Working Remotely for a Fully Distributed Company

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Photo of someone holding a coffee cup in front of a laptop. By rawpixel on Unsplash

I’m regularly asked questions about how working remotely for a fully distributed company compares to traditional office life, so I decided to write a post about it. 🙌

What is working for a fully distributed company like?

In a word? Amazing. I can work from ANYWHERE with a wi-fi connection.

Some co-workers use the freedom to live their best digital nomad lives, traveling the world.

As a hardcore introvert who is easily distracted by office chatter, being able to sit in my office or living room and focus 100% of my attention on work tasks is phenomenal. I’m not suffering through an open office floor plan with people tapping me on the shoulder interrupting my workflow and focus, I don’t have to find an empty conference room to meet with coworkers—it’s glorious.

Recently my daughter encountered some really scary health issues. Working for a remote company that allows work/life integration in addition to work life balance was life changing.

She wound up having to go to a slew of medical specialists, and being able to make myself available during normal work hours by working from waiting rooms and making up any time in the evenings (though my boss was incredibly supportive and told me not to worry about making up time, I did it anyway) kept my stress level away from losing my sanity high.

I was able to devote my undivided attention to her when I was by her side, and worked during the tests that I wasn’t able to be in the room for. I didn’t lose any productivity, and my mind was kept off the fear of her test results.

During less intense periods of life, it’s also awesome to be able to take coffee breaks that include puppy cuddles. My 3 furbabies enjoy this benefit very much.

Doesn’t working for a remote company make you feel silo-ed and lonely?

No, it’s actually the opposite. Since InVision is fully distributed, the entire company is centered around remote culture. We aren’t trying to loop in one remote employee during meetings, we aren’t forgetting to update that lone employee on side convos and decisions that are made between meetings, the ENTIRE company is remote. All day long we use tools like Slack and Zoom to chat with coworkers water cooler style, as well as for meetings and to have access to team members for questions. We can snooze notifications when we need focus time, and turn them back on when we’re ready to address them.

One of my very favorite aspects of Slack is that since we’re located in 31 countries around the world, we can leave messages during our own working hours and team members around the world receive them and respond during their working hours. We don’t have to constantly try to coordinate meetings in different time zones (though we can when necessary) we can just communicate freely on a daily basis.

As far as team bonding and feeling lonely, I feel closer to my coworkers at InVision than I have been to coworkers in traditional offices.

The primary reason for that feeling of closeness is that we have better lines of communication as a remote company than I’ve ever experienced in-house. We have channels for every interest imaginable. One of my absolute favs is the #invision-pets channel which I visit daily.

Photo of Jennifer’s 3 white Bichon Frise dogs.

Photo of Jennifer’s 3 white Bichon Frise dogs

We also have a channel called #house-swaps-invbnb where team members trade homes to see new places around the world. Live in New York and want to see London? There’s likely a team member who would love to switch things up for a week or two and crash at your place while you crash at theirs.

Individual teams also have private channels where they can chat about life and share links, family photos, and gifs if they feel so inclined. (And chat about projects as necessary of course.) We also have a #Team channel for company wide announcements.

As an added bonus, we have arguably the best party parrot emoji selection of all time. (This is just a teaser—the list goes on and on. And yes, that is indeed a Guy Fieri parrot. 😂)

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A screenshot of 63 party parrot emojis

Since I’m able to work from my house during the day, I’m more motivated to get out to see friends and enjoy hobbies after hours. As an introvert, I’ve found that working remotely for InVision has actually made me more social.

Don’t you lack team culture as a remote company?

Honestly? We have a more positive team culture at InVision than I’ve ever experienced in a traditional work environment. Our entire company culture is centered around employee happiness. (Seriously, I’m not trying to be cheesy, its amazing.) We have an actual official Director of Employee Happiness (his name is Avi, and he’s one of the very best humans). He’s a certified life coach, and is there for team members and leaders in the company who need support, at all times.

We have amazing benefits. All employees are offered stock options, so we all “own” a piece of the company. We have usual HR support with additional services like an anonymous ethics hotline. It’s not used much, but it exists in the event that someone experiences or witnesses something they think wasn’t handled properly, but they’re uncomfortable contacting HR directly to report it.

Our team does annual compensation reviews to make sure that there is equal pay balance amongst team members, with special attention make sure that compensation is equivalent for employees regardless of gender and ethnicity. (This is a HUGE deal for me. It’s very rare for tech companies to make this a priority.)

And of course there are fun perks like monthly coffee and fitness stipends!

We’ve scaled insanely quickly. When I interviewed 3.5 years ago we had 50 employees. Now we’re 800+.

The last startup I worked for had a culture crash when we doubled in size. I kept waiting for the shoe to drop here at InVision. We hit 100 employees, and I thought, “Oh, here it comes.” But it never did. The culture remained fantastic. Then we hit 200 employees and I thought, “This will DEFINITELY be it. We’re going to crash and burn.” But things just got even better. The crash never came. Why?

Because our CEO and senior staffers put employee happiness at the core of the company from the very beginning. It changed the entire rapid growth dynamic. Instead of experiencing a culture tank and trying to toss perks out to course correct like most startups, they made taking great care of employees the foundation of the company from the very beginning. And for a remote company, maintaining positive company culture is especially imperative.

Recently a designer reached out and asked if I feel that working remotely negatively impacts the UX of our products, due to lack of collaborative interactions in office.

I would say it has the exact opposite effect.

Since we’re fully distributed we have the luxury of being able to hire literally the best talent in the world. The caliber of the employees here at InVision is mind boggling. People I’ve idolized my entire career are now my coworkers.

Hiring people all over the world means that we have perspectives from people from all kinds of backgrounds tied into everything we do as a company. It’s especially impactful when it comes to our products.

Design is a universal language—it knows no barriers.

Photo of a person staring at the night sky by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

Photo of a person staring at the night sky by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

I’ve seen design community members from warring countries share tips and tricks with one another on social media regularly. Design transcends boundaries and brings people together.

Being able to incorporate voices from around the world into the very DNA of our products strengthens everything we create.

And as far as collaboration goes, we use tools that allow better collaboration than I’ve ever experienced in office. I mentioned that for communication we use Slack and Zoom, but we use departmental tools that allow for clear team collaboration, as well as tools to collaborate company wide. Just a couple examples are InVision (of course), G Suite, Confluence, Asana, and the list goes on. These tools keep us all in the loop. And when you think about it, people have to use collaborative tools in offices just as often. The last traditional office I worked in used Slack, InVision, GoToMeeting, Asana, and others.

Working for a fully distributed company has changed my life for the better in so many ways. Remote life isn’t for everyone, but don’t knock it till you try it!

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