Tammy Bjelland
Founder and CEO
April 07, 2020

Company Interview with Tammy, CEO of Workplaceless, and a remote work leader

With Workplaceless, Tammy helps companies start off on the "right remote foot." Hear how her 100% remote team stays in sync, and how she keeps her employees engaged

How did you get started with remote work?

Workplaceless was founded as a 100% remote company, and the primary reasons are two-fold:

As the leader in remote work training, it's critical for us to model best practices in remote work for our clients. Our distributed team members have empathy for challenges that remote workers and teams face every day.

We leverage our own operating structure as a virtual testing ground to ensure our trainings are effective for us as well as our clients.

Like many small businesses in small cities, suburban or rural areas, the talent pool in my immediate area is skilled, but also limited in number. When I started to grow beyond myself as a sole-proprietor, I knew from prior remote experience that I could access the greatest talent pool to meet the wide range of needs my business had in a startup stage.

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What has been the benefit of allowing remote work?

For our team members:

  • Schedule and location flexibility. Remote work doesn't always equal flexible work, but at Workplaceless, we find that the best policy is to ensure that they do. We encourage our team members to work when and where they are most productive. We've had team members who have seamlessly moved to different countries while on our team. On a daily basis, our team members share when they will and won't be available so that we all can collaborate efficiently. Plus, our leadership team shares when they are taking breaks for lunch, a midday workout, or need to tend to family needs. We don't do this to keep track, but rather to model for the whole team that we recognize that we all have needs and lives outside of work.

For our company:

  • Access to top talent. As highlighted above, at the start of Workplaceless, we knew a distributed model was the only answer for us, and the biggest benefit was access to our amazing team members now dispersed throughout the globe.

For our team members and company:

  • Productivity. We've found that when our team members are most productive and recognized for their output, they are more engaged with the work and goals at hand. This also benefits our business as we're able to accomplish more without being interrupted during deep work periods or pulled into meetings that could've been an email.

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What have been some of the challenges?

As with fellow distributed companies, we face challenges of communication and collaboration, but we've been able to develop processes that address these challenges for our team.

However, as our team continues to grow, some best practices that worked even last year need an evolution, and we're working on those now.

The important part for us is identifying those challenges quickly, and keeping our whole team informed and engaged along the way as we work towards solutions.

Another remote team challenge we're currently focusing on is documenting decisions and the decision-making process.

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Do you have a hybrid or full-remote team?

100% remote

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What are your company's most popular tools?

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What does a typical day look like for your remote teams?

There is no typical day. We do not follow a set routine on a daily basis. We all stay in sync on tasks and goals through the use of tools like ClickUp and through constant and consistent communication.

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How do you support or train your remote managers?

We onboard all of our team members through our Workplaceless training programs: a Workplaceless Remote Work Certification to all team members during the onboarding process and a Leadplaceless virtual leadership training for our remote managers. Additionally, we provide a professional development stipend to employees.

Lifelong learning is one of our fundamental values, and we are always finding new ways to live into this value internally, from skills showcases to post-conference share-outs.

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Do you have a formal remote work policy?

Yes! We highly recommend a well-written and well-communicated remote work policy for all companies to start off on the "right remote foot" with aligned expectations at every level of employment. Our Goplaceless program is designed for leaders and change managers to identify the key elements of a remote work policy that would work best for their teams.

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How has the role of HR changed when it comes to supporting your remote workforce?

No change since we've always been remote—however, we are developing learning experiences for remote HR professionals that dive into the fundamental differences between remote and traditional HR practices. We recently published these competencies and are developing an HR Bootcamp to launch soon.

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How do you build trust and camaraderie among your remote workers?

Trust in remote teams is essential. It's the foundation for distributed teams to function optimally. We've established rituals to start and end the week to keep remote team members engaged.

Examples include:

  • Using Donut to match team members for informal virtual coffee dates.
  • Checking in regularly in synchronous meetings and with a feedback tool called Wulu.
  • Sharing a weekly internal blog that includes revenues and results while highlighting team member's contributions to reach those results. This helps all our team members see how their work fits into the bigger picture.

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Do you facilitate opportunities for face-to-face interactions?

Yes. Again, it's evolving as our team grows, but we aim to facilitate face-to-face interactions, especially as our team members travel to conferences together.

Plus, we host retreats for subsections of our team during the year, and are hoping to have a full team retreat this summer!

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How has remote work impacted your company's productivity?

As we started remote-first, we never made a shift from office to remote; however, we do apply metrics to our overall team and individual team member productivity.

Our team rates as highly productive when we look at both OKRs and self-reported productivity; cited reasons include the ability to manage one's own time, workflow, and work environment.

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Biography

Tammy Bjelland

Tammy Bjelland is the Founder and CEO of Workplaceless an elearning company that trains teams on how to work, lead, grow, and thrive remotely. With her background in higher education, publishing, edtech, elearning, and corporate training, she is committed to developing learning solutions that drive and support the future of education and the future of work.

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