We recently talked about how we manage remote work on our team.
Tools are an important part of remote team work, but there’s a bigger issue that’s overarching our remote work culture.
Ever since Travis CI came into existence, both the community and members of its team huddled around new features to get them done and out.
We’ve been keeping this kind of culture to this very day. It’s been a strong influence on how we now work as a product company, with a growing team.
I wanted to share a few things of how we work, of how we evolve our product, our company and, most importantly, our team.
Shared vision rather than product managers
We believe in people on our team determining what’s most important for them to work on.
Sometimes what needs to work on comes out of discussions, from production issues or from our customers. But the priorities of what comes next is up to everyone to decide.
Everyone owns the product.
It’s also up to everyone to pull in other people, selling them on their ideas. Small teams form where necessary, and work on something until it’s done. In turn, we skip doing estimates, both internally and externally.
A shared vision matters more to us than dictating single features. We traded Kanban boards and strict feature roadmaps for the trust in everyone to move our product forward.
Everyone does support
How does everyone figure out what needs to be worked on other than the vision we have for our product?
Everyone talks to our customers.
If you want to know what pains your customers, what features they’d like to see, how you can make their life easier, the only way to do that is to talk to them.
For everyone on the team to get a glimpse of what our customers are doing with our products, everyone needs to talk to the customer.
The most efficient way to do that is through customer support.
If a developer or a designer, anyone on the team, is directly exposed to a customer’s troubles or repeating issues, they’re all the more likely to help fix them.
What came out of this for us? In the beginning of 2014, the first thing that was actively built to make this easier was an administration interface. Everyone has access to it, everyone can jump in and look at a particular issue.
If you need help figuring something out, you pull in someone in the know.
It’s all about trust, about responsibility, and about continuous learning on what we can improve in our product, in our documentation, in our on-boarding process.
Customer service is not a department, it’s a business value.
Ongoing communication instead of daily standups
There are no daily standups in our workflow.
Everyone can talk to anyone at any time to see what they’re working on.
Everyone is encouraged to speak up and pull others in when they have problems.
Daily standups are disruptive to people’s workflows, especially when you’re distributed across the globe.
Personal life comes first
People have families, people have personal lives. That is something to be respected, and something we appreciate.
In a distributed team, it’s easy to be sucked into being online and somewhat working all the time, as there’s always someone in our team chat.
Avoiding this is a hard thing to do for anyone on the team.
We go all out and do everything to make our customers and the open source community happy.
But we also turn around and give our team the same courtesy.
That includes giving them space to disconnect, time to spend time with families, and to make sure that work is done at a normal pace.
Sometimes, work can wait.
Our customers work around the clock, which is why having a remote team is so beneficial for us.
We spend a lot of time working on improving how we work as a team, how we can make sure everyone on the team is happy.
Because a happy team is the most important requirement for happy customers.