I hope you’ve missed me while I was transitioning to a new life. Gone are the lazy days of working at the kitchen table for a couple of hours before I even brushed my teeth. Afternoons at co-working spaces with a random collection of digital nomads. I have transitioned into the world of the employed.
It doesn’t mean I am in the world of 9 to 5 or that I am no longer global and mobile. I’ve taken on a role with a team that is spread across the globe. Our tiny team of three supports people in Europe and North America. One of my teammates is in Seattle and two of us are here in Prague.
The technology has improved dramatically since I began writing this blog. Video-conferencing technology was either clunky or state-of-the art (like Cisco’s visionary telepresence), but very expensive and often guarded as a resource like the gold in Fort Knox (sorry Europeans, maybe a better reference is the Central Bank). My company has made the video-conferencing technology fairly seamless, and I spent the last week in team meetings with my colleague in Seattle via video conference. Ergo, the lack of 9 to 5. What technology can’t change is time zones. So, my teammate has early mornings and I have late evenings, and we make it work across oceans and continents.
While my company relies heavily on distributed teams, they still have anchor locations, like Seattle in the U.S. and Luxembourg in Europe. Other companies have taken a more radical stance and have done away with offices altogether, relying on collaborative tools like Slack and Dropbox.
Flexjobs started out with a small list of just 26 “virtual”companies in 2013. By 2014 the number of remote or telecommuting job listings on the site rose 26 percent, with companies like Basecamp, Mozilla, Zapier, and FlexJobs itself, that operate either mostly or entirely virtually.
The Things a Company Can Do with Global Mobile Workers
Here are some notable examples from FlexJobs.
Acceleration Partners is a digital marketing agency and all of the job listings on Acceleration Partners’ site offer remote work options. In addition, its full-time employee benefits include “work from home or flex offices” and “work/life balance for all employees.” We think those are pretty great benefits!
appendTo Describing itself as “100% distributed,” appendTo does have an office in Illinois, but “everyone in the company has the freedom to work from wherever they feel makes them the most productive.” In fact, the ability to work from anywhere is one of the company’s core values. Virtual companies are finding that when people are comfortable in their personal work environment, they are more productive and efficient in their jobs.
Articulate develops award-winning web, mobile, and desktop applications for the rapidly growing online learning space. Every one of its 150 employees works from home 100 percent of the time. Executive Vice President of Brand Lucy Suros says, “We’ve always been fully distributed, so it’s in our DNA. Because working remotely requires a lot of trust, you have to put people front and center. Ours are smart, kind, fun, and results-oriented, which makes Articulate a pretty magical place to work.”
At posting time, web services company Automattic Inc., has 312 Automatticians working in 26 countries, 174 cities, and 36 U.S. states—all working from home. It also offers flexible schedules and staffers can set their own hours so they can work when they’re most productive.
Basecamp “Basecamp is a company spread out across 26 different cities around the world. Our office is in Chicago, but everyone at Basecamp is free to live and work wherever they want.”
The Cheat Sheet
The Cheat Sheet aims to distill the day’s news for readers to quickly peruse and digest, and its model clearly resonates with its 15 million unique visitors a month. Though based in Asheville, North Carolina, The Cheat Sheet’s staff is completely distributed and “welcome to work from anywhere: your home, a coffee shop, or even the beach! We care more about high-quality results than your location in space-time while you create things our readers love.”
This IT automation company proclaims its support of “having a life outside of work” right from the get-go on its careers page, and says, “We’ve worked hard to create a remote-friendly culture and believe you can have a big impact no matter where you live.” In addition to telecommuting, Chef offers
“Codebusters is a hardworking team of passionate health information specialists. We love working with healthcare providers to capture accurate and meaningful patient data. We work as a distributed team, openly collaborating to solve problems, from documentation to coding to claim review.” It also offers interview and resume tips on its careers page for anyone interested in applying to work at Codebusters.
Elastic is a distributed team with two hubs, one in the Netherlands and one in San Francisco. But it stresses, “we also have colleagues in Germany, France, the Czech Republic, Spain, the UK and Romania—to name but a few. We care deeply about the quality of the team, which is infinitely more important to us than where you’re based.” Plus, they purport to offer salary packages that may be well above the industry average—not a bad combination!
The team at FlexJobs can certainly relate to Equation Research’s reasoning for being a distributed company: “When we launched back in 2000, we set out to build and grow a company that NEVER HAD AN OFFICE. It was not a fear of the old food in the back of the refrigerator that drove us—it was the inspiration of building a different kind of experience for the people that shared in this adventure. It was part of the innovation we craved.”
Fire Engine Red (2nd Year)
This marketing and technology company loves working virtually, and it offers perks like a virtual walking group, a virtual book club, and bring-your-pet-to-work day every day, because everyone works from home!
The Ghost Foundation
A nonprofit blogging platform committed to publishing—that’s Ghost. To add to its uniqueness, it says of its work environment, “Our headquarters is the Internet. If you have a wifi connection, we have an office near you. We’re a distributed team working online from all corners of the planet. We don’t care about counting the number of hours you spend in a chair at a desk in a small room each week. You can live wherever you want, and work however you like. As long as you’re online, you can be ‘at work.’”
A well-known marketplace for development work, GitHub is also a distributed team, with over 260 people working across the world. As “a remote and flexible workplace,” GitHub says, “Work/life balance is important to us, which is why we offer flexible work schedules and unlimited PTO. We believe that if a job allows for it, people should work wherever they’re happiest.”
Greenback Expat Tax Services
Providing a specific and unique service to thousands of clients in over 140 countries makes working virtually a no-brainer. In fact, in this company’s FAQ section, when asked how it’s able to keep prices so low, it responded that being virtual is a big part of the answer! “Because we are a virtual team, we do not have the additional hefty cost of offices, commutes, etc. This allows us to spend money where it matters: On ensuring our customers have a reason to return every year.”
Kato’s aim is to fix business communication by offering a one-stop portal for all organizational communication. And it’s also virtual: “Work from Nome? Work from Rome? Work from home? Kato is a fully distributed organization headquartered in Oakland, California. We’re looking for engineers, marketers, and writers passionate about the business communication business.”
We couldn’t say it better ourselves: “Our core team of paid staff and volunteers work collaboratively to develop our strategies and campaigns. As a virtual organization, we use conference calls, IM, and email extensively to communicate, to create, and to care for each other. Our team enjoys a results oriented work environment where the challenges and joys of balancing work, family, and personal time are understood.”
The maker of Firefox, Mozilla is a nonprofit organization with a distributed team and a lot of remote workers around the world. As the company says, “We have 13 global offices and people working in more than 30 countries. If you work best from home, that’s not a problem. We can support you anywhere.” Most of the open jobs on the company’s career page right now are remote positions.
As the makers of a well-known WordPress multilingual plugin, OnTheGoSystems is the perfect company to use a distributed team. Sixty full-time staff members work from 6 continents, 32 countries, and 53 cities, with a headquarters in Hong Kong. The one main qualification across all jobs? Being able to “coomunicate in English.” Bah-dum ching!
PeopleG2 A very unique addition to this list, PeopleG2 started out as an office-based company but made the switch to a virtual company in 2008. “Chris Dyer, PeopleG2’s founder and chief executive, initially made the switch because his expanding workforce was bursting out of the company’s existing office space, but also to weather financial pressures caused by the recession. Operating as a virtual business worked so well, he never looked back.” Virtual companies such as PeopleG2 have discovered the benefits of virtual teams and are operating successfully in the online world.
While ProofHQ, a company that supports marketing teams in the online proofing process, is technically based in Dallas, Texas, and asks many of its hires to be based in the Dallas area, it also says that, “All our roles are remote working, so you can be based anywhere and work from your home office, the garden shed, the beach, the slopes, or local coffee shop. We don’t care as long as you deliver and get the job done!”
The team at this web crawling platform company is completely distributed, with 90 people working from around the world in areas like professional services, sales, support, and more. The company looks for people who “thrive in an environment where you can operate autonomously…and have great communication skills.”
The makers of online collaboration software for virtual teams, Sqwiggle practices what it preaches. “Building a fun and social culture within a remote team can sometimes seem impossible.” Sqwiggle aims to make the impossible possible.
Citing long, uninterrupted stretches of focused work as one of its main reasons for being a remote company, TeamGantt says, “We all know what it’s like to work in an office. While it can be a lot of fun, there are meetings to attend and countless interruptions from coworkers with questions, small talk, etc.” And Nathan Gilmore, a co-founder of the company, says, “I think that some employees who work from home could get more done in one highly focused, uninterrupted two-hour stretch of work then some people would be able to get done in 8+ hours working in an interruption filled office.”
The founding members of this team management company includes “social scientists and an improv comedian,” and while it’s not shy about cracking jokes throughout its website, it is serious about helping people better manage team sports and groups. About its distributed environment, TeamSnap says, “Some people work in our headquarters in Boulder, Colorado, while many others work remotely from all corners of the USA as well as a few in Canada, UK, Australia and Croatia. In the US, we’ve got people in Portland, Raleigh/Durham, Pittsburgh, Washington DC, Austin and San Diego, just to name drop some cities.”
On its careers page, Universal Mind touts its remote and distributed team: “Our team members are located across the United States and around the globe. We hire the best of the best regardless of geographic location.” And when explaining why people would want to work at Universal Mind, it says, “Our workforce was virtual before virtual was cool. Whether we work in our company office, on our dining room tables, or at a hip coworking loft, we believe in individuality and autonomy—not set hours or corporate face time.”
Ushahidi has a unique goal—to gather crisis information from the public during real-time events happening around the globe. To do this difficult and important work, the company says, “We are first and foremost a virtual organization, with team members hailing from across the globe.”
This private academic tutoring and test prep company offers tutoring services online, in-home, at libraries, or wherever is convenient for its students. All of its employees work from home in remote positions, which it points out, means “no commuting time!”
VLP Law Group
This group, formerly “Virtual Law Partners,” has really embraced the benefits employers receive from telecommuting work arrangements. It is one of FlexJobs’ virtual companies that has “invested in technology rather than expensive offices. We work in a lean, low-overhead environment.” And, “Where and when you work is entirely up to you and your clients. Most of us work from home or at our clients’ offices, allowing us to better coordinate work and personal commitments.”
The Wirecutter is a resource that helps people locate the best gadgets based on its research, testing, and editorial content. “The Wirecutter is a 100% remote organization and as such applicants should feel comfortable (and preferably have a good deal of experience) with this arrangement. You should feel comfortable conducting a majority of your correspondence with the team over the phone, team chat, IM and video calls.”
Acknowledging that building a company with a distributed team comes with its own rulebook, Yarnee has written blog posts on how it runs a happily distributed team, and the17 tools and services it couldn’t live without. Great reading for anyone either working for, or managing a distributed team!
Flexjobs list is now up to 100 companies, and even my new company is on the list.
FlexJobs has a Guide to the Best Companies for Flexible Jobs, a searchable database of over 30,000 pre-screened, legitimate employers that embrace and offer telecommuting and other flexible work options.
Going to work every day with my new employee badge around my neck hasn’t changed my belief that Digital Nomads, Distributed Work Teams and Mobile Workers are the wave of the future. And, I’m not the only one who continues to chant the mantra. Here are some other great places to explore and celebrate the world of the Global Mobile Worker.
Winning with Remote Work
Check out the Top Companies Winning at Remote Work.
To Learn more about the rapidly expanding world of Global Mobile Workers here are some other great blogs: