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culture-building-in-remote-teams

Lessons Learned: How Zapier, Litmus, and Buffer Succeed at Remote Culture Building

#1: Buffer

culture-building-in-remote-teamsThis is perhaps one of the most famous examples of a startup with a cool culture and completely distributed team.

Buffer is a social media scheduling software company.

It is currently generating over $1.57 monthly recurring revenue, with a team of over 85 distributed across the world, has been one of the most radical to embrace remote teams (they don’t even have an office) and radical transparency.

Radical transparency is baked into the culture (making everything public from annual run rate to salaries, to the number of books read and babies born to team members).

It is perhaps one of the reasons they’ve been so successful scaling the company while managing such a large team spread across the world.

When they recruit new team members, Buffer makes sure — and even puts everyone on a 3-month trial period — new team members are going to fit in well with its six core values:

  • Default to transparency
  • Cultivate positivity
  • Show gratitude
  • Practice reflection
  • Improve consistently
  • Act beyond yourself

#2: InVision

culture-building-in-remote-teamsInVision, a company that creates awesome design software that some of the world’s biggest brands use, also benefits from a culture that values remote working.

As Stephen Omstead, VP of Design Partnerships, InVision notes: “Remote work, and being able to structure life and live where and how you want is awesome!

This flexibility is a strength of this unique work style. It’s also super important to get face-time with your team. If you have the opportunity, meet your team members in person, break bread together, and share memorable experiences.

InVision also hires for a set of shared values, then reinforces this with working practices that are supportive of remote practices.

Trust is essential when anyone is working remotely away from a core team, which is why the recruitment process is competitive for jobs with InVision.

#3: Zapier

culture-building-in-remote-teamsZapier is one of the tools companies use when they’re working with remote teams and freelancers, so it’s only fitting that they employ people around the world and have embraced remote working.

With over 125 employees, there are colleagues across several US states and elsewhere in the world. We talked to the CTO about how they manage remote engineers.

One of the ways they manage this across every team is in public, shared Slack channels.

As the CEO, Wade Foster notes, these Slack channels areespecially helpful when working as a team across different time zones. When team members wake up, they can easily gain context and pick up where others left off instead of not knowing what went on while they were sleeping.

He credits “transparent communication” as the key to successfully managing a remote team.

#4: Litmus

bulding-culture-in-remote-teamsLitmus is a company making email better for marketing professionals, now trusted by over 600,000 around the world. Founded in 2005, they now have dozens of employees in Silicon Valley, Boston, London and distributed around the world.

When it comes to remote team culture, the senior management makes communication a key part of how they create the right environment for everyone.

As part of this, they supply everyone with high-quality headphones and make sure people are working in places with a strong internet connection. Keeping videos on most of the time — and creating a video etiquette that staff is meant to stick to is another important part of that.

As the VP of Marketing, Justine Jordan notes: “To make collaboration work for everyone, there is one key rule: Unless every person is in the same room, all meetings are held over video conference.

We’ve all been that one person dialing into a call only to hear a room full of noise, echo, and side conversations on the other end. It’s a terrible experience. So when one person is remote for a meeting, everyone is.

#5: Help Scout

culture-building-in-remote-teamsHelp Scout is another invaluable tool for remote teams and companies with customers around the world.

Like Buffer, they are remote-first and believe in creating a strong remote team culture. Help Scout has a team of over 75 spread across 50 cities in 12 countries.

Hiring the right people is an important part of making sure they fit in with the culture, which comes down to this:

  • a track record of excellence,
  • a love for the craft.

After that, communication is key, as Help Scout notes in a blog: “A culture’s effectiveness revolves around how information flows. Everyone needs to feel like they have access to the same information, but remote and co-located cultures share information differently.

Great job! Now you know how world-renowned ambassadors of remote work embrace a positive culture.

Head over to the next part of this article telling about the best practices and tools for building the right culture in remote teams.

We promise: you’ll like it 😎

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Mary Atamaniuk

Mary Atamaniuk is a digital content strategist at YouTeam — a curated b2b tech talent marketplace that matches businesses with dedicated development teams from pre-vetted software outsourcing agencies.

Mary's areas of interest include digital marketing, tech entrepreneurship, and influencer blogging.

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