From our founding, we’ve lived as a completely remote company. Among the advantages, we’ve found this to be pivotal in our ability to hire the right people – regardless of geography. It does however force us to think frequently and creatively about how to ensure everyone is sharing and receiving information. Information that one would typically process in face-to-face communication has to be a conscious effort in a remote environment and increases the importance of communication channels, standards, and transparency.
But we tend to agree with Jason Fried, who wrote Remote: Office Not Required, “you’d be amazed how much quality collective thought can be captured using two simple tools: a voice connection and a shared screen.” We regularly take advantage of technology to help facilitate new channels for communicating and sharing knowledge.
Shared communication is a habit and expectation, one that enables our team to perform successfully in a remote environment.
Even though we ♥ Slack and Trello, we understand the value of face-to-face team building. Our team meets in person three times a year at an all-company Summit. The Summit offers an opportunity to level set, brainstorm, build relationships and plan for the next four months. A Summit wouldn’t be complete without a formal review of goals and future direction, as well as brainstorming from the ground up about the next big challenge to take on. The best part of these meetings is the opportunity to have both organized and informal communication at all levels of the company – from leadership to the employee who started last week. We break out and problem solve on the spot or proactively educate others on a challenge we will have to address in the near future.
We recently piloted an entirely new type of Summit, focused entirely on team-building and approximately 2 hours of direction setting across various teams. We brought our entire team out to Estes Park, Colorado to team build in a location benefiting our name, Prominence (Prom-i-nence, noun: a term used by mountain climbers to describe the relative difficulty of a summit they plan to ascend). And yes, we did hike mountains (albeit not Long Peak or any other 14,000+ elevations, instead we explored Lily and Mills Lake).
Another unique aspect of this Summit was including our families, allowing our work family to get to know our personal family. The experience resulted in a mix of family reunion (the good kind, that involves hiking and bags tournaments) and the first few weeks of college (where you are getting to know the people around you in a detail and you tend to herd towards events like lunch, dinner or games). All in and all, we are now a closer-knit Prominence and paving the way for a new era of remote teams.