AWeber Is Now a Remote First Team
By Tom Kulzer May 21, 2020
The world is changing, but our commitment to our customers and team members remains stronger than ever.
The world has changed. The way we interact, communicate, and exist with one another shifted rapidly over the past few months.
But one thing has never — and will never — change for AWeber: our commitment to our team and the customers we serve.
As we adapt to our new reality, we continue to look for ways to support our customers and team members as best we can.
That’s why we made the decision to become a remote first team.
Below is the email I sent to our entire team this afternoon to announce our plans for the remote first future of AWeber:
The world is collectively dealing with the new realities that COVID-19 brings to daily life. Counties around us are turning to the yellow phase allowing businesses to reopen with new daily realities requiring masks and continued social distancing. Faced with this we must first think of the safety of our team, our families, and our customers.
Effective immediately, all team member travel is cancelled until at least September. There will be no in person team events until 2021.
We must now grapple with how these changes impact our normal office activities. Lunches together don’t work, all hands doesn’t work, most conference rooms wouldn’t be big enough for a group, workstations must be spread out more, everyone must wear a mask all day long, even walking past each other in hallways too close together is an issue. Much of the interaction that makes being in the office beneficial puts our collective health at risk.
I’ve long said that remote work where part of the team is in an office and part of a team is remote doesn’t work. I still believe that. Teams in offices collaborate differently than those that are fully remote. Remote members get left out of communications that are necessary for them to be successful. If I was starting a software company in 2020, it would be a remote first company for a variety of reasons. With fewer geographical limitations we can find talented candidates wherever they reside, which also provides greater opportunity for success in diversity efforts. That geographic spread also affords greater diversity against weather, political, and other business interrupting phenomenon. Different cultures and ideas mix together to curate better ideas and more inclusive implementations that are representative of the diverse makeup of our customer base.
AWeber’s future starts today, as a remote first company in what is our biggest organizational change in 21 years. There won’t be a date for going back to the office, as we have no intention of going back and will from this point forward be working and hiring remotely.
None of us can pretend that the remote work we’ve been doing for the past 2 months is the same remote work we’ll be doing in 1-2 years as the world returns to a new normal. I think that most would say we’ve been pretty successful over the last 2 months as we made the switch relatively seamlessly. I believe that most people find collaboration and communication easier in person, but I believe it can be better when done fully remote. The easier collaboration of in person communication breeds bad habits with lack of documentation, word of mouth standards, mushy agendaless meetings, and undocumented decisions or next steps. A recent post by Matt Mullenweg of Automattic/Wordpress describing a remote team’s 5 levels of autonomy struck me. Right now our team exhibits many positive traits of these 5 levels, but with effort and more deliberate communication I believe we can rise to even higher levels.
This challenge excites me, and I hope it excites you as well. I ask that you approach this with an open mind and realize that this will require change within all of us. We must break old habits, form new ones, be transparent with each other about what’s working, what’s not, what we need, and what we don’t need. Say what you see, suggest improvements, and we’ll figure out together what works best.
How you show up to impact the world is not changing. What you’ve been doing for the past 2 months is what we need to do to keep moving forward. The only thing that’s changing is that there’s no longer a timeline for going back, as we’re already “back”. It’s important to remember that while we may not be in our building anymore, our building is not our culture. Our culture is defined by our core values and how we make decisions and behave as individuals, as a team, and as a force for change with our customers.
Use this change and the turmoil going on in the world around us as an opportunity to look at the world with a new perspective and new ideas of how we can make an impact.
Our collective efforts in the past 30 days alone have put billions of opt-in permission based emails in inboxes around the world. Those messages during this pandemic connect teachers to their students, governments to their citizens, families to necessities, businesses to their customers and so much more. People around the world can be educated, be informed, be safe, be entertained, be fit, and be happy as a result of each of your daily efforts.
CEO & Founder
Our mission has never wavered. We remain dedicated to connecting people in remarkable ways by delivering powerfully-simple email marketing software for small businesses — so they can continue living their dreams, executing on their passions, and growing their businesses.
We’re excited to propel AWeber into the future, and can’t wait to continue creating remarkable experiences for our customers and team members.