June 1, 2023

WFH: How AltSource Fosters Human Connection

According to Buffer’s State of Remote Survey from 2022, of the companies surveyed, work environment preferences were as follows:

  • In-office as a priority with remote allowed = 11%
  • Occasional office working expectations = 16%
  • Priority of remote first = 23%
  • Allowance for fully remote workers = 49%

With nearly half the workforce reportedly working remotely, questions arise about employee happiness. Data gathered from Owl Labs and Global Workplace Analytics showed that nearly 75% of work-from-home (WFH) employees were happier working remotely. 

Despite this reported happiness increase, many CEOs have made headlines in recent months demanding that employees return to work to improve productivity and maintain company culture. 

While many companies debate about the benefits and longevity of WFH, at AltSource, we’ve embraced fully remote and hybrid work as a way of life. Additionally, we’ve figured out how to do it and still keep a strong company culture. 

Recognize that keeping connected with remote workers is not an easy task, and it may not be for everyone. However, since we at AltSource focus on developing strong partnerships with our clients, it makes sense that we put out that same effort to develop strong connections with our coworkers.

AltSource Maintains Hybrid-Friendly Communication Channels

While we may be a custom software development company headquartered in Portland, AltSource has team members working remotely throughout the US, Vietnam, Japan, and South America. To keep communication channels clear across so many different time zones, we’ve adopted some communication channel options.

Slack has become our go-to instant messaging and meeting tool. As a favorite messaging app for tech-savvy workers, it’s no surprise that AltSource uses Slack with our teams of developers, solution experts, product managers, marketers, and sales executives.

A person typing into a laptop and looking at a  Slack dashboard

Not only do we use Slack for one-on-one communication, but we also have dedicated group channels for teams to chat freely about certain projects. 

Of course, it’s not all work-work-work for us at AltSource. 

To promote human connection, we’ve deliberately created Slack channels that let us meet each other on a more personal level. For example, one of our newest Slack channels includes “Alt-Pets.” It’s a great place to share cute pictures of your pets and bond with fellow workers over a love of animals.

AltSource Teams Schedule Regular Check-Ins

Some people may hate having meetings, but when you’re working remotely or in a hybrid environment, you have to schedule time together or you won’t communicate. That’s why the AltSource leadership team focuses so much on promoting weekly one-on-ones and weekly priority check-ins.

One-on-ones allow managers and employees to have candid conversations about what’s going on at the job and to check if there are any problems that need to be solved. The AltSource leadership team tries to promote one-on-ones as a safe space, which is essential in any working environment, WFH or otherwise. 

Our one-on-ones are also a way for managers and employees to connect on a personal level and get to know each other. We’re no longer in the office day in and day out, so it’s difficult to have those impromptu conversations. The scheduled one-on-ones give us that time.

Weekly priority check-ins have also proved essential for connection. It’s not uncommon to feel isolated when working from home as you focus on your projects. To combat that, we use our weekly priority check-ins to talk and keep everyone on track concerning company projects and goals. 

Outside of one-on-ones and check-ins, we’ve made it part of our culture to speak up when you need help or have any questions. Leveraging our communication tools, such as Slack and Zoom, makes it quick and easy to share project details, identify roadblocks, reach out for help, and be there for one another.

A woman on a group chat  looking at her coworkers video feeds on her laptop

Additionally, with all meetings, AltSource has created a culture where we encourage team members to turn their cameras on. Too often in the tech world and in the corporate scene, employees and managers turn their cameras off and just listen to each other's disembodied voices. Doing so eliminates facial expressions and the nuances of nonverbal communication, which are vital elements of team building.

For us, with few exceptions, we do our best to keep our cameras on and talk to our team members. Seeing each other's faces and being able to read those expressions helps us remember that even when working remotely, we are still part of something bigger than ourselves. The human connection element is crucial for us at AltSource, and we do our best to incorporate that with every aspect of the job.

AltSource Encourages Social Gatherings Near HQ

Before the pandemic, the AltSource team had frequent group outings to neighborhood bars, restaurants, and sports venues. These events were a big part of our company culture. 

As the world changed, we had to adapt. Instead of impromptu gatherings, we’ve become more intentional with planning safe outings and keeping them focused on our culture of community and having a good time together.

Over the past year, we’ve gone axe throwing, played indoor mini-golf, floated on the river together, watched professional basketball, shared in holiday dining, and had some ping-pong matches.

AltSource team outings 2022-2023 collage of images

AltSource Leverages Collaborative Tools for the Virtual Workforce

When you have remote or hybrid work environments, you need to find the right collaborative tools that can accommodate how your employees work together. For us at AltSource, cloud-based platforms that require secure logins have been the best way for us to communicate on projects in real-time and maintain client confidentiality.

While each team may have job duty-specific collaboration tools, some of the tools we use companywide include:

  • Jira
  • Confluence
  • G-Drive
  • Figma

Choosing collaboration tools that accommodate the needs of every team can be tricky. Throughout the past three years of working remotely, we too have hit a few stumbling blocks in finding the best-fit collaborative tools for our needs.

That said, since AltSource promotes a culture of communication, our teams have found ways to express why certain tools are working well or not working at all. This type of honest and constructive communication has allowed us to make the changes we need to maintain a highly efficient remote workforce.