Extending company culture to a remote team can be a major challenge for startups working with limited resources. While it’s vital to make everyone feel included, company bonding can be difficult when your staff is spread across multiple time zones.
The good news? You don’t need to own a private jet to keep your team connected. Take it from us…PivotDesk has employees in 5 of our top cities: NYC, San Francisco, Boston, Denver and Boulder. While we get together in person 1-2 times per quarter, we rely heavily on a number of digital tools for maintaining our company culture and staying in touch between visits.
Here are some of our favorites:
1. Slack This messaging platform is threatening to kill email with it’s streamlined team chat features. The tool allows you to create both private and open chat channels, send and view files easily and search old message threads for important information.
→Why we love it: At PivotDesk, we love any tool that helps us get to inbox zero faster. And with a remote team spread across the country, we need an effective method for staying in touch day and night. Our employees can communicate privately or in groups, allowing us to replicate the open dialogue that occurs in an office setting.
2. Kisi Your forgetful employees will thank you for this keyless office access system. Built for maximum security and simplicity, the service allows employees to unlock office doors with an app on their phone or computer. The coolest part? You can unlock doors remotely for those extra forgetful employees.
→Why we love it: Like many Boulder-based startups, our team abides by varying schedules and work patterns. Some team member are in early and out in the afternoon for a bike ride, while others prefer to burn the midnight oil. And our remote team is always popping in for company meet-ups. This can make getting everyone building access a major pain. With Kisi, employees can open the office door using an app on their phone at any time. The tool is extremely customizable, so we all feel secure about our equipment and personal safety.
3. Airbnb Maybe you’ve heard of it…Airbnb is a marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world. It’s easy to book space from your computer, phone or tablet, making it an essential tool for a team that travels.
→Why we love it: We make including our remote employees in team culture and bonding a major priority. And while online tools like Slack and Google Hangouts make communicating long distance super easy, there’s no replacement for a good-old face-to-face interaction. When we fly our remote team in to hang at PivotDesk HQ in Boulder, we rely on Airbnb to book accommodations. We love that with the huge selection of hosts, the team can feel comfortable away from home, while still experiencing the authentic Boulder lifestyle.
4. eShares This equity management platform helps businesses manage Cap tables, 409A valuations, ASC 718 reporting, and employee liquidity, while also giving employees visibility into their vesting schedules in real time.
→Why we love it: Earning equity allows employees to feel vested in the success of the business in a major way—it’s one of the most exhilarating parts of working for a startup. With eShares, our staff can log in to view vesting schedules in real time. We love that it reminds us of the vital impact we’re having on the business, no matter where we’re working.
5. Festify This Spotify-powered music collaboration app allows users to add songs to a shared playlist from their computer or smartphone.
→Why we love it: We love playing background music in the office and Festify allows our remote team to experience the same musical vibe as our HQ. We use Festify to build and share office playlists collaboratively—It’s easy to add songs from Spotify and you can vote your favorite songs up the playlist. Just beware the closet Nickelback fans in your office…
6. Drizly Winter is coming and this on-demand alcohol delivery service will make it easier than ever to avoid the cold and bring happy hour to your office.
→Why we love it: What’s not to love? Easy to use, on-demand alcohol delivery, ordered on your computer or smartphone! We love to host in-office happy hours using the service. And when we want to share the fun with our remote team, we can easily order and send over a bottle of whiskey or wine.
7. Strava It’s easy to bond with coworkers in your free-time with this running and cycling GPS tracker. Strava allows you to track your running and cycling activity while following along with your friends.
→Why we love it: We like to spice up our company culture using the app by creating a little friendly competition. Each year, we compete to clock the most miles in a Boulder startup community event that raises money for charity. Since the app functions as a social networking site for exercise, remote employees can join in on the competition too.
8. Google Hangouts With instant messaging, video chat, SMS and VOIP features all in one, Google Hangouts is an essential tool for staying connected to a remote team.
→Why we love it: In order to avoid the misery of the traditional conference call, we gather as a company each week for all-hands meetings using Google Hangouts. The remote sales team calls in via hangouts, making it way easier to maintain a group discussion, with fewer awkward interruptions than a conference call.
9. Asana Sometimes the hardest part about working with a remote team is keeping everyone organized and on-track. Asana set out to change that. The tool allows teams to organize projects, track progress, measure goals and optimize work styles for better results.
→Why we love it: Working on group projects with people sitting next to you can be challenging, working on group projects with people sitting thousands of miles away can feel impossible. Luckily, we’ve found tools like Asana to help us stay organized. The online to-do lists have tons of features that make it easy to make notes, set deadlines and hold each other accountable. Plus, who doesn’t love the feeling of crossing off a task?
10. PivotDesk Yes, it’s true. We drink our own Kool-Aide. PivotDesk allows companies to open remote offices across the country in as little as a few hours. Businesses in need of office space can browse host companies, inquire and book online from anywhere. We provide flexible, month-to-month contracts so you can grow when you need to, without being locked into anything long term.
→Why we love it: Well, besides the obvious…Rather than working from coffee shops or home offices, our remote employees get all the benefits of working in a team environment in the PivotDesk city that needs them. Our NYC sales team, for example works in the offices of SkillShare….they don’t hate the roof deck.
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