Our team thrives in the virtual work space and while there are certain barriers in this kind of setup, I think we are doing really great. I have worked with Nick for a little over a year as of this writing and it’s not all fun and games.
Hiring the Right People
How we do things starts with getting the right people. We don’t hire people right off the bat just because they have an amazing résumé. I’ve seen some good people come and go just because they can’t keep up with the processes that we have in place. The first thing that we look at when looking for new team members is the IQ level. We make them take an IQ test. Why we need people with high IQ is pretty much self-explanatory. And because the tests are taken online, some people may be able to cheat but when work starts you can pretty much tell which ones cheated at the IQ test. Probably less than 25% of the people that we put on trial period are actually hired because most can’t keep up with the quality of work that we require and our “Golden Rules”. Heck, only about 5% make it past the IQ test score requirement.
After the testing part comes the interview which is much less formal than traditional job interviews. We do it through Skype chat. We still ask some of the common interview questions but in particular, we need to know if they can work uninterrupted at home.
If they have children someone should be able to look after their children while they are working.because you can’t be working while making your kid’s packed lunch. It simply doesn’t work.
On another note, educational attainment does not seem to matter because having a degree does not translate to intellectual superiority. Your work experience says more about what you can do compared to an over-glorified diploma.
The Reporting and Honor System
We thrive on a system based on honesty. We do not have a time tracking software in place. Instead we use an intensive reporting system on a daily, weekly, and bimonthly basis. This system has actually grown on me and I wouldn’t have it any other way. At the start of the work day, we email a report on what tasks we have on hand for the day. The day is capped with a report on what tasks we were able to accomplish. This report needs to be very detailed. It must include time stamps and results of tasks, suggestions, problems encountered, suggested solutions, etc.
Every Friday, we submit another report which is mostly a narrative of the week that was, including personal stuff and goals that we want to share. I treat it as a space where I can rant about anything related to work and home. I spend more or less an hour creating this report and some might think it a waste of time – that one hour doing this report should rather be spent on something more productive. However, as an online team, this helps us get to know each other better since we can’t really get together after office hours to get a beer or grab pizza.
Twice a month, we also submit a bimonthly report which is mainly a summary of accomplished projects and current projects, work schedule, among other things. The reporting system is actually evolving to adjust to our needs. The bimonthly report in particular had a couple of sections added to it.
Quality over Quantity
In our system, quantity is not paramount. Quality is our recipe for success. It doesn’t matter if you take a longer time to accomplish a task just as long as you do it perfectly.
If you do it fast, you are bound to make mistakes and most of the time, correcting these mistakes takes even more time and time is a very precious commodity. However, this does not necessarily mean that we can take our sweet time on every task. Taking way too long to accomplish a task is also not good.
Before submitting a task as accomplished, you must check that it is free from errors.
If you come across a problem when doing a task, don’t just raise the problem, propose a solution.
Skills development is also an important aspect in our system. Each team member is encouraged to spend at least 20% of his work day into learning new skills. That, to me, is a really good deal. I actually get paid to learn something new. Skills development and training is always a win-win situation.
Also, every now and then, we have a team meeting over Skype to discuss some tasks but mostly just to reach out to the team members and see how they are doing or talk about any concerns that they have in mind. So, even if we don’t know each other personally, we become a tight group.
Nick actually went to the Philippines last year for vacation; it also became an opportunity for us to meet in person and discuss his future plans for the business and for the team, though it was a completely different team back then. Everyone else had come and gone except for me. I think I am probably the one who spent the longest time in Nick’s team.