Following in the footsteps of many other successful companies, the Ebury Tech team introduced our own Remote Working Policy in late 2018. This has allowed us to provide more flexibility for our current employees, and give us access to a larger talent pool for recruiting.
The advantages – and disadvantages – of remote or distributed working have been covered in great detail in any number of posts, so instead I will focus on how we approach distributed working here at Ebury.
Remote is growing
As of today, dedicated remote workers make up ~23% of our team, with a larger number taking advantage of flexible working arrangements on a regular basis. Over the past year, ~37% of our new hires were remote. Alongside our primary hub in Málaga, Spain, our remote employees are scattered through both Europe and South America.
Unless a company is 100% distributed from their very first employee, there will always be differences when it comes to remote vs onsite employees. The only way you can mitigate this is to treat employees as equals regardless of their location. This means that if you have any remote employees, then you have to act as though all of your employees are remote.
This is known as being remote first, and is the approach Ebury Tech is taking. We try to act as if we are fully distributed even though three-quarters of our employees are still office based. To achieve this we’ve adopted the typical distributed toolset: we already used Jira and Confluence and G Suite for company-wide collaboration. To this we added the ubiquitous Slack for internal discussion, and a mixture of Hangouts Meet (with suitably equipped meeting rooms) and Zoom for video calls.
Our individual teams are a mixture of approaches to distributed working. Some – historically – are entirely co-located, one pair of teams are satellites (two teams co-located in two locations), while others are remote first or fully distributed. One model we actively avoid is adding remote members to co-located teams.
All teams, no matter what their composition, follow the same two-week sprints, which allows for standardisation in reporting and resource planning across teams.
Meetings can’t be avoided no matter how much we try – so all our meetings are remote-friendly. Meeting rooms are equipped with good video conferencing kit – we recently invested in a Meeting Owl for our Málaga office – and an increasing number of meetings are remote-first. This is where all participants join from their own computer, regardless of where they are. Knowledge sharing sessions and town hall meetings are broadcast and recorded for asynchronous viewing.
In their own words…
Of course the best way to describe the remote working opportunities in Ebury Tech is through our remote workers themselves. I asked them “What do you like about working remotely at Ebury?”. Here’s some of their answers:
“Opportunity to work in an exciting environment that wouldn’t be available in my home town.”
“People. The company has got to build a spirit that makes it easy to work far from the office. We collaborate quite efficiently regardless the distance barriers. There are tons of things I like but they are not explicitly related with the remote position. Ebury really rocks!”
“Relative flexibility: I have core hours, but I can more or less choose my schedule, which helps when things come up, e.g. at school. Fun on the daily stand-up calls, e.g. one of my teammates uses green screen backdrops, which wouldn’t be possible with in-person meetings.”
“[Ebury] understands remote work, and trust remote employees. It doesn’t think it is a privilege.”
“The flexibility I have for balance my time between work and family.”