Making the most of our long distance relationships at Parent Co.

Parent Co. is headquartered in Burlington, Vermont and half of our team of 16 is distributed globally. We have team members in 4 countries, 5 U.S. states, and we’re spread across 7 timezones. As our team has grown over the past year, we’ve learned how to fine tune our process, our communication styles, and our means of measuring progress and success.

Parent Co. creates thoughtful digital tools for parents, including Notabli and a top secret product coming soon. We also publish a weekly magazine on parent.co for parents who are as curious about the world as they are committed to raising great kids.

In early October I was on a Denver Startup Week panel titled “How to Work Remotely, Effectively” with some talented guys from Goosetail Labs, Blue Rival and Slack.

For 10 thrilling minutes I talked about remote work from my perspective as a team lead.

The key points: get the right setup; learn your team members’ schedules; have the right tools ready. Also, read Remote. The audience clapped politely. Preparing for this panel was simple: talk about what we do and how we do it.

Parent Co.’s full time team members are located in the U.S., New Zealand, India, Argentina and one is in the process of relocating to Spain. The dozens of writers contributing to the Parent Co. Magazine are anywhere.

To be successful our team uses Slack and Zoom—the best video conferencing app, period—for communication, Screenhero for collaboration, Bitium for app and access management, Circa for knowing when to meet, and a collection of the usual suspects (Github, Trello, Dropbox, et al.) for everything else. We plan our weekly sprints on Monday mornings (or Tuesday for our guy in New Zealand). We have daily standups at a convenient time for everyone regardless of location (which took some maneuvering). Cameras are on, notifications are off—it’s our 15 minutes to sync up. But beyond our tools and above all else, we’re transparent. Our weekly Slack statistics reports reveal the majority of our conversations happen in public channels. This wasn’t always true and our toolbox was a lot smaller than it is today.

Collaborating with a largely remote team requires adaptation, discipline, trust, strong leadership and a kickass group of individuals.

Parent Co. has all of this and we’re proving it. Beyond ass kicking, many of us are also parents juggling work, life, and everything in between (which currently includes poop, lice and endless after school activities). We know what to ask our kids, when to focus on family and laugh harder at Louis C.K. than we used to.

Most of our team together in Burlington last week, many meeting each other in person for the first time. Thanks, Ed.

Last week we brought everyone together from all over the world to our home office for 4 days of face time. Many of the folks pictured above had never before met in person, just in the 2D world of video conferencing. We brainstormed, we solved problems, we cooked and ate together, we drank fine Vermont craft beer, we learned a lot about each other, we hugged. Now that we’re back home, I can see we’re stronger already and I can’t wait to do it again.

Formally our process is: “just the process we need and nothing more”. As our team continues to grow and we find better ways to work, we’ll adapt as needed. For now, I’ve got a Zoom to join.