Our tech company was founded in Madrid among a couple of Spanish tech-heads, and soon grew to include friends and acquaintances who were living and working in Beijing. After a year of bouncing between Spain and China, we relocated to Bali, Indonesia. The idea of choosing only one physical base was always unthinkable – my whole team loves to travel, and I found that the frequent change of scenery did a lot to inspire my team.
After a year in Bali, we relocated to the Philippines, and then to an island off of Greece. In each of our adopted homes, we would rent a big house where the whole team lived and worked together. This did wonders for team bonding. We’re a very social bunch, and loved meeting and collaborating with people we met along the way. However, each time we moved, a few people would inevitably decide that they couldn’t bear to leave, but wanted to continue to work for us remotely. The result is that these days, we’re spread across the planet.
Our team of fifteen now works from four different time zones. This might sound like an organizational nightmare, but in the world of digital nomads, it’s a fairly common story. There are more and more small, flexible, nomadic companies popping up, supported by a wave of new tools that help them meet their communication needs.
For years, our team had been co-working and co-living under one roof. We had more facetime than any conventional company, and we were constantly updating each other on projects, brainstorming fresh ideas, and getting to know each other personally. As our team splintered off in different directions, we decided to take the step of switching to full-on remote working. Suddenly, our only forum for discussion was just a chat box.
After a brief tryst with Hipchat, we settled on Slack. We liked the web-based interface, the ease of use, and the integrations. But our communication was still lacking – team members were never really aware of what other people were working on, and we had lost the ability to bounce ideas off each other as a group. Add to this the fact that our team was still growing, and the interpersonal relationships that had once made the company stronger couldn’t develop within a chat application.
To remedy these shortcomings, we’ve been adding small features to Slack that would help us communicate better as a remote company. This evolved into Cocktail, a suite for Slack that allows you to stage daily stand-ups, randomly schedule one-on-one calls between team members, and take surveys. It’s still in the early stages of development, but the idea is to continue adding features that will help remote companies communicate better.
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