Office Optional

By Scott Peeples

We live in a digital age. We can video conference from our phones, collaborate on a presentation in the cloud or check on the status of a project with the click of a button.

All of this technology has empowered us to work smarter and faster – and without the need to be in an office. At Peerfit, a digital platform company offering innovative workplace wellness programs, we decided to take that even further. We operate in 10 states, we’re growing rapidly, and yet, we don’t have a single office.

Each of our employees, about 20 in all, works remotely. This perk gives them great flexibility, and it gives us the ability to recruit the best employee for each position – regardless of location.

Want to know the four secrets that make our approach work?

Core hours
Our employees are reachable during “core hours” from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. It’s ok with us if they hit the gym during the workday, keep a doctor’s appointment or just have a long lunch with a friend. If they’re needed, they know they have to respond ASAP. It doesn’t mean they are working 12 hours a day, it means they’re available during that window if needed to solve a business problem that can’t advance without their input. Projects and meetings are planned out to avoid interrupting people, but this flexibility supports that elusive thing called work-life balance.

Communication
This is key to any workplace, but especially one without a physical workplace. It means we all understand not just our own priorities but our coworkers’ as well, so we are marching in step and avoiding issues that can slow productivity or lead to wasted efforts.

Our business is evolving rapidly and changes will happen. When they do, it’s imperative that everyone know as quickly as possible. We have weekly department meetings and cross-team meetings, as traditional businesses do, to make sure everyone is informed. We also chat in real-time, a preferred method of communication for millennials.

Plus, just because we’re digital doesn’t mean manners and interpersonal skills go out the window. Our team respects each other’s time, skills, and priorities. We’re helping our customers have stronger social ties in their fitness, and we strive to live that as a company in the way we strengthen our teams’ relationships with each other. In that light, we designed workflows that recognize the different energies of each team. For example, sales is always on the move and looking to turn ideas into reality – yesterday. The development team, on the other hand, is methodical and strategic. We created a point person between the two teams to act as translator and facilitator.

Technology
These days, there is a program that will help you accomplish just about anything. For us, the key was integrating all of the programs we needed to run our business, from sales and marketing tools to project management and calendaring. Once we figured that out, adherence was key. Collaboration programs are only as good as their users are consistent.

We use Slack for internal communication, Trello for project management and Google Drive for document storage. We are constantly on the lookout for new shortcuts to make this technology work more efficiently. For example, we found a way to have Salesforce updates automatically transfer to Mailchimp, Trello, and Slack so that employees don’t have to make the same update four times in four different places.

Accessibility
Our leadership team is incredibly accessible and constantly in communication with our team, customers and investors. This accessibility fosters a one-team spirit that transcends physical location and unites our workforce and business partners.

Our onboarding process is nontraditional in the sense that new hires are encouraged to attend any and all calls that are scheduled in the first few weeks of their employment. This includes calls with clients, fitness partners and investors. We’ve found that the new team member quickly learns how we describe who we are, what we do, and how we work to address questions or concerns. It also helps the new employee assimilate to how we work. In the first few weeks, the new employee is in near-constant communication with senior leaders who help infuse our mission, vision, and strategy.

Scott Peeples is the chief operating officer for Peerfit, a digital platform that helps companies create a culture of wellbeing by personalizing fitness experiences to drive engagement. Scott specializes in strategy, developing core operational advantages to maximize results and perfect customer experience. Visit Peerfit at www.peerfit.com.

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