How we try to create an amazing remote company



(Spoiler: no office needed)

There is no single recipe for running a successful remote company. Still, we want to share a few things we did to make our teams feel at home without seeing each other every day.

We started Airnow Media as a classic tech company — there was an office of 100+ employees in India and the Philippines. When we started adding more and more people from across the globe with a supersonic speed — from Russia and Ukraine to Shanghai and New Zealand — we realized that going 100% remote helps us tremendously in overcoming geo constraints while hunting for best global talent. For the past 7 years, we never regretted our decision. We are now heading towards IPO, English is our corporate language, use around 60 different tools in our daily work and even have our Employer Branding Strategy (yes, corporate culture is now not a word from the book) and access to the best people in the world.

We’re not going to sugar coat it: there are both pros and cons to running a remote company.

First, you have access to talent across the globe. You don’t have to lose key players on your team just because they’re moving somewhere else. As companies, we spend so much time recruiting, on-boarding, and building teams, that having to start over because someone relocated is simply costly, time-consuming, and unnecessary.


This means you need to have effective communication processes in place and create a healthy and productive work environment for your team. When you walk into an office or meeting, you can get a good gauge on the energy and vibe in the room purely based on body language. With a remote team, however, you don’t have this luxury, so you’re basically flying blind. Because you aren’t able to physically see non-verbal cues and communication, you need to be purposeful and transparent with every call, email, and chat. In other words, this is the price of freedom: productivity vs loneliness.

So, how it works for us?

There 2 pillars on which a remote company stands (at least, for us):

#1. Technical — These are all the tools and resources we leverage to run every aspect of our business — communications, HR, DevOps, data, etc. Every request and process is transparent, searchable, and trackable. Policies and processes are documented as Wiki pages.

#2. Emotional — How can you help teammates, from Shanghai to Ukraine, cope with loneliness and feel like they’re part of a team? How do professional development training and team-building exercises work? These areas can be really tricky to tackle. Even with all of today’s technological advancements, it’s hard to replace a simple face-to-face talk by the coffee machine or a one-on-one performance review.

The complexities of these issues began for us due to a combination of factors: the immense growth we experienced over a short timeframe and the need to establish community and camaraderie with a remote team scattered across different time-zones. On one hand, people were being overloaded with work and trying to cope with a myriad of tasks that needed to be completed yesterday. On the other, we were concerned that our team would feel lonely, undervalued, confused, or like their voice wasn’t being heard.

How did we iron out all the kinks?

All sorts of sources say that you have to create your own unique corporate culture and only recruit people who align with it. For us, this idea is as antiquated and outdated as sitting in an office cubicle Monday through Friday. Instead, we totally share Buffer’s viewpoint on this topic: we believe in Cultural Contribution and Values Fit. There are four core principles we live by to create a powerful remote team:

I. We are remote:

  • Every call is a video call. If PJ’s, cats, or other humans make their way onto the screen, they are not frowned upon
  • We are willing and able to gather for meet-ups and workshops on short notice when an issue arises and requires attention
  • The office is where the wi-fi is
  • Time zones are solvable — we simply duplicate important calls, so both China and the US are included and informed.

II. We are multicultural

  • We speak 8 languages and live in 16 countries
  • We recognize and celebrate different global or cultural holidays as a team
  • We share knowledge outside of our job descriptions — all of our processes are transparent, and we welcome everyone’s contributions and ideas.

III. We are results-driven

  • We as teams don’t provide reports — we analyze everything that was done, including what succeeded, what did not, and why
  • When pitched right, a good idea may take 1 week to execute.

IV. We are engaged.

  • An HR manager met a publisher? Product manager knows a good recruitment agency? Our brand manager came across a usability issue? We’ve created an environment where knowledge is shared, everyone is willing to lend a helping hand, and our teams are highly engaged
  • Not there for a meet-up? Join via Zoom.

Don’t forget to have some fun!

When you’re working from home, talking business all day, still sitting in your pj’s at 6 pm from time to time, it can sometimes drive you crazy. We’ve created Slack channels for all sorts of interests and office activities, like useful reads and link sharing, girls-only, a channel for birthdays, and informal announcements and flashmobs. We do pizza days once a month and are now trying out video lunches (next one with wine included!).

A company’s culture is just like a product. We iterate and improve. As the world changes, and we change, and our partners change, we need to reevaluate whether the team we’ve built is set up for happiness and success or if we need to tweak our processes and culture.

If you want to create a cool remote culture, you need a Jane. It’s important to have someone responsible for your company’s culture, so that people feel cared for. This doesn’t have to be an official title, but you need someone who’s energetic and dedicated, with a good sense for picking up on whether people are happy, upset, or confused. She’s also our go-to leader for team meet-ups, which are a huge part of our remote team work.