While remote work opportunities have existed since the early 80’s, the pandemic launched what is now known as remote-first organizations. Remote-first organizations emerged in response to employees desiring more workplace flexibility. In a remote first organization, there’s a physical office, but no mandate or compulsion to work in person. Adopting a remote-first model has many advantages - two of the most prominent being that it grows your talent pool and improves employee satisfaction. In this post, I’ll be listing out the best remote-first companies, but first we’ll define remote first work and make a distinction between remote first as opposed to remote friendly organizations.
1. What is remote first working?
When an organization makes remote work the primary way of operating, they are considered remote-first. Unlike fully distributed or remote-only companies, remote-first companies keep a physical workspace open for those employees who prefer to come in occasionally or full-time. If you want to find more remote companies you should check out remote job portals.
A remote-first culture establishes work from home as a norm instead of requiring approval under extenuating circumstances. Part of a remote first work model involves ensuring employees attend meetings virtually, whether they are in the office or working remotely. This ensures a consistent experience for all employees and has required a shift in both processes and tools. There’s an increased dependence on digital collaborative tools and virtual meeting platforms to get both work and non-work related updates.
2. Differences between Remote-Friendly and Remote-First Companies
|Remote first||Remote friendly|
|Remote first companies allow employees to work outside of the office most or all of the time.||A remote-friendly organization keeps the office routine activities running while letting some employees avail working from home as an option on certain days of the month.|
|Remote first companies provide the option to work remotely to all of their staff, regardless of their location or role.||Remote-friendly companies can hire remote staff for specific roles, but do not standardize remote work across the organization.|
|Remote first companies let everyone convene on the same meeting platform even if some workers are on duty in an actual office. This provides a consistent employee experience.||3. Remote-friendly organizations conduct meetings with both off site and online employees, where the virtual workers dial in to join their collocated colleagues.|
3. Top-Rated Remote First Companies 2023
The top-rated remote first companies are characterized by its exceptional dedication to enabling and nurturing remote work. Such organizations prioritize flexibility, effective communication, and clear remote work policies to ensure remote employees can thrive. They invest in technology infrastructure, provide robust support, and promote inclusivity to create a conducive remote work environment. These companies continually evolve their remote work practices, fostering a culture where remote employees are not only productive but also feel valued and included. Based on the above criteria, here are the top-rated remote first companies of 2023 -
15Five is a people and performance management platform. The products comprise engagement surveys, performance reviews and goal management. 15Five was founded in 2011 in San Francisco by David Hassell and Nazar Ivaninvas. The company has teams across the globe unified by a remote-first culture.
15Five has been recommended for pairing their solution with a best-self methodology. This explains why they were awarded a spot on Glassdoor’s Best places to work in 2020, under the small and medium-sized companies category.
Interested in working for them? Here’s a list of their current openings!
Gitlab is an open-source company that was founded in 2011 by Sid Sijbrandij and Dmytro Zaporozhets. Although an all remote company comprising over 1300 team members, Gitlab’s approach to working is remote first.
They have a presence in over 68 countries and recruit for roles across the globe.Gitlab's remote playbook contains tips and insights to run their company and is freely available. As their 2021 report says, employers are experimenting with different ways of working, with companies in the US and UK more likely to allow employees to work 100% remotely. Gitlab has implemented measures to help their network stay in touch, which include
- GitLab Contribute, an event held in places like Austin, Mexico, Greece, South Africa and New Orleans.
- Visit co-workers: issuing travel grants to visit select team members.
- Coffee Chats: hosting virtual coffee breaks to build personal connections.
Check here for their latest job postings.
Buffer is a fully distributed 85-member team working from 15 different countries around the world. The Buffer platform features publishing, analytics and engagement measures. As of 2013, they’ve publicly listed their employees’ salaries by grade, role and seniority as a mark of how seriously they value transparency.
What I like about Buffer is their Open Blog which talks about their business decisions and workplace culture, among other things.
There are currently no job openings, but you can check back here.
Automattic is a fully distributed company and the creator behind products such as WordPress,WooCommerce,Akismet, Gravatar and Tumblr. The company was founded by Matt Mullenweg in 2005. At present, there are 1600+ employees working at Automattic across 15 countries, calling themselves Automatticians.
Like Gitlab, Automattic follows a set of principles in their Automattic Creed, I personally liked the podcasts featured online, with Matt conversing with other founders such as Jack Dorsey and Sid Sijbrandij.
Their job portal continually updates itself with new vacancies, so get exploring!
Doist started out as Todoist while its founder, Amir Salihefendic was still at university. By 2011, the productivity platform was released to the market with the intent to go borderless. Twist, the communication app followed in 2017.
Doist is staffed by a remote-first team. There are 41 nationalities spread across 39 countries, indicating just how successful their work arrangement is.
I’ve always liked the blogs on Doist, particularly the comics section (yes, they have one on planning fallacy, which so many remote managers can relate to!). Doist is currently looking for video designers, so apply here to show the team what you’ve got!
Bandcamp is a platform music lovers will find interesting! It's an online record store and virtual landing spot for musicians. Founded in 2008 by Neal Tucker, John Holt and Ethan Diamond, Bandcamp has connected fans to their favorite artists. You can check their career page for current openings.
3.7 The Remote Company
The Remote Company is a network across 42 countries comprising remote-first tech companies. They’re united by their values to focus on people, long-term growth, and product.
They use some of the tools mentioned in this list as part of their working process. What I like about their approach is that they encourage cultural diversity and offer their remote workers incentives such as paid retreats for team building. There’s also a budget of 5000 USD that employees can take for leisure trips with family and friends.
Their hiring process is stringent, as evidenced in their journey section. If you’re applying, make sure to read through the steps to do the process(and yourself) justice!
Shopify is an eCommerce platform founded by Tobias Lutke and Scott Lake in 2006. The company is headquartered in Ottawa, Canada. The company followed Twitter’s footsteps and embraced a remote-first culture in 2020, enabling 5,000 of its employees to work from home indefinitely. I love how they say they can hire you from anywhere and keep your working hours according to your geography.
If you want Shopify to hire you, head over to their careers section and discover your next role!
Fujitsu is a household name that’s been around since 1935. In July 2020, Fujitsu announced their ”Work Life shift” plan in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.The new way of working was introduced to drive creative and innovative experiences for their staff.
Fujitsu Japan ended conventional commutes and fixed offices and opted to give 80,000 employees more autonomy on a remote basis. The measures include
- Expanding flexible hours to all Japan-based Fujitsu staff
- Borderless offices that let employees freely choose the place they want to work based on the type of work they perform.
- Transforming corporate culture by listening to their employees' voices and leveraging platforms to visualize and analyze existing working conditions.
Apply here, if you want to be part of this transformation.
Upwork, formerly known as Elance-desk is a work marketplace for freelancers. There’s a separate login for recruiters and job seekers. Hayden Brown, the CEO and President took to Twitter in May 2020 to announce the news of Upwork moving to a remote-first model permanently.
There are 5 stages to their hiring process, which begins with submitting the application via LinkedIn Easy Apply or via the site.
Box is a Cloud-based internet company with products for virtual collaboration, E-signatures and workflow automation. It was founded in 2005, with offices in Redwood City, U.S, Sydney, Japan,France, the Netherlands and Sweden.
Box embraced virtual first last year when Aaron Leevie announced that Box employees (fondly referred to as Boxers) will get the option to work from anywhere until the end of 2020.
Teams now interact company-wide using tech stack that includes Box, Zoom, Slack,Okta and G Suite. And the plan is for them to remain a digital-first organization.
If you want to be a Boxer, your next role awaits you.
Pinterest joined the ranks of remote first companies last year in 2020. This is following an assessment of workplace needs in a post-COVID world.
Pinterest now employs a distributed workforce while maintaining their San Francisco base. The platform was founded in 2009 by Ben Silbermann and Evan Sharp.
You can use this link to search and apply for relevant positions.
Identity and access management company Okta has created a 2-year transition plan to become a remote first company by adopting its dynamic work model. Under this, employees can be anywhere but would have access to the same benefits as that of office workers. Okta was founded in 2009 and employs over 3,800 people worldwide.
Samantha Fisher heads up the Dynamic Work department and will be overseeing the redesign of employment policies, technology and collaboration. As of now, 60% of Okta’s hries are nowhere near any existing offices, with a projection that this number will increase to 85% in a post pandemic world.
If you want to be an Oktan, use this link to search and apply for relevant positions.
Dropbox is a cloud-based file storage system that was released in 2007.On October 13, 2020, Dropbox released a blog announcing their intention to become a virtual first company. The company still maintains long-term leases for office spaces in San Francisco, Seattle and Dublin.
Dropbox studios for example, will be specifically for community building and is off limits to employees working solo. The full statement can be read here, and addresses non-linearity where there will be a fixed overlap in collaboration hours. Employees can design their schedules beyond that.
Dropbox has also stated its commitment to investing in a holistic ecosystem of resources, teams and progress tracking to measure engagement and culture. If this sounds like something you can see yourself thriving in, apply to become a Dropboxer here.
Snowflake is a data warehouse company founded by Benoit Dageville, Thierry Cruanes and Marcin Żukowski in 2012. The company’s CEO told CNBC that due to the pandemic the company has decided to go remote first. Snowflake is completely virtual now and shut their headquarters down for the better part of last year.
Snowflake has graduate programs and roles for experienced professionals, which can be found on their website.
Cimpress is an Irish American remote first company founded by Robert Keane. The product builds customized business which they manage autonomously.
Many team members in Vistaprint and Cimpress moved to remote-first working in 2020 where members have the option to return to work in person while retaining their WFA (work-from-anywhere) privileges. According to Keane, the office locations will become collaboration centers for team members to use to meet up in person when needed. In his words, “Make how and where we work a towering strength of our culture and a competitive advantage.” If you're Cimpressed by what you see and hear, send in your application today!
Aquent’s Los Angeles office is fully remote as of June 2021 while the rest of the firm is already familiar with remote first cultures, having announced in March that they’d be closing down their office operations and reusing that spend on employee engagement measures instead.
4.1 What are the top remote companies?
Our picks for the top 5 remote companies to work for would be
4.2 What companies are completely remote?
Automattic, Buffer and Basecamp are fully remote. The other companies have designated a portion of their workforce to work remotely while maintaining office spaces.