Design, development and custom hosting firm thrives with distributed workforce and trust

The Agathon Group is a design and development firm specializing in cloud hosting and custom software solutions. The firm is based out of Grand Rapids, but that is something of a technicality.

The Agathon Group is the epitome of what it means to have a distributed workforce. There is no office. There are very few employee meetings and, for the most part, no managers.  Just a group of very talented developers, designers and technicians that can work from anywhere in the world.

Joel Boonstra, software architect and one of the firm's principal members, says the firm's origins go back to 1999 when he worked at Gospel Films in Muskegon. After Gospel Films closed, Boonstra and another employee continued to work with existing clients and then founded The Agathon Group in 2003.

Boonstra describes their service offering as a "full solution." He says their hosting service is all custom-based and provides full service with servers and data centers in Los Angeles, Vancouver and Denver. "We are comfortable in software development, front-end, back-end and can handle rescue missions for sites when a host can't handle the traffic. We can build an app and host it door-to-door," Boonstra says.

Managing a distributed workforce requires a unique skill set and company culture. It's not for everyone, but Boonstra and Kedron Rhodes, a designer and strategist with the firm and the newest hire, say the benefits far outweigh any challenges.

"It provides an opportunity for a really good work-life balance. As long as we don't miss a client meeting, we are not concerned about working a 9-5 job. The rigor of a physical office puts on too many constraints," says Boonstra, while acknowledging the challenges with employee-company fit. "It is tricky to find the right people. There is a significant amount of trust needed. It's a two-way street. We encourage people to work when it works for them. You have to get really good with communication, be self-motivated and plan tasks ahead of time."

Although there are no current job openings, Boonstra they remain on the lookout for talent and says that having a distributed team means they are not constrained by the lack of tech talent in a geographic area. "We have success with hiring for aptitude. We might not have an exact fit for a job description but everyone we hired has expanded what we had to offer," he says. "When Kedron joined, we added more planning, design and systems support to the team. Generally anything to make our customer's world better."

To learn more about The Agathon Group, you can view their site here.

Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News Editor
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