Nearsure: a Remote-First Niche for Top Professionals
Since the very beginning, Nearsure’s strategy has consisted of creating a distributed team that is able to provide high-quality staff augmentation services from Latin America. However, our remote-first philosophy goes way beyond the notion of building a company without geographical limitations. It centers around the idea of implementing an efficient digital collaboration and communication system, based on trust and empowered by tools and technology.
The importance of our remote-first culture
At Nearsure, we strive to attract US-based clients with the most technically challenging software development projects. These types of opportunities allow Latin American developers to hone their skills, feel more motivated and improve their quality of life, thanks to the advantages of working from home.
By adopting a remote-first mindset, the Nearsure team is able to communicate in an asynchronous way through high-quality video calls, share content and information through the cloud and keep the work organized by implementing agile methodologies.
How we communicate effectively as a distributed team
One of the greatest challenges for remote-first companies is communication. Ensuring that every team member feels part of the company, understands the tasks, can voice his or her opinions and lives and breathes the company culture, are all directly connected to the way we communicate.
We promote open communication
Changes, improvements and any other action or decision related to each project are openly communicated and discussed within the project team. By doing so, we can make sure that we are always on the same page and boost engagement levels. Meetings are a great way of conveying news and share any progress the company might be experiencing.
Whenever we make an addition to our team, we work closely together to ensure that the new team member is developing correctly, grasping every necessary concept, adjusting to our culture and work dynamics. We provide support by setting additional checkpoints to track progress in a more effective way, while also making sure the person feels included and contained. As the person starts feeling more comfortable, meetings are spaced-out, helping develop more autonomy and accountability.
Nonetheless, we strive to keep our lines of communication open, encouraging team members to ask for meetings whenever they need to. Whether they want to share specific thoughts or opinions, let us know how comfortable they feel with their projects, as well as any expectations they have for the future or concerns they might have at present, our doors are always open.
Every month, each team member has a 30 minute check-in with the operations team to address any issues related to the progress of the project, as well as to discuss any news related to the team. It is the most reliable way of getting to know each person and their main goals and expectations in terms of their career and development within the company. It also provides a safe, personal space where managers and team members can go over any specific concern or problems they might be having.
In addition, we also consider it is really important to use these instances to engage in different conversations and get to know other aspects of each team member personality and interests.
Team meetings and webinars
To ensure that everyone is aware of our challenges and successes, as well as any other changes or news that might be relevant, we hold meetings with the entire team at least 3 times a year, which generally involve:
- communicating company results
- presenting new members
- celebrating goals
- discussing goals set for the following trimester
- explaining any new processes
- and sharing news.
Additionally, we organize webinars to discuss interesting topics related to the software developing industry. These are normally led by one of our developers and are meant to be an opportunity to share knowledge within the team.
Webinars are also open to anyone outside the company interested in participating as attendees so they are a great way of helping team members gain notoriety as well as an opportunity to continue growing together as a company.
We craft well-thought out messages
Sending short messages can seem an efficient way of getting the point across, but it can actually have the opposite effect. Good written communication is essential to avoid misunderstandings and waste of valuable time spent on clarifying and answering additional questions. Whenever we send a message, we make sure to be clear and include the right context, instead of assuming others know what we are talking about.
Furthermore, we document everything to make sure all teams can access to any relevant information about their projects or tasks.
We communicate in a clear, straightforward way
Knowing when to use a specific channel of communication is just as important as the quality of the message. At Nearsure, we mainly use Slack to communicate, since it helps deliver direct messages in a fast and easy way. It also includes public channels where we can communicate with several or all team members at the same time. Whenever we need to have longer conversations to share different opinions, discuss a problem or request or provide feedback, video calls are the preferred method. Finally, emails are used almost exclusively to address administrative matters, mainly invoicing and contracts.
Communicating constantly also helps get the point across in a clear way. Assuming that others know what you are talking about when you sent a message because you mentioned it once in a previous meeting or posted a message in Slack at some point can lead to confusion and negatively impact the progress of a project or specific task.
Effective tools our remote-first team uses
Adopting a digital-first mindset is an intrinsic part of successful remote-first companies, and at Nearsure, we are no exception. Investing in technology promotes efficient communication. By setting clear operating rules on how and when to use these tools, we ensure online collaboration and keep clear lines of communication.
Our messaging tool, Slack is our main means of communication. We use it for direct messaging, group conversations and occasional video calls. Video calls are key for our team, since members can perceive each other’s facial expressions and body language. Group conversations are also very useful, since they help keep everyone informed and encourage new members to ask questions and feel more confident from the very first day.
To ensure everyone is aware of the time of day each team member is working at, we all keep the same Slack status, indicating our usual working hours. Also, at Nearsure we make sure that our regular working hours overlap with the rest of the team at least for a few hours each day, in order to promote collaboration and strengthen the lines of communication.
At Nearsure we do not let distances get in the way of getting to know one another. Through Donut, team members have 10 to 15 minute-conversations with another member of the team each month to talk about anything unrelated to work. Pairings are randomly selected by Donut and the app then sends a message to coordinate the best time to have the conversation.
BirthdayBot is another really helpful addition to Slack, especially when you want to keep track of all birthdays within your team in a fast-growing startup like Nearsure.
As a distributed team, we like to send each team member a cake or a breakfast basket to celebrate these special occasions, wherever they are located. This app helps us plan ahead, by automatically collecting all birthdays each time a team member joins the team and by sending reminders one week in advance. Also, the birthday celebrations in Slack are really fun.
We use Zoom to conduct video calls for special meetings, such as team meetings and webinars. Otherwise, we generally use Slack. Whenever we have to take part in a video call with other team members or a client, we make sure to:
- find a quiet, well-lit spot
- connect through a desktop (never a smartphone)
- keep the camera on throughout the entire call
- use headphones for better audio quality
- and mute the microphone when we are not talking, especially if the meeting has several participants.
Because Nearsure has a team all over Latin America, time zones vary, which is why asynchronous communication is vital to our model and our day-to-day operations.
This tool was created by Buffer and allows us to see where every member of the team is located. Whenever we schedule a meeting, have a video call or send a message, we always bear in mind the location and time zone of the other person.
Having a project management tool can considerably help organize the work visually, since it makes it easier to track progress of projects and tasks. At Nearsure, we use Trello to plan and distribute the workload, based on agile methodologies. We generally work with Scrum, plan out 2-week sprints and have 15-minute daily meetings to go over the tasks of the day and any major issue team members may be experiencing.
Online whiteboards, like Mural, are a great way to increase real-time collaboration among remote teams. With this kind of tools, we are able to run efficient retro and planning meetings and simplify the way we define concepts, brainstorm, set estimates and organize projects.
Why Work at Nearsure
Working from home is no longer some dream or longtime aspiration. In fact, nowadays in the U.S., more than 70% of people work outside the office at least once a week and this number is becoming increasingly higher every year, as well as the number of days they work remotely. This new reality stems from the fact that working remotely offers great benefits, so much so that 90% of current remote workers plan on working in this fashion for the rest of their career and 60% of them say that they would leave their current job for a fully-remote position in a heartbeat.
This should come as no surprise, given the great benefits this kind of jobs have: people can work from the comfort of their own home, in their own personalized workspace created to meet their specific needs and with a flexible working schedule.
Location is not a limitation anymore when it comes to working remotely: you can work from anywhere in the world simply by having computer and internet access. Achieving a balance between your personal and professional life is becoming more attainable thanks to this new trend. You can organize your daily chores with your work schedule more easily, you can spend time with your family or spend time in outdoor activities.
Furthermore, several studies have shown the very real impact remote working has on your health and working performance. By adopting this new way of working, you can also increase your productivity due to less distractions or unplanned meetings and conversations, as well as lower stress levels because you are able to work from wherever you feel most comfortable, in the timeframe you feel is best.
The benefits only Nearsure provides
Apart from these great benefits from working from home, team members can also enjoy other significant advantages when working at Nearsure, such as:
- a competitive salary in US dollars, with a flexible working schedule and paid time off (annual leave, National holidays, sick time and parental leave)
- work in challenging projects for distributed companies in the U.S., with innovating products created by cutting-edge technologies and modern languages
- integrate a growing team, where the possibilities are endless
- enjoy the same work stability as any other person working under a fixed contract
- work in a friendly, multicultural environment with people from different countries in the region and have the support of an operations team, focused on ensuring that every team member feels comfortable with their tasks
- a tailor-made benefits package focused on health, wellbeing, entertainment, training and financial wellness, so that team members can choose the benefits they consider most important and make the most of working from home
Working at Nearsure can definitely be a game changer. We aim at building a space which helps us grow together and provides the right tools to boost our work-life balance. Interested?