“Work from home,” they said. “It’ll be fun, easy, and flexible,” they said. Well, they were wrong—and right.
We have talked a bit about how we work in the past. As a remote tech startup, we seem to have the culture that most envy, but let us not forget: remote work is hard. There are so many moving pieces, human interactions, and technical hurdles that we face, as a team and individually, each day.
So how do we do it? Where do we work? How do we stay organized?
Well, the beauty of the way we work is that the answers to all of these questions are fluid. We work from anywhere—sometimes different cities, different rooms, or different coffee shops daily.
We find success through communication, not geographical location. It rarely matters what time zone a team member finds themselves in, as long as they are connected to the core conversations of the day through our various tools and technologies.
All of that being said, you may still be asking yourself: what does it really look like to be a member of the FormAssembly team? Well, in the spirit of hiring (because we’re doing that right now too!) we figured we would give you an inside look into our workflow (+ workspaces), so here’s a glimpse inside the how.
What Time Is It Again?
This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions that we get as a team: “How do you work if some of your team is in a completely different timezone?!”
The answer is simple: we just do.
Our team is distributed all across the world (yes, you read that correctly). We believe in hiring the best talent—regardless of geographical location—which often means working through different timezones.
For the most part, the great majority of our team is stateside, and our “headquarters” is in Indiana. So we operate in EST for meetings, business hours, and other time-sensitive business obligations.
And for our teammates in very different timezones, like Australia, we schedule later calls or chats in order to ensure we’re on the same page.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Time zone differences can pose difficulties for a team like ours. For instance, I live in Knoxville, Tennessee. So, I work in EST. However, one of my teammates, Maggie, lives in Denver, Colorado. So, she works in MST. Maggie and I have to work to communicate throughout the day, because our overlap is generally only four hours.
Which brings me to my next point: How we communicate.
The Programs That Push Us Forward
Any distributed team will tell you that the most important pieces of successful communication and workflow management are the tools that power us to stay connected. Unlike organizations that function within traditional corporate settings, we lack the luxury of walking over to a coworker’s desk to chat about a project.
Instead, we rely on the majesty of technology to carry us through—I mean, this is 2016 and all.
We use a myriad of tools to accomplish the basic needs that we have as a team. From group chats and 1-1 communications, to task management and workflow organization—and not to mention everything in between—here are just a few of our favorites:
We ❤ Flowdock. One of our teammates said it best: “In an office, there’s water cool talk — so, at least to us, a virtual office should be no exception.”
We use Flowdock for just about all of our team communications, both business-oriented and social.
I mean, imagine if a team like ours relied on the traditional email approach to corporate communication! We would literally have thousands of emails to sift through per day. In fact, studies have proven that employees waste nearly 40% of their workday on internal emails alone. Ouch.
Basecamp (and Asana)
This may be a major faux pas, but we love ’em both.
As a distributed team, it’s important for our sub-teams to have unity, clarity, and organization in order to manage their projects and keep track of deadlines. This one is a major debate for us internally, but for the time being, we are split right down the middle, so: we love ’em both.
(But, if we’re being honest—Asana fan here!)
Utilizing tools like Basecamp and Asana allows us to visually (and virtually) track and monitor our forward trajectory—and who doesn’t love that!
You’re Working From Where?!
Beyond the ways we navigate timezone differences and the tools that we use to effectively communicate, there is one more how left to unveil. I’m calling this “You’re working from where?!”
To be honest, we say that a lot to each other here at FormAssembly. From coffee shops in Nova Scotia to beachfront views in the Florida Keys, it seems like each day another teammate is jet-setting away.
And when we aren’t traveling, we all work pretty differently.
Here are just a few examples of what our days really look like:
So, there you have it. A glimpse into how we work as a distributed team. What about you? Do you work remotely (or want to work remotely)? How do you do it? We’d love to hear your thoughts below! And, join the conversation by tweeting us @FormAssembly!