InVisionApp Remote Company Q&A
Andrew Cullen, Lead Product Designer - Interview with Remote.co
InVision is a prototyping, collaboration, and workflow platform used by over 1 million designers to design better experiences for web and mobile. From individual designers working with clients, to large distributed teams, it makes the design process faster, smoother, and more efficient.
Our existence as a remote team has been intentional since day 1. It enables us to tap into talent from all across the globe, rather than being limited by geographic location. We can bring on the best and the brightest regardless of where they’re located.
Working remotely gives InVision team members authorship over their lives in a way many people can’t have if they’re working a traditional desk job. We place the emphasis on outcomes, not physical presence. If an employee wants to spend more time with their children, pursue a hobby, or simply structure their day in a way that’s more conducive to tapping into their best work habits, they can do that.
Being remote also lets us tap into talent that isn’t limited by physical location. We’re able to bring on team members who are great at what they do regardless of where they’re located.
Remote work wasn’t integrated, but rather an intentional choice from the start. We believe that it’s a much better option for our team members with regards to having a healthy work/life balance and an improved quality of life.
When we hire, we look for people who see remote work as an upgrade—an improvement to their lives. They’re driven individuals who have the self-awareness to know how they work best. Some people function better in a physical office environment, or might be at the outset of their careers and want that sort of structure. Our team sees remote work as a big benefit, even if it has its own set of challenges.
Typically, candidates go through a series of phone interviews and video interviews via Skype or Google Hangouts.
We check references and run a background check.
We encourage employees to get together often, whether that’s a result of some personal traveling, a conference all members of a department or team are attending, or otherwise. As a company, we’re very receptive to a team’s request to meet for a retreat or team building activity. We’ll have several team members in and around the New York City area meeting up in December, and Boston-area team members met recently as well. Our entire sales team met earlier this year for a retreat, and we sent the dev team to a conference recently as well. We want team members to meet as often as is feasible for them.
It’s really all about creating intentional communication to ensure everyone is “in the loop.” We also have a Director of Employee Happiness whose job it is to listen to employees’ concerns, answer questions, and help create solutions to any challenges or roadblocks. It creates an atmosphere of trust, which is an important part of our team culture.
We provide everyone with a MacBook, a Bluetooth headset, and any necessary devices or software needed for their home office.
We have an unlimited time off policy. Everybody’s trusted to take time off as they see fit.
Our biggest fear with regards to having a remote workforce was that individuals would feel left out, not engaged, or like they were missing out on being part of a community. We’re human beings with social needs—and we didn’t want our employees to feel hampered in that regard.
To address this, we encourage—and pay for—our employees to join their local networking groups, because we feel in-person connections are key. If someone works better in a social co-working space, we’ll support that.
We’re also very cognizant of that transition phase when a new employee comes on who has been working in a traditional office environment. We aim to help people make that transition as smoothly as possible.
Our team being remote was an intentional decision from the inception of our company.
We succeed at making remote work by being deliberate about our communication process. We have work-related communication tools, like Slack and Google Hangouts, as well as non-work related community building. Our team members are encouraged to be a part of our online community through participation in groups, chats, and in leading their own. We incentivize individuals to create and support their own channels, and encourage people to discuss what they’re passionate about. It’s a thoughtful process that emphasizes inclusion and community.
Everyone’s on Slack, and we have a lot of channels set up, both work-related and just for fun. There’s a channel for just about everything, so if you’re interested in chatting with coworkers about what you’re cooking for dinner, your new workout program, or even just sharing cute animal videos, there’s a place for you to do that.
On a professional level, Slack makes it easy for everyone to keep in close contact. If an issue arises, it’s easy to call everyone’s attention to it and solve the problem right there. And everybody’s always really receptive to receiving direct messages if you need a question answered.
We also use Google Hangouts for video meetings and daily team standups.
Our growth has played a large role in us becoming even more intentional about our communication. When we had a team of a dozen people, everyone talked to each other constantly. Now that we’re a team of over 160 people, we’ve had to become even more thoughtful about communicating–even over communicating–to ensure everyone is kept in the know. We’re very explicit about our communication. We’ve also implemented group work spaces in San Francisco and Boston, and we look for regular opportunities for team members to meet up.
I have a fairly standard setup when working from home: I use a MacBook Air that I connect to an external display for that extra pixel space while designing. At other times the portability of the Air allows me just to unplug and go anywhere, which I love. I don’t think I’d be able to work from the same space all the time— I recommend mixing up your work environment when possible.
Working remotely gives you a great head start on the work/life balance—I use the time I used to spend commuting to the office in the morning to take my dog for a walk and to eat breakfast without rushing out the door. I also try to make sure I have some “offline” time in the evening so I can spend a few distraction-free hours with my family.
As a remote designer it’s really important to constantly share your work with your team or stakeholders. If you keep your ideas to yourself for too long before sharing, then you become attached to that particular solution. Sharing early makes iterating easier, and it ultimately leads to a better end result.
Worst: a local coffee shop that started playing Christmas music on November 1.
Best: my villa’s balcony when I was on holiday in Italy.