Looking back in history, future generations of workers will come to know 2020 as the time of the World’s Largest Work-From-Home Experiment — one that changed the way we work forever. According to the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the exodus out of offices in the wake of COVID-19 is unprecedented. Telework was on the rise before the pandemic, but in April 2020 alone, as many as 31% of office workers made the switch to remote work!
While it’s amazing to watch this work-from-home migration, for some companies, nothing changed. They’ve always been remote! In fact, there are more successful remote companies than most people realize—and you’re likely familiar with many of them.
Here’s a look at six highly successful remote companies and the key takeaways traditional businesses can glean from them as they adapt to remote work.
You might not recognize Automattic by name, but it’s impossible not to be familiar with their most popular achievement: WordPress. Automattic has always been a remote company and today, boasts 1,100 employees across 77 cities—the epitome of remote work. How can a team this distributed keep up with the demands of a WordPress product that’s used by tens of millions around the world?
Matt Mullenweg, Co-Founder of Automattic, believes the key to success rests in engagement. In a recent interview with Inc., Matt bucks the trend of measuring productivity by “false proxies” like working long hours or getting up early. Instead, he encourages companies to measure success by creation, saying, “Can you create something great in an amount of time?” Matt also urges companies to adopt a distributed culture—one that’s inclusive and people-centric, especially in the current climate of uncertainty.
Few companies can tout a Remote Manifesto, but it’s the cornerstone of GitLab’s heavy emphasis on making remote work successful for its employees. The company abides by nine core tenants that ensure its employees can work and be successful from wherever they are in the world.
When asked why it places such a strong focus on remote, GitLab cites the traditional benefits: low overhead, employee flexibility and reduced waste, to name the obvious. But the company also sees remote as a way to empower its workforce. In its Remote Work Playbook, GitLab emphasizes an employee’s ability to exist first as an individual, second as a member of the company. This is a fundamental lesson for traditional companies exploring distributed work, and the guiding principle behind GitLab’s success.
Zapier was built on the idea that remote work just works! Founders Wade, Bryan and Mike lived in the same city, but had conflicting schedules that never allowed them to collaborate in-person. So, they decided to work independently while collaborating remotely. The result was Zapier—a side project that now has more than 2,000 integrations, used by millions to help them make their own remote workflows smoother and simpler.
Zapier’s founders remain outspoken advocates of remote work. When asked how Zapier and other successful remote companies are able to thrive, Wade cites remote work as a call to action: “The real reason remote works is because it requires you to have the skills that make every team successful.”
Known for popular apps like Todoist and Twist, Doist is a shining example of “made by remote workers, for remote workers.” Not only is the company run by distributed teams, it makes apps and resources for other telecommuting professionals. The company comprises 68 people in 25 countries, building products used by millions.
When asked how it’s able to create superior-caliber products and seamless user experiences, Doist COO Allan Christensen emphasizes hiring with intent and fostering camaraderie. He points to concepts like asynchronous communication (Async), objective-based action, and personal ownership of both problems and solutions. It all boils down to creating a high-functioning team without the need for everyday face-to-face interaction.
There’s tremendous evidence that Doist’s approach to remote work is effective. According to Allan, “In the six years Doist has existed as a commercial product, only three people have voluntarily left the company. All three of them went to start their own projects.”
5. Sticker Mule
If you’ve ever gotten a vinyl sticker as part of a swag bag or promotional campaign, there’s a good chance it came from Sticker Mule. It might’ve been proofed by someone in Argentina, queued by someone in Finland and printed by someone in India—with the workflow managed by someone in the United Kingdom. Sticker Mule runs a highly successful remote company across 17 countries—serving thousands of customers in 70 more.
Sticker Mule credits the success of its distributed team to a well-thought-out onboarding process and inclusive company culture. The company strives to provide new hires with direction and support, so they quickly get familiar with their job expectations and the nuances of work. It prevents the lull directly after hiring and gets new employees oriented. It can feel like throwing new hires in the deep end, which is why good practices and a culture of support are vital life rafts in the world of remote work.
“Our headquarters is in Chicago, but everyone at Basecamp is free to live and work wherever they want.” Taken directly from the Basecamp website, this passage represents the deeply ingrained sense of individuality that governs the company. In fact, Basecamp has been around for more than 20 years, making it one of the longest-running remote companies—a veritable grandfather to the current remote work movement.
The secret behind Basecamp’s success can also be found in its About Us section. In short: giving a damn. The company believes that happy people are successful people, and that the easiest way to create happy people is to treat them right. Allowing its employees to work from home, on their schedule, with the full support of the company has resulted in a product that’s used by more than 3.3 million people today.
Bonus: Sococo Partners!
The above six companies are just a handful of those who have found success working remotely. There are thousands and thousands more that are either totally remote or transitioning to distributed operations. Sococo has helped many to get there, including names like flexjobs, jetBlue, AgileCraft and many others.
To learn more about the tools and resources Sococo offers companies transitioning to remote work, start your free trial today. With options spanning startups to enterprise organizations, it’s easier than ever for any business to make the leap to remote work using Sococo.