Category Archives: Work

The DistantJob Marketing Team Agreement

I’m publishing this here because I said I would; this is the agreement that I crafted for my remote team, and it is a direct consequence of my interviewing over two dozen people who I consider to be among the most elite in the world when it comes to working remotely. That doesn’t make it perfect; I can only absorb so much great knowledge. But it’s a start, and I make it public in the hope that it might help those who are starting now on the path of remote leadership, and invite suggestions for improvement from those who are farther along.

This is the team agreement that the DistantJob Marketing team will adopt moving forward, as originally penned by me, Luís Magalhães, in the capacity of Director of Marketing.

This document is open-source. I take ownership of it but leave it editable so that the other members of the DistantJob Marketing team can alter and revise it as they see fit. While as team lead, I reserve the right to veto changes, I do not intend to exercise that right unless not doing so feels absolutely catastrophic, or goes specifically agains the ethos of the company and its mission statement.

I publicly stand by every point, and in the spirit of transparent leadership, I permit and encourage you to share it. I do so not because I think it is perfect and immune to criticism, but precisely because I believe that the way to make the best ideas come to the top is to have the conversation out in the open.

Table of Contents

  1. Work Out Loud
    1. Flexible work, predictable work
    2. Talk to people every day
      1. Stand Tall, Stand Up
      2. Ghosts Are Never Polite
    3. Private is for dating
    4. Friday is Demo Day
  2. Go First
    1. Search before you ask.
    2. Count On Us, But Chart The Course
    3. Get others on board
  3. No-One Left Behind
    1. The Team Wins Together
    2. Your Career Is Our Career
    3. Flexibility and Individual Commitment
    4. Crime & Punishment

Work Out Loud

Work Flexibly, But Predictably

We are goal-oriented, and the nature of our work is more creative than time-sensitive. As such, there is flexibility in the hours you work. And we all believe that the best work is done disconnected. Having to check Slack or Basecamp or whatever for messages every 60 minutes is not productive.

But as a member of the team, you have a responsibility to your managers and to your teammates; they need to know when they can expect a reply from you, or when they can expect your tasks to be updated.

As such, choose the times that work best for your own focus and productivity, but schedule in your calendar one hour at the start of the workday and one hour at the end of the workday where people know that they can get a real-time answer from you.

Team members on a part-time regime naturally have stricter schedules, so they can schedule a single hour for this purpose.

Talk To Your Team Members Every Day

Stand Tall, Stand Up

As a member of the team, we have a stand-up channel that will prompt you to give your standup every day. This is why it matters:

  1. It gives the rest of the team the confidence that you are, indeed, working, and not leeching of their hard work.
  2. It gives your managers and colleagues the chance to offer input on any task you may doing that they have valuable knowledge about.
  3. In the absence of results, it provides a clear summary of past actions that we can analyse and improve when the time comes for a weekly or monthly review.

This is the structure you are expected to use:

  1. Yesterday I did this: <“3
  2. Today I commit to doing this:  :3
  3. Here are the tasks I didn’t accomplish yesterday, and the reason is this: T_T

Ghosts Are Never Polite

If you are in the middle of your workday, and someone asks you a question, either in a public channel or in private, you owe them a reply within a maximum of 24 hours. 

Anything else shows a remarkable lack of respect of your team members, and nothing will get you invited out of the team faster than this. If you have an actual real-life emergency, let us know; but don’t become the “boy who cried wolf”.

Privacy is for Personal Matters

Whenever a personal, private matter is not involved (IE, requesting time off to deal with an illness; discussing your career path within the company, etc), stick to the public channels devoted to your team or project. Have every conversation out in the open. 

The “why” is analogous to the reasons given when it comes to stand-ups. BE SURE to tag ( @ ) the people that you would be writing privately to, to make sure they are notified. But leave the conversation open to anyone else.

The same is true for meetings. Anyone in the marketing team should feel comfortable to join any meeting relevant to marketing, unless the meeting is specifically a 1-on-1.

Friday Is Demo Day

No “work” shall be done on Friday. No-one does any productive work on Friday, anyway. You know this to be true. Instead, plan accordingly to have your stuff done by Thursday. If it’s not, and there are no external deadlines, push it to next week.

Friday is Demo Day. Friday is the day where the team gets to sit back, relax, and show each other what they accomplished. 

Was your whole week sending emails? Good. Show us the emails. Tell us who you were talking with, about what. What words did you choose? How has the quality and clarity of your message developed? What was your follow-up cadence?

Are the data in? Show us the data. Have reports due? Friday is the day for them.

No work on Friday. Just show & tell, and then off to enjoy a restful, recharging weekend.

Go First

I always say that I’ll go first. And so that means if I’m checking out at the store, I’ll say hello first. If I’m coming across somebody and make eye contact, I’ll smile first. If people would experiment with that in their life a little bit, be first, because – not all times, but most times it comes in your favor. (…) you have to go first because now we’re being trained in this world, nobody’s going first anymore. 

— Gabrielle Reece “The Tim Ferriss Podcast,” Episode 87

Search Before You Ask

Does the thing you need already exist? Do you have a specific reason for it to be revised? Can you clearly explain how and why?

It’s easy to take the attitude “I need this and this person is in charge of this kind of thing, so I’ll ask them to do it.” But that person already has their own plans, goals, and priorities in place.

Always take the attitude of putting the work in first. Go as far as you can by yourself. Go to your teammate with a blocker/problem, not a request.

Count On Us, But Chart The Course

If you want something from someone, build them a clear roadmap. Explain precisely what you need from them, how you need it, and when you need it. 

Don’t limit yourself to using clear language; build a structure. Create the tasks in the platform, with as much description and references possible. 

Go first. Put in the work.

Then, explain the why ( see below) and negotiate priorities.

Get Others On Board

The first rule of DistantJob Marketing Team: you need to believe in what you are doing. If someone gets a task shoved into their hands and they don’t understand the value, they will do a bad job.

So if you have a task for someone, it’s on you to prove the value. Show examples of past success, show data. Don’t say “I know it works like this because of my experience” or, “I think that…” Bring data to back up your requests. Show people the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

They didn’t bite? Go start it on your own. Prove them wrong. Prove management wrong. Once the gold starts to shine, they will jump on board.

Proven results beat experience. Merit beats intuition.

No-One Left Behind

The Team Wins Together

The marketing team is evaluated based on leads delivered by any marketing initiatives. By “lead” we mean a person representing a business getting in touch with one of our sales team, and expressing interest in our services. 

We are not in the business of overpromising and underdelivering; we don’t make commitments that we are not 100% sure we can deliver on. What we can say is that, historically, an increase in profitability has always been reflected in team-wide and individual rewards. DistantJob is a company that has always been happy to share the wealth, and there is no reason to believe that this trend will stop.  

Your Career is our Career

Work with management to set your individual goals. On weekly meetings, you should decide, together with the team as much as possible, what is the best use of your time toward accomplishing objectives. For your personal objectives, you should set goals in the following way:

  • Good: If you do this by the end of the week, you will have moved your project(s) in the right direction.
  • Better: An ideal case scenario. If you manage this, you will go into the weekend shining bright like a diamond.
  • Best: It’s not going to happen, but if you get all this done by the end of the week despite the odds being impossible, drinks are on us.

You can expect a 1-on-1 every week with your manager to further refine these objectives and to request support with any challenge you might face.

In addition to that, every quarter we will do a 1-on-1 to review your performance and use the same structure to help you set career and personal goals. We commit to helping you achieve these as much as it is within our power to do so.

Flexibility and Individual Commitment

Every point in the Team Agreement is flexible and negotiable; we only ask that you abide by the things that you choose to commit to. 

If you fail at them, we can have a look at why, and refine either your approach, or revise the team agreement into something more reasonable. If you fail to uphold your commitments a second time, that’s a red flag and it’s worth a more serious discussion; however, it will be in the spirit of helping you fit in the team and processes better. 

If you fail often and repeatedly, you will be asked to leave the team.

Crime and Punishment

We view work as a fundamental right, and as one of the major pillars in someone’s life. Part of the ethos of our company is to change the world for the better by giving people the opportunity to do work they enjoy in a way that’s healthier, more balanced, and more productive. Often, work is what gives people the possibility of being healthy and happy.

As such, we do not ask someone to leave lightly. Firing someone is something we view as the worst possible outcome in a work relationship. However, keeping someone that is underperforming, or doesn’t fit the team, is damaging to the work of everyone else, and as such, this is a case where we must place the many above the few.

If the time comes to let someone go, the commitment is the following:

  1. You will always get at minimum 30 days of notice.
  2. You will be paid for those 30 days, as well as any severance outlined in your contract.
  3. As far as they can do so with a clear conscience – that is, if your exit isn’t due to some reprehensible act or attitude on your part – your manager will do everything in their power to help you find a new job where you will be a better fit, including writing a recommendation letter.

Thanks for reading.

The DistantJob Marketing Team

Original Text by Luís Magalhães

Director of Marketing

Work Flexibly, But Predictably

A marketing team is goal-oriented, and the nature of the work is more creative than time-sensitive. Combine this with the possibility of remote work, and there is a lot of flexibility on the hours when one can work. 

And we all believe that the best work is done disconnected. Having to check Slack or Basecamp or – God forbid – e-mail for messages every 60 minutes is not productive.

But as a member of the team, you have a responsibility to your managers and to your teammates; they need to know when they can expect a reply from you, or when they can expect your tasks to be updated. The fact that you work from home doesn’t mean that your work happens in a vacuum.

In fact, when you can’t be seen working, you have to create a situation where people know when you’ll be “at your desk” so they can drop by for an update.

Your mileage may vary, but here’s what I ask my team: that they pick the times that work best for their own focus and productivity. Then, they are to bookend that period with one-hour blocks that are marked on their calendar. During these show hours, people KNOW they can ping them for a real-time conversation, or that whatever deliverables they have been working on for the day will be done by then.

I’ve been doing remote work for a while now – first, managing editorial teams, and later, raiding with guilds – but it still feels like a brave, new world. 

Always Ask Why You Didn’t Get The Job

Thank you for letting me know about your decision. I am sure that the chosen person will be a valuable asset to your team and company.

May I ask for more detailed feedback on why I was passed over for the position? I ask not so that I can dispute it, but because I would like to plan on how to improve in order to have a better chance for future opportunities.

Thank you,

From here, the following may happen:

80% of employers will ignore your question. Don’t take it personally. They are busy. They owe you nothing. Move on. There will be other opportunities.

Of the remaining 20%:

15% will give you an answer. Analyze it. If you don’t agree, it doesn’t matter; keep the promise you made. Look back at the feedback after a month. Consider that it may be true. If it’s not true, then wonder about what prompted your potential employers to come to this conclusion about you. There is always something to improve, and now, you know where to start.

4% will be impressed, and will remember you when the next opportunity comes around.

1% will look at your CV again, and reconsider.

1% is not much; but all you need do is copy and paste.

Painting: “Miracle of the Cross at the Bridge of San Lorenzo” by Gentile Bellini