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 one word? Amazing.
In a few more words…
I can work from ANYWHERE with wifi
Some coworkers 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; making myself available during normal work hours by working from waiting rooms and making up lost time in the evenings kept me from losing my sanity.
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 distracted from 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 siloed 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 tools that keep us close
All day long we use tools like Slack and Zoom to chat with co-workers water cooler style—along with more formal meetings and scheduling time with coworkers to ask questions and get synced on projects. 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 can 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.
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.
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. I’m not trying to be cheesy—we have an actual official Director of Employee Happiness who’s a certified life coach and is there for team members and leaders in the company who need support, at all times.
“Design is a universal language—it knows no barriers.”
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 equal for all 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!
Growing on up—in size and in culture
We’ve scaled at a wild rate. 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, the culture stayed solid even through this period of rapid growth. 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.
What’s UX got to do with it?
Recently, a designer reached out and asked if I feel that working remotely negatively impacts the UX of our products, due to the 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 weaved 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.
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 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.
A short list: InVision (of course), GSuite, 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…well, you get the drift.
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!