So, you’re working remotely now? Welcome to the club! If you didn’t already know, Brushfire is a fully remote company and has been since the beginning. We asked the Brushfire team to share some rules and tips for remote work.
Our team uses a bunch of tools and different apps to communicate, stay on task, and to keep overall structure. Here’s what they are:
Slack – Chat tool that integrates with just about everything. Our team uses this every day, all day.
Zoom – Video conferencing app that just works. This is one of the only video apps that does well across the globe.
Asana – There’s plenty of project management tools out there. Either way, you’ve got to stay on task.
Clubhouse – This is what our Technology team uses for Project Management.
Google Drive – Keep everything in one place. Being remote means, not being able to walk over and ask Richard for the document you’re looking for.
Lastly, We interviewed our CEO, Stan Coker a couple of years back about Brushfire and what it’s like to run a remote company. We figured managers might be stepping into a new frontier and thoughts from a veteran could be just what you’re looking for.
Your team works remotely across the country. Was this something intentional?
There’s an old joke that says when you run your own business you get to work half days … it just depends on which twelve hours of the day you want to work! Being at home gave us the opportunity to see our families more and make travel times more palatable. It’s personally given me the flexibility to work hard in between a life of helping raise three girls. I’ve felt like I’ve given the proper effort to the task of starting up and growing the company and at the same time have been able to witness three babies’ first steps, school awards, and other milestones. It also didn’t hurt that it saved us money we didn’t really have in the early days.
As you grow will you continue to have a team working remotely?
Bootstrapping a company means saving everywhere you can, and not compromising on things like travel to meet with customers, infrastructure and such was definitely more important. We also figured out that we could attract and keep a really high standard of employee at all levels of our organization if we let them live and work where they wanted. Something we’ve benefited greatly from as a small team and it continues as we grow. Also, my wife and I are so close that it would be a really hard transition to not work from home at this stage in the game. Although I figure if we changed the structure and brought people in, she’d just come to where I am, anyway. She’s up for just about anything! She’s a Brushfire fangirl and a formidable thought leader in her own right.
How has that been? How do you build culture and processes across a remote team?
Working remotely forces you to understand how each person thinks and reacts to autonomy and taking ownership of what feels like a lot higher stakes. We all want to suggest that as managers we value free-thinking self-starters, but when you’re team is spread out across time zones, you end up living (or dying) by the concept. People that are ok being the “tip of the spear” for big projects inevitably thrive in their work environment. The same is true here. We value everyone’s opinion and can’t really make it work without it. So, our culture hinges on communication. I’ve heard it said that you actually have to over-communicate when you work remotely – I get that for sure. All the (communication) tools are critical in making it work, but what is critical for me—what keeps me from feeling like I’ve lost a handle on things is heartfelt one on one talks with my team as often as possible. They know I’ll get weird fast if I’m not getting a sense of their collective and individual pulse.
Happy Eventing. See you in the next one!