s Let’s jump right into the money stuf. What
expenses are unique to distributed teams?
JOEL GASCOIGNE You’re paying more for
travel. One of our biggest expenses is our
annual retreat and getting dozens of employees to Sydney, Thailand, Iceland, for a week.
It costs up to $400,000. But that balances
out against what we’d be paying for an ofce,
especially in a big city. I think it still works
out to be less expensive.
MATT MULLENWEG Teams host in-person
meet-ups once or twice a year from locations
all around the world. We also have a $250
monthly co-working stipend if people want
to work from a co-working space or a cofee
shop—whatever’s most productive.
s How do you fgure out how much to pay,
when one person lives in Tulsa and the next
lives in Tulum?
JASON FRIED Everyone’s salaries used to
be Chicago rates, because we have more
people in Chicago than anywhere else. Then
last year we switched to San Francisco rates,
because we decided to match our salaries to
the best in the business. We don’t have a
single employee who lives in San Francisco,
but we don’t want someone ever to leave just
because they could get more money in a
diferent ZIP code.
JAKE GOLDMAN We have a general range
for each position, but it’s intentionally broad,
because we don’t think we should have to pay
someone living in a really remote position the
same amount as someone living in Manhattan.
We may have to pay more for their travel to
events or client onsites. There are costs you
might not think about, and that does infuence
the compensation package for us.
s Speaking of time zones—isn’t that a
GOLDMAN If someone’s more far-fung, we’ll
talk to them about time shifting—at least for
six months, while they’re getting oriented.
But, in general, there’s the expectation that
everyone’s available, accessible, and responsive
during core business hours of roughly 9 to 5
your time zone.
FRIED We make sure there are at least three
or four hours of overlap with other people on
your team. If you’re a brand-new designer
and 12 hours apart from the rest of your team,
that’s not going to work. But most of our teams
are in three or four time zones, so team members are six hours apart. What we don’t want is
anyone working the night shift, because that
doesn’t feel sustainable.
s How do you snif out red fags that someone
will be miserable working remotely?
JESSE MECHAM We did have one misfre. We
hired someone who thought she could do it,
and it turned out she missed the energy from
an ofce situation. So we’ve learned you have
to be really upfront. If someone hasn’t worked
remotely before, ask if they derive energy
from people, and make sure they have a plan
to get out and get that energy. It’s pretty easy
to solve, but they have to go into the role with
eyes wide open.
GOLDMAN We place immense value on the
interviews. If someone’s connection is choppy
or there is a ton of background noise or they’re
just really slow to respond to emails and messages during the process, that’s a good signal
that they don’t know how to make remote
work well. Also, during the interview, I’ll say
something to the efect of, “Some people think
remote means less work. Let’s disabuse ourselves of that notion right now. You will be
judged by your output, and I don’t want to have
a hard conversation in three months.”
BRANDON GRIGGS Written questionnaires
and face-to-face hangouts are perfect for
validating remote communication skills. Even
if a candidate was my next-door neighbor, I’d
still insist on both.
s How do you get new hires integrated
into the team from a distance?
FRIED In some ways, remote elevates the
work over culture ft, because the work speaks
for itself. You can’t charm your way past bad
work. But there is a risk that people will not
like one another because they misread some
interaction or just had a bad interaction and
never had the chance to go to lunch and get
HUNTING IN THE WILD
s “We often
monds in the
rough in our daily
lives, and we
wanted a way to
in a subtle
putting them on
the spot, so we
discreet cards that
tude, and energy
are exactly what
we look for at
Drybar. We’d love
to talk to you
our team.’ We’ve
given them to
esses to someone
working at Urban
JOEL GASCOIGNE CEO of Buffer, social media management
JASON FRIED CEO of Basecamp, project management software
JESSE MECHAM CEO of You Need a Budget, personal fnance software
JAKE GOLDMAN President of 10up, digital strategy and web design
BRANDON GRIGGS CEO of Knack, data management
MATT MULLENWEG CEO of Automattic, publishing platform
The Roundtable Participants