I Work in Pajamas: Winning at Remote Distributed Teams

Patti Chan

Intridea, @pattichan

  • Intridea has a fully distributed team – nobody is required to work in the office
  • 100% distributed
    • 3 countries, 20 cities, 6 time zones, 1 HQ, 44 home offices, 2 co-working spaces, 10 coffeehouses, 1 tattoo parlor
    • 44 employees
  • Asked employees how many hours they save by not commuting
    • e.g. their QA engineer picked up 17 days per year and used that time to re-learn the guitar
  • Two often examples that do this are Automattic and GitHub
  • But Intridea has a wildly difference business
  • Remote working is great! But it can be really hard if you don’t do it right.
    • “I can’t work effectively at home”
    • “Decisions are made at home”
    • “I feel isolated without an office”
  • Mantra
    • Shower
    • Be Human
    • Stick With It
  • “I can’t work effectively at home”
    • Shower.
    • Put on Pants.
    • Introduce some separation between being at home and working
    • Get yourself a good environment
    • Pay attention to what makes you productive
    • For Patti
      • A mug of tea (peppermint)
      • Headphones
      • Favorite wireless mouse
    • Once you know these triggers, you can get yourself working from anywhere
    • Patti worked for a month in southeast asia – as long as she has wi-fi and these triggers, she can be productive
  • “Decisions are made at home”
    • What decisions?
    • Be human.
    • Break down the dependencies/concerns associated with making decisions in a decentralized way
    • Intridea uses JIRA to aid in decision making
    • There is one time per week were every person in a project team meet on a conference call over Go2Meeting and discuss everything for the week.
    • They track edge cases and outstanding questions so that people can work out kinks early.
    • Trust in asynchronous communication
      • Big HipChat users
      • Every project team has a room, where you need to be if you’re working on the project
      • Interest-specific rooms (e.g. #DEV for developers for geeking out, asking for help, etc.)
      • Get out of the dependence on instant communication
        • Don’t start communication with “hey, are you there?”
        • Don’t take someone out of their current context to answer your question – be willing to wait for information
      • Use confluence to track everything
      • Gets all of the conversation out of the inbox
    • This is all about reducing the number of times that you “have to” depend on someone/something to find your information
    • Make interactions between people count
    • Use video chat with Go2Meeting
    • WaterCooler room in HipChat
    • Custom HipChat emoticons
  • “I feel isolated without an office”
    • Meet People.
    • Bring it Back.
    • Stick with it.
    • Don’t work from home ALL the time
      • Patti sometimes works from a co-working space
      • Interacts with people outside of her company and can bring it back
    • Stipends for sponsor meetups and other sorts of events
    • Stipends for sponsoring conferences if they present
    • Everybody gets to attend a conference each year
    • Get yourself out there!
  • Transition from “this thing you do” to “this thing you do because you love it / feel passionate about it”

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