MarketBeat has a unique hybrid remote work environment. We don’t spend all day every day in an office together, but we’re also not completely remote either. We’ve developed a system that we think gives us the benefits of working in an office together, without having to be in an office 40 hours each week.
Prefer to read instead of watch? Here’s a rough script I used for this video.
Matt Paulson here. In this video, I want to talk about MarketBeat’s unique approach to remote work and how we get some of the benefits of spending time in person together as a team, without the drawbacks of having an office. This video is kind of a response to a recent episode of Dan Andrews’ and Ian Schoen’s Tropical MBA podcast. They are building a remote work job site called DynamiteJobs.co and they talked about how there are productivity benefits for being in the same room as your team, but there are diminishing returns after a certain point. With a remote team, you can hire the best person regardless of where they’re located, but may have communication issues and productivity issues if you don’t monitor a remote employee’s work. With an office, your hiring pool is a bit more limited and you have to deal with the drama that comes when you put different personalities together in an office all day, but you have real collaboration benefits.
At MarketBeat, we’ve developed somewhat of a hybrid approach that has worked well for our company. I wouldn’t say it’s a perfect setup, but we’ve been able to capture some of the benefits of working together in an office without the costs and other issues that come with being in an office together all day. We don’t have a company office that is our default work location, but we do have a home base, and that’s a specific coffee shop, Queen City Bakery, that we all like in Sioux Falls. We have a great relationship with their owners and their staff and we spend a lot of money there and tip well. We’ll typically have an organized in-person staff meeting for about once each week at Queen City. Some subset of our team will also meet one or two other times per week informally and just hang out at our home base. This works for us since 6 of our 7 team members are located in Sioux Falls and our Florida employee can join our staff meetings on Zoom when it makes sense for him to do so. I would estimate that most of our team spends about 5 hours a week in the same place as each other.
The rest of our time we are free to work in the place that we enjoy the most and we will be most productive. For most of my employees, that’s a workspace in their home. Will likes to work at the local coworking space. My kids are at home during the day, so I need to be somewhere else. For this reason, I personally have an individual office that I rent in downtown Sioux Falls. When I’m not working at Queen City, I’m usually there during the day.
Since we aren’t together for 35 out of our 40 hour work week, we also have to have really good communication and really good task management. We used Slack as our primary communication channel, but we don’t use it to assign or delegate work. I don’t think slack is a good tool for to-do lists and work assignment. We use slack to discuss what we are working on and every one of our employees is required to post a short message each morning about what they got done yesterday and what they plan on working today. This way everyone knows what everyone else is working on any given time. We also slack for water cooler talk and to discuss issues that come up throughout the day. If an issue comes up that becomes an actionable item that isn’t taken care of then and there, we immediately ad it to our individual to do lists.
We also have a separate project management tool that we’ve built that simply goes by the name MarketBeat Web Admin that we use to manage projects, tasks, and other action items. We each have a prioritized task list so we always know what we should be working on next. It’s pretty simple, every task has a high, medium or low priority and then we sort by date after that, so the oldest items get done first. Each action item has a details section for additional details if those are needed. You could do all of these things with Adams or another task list system, but we use an internally built system because it ties into our database and we can dynamically generate task assignments when specific metrics occur in our database. So if our email open rate falls below a specific percentage; that will dynamically generate a notification for Will and he can the check in and see if we were put on a blacklist or have another issue we need to address.
The other unique thing about MarketBeat’s hybrid remote setup is our employee onboarding. Whenever we hire a new employee, we have a day that we call MarketBeat University where we go over the entire history of the business, the company’s business model, key partnerships, team roles and stuff like that. Everyone attends, no matter how many times they’ve attended MarketBeat university. We also make sure our new employees have someone to work next to or work with for the first week. So we had Maureen start a couple of weeks ago. We had MarketBeat university on a Thursday. We took turns working with Maureen until the next Wednesday so she had a chance to meet everyone and learn her job. That worked really well to onboard her.
Our hybrid remote system is pretty simple, but it works well for us. We think we get the vast majority of the benefits of having a remote team by working independently for most of the week, but also get a lot of the benefits of working together by touching base in person once or twice a week. We can also avoid the costs and interpersonal issues that come up when you put people in an office all day too. I don’t know if we’ll keep working this way forever, but for the size of the team we have today, this works well for us.
I’m actually going to be speaking more about this at the YPN Crossroads Summit on August 15th in Downtown Sioux Falls. If you’d like to learn more about this event, go to www.sfcrossroads.com.
If you run a remote team or a quasi-remote team, I’d love to hear about how you make work work for your team. How do you do communication? How do you do project and task management? Let me know in the comments below.