedicated to our mission, and can embrace our values. We put a lot of pressure on the hiring phase and have an extensive hiring process that includes a 2 to 4 week paid mutual assessment. That way, we get to spend a lot of time with each person to make sure it will be a good fit for both of us and that they’ll be successful.
How would you describe TaxJar’s company culture?
Like I mentioned before, our company culture is built on trust. But we also make sure we stay connected. In fact, we have a team dedicated to creating a culture of connections. We do silly, goofy things like have themed virtual meetings where we dress up in our favorite sports gear. We have Skillshare once a month where an employee shares a skill they have, like teaching people to knit or sharing their hobby of beekeeping. We do virtual meetings with every new employee for 30 minutes where they get asked questions so the whole company gets to know them.
What advice do you have for businesses that are now forced into a distributed workforce model?
First, be compassionate. Even our remote work team is getting used to the conditions the pandemic has created, like spouses and kids who are now home. Productivity looks different, but you can still be successful. Second, overcommunicate – there might need to be an extra meeting scheduled here and there to clearly outline what the needs and expectations are. And finally, make sure you’re still investing in your team. You might need to create a new role for connections or fun. It will be worth it to make your employees feel that you care and will help your company survive in all this uncertainty.
Our clients understand their people are their most important assets, not their products or services. They understand a culture of trust and open communication is vital to their success. They know it’s important to invest in their people in good times and especially in challenging ones.
If you’re looking for a way to invest in your people, stay connected with them, and maintain your company culture, we’d love to share what we’ve been doing to help remote teams thrive and make our clients grin.