Process Street is a 100% remote company. We have been from day one.
But our CEO Vinay Patankar has been remote longer than that. Process Street is Vinay’s third remote company, meaning 10 years of running companies remotely.
At the time of writing, we have around 50 employees across multiple continents and it’s working so well for us that we’ve just sealed our Series A funding round from Accel, Atlassian, and Salesforce Ventures.
We thought now would be a good time to do a deep dive into Vinay’s thoughts on remote work and why his experience of it has kept him remote.
For this Process Street article, we sat down with Vinay to ask him 4 key questions, which we’ve provided links to below:
- Were you distributed from day one?
- How many employees do you have and in how many countries?
- What are the biggest challenges of having a distributed team?
- What are the biggest advantages?
Vinay has also produced a short video series of key things to learn when working in or running a remote team. You can check these videos out in the section below:
Essential remote working tips from Vinay Patankar
One of the biggest remote working tips from us is to communicate in ways which are information-rich. Video can be one of the best ways for conveying a large amount of information in a short space of time.
As we use them at work, it makes sense to put it into practice and use them in this article too.
Each video is 5 minutes or less and contains a bunch of key takeaways and actionable chunks of info. Check them out.
Remote working tip #1: You should always practice asynchronous communication
Remote working tip #2: Why you need to work out loud when you work from home
Quickfire remote working interview with Vinay Patankar
We pitched 4 questions to Vinay. This isn’t about what tools to use, as many people focus on, but the cultural elements which comprise a successful remote team – and the journey to takes to get there.
Remote working Q1: Were you distributed from day one, and if so what prompted that decision? If not, when did you go distributed and why?
“We started as a wholly distributed company from day one.
Process Street wasn’t my first remote company and I’d already seen how effective it could be. As a startup, you face a series of challenges and those challenges appear harder when you’re bootstrapping. Being remote allowed us to avoid the obvious overheads of office space, but also increased our talent pool dramatically; enabling us to bring together the right skills quickly.
It also gave us the opportunity to really stress-test our product through heavy internal use without tight micromanagement and oversight – this was really beneficial in understanding our product needs in the early days.”
Remote working Q2: How many employees do you have and in how many countries?
“At the moment we have around 50 employees working in over 20 different countries. This does bring the difficulties of managing timezones but it also gives us a richer knowledge of local markets and needs.
The positive side of timezone-spread probably falls into two categories.
The first is unsurprisingly an ability to serve a global userbase more effectively; though the US is our biggest market, as a SaaS product we have customers all over the world, and our remote team means we’re in a better position to respond to customers quickly and effectively wherever they are.
The second benefit of timezone-spread is that we can use this to remove bottlenecks; a team on one side of the world can complete tasks while the other side sleeps, and vice versa.
Culturally it means that our team demonstrates higher levels of diversity than most and we believe this helps create a more inclusive and open work environment. If we want to expand to other global markets then we already have some of that infrastructure internally to deal with output in, for example, different languages – so there’s a kind of future-proofing benefit there in how it opens up our opportunities to scale.”
Remote working Q3: What are the biggest challenges of having a distributed team and how have you overcome them?
“I don’t think anyone would be surprised to hear that the biggest challenge remote companies typically face is communication.
The example I often turn to is the way a synchronous in-person conversation might go: person A talks to person B and it doesn’t really matter how they construct their conversation, after 5 minutes of talking they have covered a great deal of core information and both parties are more aligned in what they need to do, or what they need from one another. This is the kind of interaction in an office environment which we don’t normally think about; it just happens.
In a remote organization, however, you have to be far more considered and intentional with how you conduct even these small moments of communication.
If you message someone on Slack “hey” but they’re in a different timezone to you, and by the time they respond “hey, what’s up?” you’re in a meeting, and you eventually respond “I have a problem with a customer, can you help?” and now they’re in a meeting and by the time they’ve responded “sure, what’s the problem” it’s the end of your workday so you ask if they’d be free to jump on a call tomorrow to talk about it. That’s a long way of showing how a 30-second exchange can easily result in a problem taking a whole day or more to resolve. There’s no way you can operate a successful organization with that kind of turnaround.
What we do to tackle these issues is a mix of working out loud and effective asynchronous communication.
Instead of messaging someone “hey” and waiting for a reply, we make sure to include the full context of the message straight away, a link to whatever the question is about, a screenshot of any relevant context, and even a screenshared video of what the problem is, if that would be useful. So now that first message takes 2 minutes to write rather than 5 seconds, but all the context is there and you can get the right response as quickly as possible. This is effective asynchronous communication done correctly.
But that’s only one half of the puzzle.
This information-rich communication should be done ‘out loud’, so instead of sending this as a private message or email, the message should be posted in a relevant shared Slack channel so other members of the team can see it. By conducting all communication in shared channels it means that someone else can give the answer sooner, if possible. It also means that everyone sees both the problem and the solution, meaning greater knowledge spill throughout the organization as problems are solved in the open rather than in private.
This agora-approach to communication is something we really believe benefits us as an organization, and it’s something we’ve been forced into out of necessity in order to tackle the challenges that remote work brings. It is so important that we created a core value of over-communicating everything twice to stress how much it means to us.”
Remote working Q4: What are the biggest advantages of running a company based on remote working?
“The big advantage of being a remote-based company is that you have to be more considered and intentional with how you build your organization and culture.
This sounds like a challenge but the results of working out loud, over-communicating, and having strong documentation are invaluable and give us a competitive advantage in the long run.
Through these strategies, individual members of our team have a strong knowledge of what’s going on in other teams and why. This means a much faster sharing of internal best practices in a way which occurs organically and requires less top-down enforcement, instead allowing for guidance from leadership.
Our huge focus on process documentation and adherence in the context of all this means we can operate in an agile way while still insuring ourselves against organizational risks such as employee churn. A lot of the previous benefits I’ve mentioned fall under this banner of improved organizational practice, so it’s hard to pin one down that isn’t a broad advantage.
I guess our view on the advantages of remote teams boils down to a quasi-Nietzschean belief that the challenges it produces make us stronger and more prepared, both now and in the future.”
How we use Process Street to help us work remotely
The processes you document with Process Street are your choice.
From a remote working P.O.V., you can create templates for your virtual team’s sprint planning, sprint retrospective, weekly and monthly meeting planning, content creation, content promotion, customer success, marketing plans, the customer support process… the list is truly endless!
There are many useful features beyond a simple checklist to help you get more done, including:
- Stop tasks. ✋
- Conditional logic. 🧠
- Task permissions. 👀
- Task assignments. 👤
- Role assignments. 👥
- Webhooks. 🎣
- Embed widget. 🌐
- Approvals. ✅
To help you get started, use some of our ready-made templates that’ll bolster your virtual team exponentially:
- Daily Schedule Template
- Daily Standup Meeting Checklist
- Employee Onboarding Checklist
- Employee Background Check
- Job Application Form
- Job Description Template
- Performance Review Checklist
- Project Proposal Template
- Sprint Planning
- Sprint Retrospective Process
- Recruitment Process
- Standup Meeting Checklist
Want to make your own templates from scratch?
We’ve got you covered.
Sign up for free and make tailor-made templates today. Check out the webinar below to learn how to create powerful templates and checklists yourself.
We can’t wait for you to take control of your processes and make remote working work for your business.
Additional remote working resources:
- Virtual Team: How to Excel at Remote Working (Free Templates)
- The 19 Best Tips from My 3 Years Working Remotely
- The Complete Guide to Asynchronous Communication in Remote Teams
- Best Video Conferencing App: Skype vs Hangouts vs GoToMeeting vs Zoom vs Join.me vs Appear.in
- How to Use Slack Like a Pro and Become a Power User (22 Tips & Tricks)
- How to Run Business Meetings That Aren’t a Useless Waste of Time
- 7 Key Tools for the Ultimate Paperless Office (Your Go-Paperless-Stack)
- 14 Ways Your Team Can Boost Productivity While Working From Home
- 8 Top Workplace Team Chat Apps for Effective Team Communication in 2019
- The 11 Agile Processes We Use to Run an Efficient Software Team
- Content Creation Workflows: Why You Need One and How to Build It
Have you and your team been working remotely for a while? Or have you recently shifted to remote work? Leave your tips, experiences, or problems in the comments! If you have any more questions comment them here too – we’d love to answer them!