Below is an article originally written by Pam Dodrill, the VP of Customer Support at PowerToFly Partner Zapier, and published on October 1, 2018. Go to Zapier's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
I'm excited to announce that I'm joining Zapier as VP of Customer Support. Ever since I saw my first Zapier alert in a former role, I've been curious about what the company is building. And as soon as I mentioned to friends and colleagues that I was in discussions for this role, they all had big reactions and told me how much they love what Zapier is doing with integrations and automation. I'm a huge fan and I'm eager to join this fast-growing company and 100% remote team.
The approach this company takes to its customers, employees and overall business impresses me beyond measure. The company culture and values were the first thing I looked at and "Empathy, no Ego" along with "Default to Action" and "Default to Transparency" jumped out at me. This is how I work. During my interview process, I found real-life examples of these values at work, stories that validated what the company was advertising.
The other thing that struck me is how Zapier pushes normal limits. I mean - 100% remote team, not just support team, but the whole team? Anyone that knows me, knows I've been advocating for remote teams for well over a decade - probably more like 2 if I'm honest. This company knows how to do it right - AND they share their lessons learned.
In general, Zapier is a company that wants to learn best practices and then gets focused on how to improve those practices and makes them work for their individual company needs. This is so much better than just running through a prescribed playbook. I'm elated to apply this approach while leading Zapier's Support team.
During my research, I also ran across this post about why everyone at Zapier participates in All Hands Support - written by Wade Foster (one of Zapier's co-founders) that lists 6 really good reasons why this is important. For me, it puts empathy for the customer at the center of how we do business and it guarantees the Support team gets the respect they deserve.
As I met with different members of the Support team I realized there is an inherent passion for Customer Support and an esprit d'coeur that only exists in organizations that are genuinely excited about what they are doing. But what struck me most is they get it. They know what they want to do. They don't need me to come in and tell them what to do or do it for them. They just need help harvesting and implementing their ideas through hyper-growth while maintaining a fabulous customer experience.
It's really hard to pick a favorite thing I learned while interviewing, but I think I'd pick this: Keep Support Weird. I was told on numerous occasions that it is very important to the team, as they choose a new leader, to find someone who will help Keep Support Weird. After stumbling into a Support role at the age of 16 and turning it into a career, I understand this completely. It's one of those things that if I have to explain it, you won't understand.
I feel so privileged to join this team. If you know what it means to Keep Support Weird, check out these jobs and join us.
Meet Harry Klein, VP of Customer Success at Appsembler
Studies show that diverse teams are not only more efficient, but they perform better and produce higher-quality work. The same can be said about companies who empower their team members to work remotely from wherever they are!
One of our newest partners, experiential learning platform Appsembler, believes wholly in the value of both. Harry Klein, Appsembler's VP of Customer Success, leads a 100% distributed, diverse team, capitalizing on their unique backgrounds and experiences in order to best serve customers - and he's hiring!
Harry gave us the inside scoop on how you can score your next role with Appsembler - click here to see all of their open roles!
What traits are you looking for in your next team member?
Harry Klein: I'm looking for someone who is a lifelong learner with high levels of empathy for customers and teammates. This person has the ability to successfully work remotely, has some experience with online learning, and perhaps some experience with SaaS or technology.
Why do women and underrepresented talent feel they can thrive at your company?
HK: At Appsembler, we recognize and value the power that having multiple perspectives adds to our team, products, services, and strategy. We believe this has been key to our success and is one of our core values.
Our culture. We are lifelong learners who want to have a positive impact on the world through learning. We pride ourselves on our high levels of empathy, striving to treat people the way we would like to be treated. We believe in the well-being of our teammates and encourage everyone to take restorative time off.
Commitment. We have women and underrepresented talent on the team already and our executive team is committed to further broadening our diversity of perspectives.
What do you love most about working at Appsembler?
HK: Our culture. This is the most supportive, empathetic, talented, interesting, and fun team I've ever been a part of. This is made even more remarkable by the fact that we are fully distributed. We have differences of opinion, as one does in any organization, but they are always respectful, focused on building a platform and helping customers, and never personal.
What does the interview process at your company look like and how long does it usually take?
HK: Interviews are conducted via video conferencing because Appsembler is a 100% distributed team.
The process generally includes an initial interview with the hiring manager; interviews with team members from; other departments, and a final interview with the CEO.
What's a hot tip about your interview process that PowerToFly members can know?
HK: Appsembler offers a free trial of our SaaS platform. Anyone interested in joining Appsembler should sign up for one and spend some time with the platform.
Increase company-wide visibility, connect through video, and generally keep your team on the same page, even across time zones
Below is an article originally written by Matt Haughey at PowerToFly Partner Slack, and published on November 15, 2018. Go to Slack's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
Remote work is increasingly going from a luxury to a workplace norm: 43% of employed Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely in 2016, while 70% of the global workforce is now doing so once a week. Then there are distributed teams. As growing firms open new offices, you might be working with people in Lagos, New York City, or Shanghai, as well as across town.
Today, many of these far-flung colleagues are working together in Slack. With a few extra considerations, however, remote teammates can not only collaborate, but shorten the distance between them too.
The importance of trust and visibility
After talking to dozens of people in different industries about how they use Slack across distances, the topic of trust came up early and often in our conversations. Working with remote or distributed colleagues requires trust and creative thinking from all parties.
In the previous century, managers could track how many hours their employees sat at an office desk near them. Today, those metrics could be replaced by lines of code written, number of help tickets resolved, or number of pieces produced, but it's important to figure out ways to accurately and fairly measure the effectiveness of employees, regardless of their location.
For this reason, visibility is a key aspect Slack can provide to distributed teams. A well-organized, transparent Slack team with channels arranged by topic and projects makes it easier to see everyone's output, even those far from headquarters. When remote workers post as often to Slack as their onsite counterparts, chances are they're being just as productive.
Slack integrations can also help promote visibility among your remote and distributed employees:
- Programming tools like Github and Jira let engineering managers see the output of all their developers, wherever they may be.
- File and document apps like Google Drive and Dropbox let marketing teams keep tabs on everyone's work.
- For those in customer support, tools like Zendesk and Intercom can report into relevant Slack channels, letting managers see how well their help center team is faring around the globe.
Meanwhile, things like daily stand-up meetings can give every member of a team visibility and take place entirely in Slack.
Shortening distances with video
Every remote and distributed worker we interviewed relies heavily on video conferencing to maintain face-to-face connections with their team. Slack comes with its own built-in audio and video features. If your team prefers other tools, there are apps available from popular services like Zoom, Google Hangouts, and BlueJeans that also make it easy to start a video conference from Slack whenever you need one.
Screen-sharing is another aspect of Slack's own video conferencing feature worth noting. You can share your screen with others on a video call and allow them to either draw on your screen or enable a cooperative mode in which other people on a call can move their mouse around and interact with your shared screen. This feature is key for things like pair programming, when two people in different locations collaborate inside a single screen, writing software code together interactively.
Help your team connect
User profiles can help employees get to know one another, and once customized for your team, you can share location, languages spoken, current time zone, and direct reports below and managers above, as well as topics of expertise and other relevant personal details.
All this information is handy when you're doing cross-functional work with people you don't interact with daily, but it's especially the case for those working from afar. It helps them figure out the best time to schedule meetings and with whom, and even learn how to pronounce names correctly before the next company-wide event.
For distributed teams, time zones can be both an advantage and a challenge. In Slack, you may want to denote which channels are shared across distributed teams and set expectations that conversations are asynchronous—answers to questions may take longer to appear as offices come online at different times of day. Stating it clearly in the channel topic and purpose fields is a great way to communicate channel rules to your team. Some teams find that having offices post end-of-day summaries helps distributed teams catch up on activity as they get started each morning.
Teams may also want to set expectations around offline discussions that others might have missed—say, a discussion summarized and posted in a team channel after a few members had an epiphany over lunch, or ideas arising from hallway conversations posted into relevant channels. Both are great ways to create a culture of transparency and sharing that's more inclusive for everyone on the team.
Set expectations around offline discussions that others might have missed.
It's important that we not forget the power of a direct message over long distances. For each time you might think, I should pop by my coworker's desk and ask him about this when you're the same office, you can easily send a DM with your question instead if he happens to be far away. For managers and their direct reports, a DM also provides a quick method of private communication without the formality or structure of email.
Helping remote teammates helps all teammates
Optimizing Slack for workers near and far certainly helps those who work in different locations, but it can benefit everyone. Using Slack in this way means that parents with a sick child can work from home smoothly. If a manager needs time to recuperate after a broken ankle, she can stay home but continue to easily keep tabs on her team. If someone in your workforce has a disability that prevents him from being in an office space, Slack can offer a way to keep him productive and connected to everyone.
A culture of openness, transparency, and public discussions taking place in Slack is going to result in a good team culture at any company, but it's also a key to remote and distributed workers feeling like equal members of your team.
Below is an article originally written by Brandi Shuttera, an Accountant at PowerToFly Partner Zapier, and published on November 30, 2018. Go to Zapier's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
When most people think of accountants and accounting jobs, they think of someone sitting behind a desk in an office, meeting with clients, and dealing with piles of paperwork. Working from home—without any face-to-face meetings or paper handoffs—might not seem possible.
When I first looked at the possibility of finding an accounting job I could do remotely, the odds didn't look too good. Most of the accounting jobs that were open to remote work were tax-related, which didn't align with my current accounting experience and was not the type of job I was interested in. Considering the amount of paperwork staff accountants typically deal with and how closely I worked with others at my in-office job, I figured accounting was out of the question when it came to working remotely.
Fast forward to a few years later…I came across a job opening at Zapier, a 100% distributed company, for an accountant role and knew I had to go for it! I had already set up an office at home that was a happy environment that I was ready to use. I also saw other benefits of being able to work remotely other than utilize my new happy space:
- Save time and money by removing the commuting portion of my day: over 13 hours a month on time and $80 a month on my gas and even auto insurance (since I was using my car less, my auto insurer lowered my rate).
- Reduce my carbon footprint by at least 2.3 metric tons of CO2 a year!
- A chance to benefit my health and well-being. Working from home allows me to make healthier meal choices, work in a cleaner office environment (and I get to control the thermostat!), and use my commuting time to jump on the treadmill every once in a while.
- The ability to work from anywhere such as coffee shops, co-working spaces, or visiting friends and family.
I was nervous at first since I didn't know what to expect. How would an accounting position work in a remote world and how easy would it be to balance my work and home life, since my home was now also my work? Now that I'm six months in, the transition from working in such a paper-heavy environment to a practically paper-free one was easier than I thought. It ispossible to have a role that's not traditionally remote-friendly and still thrive.
Working Remotely as an Accountant: Lessons Learned
Meetings: When I worked in an office, I sat through many meetings that were either scheduled or impromptu, and there's nothing different in a remote setting other than it's via video conferencing. (Well maybe that and the elimination of having to find a conference room that hasn't already been booked.) It's just as easy to have impromptu meetings here at Zapier as it would be in any office. Spin up a Zoom meeting and share the link in your Slack channel and you can have that same sort of spur of the moment meetings, as long as all the participants are online at the same time.
Communication and water cooler moments: Communication is key when it comes to working on a remote accounting team. In my past experiences in working in an office, I would find out information from just hearing other conversations happening around me that gave me context of what was happening with the rest of the team. With remote work, you don't get that opportunity in the same way. But then there's Slack.
"Default to Transparency" is one of our company values, so it's good practice to use public channels as the main form of communicating in Slack even if your question is specific to one person. This will help keep the rest of the team in the loop on what others are working on and prevent folks from feeling isolated. Plus, if you have fun Slack channels set up like "#fun-food," you get the same camaraderie as you do in an office, but just at everyone's most convenient times.
Work: As for the accounting aspects of working remotely, I've found it's not much different from working in an office. We still have a weekly team meeting, 1:1 meetings, collaborate on shared files, knock out month-end financials together, and ask for each other's help/perspective on tasks we are working on. We use a lot of cloud-based apps that allow us to share and work on files together.
- With Quickbooks Online we are all able to log in to add in journal entries, run reports, import transactions vs the desktop version which would limit access to one person.
- Sharing spreadsheet files are easy with the ability to save Excel files in Box, or use Google Sheets and Excel Online, which both allows for the team to work simultaneously on one file.
- We also use Google Docs often when working on writing policies and company announcements. It's a great way to share your work with the team and allows for everyone to add notes and editing suggestions.
- Notejoy is another tool we use to collaborate notes as a whole for the Ops team. We've used this tool to track our weekly meeting notes, draft our team's weekly update post, and save any other notes that would be helpful to share with the team.
Zapier: Creating Zaps (our word for automated workflows between apps) has helped me decrease the time I spend on mundane tasks and helps to keep me up to date on tasks I need to work on. I use one Zap to reduce the amount of time I spend saving invoices that we receive to our box folder, and another to alert me on who has turned in an expense report. And yet another Zap to automatically add cards to my "To Do" Trello board for weekly recurring items.
Working remotely may seem like a foreign concept in the accounting world, but when you're set up with the right applications and an awesome team, it's totally achievable! (P.S., Zapier's fully remote and hiring.)