Nearsure: a Remote-First Niche for Top Professionals

28/9/2020
By
Giuliana Corbo

Since the very beginning, Nearsure’s strategy has consisted of creating a distributed team that’s 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, empowered by tools and technology.

Keep reading to learn more about what it’s like to work remotely with Nearsure!

The importance of our remote-first culture

At Nearsure, we tend to attract US-based clients with highly challenging software development projects. These opportunities are great as they 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 real time or in an asynchronous way. This involves high-quality video calls, storing shared information in the cloud and implementing agile methodologies to keep the work organized. 

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.

remote work

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 sharing any progress the company may be making.

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, and 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. As the person starts feeling more comfortable, we space out meetings, helping them to 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 in the present, our doors are always open.

1:1 meetings

Every month, each team member has a 30 minute check-in with our 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’s 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 really important to use these instances to engage in different conversations and get to know other aspects of one another’s  personality and interests.

Team meetings and webinars

To ensure that everyone is aware of our challenges and successes, as well as any other relevant changes or news, we hold meetings with the entire team at least three times a year, which generally involve:

  • Communicating company results,
  • presenting new members,
  • celebrating goals,
  • discussing goals 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 who’s interested in participating, so they’re a great way for individuals to gain notoriety. These instances are also a great opportunity for us to continue growing together as a company.

We craft well-thought out messages

Sending short messages can seem like 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 a 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 any relevant information about their projects or tasks.

We communicate in a clear, straightforward way

Knowing when to use a specific communication channel 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, we turn to video calls. Finally, emails are used almost exclusively to address administrative matters, mainly invoicing and contracts.

Communicating constantly also helps to better get the point across clearly. Assuming that others know what you’re talking about when you send a message because you mentioned it once in a previous meeting or posted about it previously 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.

remote work

Slack

Our instant 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 what time of day it is for each team member, we all keep the same Slack status, in which we post what our usual working hours are and in what time zone. 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.

Donut 

At Nearsure, we don’t let distance get in the way of us getting to know one another. Through Donut in Slack, team members have 10 to 15 minute conversations with another person each month to talk about anything unrelated to work. The Donut app randomly pairs people together then sends a message to coordinate the best time to have the conversation.

BirthdayBot

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!

Zoom 

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 via desktop (never via 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.

 

Timezone.io

Because Nearsure has a team all over Latin America, time zones vary, which is why effective 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. 

Trello

Having a project management tool can considerably help organize work in a visual way, 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 that team members may be experiencing.

Mural

Online whiteboards, like Mural, are a great way to increase real-time collaboration among remote teams. With this kind of tool, 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 pipe dream or far off aspiration. In fact, nowadays in the US, (even before COVID-19) more than 70% of people work outside the office at least once a week. Besides the fact that many are forced to work this way due to the pandemic, it has been growing in popularity over the years. It’s gaining so much momentum that, pre-COVID-19,  90% of remote workers planned on working in this fashion for the rest of their career and 60% of them said 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 of going remote: 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 more time on outdoor activities.

Furthermore, several studies have shown the very real impact that remote work has on one’s health and work 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’re 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 work schedule and paid time off (annual leave, National holidays, sick time and parental leave)
  • work involving challenging projects for distributed companies in the U.S., with innovative products created by cutting-edge technologies and modern languages
  • being part of a growing team, where the possibilities are endless
  • the same level of work stability as anyone working under a fixed contract
  • the ability to work in a friendly, multicultural environment with people from different countries in Latin America 
  • the support of an operations team that’s 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?


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