A remote company spotlight interview with Christelle Rohaut, CEO of Hīven.
Tell us about yourself. How did you get involved with your company?
When I got the idea, I was a graduate student in city planning, specialized on the circular economy. As I was studying the housing crisis in the Bay Area, I thought of hosting entrepreneurs during the day as a way to help me pay the rent – since my living room was completely empty all day long! I then realized the high social impacts in sharing resources at the local scale: it can help local residents afford their home, local independent workers be more productive, and local eateries get customers during the day. The environmental impact is important too – we create coworking where it’s needed – i.e. where people live, in their own neighborhood – which reduces the need to commute.
How many employees and contractors do you have?
Please tell us about the importance of location independence at your company.
We work exclusively from our homes or at our hosts’ (what we call “Hives”). It is very important for us to participate to the local economy and fight the housing crisis, by paying a neighbor instead of a commercial space. We love the unique vibe and character of each Hive, meet new local professionals, and it’s just very peaceful and inspiring to work and live that way.
Did you start with the intention of having a distributed or nomadic team? If not, when did you decide to support people working remotely?
Completely part of our culture and vision. Our team just needs to meet up from time to time, in such case we go to a coffee shop. Otherwise we just cowork from Hives. Of course, we support our team by sponsoring the hīven membership for employees.
What are some of the challenges you face as a team without a central location or office?
Meetings. Remote meetings are generally less efficient than in-person. There are many things that remain uncovered or unsaid in video-conferences. So we like to keep a physical meeting once a week.
What’s the upside that comes with not having a central location or office?
No commute. It’s mentally exhausting and frustrating to sit at the same desk everyday. I can adapt and vary my workspaces to my workstyle and values.
Are there important non-office workspaces in the history of building your company — a favorite coffee shop, bar or similar space?
Yes, I guess you figured that out 🙂 we work from Hives exclusively. Our company is based on this community of hosts who welcome us to cowork at their homes every week day. It feels just amazing.
What % of your company regularly works remotely?
Any advice or best practices for supporting the work styles of your teammates from a distance?
We tried to stay organized with regular online meetings, and productivity tools.
What types of places do your teammates choose to work from when remote?
Hives – coworking homes close-by. WiFi, coffee/tea, plug-ins, great community, comfortable, peaceful, varied and flexible – it’s our dream work/life balance, that’s why we work on growing the hīven community!
What qualities do you look for when hiring for a distributed team?
Auto-discipline, regular working hours, smooth and fast communication, familiarity with productivity tools.
Communication can be a challenge for remote teams. How do you keep your teammates connected and on the same page?
Slack, Google agenda, Trello, Hubspot, emails.
How does your team deal with being in different time zones? What advice do you have when team members are often changing time zones?
That’s pretty challenging honestly. We have more regular meetings at common times and less frequent interactions.
What are the keys to good remote team management?
Communication and efficiency. Keeping objectives at the core of discussions helps avoid wasting time in useless attempts to improve the communication process.
What does being a part of the remote work revolution mean to you, and the future of the distributed workforce at large?
It so important to prepare cities for this too. Right now, the workforce is distributed but the workspace is still centralized in downtown areas – which explains packed coffee shops and ever-increasing commute. With hīven, we want to decentralize workplaces, and create high-quality coworking where it’s most needed – where remote workers live! We are passionate about creating the dream work/life balance and we believe the future of work is local, community-driven and fully flexible.
What are your thoughts on Workfrom’s role in the way work is getting done—now and in the future?
I’m a big fan of your search map for workplaces and the tips you share about remote work. In the future, I would love to see Hives featured as well!
Is there anything else you’d like to share? Our goal is to gain insight into your path as a distributed team and help others understand what it looks like to be successful in spite of the challenges often faced.
I think health is another core challenge of remote teams. As a remote company, I would like my team to eat healthy local food (and not any snack they find in their fridge), and subsidize their local gym membership.