With over 6,000 customers in over 85 countries worldwide, Timely is firmly rooted in the remote scene. They are innovative, fun, and a bit quirky in a good way. Sure we wanted to get to know them better. Our questions were answered by Timely’s Head of Marketing, Lou Donnelly-Davey.
How big is the Timely team at the present and where around the globe are you guys distributed?
Timely is growing super fast! We are barely keeping up with hiring right now and have 3 new jobs up on our jobs board on our site. We are sitting at around 30 on any given day, with a bunch of clever people spread over Auckland, Dunedin, Wellington, London and South America!
What is the story behind your bathrobes? Do you have any other benefits or perks that are tailored specifically to remote employees?
Oh yes, the bathrobes. Ha ha ha. They are a treat, that’s for sure. On your one year anniversary with Timely you ceremoniously get presented with your Timely bathrobe. It all started way back when there were only 6 people in the company and Andrew, our Head of Support, would religiously turn up to team hangouts wearing his bathrobe. On his one year anniversary, our CEO Ryan presented him with a Timely-emblazoned robe so he could better represent our culture. The tradition just seemed to stick! For kicks, we actually had the City Mayor hand out robes to our three newest bathrobe inductees in his Civic Chambers a few months back.
How did the idea of #timelylife spring up? And how does it help you boost company culture?
We’re developing a culture that is synonymous with flexibility, balance and work/life mash up! It’s super important for us to walk the talk and not just say we are family friendly, or encouraging of out of work activities, but actually live it and share it. #timelylife is a celebration of all that we encompass in our work and personal lives. It’s a measure of our success as a company doing the remote work thing well. We have so many amazing people at the company right now who have extraordinary lives wrapped around charity, giving back, fitness and family. It’s great to be able to share this little slice of team culture with the world and reaffirm our position on where we stand on our values. Our culture has simply evolved, it is the way we have always done things. We learned that we loved this way of working and that it suited our customers too. They loved that we could empathise with how they worked and lived.
How do you encourage good work-life balance at Timely?
Honestly? Leading by example and also allowing people to feel at ease with their own decisions. Supporting those choices and encouraging people to take action. It’s easy to say we are a flexible company that values people bringing all of themselves to work, but without a framework to back that up, people seldom act. Saying yes, without judgement and allowing people to experience the freedom of making their own choices is a powerful thing. Trusting people’s judgement around prioritizing workloads and celebrating in all our colleagues enjoy and achieve is a major part of that too. Our #timelylife Twitter channel is a reflection of that. As an example, we currently have one of our awesome designers, Amanda travelling in Peru, she’s a super talented dancer and is fulfilling her passion for travel, dance and #timelylife all in the one hit.
What are you looking for in new remote employees?
This is a biggy. Culture is paramount to our company. If I was to pick the one thing we hire for I would say culture fit. You gotta rock the #timelylife and not just make it work, but totally kick ass at it. Be prepared to put in the hard yards, step up and be your best, not just in the company setting, but in life in general. The better you do life, the better you will be as an awesome human being in general and when that happens, everyone benefits. Your friends, family and colleagues. The other thing we look for every single time is the ability to communicate clearly. Being a remote company, it is vital that every single person we hire has the ability to express themselves aptly from behind a keyboard. Behind culture, there is no bigger attribute that we seek in new hires.
What does onboarding look like at Timely? Do you have any processes in place to help new employees feel more integrated?
As soon as someone’s hired (but before they start working) we send them a list of questions, some personal, some professional, and some random, for them to answer. We then send their answers around to the team in a welcome email, and the new person will receive a deluge of “Welcome to the team!” emails, which is a really nice way for the new person to feel that sense of belonging. They are then inducted into our Slack channels, which is probably a bit of a baptism of fire! Everyone is super welcoming and makes them feel at ease. We have a #newbies channel in Slack too — which is completely private apart from a few of us managers who are there to answer any and all new peeps questions about anything. Makes them feel a little less conspicuous about asking things in public channels. Because we operate our very own unique form of remote working whereby we prefer a remote cluster model, there is always someone around to sidle up beside for a few weeks worth of buddying.
We have also recently started running a new induction seminar which helps to bring newbies up to speed on our company, strategy and metrics.
Being remote, what does your company communication look like and how do you deal with meetings?
Oh gosh, where do I start! Our main tool is Slack. That’s where all the communication happens. Our #Watercooler channel is where we check in and out and indulge in general chit chat. Then we branch out into specialist channels by department and for cross-departmental activities. We are an open book and you can pretty much join any channel that takes your fancy. Although, most of us find is useful to mute some and star others so we can keep a semblance of sanity.
We use Google Drive for collaboration and communication around workflow, and Trello and Hubspot CRM for planning and project tasking. Meetings are held using Google Hangouts and we even have our monthly all company Hui, Techbot Demo days and Marketing Open Mic sessions using Google hangouts where we have representation from all over the globe!
I’d love to hear about your company retreats — how do you pick locations, what is their primary goal?
Our latest retreat was held in Queenstown, New Zealand. We use this time to come together and spend time face to face as humans! It’s really important for us to have some down time to simply enjoy each other’s company. And while we set aside a half day to run through company metrics and look at forward planning, we generally are there to solidify relationships and get to know each other better. It is hard to fully appreciate the whole of somebody when your interactions are confined to online hangouts or written communication. It’s these times when we get to know each other better, spend time eating and drinking local fare and sit back and reflect on the achievements that have come and gone. We also make a point of having each person share one personal milestone or accomplishment from the last year, so that we can learn a bit about what’s been happening with everyone outside of work.
Could you share some of your favourite team activities on retreats?
Luging down one of the world’s most scenic mountain tracks was a highlight of our latest retreat. Sure shows up the competitive ones!
What are your future plans?
We have no plans on stopping any time soon. This model works for us and is ingrained in our culture. We value happiness first and foremost, and it is important for us to continue what we started. The remote lifestyle allows us to fully participate in life and ultimately means we are happier (and hopefully healthier) individuals. We really believe that happy employees are more dedicated, more creative and more enthusiastic, so building a company that enables happiness is our ultimate goal.
From a company perspective, we have had an exciting year. We recently reached break even, became an Apple Mobility Partner and launched a new fully native iOS app. It’s a crazy ride and means that we are growing from strength to strength month on month. We are planning some exciting events in both Australia and the UK for the rest of this year and early next year, and are committed to working closer with our integration partners. We are recruiting like mad and building out our capabilities across the board.
Any thoughts on the remote movement you’d like to share?
Something’s gotta change with regards to the whole work and life conundrum. The sooner companies embrace a more flexible and trusting environment, the better. We are getting to the point where culture is the only competitive advantage companies have. Empowering people to take charge of their own lives and priorities always wins and we are proof that by taking away some of the traditional boundaries surrounding how we should work, we are enabling people to get back to being their best in all aspects of their lives.