Hello! What's your name, your company name and your role there?
Ryan Hanna, Sworkit, VP of Product
Can you give a brief overview of the company background and what you guys do?
I created the original version of Sworkit back in 2012 and then joined forces with Nexercise in 2014 to bring Sworkit to the masses. We've had great success growing the business and team since then and I currently function as the VP of Product where I provide the strategic and tactical direction needed to make product decisions that add significant value to our user base and ultimately helps make the world a significantly healthier place by creating a long lasting, generational impact.
What percentage of your company works remotely and have you always been remote-friendly? If not, what prompted the change?
What do you see as the biggest advantages of working remotely?
Autonomy, focus, and flexibility.
What are the biggest challenges you've faced and the obstacles you've overcome? If you had to start over, what would you do differently?
Communication and process development will always be 2 things we work a bit harder at as a remote team. Within our team values, one of our most important values has been is Radical Candor with Receptive Ears. This ensures that we always speak frankly with each other and receive this feedback with open minds. Because we are not in person, we often cannot pick up on subtleties, so the safest option is to build an environment where we speak directly and knowing we are all on the same team together.
What do you look for in a remote employee and how do you hire for good company fit?
Some particular skills that make for a good remote fit are good communication, an interest in our companies mission to make the world a healthier place, and a passion to continually improve their own status in their field. This last one is often directly associated with autonomy and individual motivation.
What elements make up a successful remote team? What’s the trickiest aspect to leading and managing a remote team?
Communication, maturity, solid work habits, and honesty.
How do you nurture your culture and the personal relationships within the company?
We have at least 2 full time in-person meetings each year and weekly full team check in calls. On these weekly calls, we focus on spotlighting when people have applied our core habits, make announcements and have department level summaries.
Outside of those, there are many scheduled 1:1 calls that help you take a bit more time to connect and work across different departments.
What advise would you give to a team just starting out as a remote company or a team transitioning to remote work?
Over communicate and build processes that you can optimize over time.
Create an environment that airs on the side of over communication and take time to create personal connections that go beyond just checking up on work.
You also need to build standardized processes with a mindset that you are always learning and looking to improve upon. As our VP or Product Ben Simmons stated, "It's impossible to optimize a non-existant process.