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March 29, 2020 | Tom Ballard

James Horey sees a silver lining for start-ups like Reviewbox amidst the COVID-19 pandemic

James Horey, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Reviewbox, sees a silver lining in the otherwise challenging times that all enterprises and individuals are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the case of the start-up that he launched in 2016, it is learning ways to maintain his profitable and responsive business while people can work remotely and successfully.

“We had already talked about whether we wanted to become more remote friendly,” Horey told us in a recent Zoom video conference. Those conversations were precipitated as the result of questions raised by existing members of his team as well as those who were interested in joining the start-up.

In the case of existing staff, they wondered if they would have a job if, for whatever reason, they had to relocate to another city. For prospective new hires, would they have to move to Knoxville or could they remain in the city where they currently lived?

In many respects, Reviewbox could be a great candidate for remote work. The company helps its clients monitor product reviews posted on major eCommerce sites like Amazon and Walmart.

“We realized that we were going to have to be prepared to make this (remote working) accommodation as we grew,” Horey added, noting that one of Reviewbox’s 10 employees, in addition to him, already works from Northeast Tennessee. All of the other developers and account managers are located in the company’s space in UpStart Knoxville off Cedar Bluff Road.

Close to two weeks ago, everyone shifted to working remotely, and it is going well thus far as Horey and the team have adapted to a new world.

“We now have a five- to 10-minute video meeting every morning,” he says. That helps everyone get started and keeps the sense of a team. Individuals also have a sense of what others are doing. And, an unexpected benefit could be higher productivity since individuals are not interrupted by colleagues like they would be in the office.

“We have also launched a weekly virtual happy hour,” he adds. That event that starts at 4 p.m. on Fridays has an unexpected benefit. “People just randomly chat. They actually seem more relaxed in this environment.”

We will post a more extended update on Reviewbox soon.

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