Why Good Words is Committed to Remote Work

By Caity Cronkhite
September 13, 2021

Here at Good Words, we have remote work in our DNA. We’ve been a remote-first company since we were founded in 2017, long before the pandemic upended the conversation about where and how we work. 

Remote work is so important to us that we made it one of our core values. Here’s how we define it:

Remote First for Social Good 
We believe that where a person lives must not limit the opportunities that are available to them, and we believe it’s unethical to deny opportunities for career growth, education, and wealth based on a person’s address. We believe that people work better when they can live and thrive in their own communities, and that those communities benefit when their citizens have access to rewarding and lucrative careers, wherever that may be. We believe that hiring talented people from diverse places makes our work better.

Good Words currently has over 20 employees around the world, including in four countries and over a dozen US states. Here’s why we committed to a remote-first model and our top tips for success.

Remote Works for Our Work

In Good Words’ case, the work we do is well suited to remote work. Writers and content developers spend much of their time working alone. Most of our work can be done using remote-friendly tools and software, from Google Docs to GitHub. We can connect with our colleagues easily through video calls, email, and chat tools. 

In fact, busy office environments often distract writers and content creators from the creative elements of their work. Lauren, Good Words’ COO, echoes this point. “When working remotely, I feel my productivity has increased and overall focus has improved. I didn’t realize how much constant interruptions during the workday in an office setting negatively impacted me.”

Donna, one of Good Words’ consultants, agrees. “[Remote work] allows me to create a work environment more conducive to my work and learning styles.”

When we founded Good Words, we simply saw no reason why the team needed to be co-located for us to do good work. After more than four fully remote years, our consultants consistently produce high quality results for our clients. 

It Makes Financial Sense

Because we can work effectively on a remote basis, Good Words has never needed a physical office space. 

Let’s do the math. Here in Seattle, where we’re headquartered, office space costs about $28.00 per square foot per year, on average. Most people recommend providing at least 100 square feet of office space per person. For us, that would come out to over 2000 square feet, at an average cost of $56,000 per year!

Instead, we decided to use those funds to provide benefits to our consultants, including health, dental, and vision insurance; charity donation matching; and a 401k with a 4% match. We pass the rest of those savings on to our clients. 

It Helps Us Live Our Other Values

Our remote work model acts as a cornerstone to help us live our other values. 

As our value states, “We believe that where a person lives must not limit the opportunities that are available to them, and we believe it’s unethical to deny opportunities for career growth, education, and wealth based on a person’s address.” We believe in remote work because, for us, it’s the most ethical choice for our business, supporting our other value of Ethics Above All.

Additionally, we’re able to employ people who aren’t able to work in a traditional office environment, such as people with disabilities or people with significant caregiving responsibilities. Melissa, one of Good Words’ consultants, tells us, “[I’m] in the ‘sandwich generation’ phase – taking care of aging parents and a young child at the same time. I just didn’t have the bandwidth for full-time work. However, I love working and I also want my daughter to see her mother happy in a career.”

Remote work gives employees like Melissa the opportunity to stay engaged in their careers and contribute positively to their own wellness, families, and communities. All that supports Good Words’ values of Sustainability and Wellbeing Over Work. 

Finally, we believe that every person does their best work under different circumstances, including from different places in the world. Our remote-first model gives our employees the flexibility to travel, live near family and friends, and contribute meaningfully to their communities. Remote-first allows us to make our Flexible Work value a reality for our whole team.

Our Tips for Remote-Work Success

We’ve been at this remote work thing for a while. We’ve learned a few things along the way about how to build a successful remote team. Here are our tips:

  • Build your culture proactively. Ari Weinzweig, the cofounder of Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, said it best in his book A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Building a Great Business: “There are only two ways I know to build an organizational culture: either with consideration and conscious intent, or by neglect.”

    Create a thoughtful onboarding and training program to help set your new employees up for success in a remote environment. Build in mechanisms for your team to bond with one another, regardless of where they are in the world. 
  • Prioritize connection. Remote workers still crave and benefit from connection with their colleagues. Schedule consistent (but not overwhelming!) touchpoints for your team to connect with their managers and coworkers, both individually and in groups.

    Schedule recurring one-on-one meetings with your employees. Gather your whole team for regular all-hands meetings to keep them informed about the company. Plan online events for your employees to interact and have fun together. Encourage employees to plan their own remote-friendly events to hang out with their coworkers, such as informal watercooler chats. 
  • Trust your people. To build a healthy, functioning team in a remote company (or anywhere!), trust your employees to do their work well. Results speak for themselves: If your employees are delivering awesome results, who cares where they do the work?

    Create systems for quality control, such as regular performance check-ins or quality assessment surveys, to track and reward the quality of employees’ work. Encourage employees to communicate openly about risks, challenges, and problems, so you can resolve them quickly and collaboratively.
  • Lean in to what makes remote work awesome. Promote and celebrate the geographic diversity of your remote team. Your employees live in amazing places. Highlight them!

    Host learning events where employees can share interesting elements of their cultures with the rest of the team. Hold team events to learn about and celebrate unique local holidays. 

Have questions about how to make remote work work for your team? Comment below or shoot us a message!