When I started working with Lullabot, my expectations were blown away. I feel more connected to this team through our virtual links than I ever did on a team with a shared physical location - Ben Chavet
Distributed But Not Forgotten
At Lullabot our virtual employees are our physical employees. We do not have a central office we work from. We won’t put you on speakerphone and you won’t be the last to know when something important happens. In fact, we all use the same tools to communicate on a daily basis. Tools like Google Docs, Yammer, GitHub and even Drupal enable our conversations and our work to end up having a URL. These tools may change but the culture of inclusion and empowerment is key for a distributed team to have fun and be successful.
We often say “It’s not what you can do, it’s what you get done”. There’s nobody standing next to your desk to see if you’re working. We don’t install monitoring software on your computer. Actually we give you a technology stipend so you can buy whatever computer you want, and keep it. Rather than relying on “management through observation” we lean towards results-oriented management and are more interested in the impact you make than the space you take.
Working at Lullabot also means you’ll assume a degree of autonomy and accountability most are unfamiliar with in their day-to-day job. A job at Lullabot is very much a self-directed and self-accountable position. We feel like that’s a good thing.
Work Where You Want, When You Want
Flexible work time means you can go to the gym in the middle of day when it's less crowded, take your significant other out for a surprise breakfast, or just split up your day between an early morning and late evening shift. While most of the busy work happens during the U.S. timezones, as long as you make your meetings and deadlines and communicate your schedule, you know what works best for you. And things are usually pretty quiet amongst the Lullabot social networks on the weekend. Work life balance is one of the reasons Lullabot opted to be a distributed team from the beginning.
Satisfying the Monkey Brain
As a distributed company almost all of our communication is deliberate and purposeful. We schedule calls. We send emails. We post messages in Slack and Yammer. This is a great way to get work done. When we're focused on our work, we don't need to be distracted by non-purposeful communication. No one is stopping by your desk just to hang out and talk about what you're doing this weekend.
Additionally we need to be explicit about feedback which might be implicit at another company. It's not enough just to give someone a thumbs up as you walk by their cubicle. Not only are there no cubicles, there's no walking by. Instead we post praise on Yammer, we email or call them directly to tell them they're on the right track, or we appreciate people on the team call. This communication is clearer and more long lasting. This explicit communication also leaves a nice paper trail and clearer communication so that everyone can know what's expected of them and stay on track with our projects.
But implicit non-purposeful communication is important too. That's the stuff that builds friendships. That's the stuff that builds trust. Our monkey-brains aren't wired for deeper relationships via email, phone, or even video-conferencing (though it comes close). We need to be present with one another to fully understand one another. The full spectrum of human communication includes body language, sense of humor, and the twinkle in our eyes. It helps us to have a better sense of one another. It helps us to better trust one another. It lets us know how to better relate to one another. And it helps us to work together better.
At Lullabot, we like to get together and build those connections. More than likely you will find yourself travelling for this job. If you’re meeting with clients there will be onsites during the project kickoff and milestones, and there will be annual departmental retreats somewhere around the globe. Some Lullabots travel as often as once a month and others a couple times a year depending on the role. We do have an annual company retreat where we fly everyone in and take over some small corner of the world to meet new team members and celebrate the year we had together.
Hey. We like to have fun. We start memes, we take lots of silly photos when we're together and we've been known to give each other wrestling names. We celebrate personal and professional accomplishments and support each other when we need encouragement. We vent about clients, and we ask for help when we need it. Since we use the same communication tools, tapping into the pulse of the company is as simple as being connected to the Internet.
We don’t have all the answers and sometimes working at Lullabot can be overwhelming--drinking from the proverbial firehose. Initially you may feel inundated by blinks and pings from various unfamiliar applications. For most, though, it’s just like learning to drive. Pretty soon, you’re able to filter out the non-essential, and focus on what’s important.
Did your heart just skip a beat? Was that an audible gasp I heard?
Great. We should talk.