TMBA 323: No Office Required

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There is a movement in the internet business world where some companies have decided to start getting rid of offices altogether. It might seem easy for small businesses to pull this off, but lately businesses have started to do this at scale. This week, Dan and Ian are going to be speaking to a few entrepreneurs who are growing real teams for their businesses without offices; Wade Foster, the co-founder of Zapier, and Michael Erickson of Search Scientists. Some of the issues that they will touch on in this episode include how to create a culture remotely, how to keep on top of what everyone is doing and how to make your employees feel like they are part of a team.


Listen to this week’s show and learn:

  • Michael’s unique approach to team meetings. (7:00)
  • How Zapier was founded at an entrepreneurial weekend retreat. (12:25)
  • How a love story was a determining factor in why Zapier decided to develop a remote team. (16:49)
  • The benefits of recruiting from anywhere in the world. (21:15)
  • Some of the tools the Zapier team uses to maximize remote performance. (28:29)

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Dan & Ian

Published on 02.11.16
  • Great episode! This is something I’ve been mulling over a lot as I drag my feet on hiring… the question of “how can we entrepreneurs, as we expand our businesses, avoid creating the type of soul-killing companies that we were once desperate to escape?” I might have commented this before here, if so, pardon the repetition :-)

  • Dev

    I have been listening to TMBA podcast on and off for over a year now, and this is definitely one of the best episodes!

    Perhaps I am a bit biased because this topic is so relevant to what we are going through right now. Our team is 100% distributed at the moment, and as we are nearing a $1m/year revenue mark, the topic of fully distributed teams vs. multiple locations vs.some kind of a hybrid model keeps coming back. So bravo on covering this topic with such great guests!

    I just wish I could ask Wade one follow up question. This is about Zapier’s semi-annual retreats. We have never done these, and perhaps one of the main reasons has been not the high cost of getting everyone together but the fact that the majority of our team members, including myself, have families.

    I think I would feel guilty asking moms and dads to leave their kids behind and go on a 6 day retreat with their co-workers. Perhaps Zapier’s workforce is younger, and this is a non-issue.

    Any comments/thoughts from Wade or anyone else on this topic would be much appreciated.

    One more thing– this is regarding the next week’s upcoming episode about businesses built on top of the Amazon platform— whoever you interview, if possible, please ask some pointed questions about profitability.

    We hear a lot of stories about Amazon businesses bringing in 10K, 100K, etc per month but all these are usually based on total sales. No one seems to talk specifically about profitability and the bottom line. If you are selling 100K worth of widgets each month on Amazon but your costs of goods and other costs are 95K/month, the business opportunity is not really as good as it sounds.

    Thanks again!


  • Good question! About 30% of people at Zapier have kids. More have spouses or long term partners. So it’s an issue we’ve thought about.

    Where we’ve settled for now is that Zapier gives a ton of freedom and flexibility throughout the year to be with your families by allowing you to work from home and have flexible hours. Zapier is way more family friendly 50 weeks of the year than most jobs. So giving up 2 weeks of the year to travel is pretty small ask.

    Obviously there are situations where that’s absolutely not possible and we’ll accommodate like having or just had a kid, single parenting, sickness, etc. This approach has worked pretty well so far.

  • Bunty

    Slightly off topic, but it’s really awesome that you, as the co-founder and interviewee of TMBA, are open to responding to fans. Sometimes there seems to be a barrier with episodes and how to get in touch with people, granted that most of the people are fairly busy people who are interviewed.

  • thanks Bunty we did touch on that issue and the episode will be coming up soon! let us know what you think

  • hehe create soul crushing processes! :) or: it wasn’t the process that we hated it was the office going through time-expensive motions

  • cheers Dev thanks for the great comment and congrats on the business success. just finished up the Amazon ep should be up in a few hours.

    was very curious about the retreats issue as well as we haven’t fully done one yet but have been hearing/reading about a lot of other companies experiences doing them.

  • thanks Wade!

  • James Mathison

    Great episode!

    You should definitely also link to the online book Wade mentioned that they wrote about remote work:

    I’m going to go over it in detail :)

  • cheers thanks for that James!

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