Amanda Bostrom is a great example of how leading remotely can evolve from a more traditional head-quarter based background. Just because you are currently not remote does not mean that you (or your team) can’t implement this option for employees.
For the past two years, Amanda led the support team for Roomi, an online marketplace for shared housing. Apart from answering support requests, the team does background checks and manages first payments for prospective tenants.
Amanda used to work from the New York headquarters. Her team was remote since before she joined. For herself, she did see the advantages of working at the same location as the product team. However, Amanda does not hold a US passport. When her work permit wasn’t renewed, the company decided to take the remote idea to the next level. They opened up an office in the UK and Amanda started leading her team from this new time zone.
The secret sauce: mission and motivation
The team currently includes about 12 people, in charge of global 24/7 chat operations. What started as a traditional outsourcing project to the Philippines, has since evolved into a team of contractors in Dallas, South America, the Philippines, and Europe.
For Amanda, it’s important to be involved in the hiring process from. After an initial screening phone call, the second interview focuses heavily on the candidate’s interest in the company and their motivation for working remotely. Remote employees need to be invested in the company mission from the get-go. Only then they are passed to a technical interview with someone on a team, and a final round with the CEO.
This interest in the company’s broader goals ties in with the motivation of the candidate. Are they primarily interested in the position – or in the remote part? While working remotely does allow more flexibility for travel, these alternative plans should not compete with the work itself. Especially employees new to remote work often underestimate the disruption travel can create. For these cases, Amanda prefers to make sure upfront where the priorities lie for each candidate.
Performance and career development
Amanda’s team thrives on clear goals and KPIs related to customer experience. Accountability is created through a two-way process: Amanda conducts quality reviews and each team member creates biweekly reports about their progress. Each employee owns their own career development process. Amanda keeps track of what people show interest in and helps them to find side projects and additional options to gain experience. From there on it’s each person’s own responsibility to own their career.
Team-building and meetings in real life
The support team is not the only remote team at Roomi. Many developers also work away from the headquarters. To make sure that the human connection remains, the company organizes a yearly company retreat. Additionally, they fly in individual team members to co-work at the headquarters every couple of months. In between, teams have weekly customer experience meetings and are encouraged to cowork virtually – while remote.
You don’t need to go completely remote with your entire company.You can add remote positions bit by bit, experimenting with your perfect setup as you go. As long as you consciously create the communication and information flows, co-located and remote workers can work together just fine.
To find more about Amanda, visit her profile on Linkedin.
Since our interview, Amanda has accepted a new role as Head of Operations, working directly with the leadership team for Twickets, a marketplace for reselling of event tickets, headquartered in the UK.
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