over it. Things can fester a bit—that’s a bigger
risk. So it’s important to see one another as
humans. Those meet-ups matter. Another
thing we do is something called a 5x12. Every
month, one person picks fve people from
diferent departments—some new, some old—
who get fve minutes of advanced warning,
and are told to get on a Google Hangout for an
hour. There’s no agenda, except we can’t talk
about work. We talk about our lives, our kids,
whatever. People get this really rich, fun experience, and then it’s transcribed and shared
with the whole team. That helps bridge the
gap between those in-person meet-ups.
s Sounds like video chat is a no-brainer.
GASCOIGNE We have a general commitment
to do everything via video. With video, you just
get a lot more from people’s facial expressions.
You can tell in a micro-second when someone’s confused. We used Google Hangouts for
a long time, but now we use Zoom.
MULLENWEG We like Zoom a lot. The other
thing that’s a lifeblood for us is P2, this set
of internal blogs that we use instead of email.
Slack and P2 are common across all teams.
Other than that, if one team wants to use Trello
and another wants to build its own bug tracker,
they can do whatever they want. It just has to
have an interface for the rest of the company to
either read it or submit things to it.
s What if I already have a local ofce but
want to start recruiting for remote workers—
any words of wisdom?
GOLDMAN I do think you have to pick whether
you want the team co-located or remote. We
started remote and then opened a physical
ofce in Portland for 10 percent of the team,
and it was really clunky. Tacking on a few
co-located workers is as awkward as tacking
on a few remote workers. If you want to
optimize your team, you need to pick one.
FRIED You don’t want to build a local
culture and a remote culture. The earlier in
the business cycle you go remote, the easier
it will be to just make it part of the way
you work. But if you’re looking to transition
later, my advice would be to spend six
months allowing local people to work from
home. That will give you practice on what
it’s like to not all be together—to fgure out
the communication, the tools, whatever.
So the next employee you hire, who’s all
alone in Omaha, doesn’t feel like a guinea
pig. She’ll feel welcome.
KATE ROCK WOOD is an Inc. contributing editor.
For the founder of a hot San
Francisco startup with $150 million
in venture funding, Daniel Yanisse
has an unusual goal: By the end of
this year, he wants 5 percent of his
workforce to be ex-offenders.
When Yanisse launched his
company Checkr, in 2014, all he
knew about criminal records was
that clients didn’t like them. Back
then, Yanisse and his team spoke
on the phone to job applicants, and
“we heard hundreds of stories about
people who committed very minor
crimes 20 years ago and were trying
to get a new start,” says Yanisse.
“They were being rejected for the
Yanisse is not alone in thinking
differently about the 70 million
American adults with criminal
records. More than 150 U. S. cities
and counties have banned com-
panies from asking job applicants
about previous criminal convictions,
according to the National Employ-
ment Law Project. In 2015, Under
Armour, Dropbox, Facebook, and
other large companies signed the
Fair Chance Business Pledge to lower
barriers to employment for people
with criminal records, as did dozens
of smaller employers. Y Combinator
recently hatched 70 Million Jobs, a
recruitment site for former inmates.
Yanisse began reaching out
to ex-offenders through reentry
programs such as Defy Ventures and
the Last Mile. The company now
considers applicants on a case-by-
case basis, conducting in-depth
interviews to understand the story
behind each crime and the extent of
rehabilitation. “We don’t have rules
about the type of offenses that would
automatically disqualify someone,”
says Yanisse. Instead, he follows
guidelines laid out by the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commis-
sion, which asks companies to
consider the nature and gravity of
the offense, how long ago the crime
took place, and whether it relates to
the position being applied for. So, for
example, as a background check
company, Checkr would likely not hire
someone convicted of identity theft.
While manual work in restaurant
kitchens or warehouses is more
common for ex-inmates, Checkr
has placed recruits in customer
service and operations positions
and expects to add some to sales.
Yanisse—who is now helping clients
including DoorDash and Crisis Text
Line do the same—typically starts
the ex-offender in a temporary
work program, where he or she
serves in a paid, internship-like job,
while management evaluates
One Checkr employee, who asked
not to be identifed, got out of state
prison just over a year ago after
serving 13 years. He now works with
job applicants who are going through
background checks. “One thing I like
about this place is that they didn’t
make me feel like I was an outsider or
an experiment,” says the employee,
who previously had hesitated to seek
a new job because he feared rejection. “It was just, ‘ We accept you. We
believe in you. We want to watch you
Why This Startup Is Hiring
Ex-Ofenders— and Thinks
You Should Too
n Beyond Bars
Checkr, a background-check startup with $150 million in funding, is
flling its San Francisco offce with hires who have criminal records.