Recently, GitLab released their '12 Steps to Better Remote' test with 12 yes or no questions to assess whether you're running a great remote operation.
Checkly is a fully remote startup with 13 employees in 5 countries today. We are growing fast! In just one month from publishing, we'll be 20 people in 8 countries and we are still hiring. So we are always looking for ways to improve.
That's why we decided to take the "12 Steps to Better Remote" test and share our results publicly! We scored 10.5/12. How does your organization score?
1. Are senior leaders remote by default?
✅ We are fully remote! Right now all 3 members of our C-level team and a couple other colleagues live in Berlin, where we have a tiny office. However, our Berlin team members rarely use the office. Soon our CTO is moving from Berlin to the Netherlands, so we'll be even more distributed!
2. Are team members empowered to define their working hours?
✅ We've got core working where we expect team members to be responsive and available for collaboration. If they're not available during these core working hours, we expect them to communicate that. Outside of the core working hours, our team members can decide when they work. We're not as async as GitLab, but we think we've achieved a balance that works really well for us so far and want to become better at supporting even more async work.
3. Is most communication about work done asynchronously?
✅ We heavily use Notion for documenting a bunch of things, such as processes, guidelines, etc. Our exec team also pushes everyone to be super transparent and share everything publicly.
We do have a weekly kick-off call to talk about what happened the week before and what we'll be focusing on that week. The full agenda is always available on Notion in case anyone misses the call, and we want to support async work even more by recording such calls.
4. Are your values, and how to live them, explicitly defined and documented?
✅ Not only are our values defined and documented, Tim, our CTO, also set them up to be super practical!
5. Does every functional department surface work in a single tool with company-wide visibility?
❌ We don't use any of the tools that are mentioned in GitLab's article. However, here's what we do to achieve transparency, which works well for our small team:
- Transparent documentation in Notion.
- Async standup in Slack when we get online in the morning.
- Share updates, ask for feedback, etc in public channels in Slack.
- Clubhouse for transparent project management and ticket tracking across teams.
6. Does your organization work handbook-first?
✅ Yes! We look for answers in our Notion before asking others. When helping others find answers, we link to the answers so the other person knows where to search next time. On top of that, we document changes and inform people about those changes through Slack and/or our weekly kick-off call.
7. Is informal communication formalized?
✅ We want and plan to do this even more, but here's where we are right now:
- The Donut Slackbot is set up to pair us randomly every 2 weeks.
- A space in Slack where we share and talk about non-work topics.
- Every person who joins Checkly has to schedule at least 6 1:1s with people they haven't met yet.
- Team members are encouraged to go to or speak at conferences.
- Monthly game night.
- Company retreat about 2 times a year, where the focus is on spending time with each other and getting to know each other better.
8. Are communication expectations documented in a single source of truth?
✅ Our communication expectations are documented in our Employee Handbook in Notion, such as:
- "Whenever possible written communication.
- "Non-sensitive communication happens in public Slack channels and team meetings: Not in private 1:1 conversations or DM's."
- Make sure meeting notes are documented in Notion.
- Larger initiatives and meetings should be specced in Notion. It's your responsibility to share this document upfront to meetings and make sure your coworkers have access to it. "
9. Does each team member call/collaborate with their own equipment?
✅ Yes, this is part of the communication expectations that are documented in our Employee Handbook.
10. Do you have a documented and defined in-person strategy?
✅ We plan to have about 2 company retreats per year (if the pandemic allows it), which is also documented in our Employee Handbook. We also plan to dive a little deeper into our in-person strategy.
11. Do you hire, praise, and promote on values alignment and results?
✅❌ As a small startup, who just hired our first People Ops person 1.5 months ago, we haven't formalized this yet, but we plan to! What we already do:
- Hiring: We don't use "culture-fit" as an excuse to not move forward with someone when we don't "vibe" with them. Instead, the team is challenged to look at our values or how we collaborate to make a more objective evaluation and to promote creating diverse teams.
- Praise: One day after publishing this post, we will do a workshop with the team around feedback. Linking feedback and praise to our values will be an important part of that workshop!
- Promotion: We don't have a formal promotion process yet. However, we just set up how we'll do performance feedback during the onboarding process, which is linked directly to our values.
12. Do you fund individual workspaces and reimburse for out-of-home office use?
✅ Straight from our Employee Handbook:
"We can help you to find a desk and will reimburse you for the costs. We can also support you to set up your office at home this could include a new monitor, furniture, and equipment. Make sure you have a good mouse and keyboard. You are individually responsible for the co-working contract; as long as you work for Checkly, we will pay the bill."
🎉 Overall, we're pretty happy with our 10.5/12 score! We acknowledge that scoring 10.5 with just 13 people might be easy. We will invest a lot of energy in the above 12 areas to keep our score up, even with 25-30 employees.
We're proud to be a fully remote company with a lot of focus on transparency, ownership and documentation, and we hope we set a great example for others. There are a couple of topics we've been wanting to give some extra attention and they were also touched upon in these 12 questions. That makes us want to tackle them even more! 💪