This post is a follow up to my previous post on working remote after receiving some feedback and questions.
I wrote fairly extensively about my surprise at the number of teams that require regular travel and most of the readers had the same response of amazement - I'll take an opportunity here to clarify a bit more however.
Travel has always been my personal pet peeve working remote. I find it very contradictory to be a remote employee or contractor and then be required to be on site every so often. I have worked a few places with no travel. One of those was based out of Vancouver, and is the team I mentioned frequently about being the most streamlined. The other times have been when I have contracted remotely on a short term or part time basis. Any time I have been a W2 employee and remote, travel has been what I consider too frequent. I use this as a filter question for recruiters and even when applying via email at this point to save both parties time.
What you consider too frequent might be significantly different of course, but I was able to say that if there was even a hint of being on site more frequently than once a quarter I would have to skip. Essentially any time I have been a W2 employee working remote, I have been on site roughly every 8 weeks no matter the organization, with the one exception of Vancouver.
I'm by no means an expert on vetting organizations, but have found that I drastically undervalued the opportunity to ask pertitent and tough questions early on in the interview process. Most of my experiences were still wonderful, and I worked with amazing distributed teams. However, there are a couple instances where I could have done a better job, especially where I found myself as an employee who didn't receive a paycheck for 4-5 months.
There can be a wide variety of things to check into. The simplest is to just ask one of the founders or someone VP level in the organization for their back story. I like to know how the founders came up with the idea, if they're still around, and what they bring to the table.
From a stability and financial persepctive, you can check glassdoor (not very useful for me most times with small companies), see if you can get connected with anyone who worked there previously via LinkedIn to pick their brain, or check out their business registration in whatever home state. Additionally, checking the Better Business Bureau for complaints, and just googling their company and founders to find any press sometimes turns up good information. Usually there's at least a few pieces on TechCrunch or some angel investor site that details more of their history, and it's a good time to verify that what you were told lines up.
I bring up investment questions in my 2nd chat, to see how many rounds of funding they've had and get the details. Most places will share when they received funding and for how much. Again, this info is usually available online because of press releases in the past. I always ask if they're seeking funding currently, when they expect to get that round, what they plan to do with it, when they expect to be profitable, what their business model is and how whatever it is they are offering, is different than all their competitors.
With all of that I think you really shine as a candidate who is interested in more than just the code or day to day operations, and you can judge for yourself if you're aligned with the company goals and ambitions.
Finding Remote Work
I was asked what I've used in the past to find remote work, and I can honestly say it's all boiled down to 3 main venues.
First, you cannot underestimate the power of online networking. Not really LinkedIn, although that helps, but just in general connecting with other peers from open source projects, engaging in discussions on Github on projects you're using, etc. I contributed to ActiveAdmin early on and had great engagement with Greg Bell @gregbell (Reverb, Medeo and now Hootsuite) and Philippe Creux (Reverb and now cofounder of Brewhouse.io) which ended up landing me on the team with them at Reverb.
Outside of old fashioned networking, I find weworkremotely to be the best resource. Because it is exclusively remote work (and not just engineering!) there is a relatively high level of competition of candidates, but I've had great experiences using the site.
Stack Overflow Careers also lets you create a profile and search for remote jobs, and I've found a few organizations on there that were not posted elsewhere.
If you still have more questions, I'll be happy to answer any on twitter or if there is enough I might write a 3rd post on the subject.