How Layer0 Makes Remote Work Work

Most understand the advantages of remote work, but not many address the downfalls and how to combat them. Here are our tips for making distributed teams work with real-world examples.

With the rise of the ‘gig economy,’ the traditional 9-to-5 work days are quickly declining and businesses of all kinds are seeing remote work as the key to remaining competitive. Some emphasize the cost saving aspects, but we at Layer0 focus on human capita: our goal is to attract remarkable talent, “We want the best talent in the world no matter where they are,” Ajay Kapur, CEO and co-founder.

The remote revolution has already begun. 52 percent of the workforce work remotely at least once a week and 16 percent of companies are already fully remote, including Sketch, InVision, Zapier and Clevertech. By now, the overall benefits of remote work options are evident, such as increased productivity, happiness, and work/life balance, but not many address the unique challenges of remote workforces and how to overcome them. Read on to hear how we at Layer0 tackle these challenges both collectively and individually.

Layer0 seeks the best

With a workforce that spans across three continents, five countries, seven states, and growing, we understand the complexities of distributed teams. We aren’t afraid to hire from around the world because simply put, we want the best.

“We can't build an exceptional product without an exceptional team,” states Layer0 CEO, Ajay Kapur.

By expanding our recruiting to the global arena, we are able to find more of those ever-elusive 10x employees: those that can accomplish 10 times what the average person can. You all know them. It’s that coder that does a day’s work in an hour, or that superstar account executive that drives an unproportional share of pipeline. They exist, they are just very hard to come by as they are highly sought-after. By going global, we increase our chances of finding more 10xers to join the Layer0 team.

But that’s only the beginning. To retain top talent you need to make sure they are challenged and have the opportunity to grow. Continued professional and personal growth is key. 10x employees are ambitious, think big, and work to drive the company, and those around them, forward. At Layer0, we create teams around star employees as we continuously work to develop and retain a culture of excellence.

Our culture is rooted in the idea that there is no upper limit to human potential, so we strive to provide the best work environments for growth. Through this, and our core company values, we address some of the greatest known challenges of remote work head on. Truly caring about Layer0 and our customers’ wins, along with choosing growth over comfort, getting into flow state, communicating through writing, and providing direct feedback are the core values that guide the Layer0 culture.

While these values help ensure that we over-communicate and facilitate transparency throughout the organization, they do not address one of the most negative aspects of remote work: isolation.

How Layer0 addresses the less known pitfalls of remote work

According to the 2018 State of Remote Work report, loneliness is the biggest struggle for individuals who work remotely. But solitude is not the only cause of this problem. Loneliness within distributed teams is due to a number of factors, including social, informational, and developmental isolation. It takes a committed company to provide the best resources and support for their remote teams.

Our founders have rethought company processes to foster and sustain high performing work environments for all employees, even for those with a completely remote setup. Derived from tech, all resources from onboarding, to IT, to learning tools, to communication protocols — are online. Our goal is to facilitate the most effective work environment for our employees to feel connected and informed in all business activities and opportunities, thus diminishing all three forms of isolation.

Social isolation

Social isolation ranks as a top challenge for remote employees, but today’s communication tools, like Zoom and Slack, are serving as channels for both productivity and familiarity. For example, we have virtual video conference happy hours where employees chat to get to know one another, regardless of team or location. We also have a self driving, video conference enabled ‘robot’ that remote employees enjoy taking over to navigate through the San Francisco office, and engage with employees in real time.

Some remote teams have created their own work arounds. For example, Layer0's Director of Platform Engineering, Paul Dunham, created a technique for his fully remote team to simulate an office environment. “My team works fully remote full time. We start our days with a sync-up video conference. Over time, this meeting got longer and eventually we got in the habit of leaving the video conference open all day on our computers. This gives us the benefit of fast, easy communication as if we were in the office, and lowers the feeling of isolation for remote workers.” Dunham is a prime example of a leader who identified a gap and worked to address his team’s needs and ultimately improve the remote experience for all.

But tech cannot close all gaps. That is why, on quarterly-basis, we gather every Moover at the San Francisco headquarters to ensure our distributed team is plugged into the culture, aligned with company goals and opportunities, and can build relationships with people we work with, but don't often see face-to-face. In our most recent summer event, we brought Moovers from Ukraine, Chile, Canada, North Carolina, Oregon, and Washington to San Francisco, where we worked hard together in one place and spent time with each other outside the office.

Informational isolation

Nearly a quarter of remote workers are concerned with communication and collaboration. Layer0's value of communicating through writing has proven incredibly powerful within our organization. We share a great deal of data and information with each other through online tools, and real-time feedback and contribution from others ultimately strengthens our work and value props. Good write ups are extremely valuable, as they allow for one-to-many communication and knowledge sharing across the organization, with less meetings, and more time for productivity.

Tech can also help make sure that everyone knows about the important things, automatically. From a new deal closed, to customer appreciation, to press coverage, to individual shoutouts and work anniversaries, tech can help bridge geographic gaps. Reactions, comments, and sidebars are community hotspots for company connections.

Developmental isolation

Our goal is to provide growth opportunities for all employees. To fast-track individuals down the career path they want to develop,“We ask Moovers whether they’re open to coaching and/or training to improve their skills in their areas of interest,” states Ashlee Sivret, People Operations Manager. We also offer an educational stipend and encourage participation in conferences and events to both share and receive expertise and knowledge with other industry leaders. When your workforce is global, the power of networking is compounded.

Igor Khoroshilov, Director of Engineering on the Professional Services team explains that our leaders from around the world regularly have knowledge sharing sessions, to share new concepts and resources they see success with. “We educate each other with every opportunity we have,” explains Khoroshilov. “Our goal is to foster personal and professional growth for every individual in the company, to the highest level in the industry. Retention flows from the environment, collaboration, and inclusion we provide.”

10xers encourage a team’s best work

When we find 10x individuals who also have high EQs and are committed to serving Layer0 and our customers, we build teams around them. We would be nowhere without our remarkable employees. We are customer-centric and product-driven, but we understand the heart of our success is derived from the individuals that make up our workforce. It’s in the power of one 10xer to influence and motivate others around them, which in turn, quickly impacts team performance for the better.

Mark Brocato, Layer0's Head of Engineering, and U.S. expat that established and leads Layer0's office in Estonia, is a great example. Brocato splits his work day into two shifts to be as responsive as possible across time zones. He is in the office from 11am to 5pm, then focuses on family time, and comes back online at night to collaborate with the other locations, San Francisco included. Brocato is a great example of exceptional talent growing in Layer0, infecting others to do the best work of their lives, and leads by example in regards to his flexibility and responsiveness.

Bottom line

A remote team can be just as effective, if not more effective, than a local team, with the right resources and individuals on deck. It’s certainly not for everyone - it takes coordination, flexibility, and a dedicated workforce to make remote work ‘work’. But it also helps you remain competitive, especially if you are tech startup competing with unicorns. It increases the likelihood you find your ideal employee, which at Layer0 means the best talent available.  

Through the right tech, communication protocols, education, resources, and perhaps most importantly — the company culture, Layer0 is able to get closer to our mission: make mobile eCommerce websites load instantly. We are constantly improving our working environment to support all our employees, remote and local, so we can continue to lead the market for website speed.

Layer0 is made up of people who choose growth over comfort, exhibit great judgement, and learn quickly. We are always searching for sharp-thinking, growth minded individuals who have a passion for working for a fast-growing tech startup. If you’re ready to be a part of a team trusted by United Airlines, REVOLVE, 1-800-Flowers, Shoe Carnival and many more, to deliver sub-second page loads for their enterprise eCommerce websites, check out our available positions.

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