IPinfo began as our founder Ben Dowling’s dream in 2013. Eight years later, over 100,000 developers and businesses rely on us to ensure they are collecting accurate and meaningful data to achieve everything from personalizing their customer experience to bolstering security.
It may surprise you to learn that IPinfo has no physical office. All of our customers are supported by a completely remote team of 16 team members across the globe – from Europe to Australia and everywhere in between.
In fact, we have been remote since the beginning, so we had no learning curve to contend with when it came to implementing a remote working strategy during the pandemic – something countless organizations struggled with.
Remote work is simply part of our DNA at IPinfo. While everything in life requires trade offs, Ben says it’s important to lean into the advantages of remote work – rather than focusing on challenges. Read on to learn more about what it’s like to be part of and manage a fully remote team, what hiring hurdles you may face and how to overcome them, plus Ben’s predictions for what’s in store for the future of hybrid work.
The Vision: 100% Remote from the Beginning
Our IPinfo team has always been remote – no hybrid workforce here. Ben knew that by eliminating the physical office altogether, he opened the door for talented people to join the team without being limited by geographic location.
“There are tradeoffs,” he says. “There are lots of good arguments for remote work being better and lots of equally good arguments for wanting everybody in the same room.”
But for him, the benefits far outweigh the challenges. Ben says, “I wanted to be location-independent. I wanted to be able to work from a coffee shop, or travel and do some work. It just made sense.”
Flexibility Powers Productivity & Creates an Exceptional Employee Experience
The biggest benefit to a remote team?
“We can hire people from anywhere in the world. Our people create their own schedules – no one is working a fixed set of hours.”
This means that we are able to dictate our own work-life balance and can choose how and when we log in. “Some people like working evenings and nights, some people like mornings, others like splitting up their day,” says Ben.
Having the team work asynchronously is also a win for our customers. Because employees are spread everywhere from the US to Australia, there is always someone logged on and ready to respond to customer inquiries or pick up a project when another team member signs off.
Another plus to remote work is the potential to onboard employees part-time. Because we don’t do the typical nine to five, we have had an easier time bringing people on part-time and accommodating schedules outside of the traditional 9-5.
This is especially helpful when there isn’t a full-time role available yet for each task that needs to be done. Instead of searching for one applicant who can wear four different hats, we are able to bring four experts in who can do their specific tasks very well on a part-time basis.
Overcoming Hurdles with Clear Communication
While working around the clock is a boon for the company’s productivity and customer experience, having our team in different time zones can make consistent communication difficult.
“That’s the biggest tradeoff with remote work – when you’re in an office, you can see what the person next to you is doing and chat when you’re eating lunch. Solving those pieces is the biggest challenge in remote work”, says Ben.
He acknowledges that managing a hybrid workforce can be more challenging than a fully remote or fully on-site team. Since we are all remote, it’s important to each of us to keep clear and consistent communication to ensure we are all on the same page. We do this by regularly posting updates on the progress we’ve made with projects, which makes it easy for the next person to pick it up once we log off for the day.
“Having a good set of tools and a good set of practices for communicating the ideas, keeping people posted on what you’re on,” says Ben. “We have an All-Hands monthly meeting where we give updates on what we’re all working on and share what we need help with. Being remote means you need to be more deliberate with updates.”
Navigating Hiring in a Newly Remote World
When you have the world as your potential hiring pool, it makes the hiring process that much more interesting. Post-pandemic, more and more companies are embracing a remote hiring strategy. But there are a few things you should keep in mind.
The first step in your search should be finding applicants who are a good fit. Ben says, “I love remote work. Everyone on the team loves remote work. But remote work is not a fit for everybody.” Being realistic about job duties and expectations, like consistent communication, is key.
“You have to be a good, clear communicator. You also need to be good at managing yourself, at setting your priorities. The more efficient and effective people are, the less communication is needed.”
Once a potential applicant is identified, we conduct a series of video interviews and have potential engineers complete a one to two-week project to ensure they’ll be a good fit for the business and the rest of our team. Consider including a trial period in your onboarding process to make sure your team members will be the best fit.
Struggling in your remote hiring search? When searching for potential employees, we use several different job sites, including some that are specific to remote work. Remoteokay.io and Hacker News are two standouts, with half of our team having come from those two sites alone!
What’s in Store for the Future of Remote Work?
While remote or flex work was a trend even before the start of the pandemic, many more companies are embracing remote or hybrid work. “I think that trend definitely accelerated now. Even a lot of the big tech companies are saying they’ll never require people to go back to the office,” says Ben.
In fact, a recent Gartner survey found that over two-thirds of companies who participated plan to permanently shift employees to remote work, even after the pandemic ends. There is clearly less reluctance to hire remotely and allow team members to work from home now that organizations everywhere have been forced to adapt and are seeing the benefits that remote work offers to their employees, customers, and stakeholders.
An important thing to keep in mind if you’re thinking of ditching the office for good – “remote work during COVID is not the same as remote work normally.” These days, employees are under additional stress, whether it’s from caring for a child or sick family member, the loss of an in-person hobby that brought meaning to their life, or even the mental fatigue brought on by lockdown and restrictions.
Our advice? Focus on the advantages of working remotely. Establish a concrete strategy and goals, and keep clear and consistent communication across your team. This will go a long way in fostering a healthy company culture and ensuring every team member can be productive and feel supported.
Interested in joining the IPinfo team? See our available positions.