Home > Companies Q&A > Working Remotely > What has changed about how your remote team operates?

    What has changed about how your remote team operates?

  • Automattic

    When Automattic first started, everyone reported to Matt (Mullenweg, our founder). When we reached about 50 people, we divided into teams. The teams have evolved over time. We’re open to experimentation with our organization structure, because we want to continue to have as little hierarchy and bureaucracy as possible.

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  • Origin Eight

    We have gotten smarter about the tools we use, better at documentation and checklists, better at reporting, and we’ve spent more time in-person periodically throughout the year to get to know each other better.

     2 votes |
  • Codebusters, Inc.

    We are more organized now. You have to be extremely organized if you want to go remote because it’s easy to get lost in emails, apps, websites, etc. If you have file-heavy processes, the best thing you can do is come up with a virtual filing system with consistent naming protocols and easy search algorithms.

     1 vote |
  • AgileBits

    As our team has grown we have been slowly shifting from a company of generalists where everyone does a bit of everything to a place where we are beginning to see more specialization.

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  • Appen

    We’ve grown at such a rapid pace that adapting and scaling has become second nature. Because we are now spread so widely across the globe, we have mastered the art of covering multiple time zones in order to stay connected.

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  • Batchbook

    We actually started as a fully remote team. So one change was having a “home” office and having some of the staff working together in “real life”.

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  • Canonical

    Remote working had previously not been as widespread as it is becoming. New tools and ways of working has made it easier to accommodate home workers. The world is becoming smaller which makes regular sprints / meetings easier as well.

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  • Collage.com

    As we’ve grown, we’ve had to focus more on how we communicate to ensure nothing falls through the cracks. Our team loves email and thinks it is a great – and underappreciated – communication tool, but we also now use systems like Jira to stay on top of critical issues and ensure they are fixed.

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  • DataStax

    Adding more remote employees during this time of growth can create some challenges, but we try to get together in person twice a year to jump-start the relationships.

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  • DVMelite

    We have gotten closer as a team as we grow.  We have new technology that connects us instantly and we have grown more as a team than ever before.

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  • Edgar

    The biggest things that have changed are directly related to scalability – the routines and policies we maintained as a team of six people just aren’t as relevant or effective for what’s now a team of 16. For example, we’ve significantly cut back on the amount of time we spend in company-wide meetings, and replaced them with smaller departmental meetings. Making changes like this help us stay efficient and respect everyone’s time as we grow.

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  • Envato

    In the past we have had more remote workers, but in recent years our Melbourne team grew so it became necessary to focus more on integrating remote and local team members.

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  • Eyeo GmbH

    The team is constantly growing, so communication changed. We need to make sure to stay as transparent as possible, for example by sharing meeting notes with the team. Also we try to build and sustain trust in our fellow employees.

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  • Fire Engine RED

    Advances in technology have made communication between team members – and with our clients – faster, easier, and more reliable.

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  • GitHub, Inc.

    The most noticeable change for me has been the size of the company and the effect that has on team (and inter-team) dynamics. When I joined GitHub in 2012 we had just over about 80 employees, and it’s been really interesting seeing that number almost quadruple in three years.

    Since our teams are largely autonomous, the company’s growth has forced us to really level up the standards for how teams communicate—both internally, and also externally within the company at large. The tools and habits that work effectively at 80 people are radically different to what works at 300 people—your communication has to be far more regular, have more clarity, and requires much more forethought—and this is especially important when it comes to communicating organisational change. You have no choice but to evolve the tools you use and your habits around them in order to scale well.

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  • GobySavvy

    Automation. As the company has grown we have discovered and created new automation processes so our GobySavvy UX experts can stick to designing, and we can stick to growing the business. We are always on the lookout for a new tool or to create a new process that makes things better for our team and clients.

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  • Goodway Group

    We are constantly looking for new and better tools for sharing and communicating information, which is great because the technology supporting virtual work is only getting better. I think the biggest change we made a couple of years back was moving from a shared network drive to a web-based wiki for sharing and storing information. Life-changing to our productivity and ability to search/find information and collaborate on projects.

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  • Groove

    We’ve definitely made communication a bigger focus. It’s not necessarily going to happen organically, so it needs to be somebody’s job to ensure that communication gets prioritized.

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  • Help Scout

    We appreciate and understand the necessity of open and fluid communication. We always wonder, “How can we better communicate? What’s working and what isn’t?” We’re also being conscious of diversity within organizations, ensuring that our hiring process is unbiased and welcoming, and our onboarding process makes everyone feel like they belong. We’re growing fast and learning a lot along the way.

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  • Inpsyde GmbH

    We are using better tools, less email, thank god – less Skype. 🙂 We are a great running team, everyone knows how the other one is ticking and what is the best way to communicate. So the communication between persons has been approved but also the tools we are using. Slack is a great tool and JIRA is also a main tool we are using for PM. But this is not the end of the road, we are still not at 100%.

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  • InVisionApp

    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.

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  • Melewi

    Since we’ve scaled to double our size in a year, some of our processes have needed adjustment.

    Because there are more people in the team now, there are many minds that think towards how we can improve so our processes have become more solid and consistent.

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  • Modern Tribe

    For a long time, we operated with a very flat team structure. As you can imagine, it’s much easier to maintain that structure at 15 people than it is at 50+. Growing in size meant slowly adding levels, such as our new director roles. Though all three managing partners are still very hands on in the business, it’s freed us up to focus on more of the strategic elements without being overwhelmed by the day-to-day management of individual teams.

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  • Sanborn Media Factory

    With remote work, there’s a lot less verbal communication than before, and a lot more written communication. This communication happens largely in our project management software and Slack. The advantage is audit trail. It’s easy for anyone coming onto the project to jump in, follow the story, and understand where the project is and why.

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  • SitePen

    Being remote, we spent a lot of time perfecting the best way to convey information so that content remained clear and intact.  Our current tools allow for complete visibility for collaboration and agreement in everything we do.  Email is no longer a primary communication method for us and no initiative lives outside of project tools.  

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  • SoftwareMill

    First big thing was the introduction of monthly face to face meetings. Then we introduced open policy for everything, which resulted in opening finances and decision making to everyone working for us. And then we had to formalize decision making, because ~25 ideas were hard to put into something concrete 🙂

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  • Sticker Mule

    The biggest change for me is that I’ve gone from directing what everyone does to having teams that operate independently and set their own agendas. That’s been nice to see happen.

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  • StudySoup

    Our planning process used to be off the cuff, and mostly done in the meeting with the whole team. We’ve moved to a planning process where my co-founder and I plan our priorities for the week, and then connect with individual departments about what they can accomplish that day.

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  • TeamGantt

    We used to all be in Maryland.  We had four team members in Maryland and it was really easy for us to all get together for lunch on a Friday once or twice a month.  Now that we have two people outside of Maryland (MA and OR), we have to make sure that they come visit in person.

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  • ThirdPath Institute

    We used to have employees who worked in different states, but over time we have found it valuable to live close enough to each other that we can easily see each other every few months.

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  • Timely

    We found quickly that being fully distributed wasn’t going to work well for us. We missed seeing each other in person and the rare times when we did were awesome. Working in very different time zones was also tough. We love working in a collaborative way, together, bouncing ideas around and getting shit done. Doing this while your co-worker is sleeping is tough.

    So now we build our teams in selected cities. Folks still work from home, cafes or co-working spaces but, by being in the same city, we can get together easily when we want to. This could be to gather around a whiteboard, or cover a wall in post-it notes. But more often than not it’s to celebrate milestones together and have a few ciders.

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  • Trello

    As Trello has grown, we’ve had to implement various other communication tools. For example, we have a weekly “Company Overview” board, where we update projects regularly so everyone in the company can know what is going on.

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  • Tropical Travelers

    The communication has gotten better between the team. We are a very tight-knit “travel family” and our goal is to service our clients in the best possible way. We are constantly coming up with new and exciting ways to make this happen.

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  • Ushahidi

    We have implemented OKRs because at the beginning everyone just “worked hard” when we were a startup. But as we got older, people burned out, or we had bad actors. This was sad, as it hurt the moral of the team, and we didn’t have systems for finding these folks before they needed help. We implemented an OKR system to try and allow people to set their own goals, and then use that to measure our productivity.

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  • Vork Inc

    We have only been going as a team for just over a year. Some things we did change was a move from Google Docs to manage key processes, such as product management, to using more structured tools like Trello.

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  • WooThemes

    As the team has grown we’ve had to introduce a bit more structure which just comes down to subdividing into smaller teams. The smaller teams have allowed us to focus our attention and maintain relationships.

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  • Workfrom

    We’ve only been around for about one year now. Our culture and operations are evolving.

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  • Working Solutions

    As we’ve grown, we’ve incorporated technology more into our daily operations.  With more people involved in each process, it’s important to continually increase efficiencies.  We have more structured communication – from our performance management process, to quarterly “state of the union” type meetings – to ensure everyone is receiving the information they need.

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  • X-Team

    It’s interesting to look back on this, because everything we stood for and the values that drove how we operate still haven’t changed. The main things that have changed are just the tools and the ‘wallpaper’ so to speak.

    • From our own chat tools, to Skype, to Slack.
    • From Basecamp to Trello to JIRA.
    • From one travel policy to another.

    But the way we operated and the values that drove those decisions haven’t changed. The tools and policies have evolved with the growth of the company, but when we look back, it still feels the same way it did when it was only 10 people.

    It becomes more challenging to engage more people the same way you did at a company of only 10, but that’s part of the fun in constantly discovering uncharted territories.

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