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The Future of Small Business is Remote

The world is your oyster. That’s a notion we take seriously here at Final. With progressive, flexible policies, we’re changing what it means to be a small business. Final has a fantastic, supportive, trusting, and inclusive office culture. But we don’t have an office. Our company is testament that the future of small business is remote.

Our forward-thinking employee structure aligns with our mission. We’re here to create reusable, responsibly made, badass products that reduce the need for single-use plastics, empower individuals to change their buying habits, and raise awareness about the impacts of our everyday decisions.

The 18 employees at Final achieve this while working from 16 different cities across a handful of different time zones. We don’t see this decentralization as a hindrance or inconvenience. It’s an advantage. By being mission-driven and embracing flexibility, support, trust (and Slack!), we have full buy-in from a staff that is in constant communication with each other. The business is thriving. We’ve sold more than 250,000 straws to people in over 100 countries. And this week we’re launching our most badass product yet: FinalStraw 2.0.

So How Do we Do it?

Embracing technology helps. Slack, Google Hangouts, and Trello are essential to our everyday organization, communication, and functionality. These tools also help keep everyone accountable. Ultimately, though, it all comes down to trust. We hire people that are proactive, intrinsically motivated, and hard-working—and we empower them to do their jobs. Because our team believes in our mission, they want to be there for each other. Some team members work part time, or aren’t in the same time zone, so we trust when someone isn’t responding, too. The key is to assume positive intentions.  

Developing camaraderie and culture has been surprisingly smooth. “Water cooler” bonding just looks different now. Instead of a physical common area, we have Slack channels like #petsquad to get to know each other over ridiculously cute pictures of our furry friends. On #wins, we celebrate individual efforts and team accomplishments. We have several weekly video conferences and even host a virtual happy hour. Sometimes team members stay on a Google Hangout meeting a little longer just to catch up—even if they’ve never actually met in person. Screens and technology are great for the day-to-day, but nothing can replace face to face time together. Our biannual retreats have proven incredibly productive, too.

There are challenges. Wherever you work, distractions await. In an office, it’s constant interruptions or the guy in the cubicle next door who plays his music too loud. At home, where chores always loom, the diversions are more difficult to ignore. We try to separate ourselves from household chores and tell ourselves exactly when we’ll take a break to avoid doing random tasks throughout the day.

We can’t yet offer some of the traditional benefits offered by other companies, but by establishing Final as a remote work company, we can offer countless intangible lifestyle bonuses that many young workers seek. When you can work wherever you want, and your hours are flexible, the world opens itself up. We also offer a work-life balance that is difficult to find at a traditional job. Yes, sometimes it’s hard to establish boundaries—especially if we’re working on a project that we’re super fired up about, or, on the flip side, if it’s a sunny day. But when you get to wear a mermaid tail to work, everyday is a good day.

We’re all passionate about what we’re doing and believe in Final’s mission. The passion we have for reducing single-use plastics has created a thriving, dynamic work culture—we’ve become a family. Like any company, we have our hurdles, but at the end of the day, we’re all exactly where we are supposed to be... in 16 different cities.


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