WorkOS builds solutions for startups that enable them to more easily support enterprise clients. The company helps their clients by providing an API for single sign-on, directory sync, audit trails, and role-based access controls, among other services. WorkOS was founded by Michael Grinich, who previously co-founded Nylas, a developer-focused email infrastructure platform. Over the past year and a half, Michael has taken WorkOS from a mere idea and turned it into a 13-person company.
WorkOS has been a distributed company from the get-go. Michael wanted to build a company that could scale with ease and didn’t want to be limited by arbitrary constraints (e.g. the number of office conference rooms). He also wanted to be able to recruit the best technical talent regardless of geography.
To build a successful remote company, Michael has had to be deliberate in his management approach and communication style. For example, WorkOS encourages everyone to use group chats, even for individual conversations, so that employees get a sense for the “buzz” of a busy office. Michael has also developed company rituals, including Thursday evening virtual happy hours and game nights. Colleagues are also encouraged to use Donut, a roulette-esque Slack integration, that randomly pairs employees who may not otherwise interact to get to know each other over virtual coffees.
The strength of WorkOS’s culture builds trust between remote colleagues, adds structure to virtual interactions, and guides everyone on the team to collaborate. For example, WorkOS’s culture values quality over speed. WorkOS always extends launch date deadlines, never rushes a product out the door if it’s not up to the team’s high standards.
The importance of the company’s culture extends to WorkOS’ hiring activity. With new hires, Michael focuses heavily on finding the right culture fit. WorkOS wants to hire makers who care about craft and design, and engineers who look up to well-designed products. As a developer-focused company, they value polished work over velocity. Michael also cares deeply about identifying young talent. The right attitude and maturity level is far more important than possessing an exact skillset at the onset. Motivated hires learn quickly on the job.
One of the primary benefits of building a fully remote company is that WorkOS can focus on finding the strongest candidates -- regardless of geography. However, Michael has found that working across distant time zones impedes communication, so he has focused on hiring across the Americas.
Like all strong founders, Michael has been involved with the hiring of everyone on the team. He knows that he can’t run the entire interview process forever but it’s an unfair advantage he has over other larger companies -- he’s great at getting people excited about WorkOS. To find new talent for WorkOS, he relies on Dover’s sourcing solutions, a very active Twitter presence, and network referrals.
Over the past year, Dover has helped WorkOS hire 7 engineers, roughly half the company, and saved Michael and his team hundreds of hours by managing candidate pipeline and scheduling for a fraction of the cost of a traditional recruiter.
As WorkOS has grown and its hiring needs have changed, Dover has also built specific capabilities to allow for the flexibility that WorkOS’ team needs. Given WorkOS’ remote structure and desire for candidates across the Americas, Dover customized its sourcing strategy to accommodate timezone restrictions.
Dover continues to source strong talent to fill WorkOS’ hiring needs, and checks in with Michael and the rest of the WorkOS team regularly to ensure that the right candidates are being added to their pipeline.