Productivity

Tools used by the world's best remote teams

Remote work is here to stay

No longer just a cost cutting measure, companies are embracing remote work to attract and maintain employees, to recruit the best talent from around the world, and to support a healthier work life balance.

Should your company go remote?

Some of the world’s fastest growing, most profitable, and most influential ones do.

Basecamp

Remote is not just about hiring people who work remotely currently, it’s about letting people move wherever they want in the world and letting people be flexible in their lives outside of work.  - Jason Fried, CEO

Basecamp didn’t invent remote work, but they are leading the revolution.

They even wrote a book about it.

While basecamp has their HQ in Chicago, the entire team is spread around the world. Their COO lives in Florida, their CTO in Spain, and their CEO in Chicago. Basecamp prides itself on having very few meetings (and no recurring ones), shutting work down at 5pm, and matching salaries to the highest paid city in the US (San Francisco).

Basecamp eats its own dogfood - the only remote working software tool they use….

Basecamp.

Zapier

It's highly unlikely you could pluck any random set of people, at any random moment in history, dispersed around the globe, put them together, and expect them to build something amazing. We've found there are three important ingredients to making remote work, well, work: Team, Tools, and Process. - Wade Foster, CEO


Zapier was founded remotely in 2011 when the two founders had full-time jobs and needed to work odd hours to get it off the ground. They didn’t have the time to get together, and focused on communicating remotely.

Since then, they’ve maintained their remote-first ethos and now employ over 200 people in 20 countries worldwide. Zapier prides themselves on hiring doers, trusting them, and making sure they embrace the challenges of remote work.

Zapier has implemented a few innovative processes.

They schedule weekly hangouts where someone on the team demos a new project or talks about a new hobby they’ve picked up. This is a way for them to build culture and not just talk shop all the time.

They randomly pair two team members using donut to help the team get to know each other.

More traditional processes include weekly one-on-one  (using a feedback tool called Small Improvements), and mandatory weekly update.

Zapier hosts two retreats a year to bring their remote team together.

Zapier's favorite tools

  • Slack for communication
  • Trello for project management
  • Github for engineering workflow
  • 1Password for password security
  • Google Docs for document collaboration
  • Quip for document collaboration
  • Hellosign for legal contract signing
  • Helpscout for customer support
  • Donut for culture-building
  • Small Improvements for feedback

GitLab

When you write things down, you can iterate on them, make them better and pass it on to the next generation. Your values and mission don’t get lost with time. - Sid Sijbrandij, CEO

Gitlab's 878 employees in 56 Countries represent one of the largest all-remote teams.They write everything down in their GitLab team handbook, which is over 3000 pages of text.

Gitlab's favorite tools:

Helpscout

A friend and investor in our company once told me that you have to choose remote culture or office culture and stick to it, because there is no in between… Trying to optimize for both will likely result in remote employees feeling like second-class citizens. - Nick Francis, CEO

Helpscout’s 75 employees work from more than 50 cities around the world. Nick believes that to run a successful remote company, it has to be built fully into the company’s DNA. Remote workers that work with in-office teams often feel left out, neglected, and like second-class citizens.

To avoid that, Helpscout is a fully distributed team that has implemented policies such as weekly video video chats and annual team retreats.

Similar to Basecamp, Helpscout has potential new hires complete a take home project .

Helpscout's favorite tools:

  • Lever for hiring
  • World Time Buddy (to manage timezones)
  • Zoom and Appear.in for video conferencing
  • Typeform for feedback and survey

Buffer

Part of the DNA of Buffer is that we traveled all over the world for much of the first two years. This is something that has been sustained and is part of our values (and many in the team have lived up to this value by traveling as part of the team). - Joel Gascoigne, CEO

Buffer is a leader remote work trend. While not a huge company, they espouse company values of openness and transparency, and have shared a lot of valuable information about their remote work policy.

With 82 team members in 15 countries around the world - Buffer is a prime example of how remote work...works.

Buffer's favorite tools:

  • Zoom for video chat
  • GSuite for spreadsheets & email
  • Zenefits for HR 
  • Discourse for searchable communication
  • Okta for password management
  • OfficeVibe for team surveys and check-ins
  • CultureAmp for career growth
  • Slack for team communication

Groove

Groove decided to build their customer support software company fully remote

Groove's favorite tools:

  • Slack as their company HQ
  • Zoom for video calls
  • Groove for customer support
  • World time buddy to see people's timezones
  • Trello for project management
  • Teamweek for high-level team tasks
  • Google Drive for documents

Thinking about going remote?

The benefits of remote far outweigh the costs, but going remote isn't as simple as breaking your office lease. You need to adopt the right tools, change your culture, and adapt to ensure your team remains productive after making the transition.