Most businesses don’t like remote teams. They have the reputation to be very hard in managing, no team spirit, not as productive. This is not the case if implemented good in the culture/core of your business.
Many great startups and online businesses are getting rid of the classic office model and going 100% for full remote team. I’ve listed my experience here.
I’ve been involved in The Offix. We have great products as Lobbipad and Factoripad. Fully remote since the start. I’ve listed some of the tools and how we use them. Next to that I’m also giving a look into the way we work besides tools.
The main tool for communicating with each other. Using chat we can easily get on top of all the things to be done. We have channels per product.
Slack integrates literally with everything using bots. Those bots monitor our Build environment, Servers status,… . That way everyone (business and tech) is involved in to how good we are doing!
It’s also housing The Watercooler channel. This is a channel for fun/Interesting stuff/.. things you in a physical office discuss by the Watercooler.
We are big fans of the cultofthepartyparrot.com! Fun is so important to have a good connection with your colleagues!
For every project we have a trello board. It’s basically a KANBAN board of all the tasks in the project. We keep everything as simple as possible. a Card is a Story which has subtasks.
Also for sales funnels Trello is a great tool. All the potential customers are in a lane, all the trials, all the clients (by their renewal date) are in there. Everyone has access, so you can quickly check what state this customer / potential customer you are working for is in.
Ideas also go up on a board. We can vote, label, comment,.. Everything just like we would to in the office on a whiteboard.
For email we use FrontApp. This tool manages all our email. Everyone has their mailbox, but that one is public to the whole company.
This is particularly handy when “customer x” has sent you an email and you colleague is on holiday and he calls support. You can just proceed with the discussion, because you have all the information at hand.
Also its possible to setup rules. Like mails sent to support@….com are usually handles by person x. Then you can just set up a rule for this. They get forwarded to that person's mailbox.
Front also integrated nicely with the Support tool (Smooch) on our website. People can start chatting from the website and it ends up in our Front Instance. Available for the first one to get back to that person!
Next to all the awesome features we really like comments on mail threads. You can comment and have an internal discussion on an email before getting back to the person. This really helps our remote situation, It’s like sitting next to each other in the office!
Discussing needs to be interactive. And to keep it interactive when working remote the best tool is Skype. It provides Sound and Video of each colleague.
How we work
A normal days starts with getting Coffee, Checking Emails, saying good morning to colleagues (on Slack), … Everything you do on a in-the-office day.
We have a daily standup. Using Skype we dial in and say what we have been doing, and what we plan on doing. Going over the private-roadmaps, prioritising the tasks according to the sales funnel and the public roadmaps. This whole process takes like 20min. Also the only overhead we have on a day.
Sometimes new features need some thinking, then it can happen as well that we invest time in Skyping each other.
We are spread around Belgium, which is not as big, but has a terrible commute (Public transport is not that good, highways are jammed,…). So you gain approximately 1h by not having to commute at all (well form your bed to your Home office).
There are also no real rules about when you have to be present. This makes it easy to already start working at 6am, but between 7 and 8 wake your kid and bring her to the daycare for example. At noon I can have lunch with my wife (who is an independent Nurse) (she works in 2 shifts: 5–12, 16–19, normally) and head back to work. I think it really improves our quality of life tremendous. I just make sure my work is done on time!
Because It’s quite hard to get to know each other remote we do some activities together. Most common: Going out for dinner. This makes sure we get to know each other in a fun environment (outside of business).
It happens that we meet in the office (we have an office, but we don’t use it as often) for a day to work closely on stuff thats hard to do remote. Example could be the architecture for the Factoripad platform. This was done in close collaboration with a few days in the office as well. That way you get to know strengths and weaknesses from each other.
Software builder with 7+ years experience in Mobile, Frontend and Backend. Integration Expert.
If you need more advice on how to work remote in your company, feel free to contact me. More information about what I do can be found on b-nys.com or my Medium blog. Feel free to follow me on Twitter and or LinkedIn.