How we work with 3 frogs and a remote team.

When we started Hi5, I kept thinking of creating a company where I would like to work as an employee.

Gary Willmott
Feb 12, 2018 · 7 min read
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The Values. 📜

Doer. Stay focused on output rather than hours. Ask for forgiveness rather than permission.

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The Playbook. 🏈

This document, just like in American football, outlines the way we’ve done things and how we can potentially do it again. It’s really the centre of our operations — a go-to place for employees regarding everything from our vision, sales & support processes, to how to apply for leave, login details for our various accounts & the general ins and outs of our work week. The Playbook is stored in a shared Google doc and the team can access and edit it any time as they discover better ways to do things.

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Beeeeeeeg meeting. 👨‍💻 👨‍💻 👩‍💻 👨‍💻

We get together every 3 weeks for a full day, usually at a central hotel boardroom or coffee joint (with ample Wifi, of course). Agenda format is roughly as follows:

  • 11am–12pm: Vote up (new features for next sprint).
  • 12–1pm: Lunch (we sit together and catch up).
  • 1–4pm: Plan and do rough UX design for upvoted new features.
  • After: We go for dinner and drinks. 🍝🍻🕺💃
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Sprints, every 3 weeks. 🏃

Our sprints run in 3-week cycles. The rule of the sprint is that there must be an output at the end. In other words, our engineers & designers never take longer than 3 weeks to create a new feature or update. We ship new features/updates at the end of each sprint and then validate them with clients (Customer-centric = one of our core values). If our clients see success or value in the new features/updates, we will develop and improve them further.

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3 Frogs, daily. 🐸

Most of us start our day between 8–9:30 am. As we kick off our day, each of us declares our 3 frogs for the day. Why 3 frogs? This is a productivity twist on Brian Tracy’s book Eat that Frog.

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A view of our #3frogs Slack channel. Some frogs are bigger/smaller than others :)

Daily stand-up. ⏱️

Every morning we have a 15-minute stand-up video call, where the whole team discusses what they’re working on that day (their 3 frogs declared) and flag any issues that have come up. We also use this time for a quick catch-up to keep the culture fresh!

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Mark Twain, wise sage.

Remote. 🎮

We’ve chosen to work remotely, as we are all self-managed and way more productive this way — we’re not sitting in traffic, wasting time in long meetings or getting distracted in an office. To keep the organisational culture alive, we of course use Hi5, but also make time to regularly get together to hang out.

Retreats. ⛱️

Strategic fun. We normally try and get away twice a year, taking a quiet retreat usually somewhere up the West Coast, to rest and plan. We try and keep it as a time of relaxation, whilst also keeping it professional.

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Tools. ⚙️

We’ve found the best approach for us as a tech company working remotely, is to keep as much as possible in the cloud. This is a list of the software we use:

  • Anchor — publishing podcast.
  • Buffer — social media posting
  • Canva — graphic design.
  • Cloud9 — the integrated development environment (IDE) we use for our code (development).
  • Git — for source control (development).
  • Google Docs — create and keep our files accessible (sheets, slides, etc.)
  • Google Hangouts — daily stand-ups & customer calls.
  • Gyazo — screen capture on Desktop for our Happiness Centre help docs.
  • Hi5 — measure Goals, Culture & Appreciation.
  • Hubspot — Customer Relationship Management (CRM).
  • Intercom — customer support, messaging & Happiness Centre.
  • iMovie — creating working better, together podcasts & video.
  • Mailchimp & Mandrill — social newsletters & app email notifications.
  • Medium — our blog publication that you’re reading right now, getting better, together.
  • Skype — customer calls.
  • Slack / Zoom — 3 frogs, work-related communication, ‘water-cooler’ conversation and urgent pings.
  • Webflow — our landing page,

Conclusion. 🎉

We’ve tried and are perfecting how we do things at Hi5. Is it working for us? Yes.

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