According to a Mercer Survey, nearly 70% of businesses intend to work remotely. There was a time when remote work used to look like a far-fetched concept. However, the post-pandemic world adopted masks and “work from home” faster than anyone could have predicted!
While remote work systems emerged as the ultimate solution, businesses that decided to go fully remote faced challenges; however, almost two years into the pandemic, many successful remote companies adopted the change and are doing great today.
Today in this article, we will look at the top 20 successful remote companies and the learnings to take from them. But before that, let's look at why companies are transitioning to fully remote companies.
The pandemic completely changed the industry landscape, forcing businesses of all sizes to go remote. Increased job satisfaction among federal employees, improved recruitment and retention, and a plethora of successful federal telework models have prompted even the Biden administration to plan for a permanent shift to flexible work. That’s why even the US government plans to form remote work policies.
So, what is the reason behind this sudden change?
One of the primary reasons why companies are going remote is the numerous advantages that remote work offers. Remote work provides innumerable benefits to businesses, ranging from access to global talent to cost savings, increased productivity to a higher retention rate.
Many Silicon Valley companies have already revised every aspect of their daily operations, and their remote employees are extremely productive. This has created opportunities for resource optimization and talent pool expansion beyond traditional geographical boundaries.
Such businesses can now broaden their talent search beyond their cities, states, or even countries, tapping into the world's untapped potential. Let’s look at some companies that are now considered successful remote companies.
Here are 20 highly successful remote companies and the key lessons traditional businesses can learn from them as they transition to remote work.
Some may not recognize Automattic by name but must be undoubtedly familiar with their most well-known achievement: WordPress. Automattic has always been a remote company, with 1,200 employees spread across 77 countries —the pinnacle of remote work.
How can a dispersed team keep up with the demands of a WordPress product used by tens of millions worldwide?
Matt Mullenweg, Co-Founder of Automattic, believes engagement is the key to success. Matt defies the trend of measuring productivity by "false proxies" such as working long hours or getting up early in a recent interview with Inc. Instead, he encourages businesses to define success through creation, asking, "Can you create something great in a certain amount of time?"
Key lessons to learn - Adopt a distributed culture that is inclusive and people-centric, especially in this time of uncertainty.
Deel is a payroll and compliance provider based in San Francisco, California. It offers hiring and payment services to businesses that hire international employees and contractors. Starting in 2018, Deel has a valuation of over $5.5 billion, making it one of the fastest growing companies.
Deel operates entirely remotely, indicating that remote teams are more effective and productive because they have the freedom to work from anywhere in the world.
Key lessons to learn - Remote teams are more effective than in-house teams when managed properly.
Lyft is a ride-sharing company that connects people in need of rides with independent drivers. It has a "fully flexible" workplace that allows employees to choose where they live and work.
Lyft says its new flexible workplace strategy was founded on a few core values: impact, accountability, personal connection, and openness to new ways of working.
Key lessons to learn - The flexible workplace strikes the right balance of trust and choice, allowing employees to do their best while helping the company to attract and retain top talent.
Quora, founded in 2009, is a Q&A platform dedicated to sharing and expanding the world's knowledge. It also implemented the remote first policy during the pandemic, allowing nearly all employees to work remotely and relocate to any location where the company can legally employ them.
Key lessons to learn - Founder of Quora Adam D'Angelo said in one of his quora answers that “we are now in that future world where the benefits of remote work outweigh the costs. ”
Reddit is an online community that connects people who share common interests. These linked communities converse and share information about their interests. Reddit also allows employees to choose between permanent remote work and in-office work in a casual environment.
Key lessons to learn - Going remote helps overcome geographical barriers and hire top talent from all over the world.
Slack provides real-time messaging, archiving, and search services to help users quickly and efficiently stream communication and documents to share with colleagues. While most Slack employees can work from home on a permanent basis, the company also supports those who prefer to work in the office.
Key lessons to learn - When managed properly, remote teams can outperform in-house teams.
Square began as a small credit card-reading application and has since evolved into a platform that allows merchants to manage point-of-sale systems, accept credit card payments, and sell online.
Many Square Inc. employees can work from home on a permanent basis.
Key lessons to learn - Being flexible in how and where people work leads to a much more productive and creative workforce.
Dropbox enables individuals and businesses to keep files in sync as well as share and collaborate on projects at any time and from any location.
Dropbox allows all employees to work from home on a permanent basis. Existing office space will be transformed into Dropbox Studios, where people will be able to work in person.
Key lessons to learn - Remote work provides many benefits, such as access to global talent, a high retention rate, and increased employee productivity.
"Our headquarters are in Chicago, but everyone at Basecamp is free to live and work anywhere." This sentence, taken directly from the Basecamp website, shows the company's deeply ingrained sense of individuality. Basecamp has been around for more than 20 years, making it one of the longest-running successful remote companies—a veritable forefather to the current remote work movement.
Allowing its employees to work from home, on their own time, with full company support resulted in a product used by more than 3.3 million people today.
Key lessons to learn - Happy people are successful people, and treating them well is the simplest way to success.
Coinbase, founded in 2012, is a digital currency exchange dedicated to the creation of an open and global financial system. The platform is used by traders, merchants, and consumers to buy and sell cryptocurrencies.
Coinbase allows its employees to work from any part of the world. It has helped the company attract the best talent from around the world.
Key lessons to learn - Going remote allows you to break down geographical barriers and hire the best talent from around the world.
Buffer is a web and mobile application designed to manage social network accounts.
Buffer organizes checkpoints where managers and teammates meet one-on-one to discuss the previous quarter's results, growth opportunities, career next steps, and so on. They actively use the quick communication platform (Slack) to provide feedback on day-to-day activities and to connect with other managers and peers to share challenges and learn from one another.
Key lessons to learn - Hire comfortable and effective people working remotely: they must be self-starters, highly motivated, clear communicators, and accountable for completing work on time and to a high standard. Employees who exhibit these characteristics are relatively simple to manage remotely!
Hotjar is a powerful tool that reveals users' online behavior and voice. Hotjar provides the big picture of improving the site's user experience and performance/conversion rates by combining Analysis and Feedback tools.
In an interview, Nicholas Heim, Director of Marketing at Hotjar, shares his experience. He mentions that one of the most difficult aspects of hiring and managing a remote team is cultivating team camaraderie and culture in a completely remote environment. There are many approaches to deal with it, such as recruitment, a culture of trust, special projects and prizes, and in-person meetings.
They make certain that they hire the most talented people who share their company's vision and values, provide employees with a high level of freedom and transparency, invest in special initiatives, and connect with peers.
Key lessons to learn - Process, commitment, and culture are the 3 most important things for remote companies.
Airbnb is a California-based online marketplace that connects travelers with local hosts. It was founded to connect people looking to rent out extra space with travelers looking for clean, comfortable, and safe lodging.
In April 2022, Airbnb announced that its employees would be permanently able to work from anywhere, making it one of the most successful companies to go fully remote.
Key lessons to learn - Remote work gives employees the flexibility to work from anywhere in the world without any distractions, which indirectly enhances the productivity of the employees.
Dell, one of the largest successful remote companies, launched its Connected Workplace remote work program several years ago, intending to have 50% of its employees working remotely by 2020. At the end of the fiscal year 2015, roughly one in every four eligible Dell team members worldwide was enrolled in flexible work programs, putting the company halfway to its 2020 goal.
Human Resources Director Mohammed Chahdi attributes the success of the flex-work program to making flexible and remote work a part of business strategy. "Support begins with Dell's executive leadership team members, who work themselves flexibly," Chahdi says in an interview with Entrepreneur.
Key lessons to learn - We must constantly demonstrate to team members that we trust them to organize their work in a way that addresses their personal and professional priorities.
Few companies can brag about a Remote Manifesto, but it's the cornerstone of GitLab's focus on making remote work successful for its employees. The company adheres to nine core tenants that ensure its employees can work and succeed from anywhere in the world.
When asked why it strongly emphasizes remote work, GitLab cites the obvious benefits: low overhead, employee flexibility, and reduced waste. However, the company sees remote as a way to empower its employees. GitLab emphasizes an employee's ability to exist first as an individual, then as a company member in its remote work playbook.
Key lessons to learn - Remote work has low overhead, employee flexibility, and reduced waste. So it is beneficial for both employees and employers.
Atlassian, founded in 2002, is a publicly traded computer software company specializing in team collaboration, development, and issue-tracking software.
It announced during the coronavirus pandemic that it would no longer require its employees to return to the office for work even after the pandemic ends. Making it one of the first Australian companies to do so. Atlassian said this move would allow them to hire amazing talent by expanding the hiring search.
Key lessons to learn - Going remote allows you to overcome location barriers and hire top talent from all over the world.
Zapier was founded on the premise that remote work simply works! Founders Wade, Bryan, and Mike all lived in the same city but had competing schedules that prevented them from working together in person. As a result, they chose to work independently while collaborating remotely. The result was Zapier, a side project that now has over 2,000 integrations and is used by millions to make their remote workflows more smooth and simple.
Wade cites remote work as a call to action when asked how Zapier and other successful remote companies can thrive: "The real reason remote work thriving is because it requires you to have the skills that make every team successful."
Key lessons to learn - Remote work thrives because it requires managers to have the skills that make every team successful.
Doist, the company behind popular apps like Todoist and Twist, is a shining example of "made by remote workers, for remote workers." Not only is the company run by distributed teams, but it also creates apps and resources for other telecommuters. The company employs 68 people in 25 countries and manufactures products used by millions.
Doist COO Allan Christensen emphasizes hiring with intent and fostering camaraderie when asked how it can create superior-caliber products and seamless user experiences. He emphasizes asynchronous communication (Async), goal-based action, and personal ownership of problems and solutions. It all comes down to establishing a high-functioning team without the need for daily face-to-face interaction.
Key lessons to learn - Asynchronous communication (Async), goal-based action, and personal ownership of both problems and solutions help establish a high-functioning team without needing daily face-to-face interaction.
Sticker Mule is a highly successful remote company that operates in 17 countries and serves thousands of customers in another 70.
Sticker Mule attributes its distributed team's success to a well-thought-out onboarding process and inclusive company culture. The company strives to provide new hires with direction and support so that they are familiar with their job expectations and the nuances of work as quickly as possible.
Key lessons to learn - Inclusive and supportive cultures are essential life rafts in remote work.
No one understands the value of investing in remote work strategies better than those participating in the OpenRec panel on distributed trends. OpenRec is an annual conference that brings together over 200 startups consisting world's most forward-thinking talent leaders. Elastic's VP of Global HR, Leah Sutton, manages a fully distributed team that spans 37 countries and recruits 40% of its employees through employee referrals.
Elastic is a distributed team with a few "hub" offices worldwide. Elastic's distributed structure evolved organically, according to Leah. With the original team members dispersed throughout Northern Europe, it made sense to invest early in technology that could best connect the team and hire talent from all over the world. The nature of its software aided in this process. Elastic's products are free and open source. "Many of our early members were already working on open-source projects from around the world," Leah explained. A recruiting process without geographic constraints has made talent acquisition easier and created challenges for his team.
Key lessons to learn - Investing in tools that help manage remote teams is important.
Companies that have embraced the remote-first approach and hired remote workers to be a part of their global team have seen a surge in applications for their vacant remote positions. There’s also a boom of new talent hubs from different parts of the world where these remote-first companies have started to expand to win the talent war. So, if you’re still lagging and have yet to transform your company into one of the top remote job companies, you must start now!
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Mohit is an Engineer turned tech blogger. He loves diving deep into the tech space and has been doing it for the last 3 years. He calls himself a cinephile and plays badminton in his free time. For more information, you can connect with him on Linkedin or Instagram.
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