The most important rule of building and managing a remote team: the burden of communication is on the people working together from the same location, not the people telecommuting.
It may sound obvious, but I just can’t stress it enough. Because when your head is down in development on a project, it’s easy to slip into side conversations and asides that never end up getting communicated to the remote team members you’re leading. You have to constantly remember to project what you’re doing out to your remote team members. Or pretty quickly you end up working from two entirely different playbooks.
That’s why at Table XI, our primary work infrastructure is engineered to support remote work. While most of us are co-located, we want to stay flexible, and we currently have staff working everywhere from Chile to Seattle. Using remote-friendly systems does a couple of good things for us, which I’ll discuss later, but the key benefit is that it keeps people who are remote from being at a disadvantage. All our work happens in a remote-friendly infrastructure. The rest — coffee runs, lunch breaks, movie nights — are additive. You don't hear people talking about work on coffee runs.
Here are our tips for engineering effective remote teams:
At the most basic level, a faster site will do two things: save money and increase revenue. Since those tend to be the two things that boost any company’s bottom line, page speed is increasingly becoming a concern for businesses, especially now that Google’s counting it toward search rankings.
It’s true that to be successful now, your site has to be fast. People just don’t have the patience to wait for a site to load. The basic attention limits have been the same since Robert Miller wrote his 1968 paper: Anything under 0.1 seconds seems to happen instantaneously. Anything that takes less than a second allows users to keep their trains of thought and doesn’t require special feedback. Anything over 10 seconds, and users have pretty much forgotten all about your site or app.
When my husband and I decided to move to Seattle from Chicago, we were looking for a change. We thought we’d move somewhere with better weather, where we already had friends and family. And we thought we’d move somewhere with an active tech community, because we figured we’d need to get new jobs.
OpsConf attendees track how they're connected to each other
If you think it’s crazy to gather 19 of our competitors from 16 companies across three continents just to give them free advice … well, yeah, you would actually not be the first person to think that.
But the truth is that I started OpsConf — short for Operations Conference — at a time when I desperately needed some free advice of my own. Table XI was growing, and we were figuring things out on the fly. In the development world, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing you’re the smartest, that you have all the answers you need. But two years ago, trying to figure out how to scale Table XI without giving up the things that make us great, it was pretty clear that I did not have all the answers. I needed a bigger sounding board. So I built one.
As engineers and problem solvers, we like good ideas, but we like good ideas implemented even better. To help somebody coalesce their vision into something that's actionable — that’s a process that’s rewarding for us. Doing a strategy Inception gives us an opportunity to interact with people who are just ridiculously smart in their domain and to add tons of value by forming an actionable plan around their expertise.
We get asked about the RFP process and how to write an RFP all the time by companies that are just starting to think about building or redesigning a product. They want to know what to include and how they can attract a star development shop to submit a response.
Easy: Nothing, and you can’t. If you want to find the right development shop, an RFP won’t help you. In fact, writing an RFP could cripple your project before it gets started. Here’s how, and what you should use instead of an RFP ...
Chicago Ideas Week is just a few weeks away! If you’ve been following our blog, or recent tweets, you’ve heard us talking a lot about the upcoming events. Not sure what to attend this year? We’re happy to share our cheat sheet. Here are some of the places you'll find us, and some of our top picks for 2014:
Table XI joined forces with Chicago Ideas again this year, this time as the organization’s official technology partner. We’re proud to be so closely associated with an iconic Chicago organization associated with innovation, thought leaders, and a community of curiosity.
When you attend an event this year, you might see our logo up in lights. And when you do, you may notice something different: We’ve added a tagline, “Tech Done Right.” But what does that mean, exactly?
Chicago Ideas Week begins October 13, and before we kick off a week that celebrates innovation and the exchange of good ideas, we invite you to help celebrate some of the ideas you won't hear about.
Join us on Wednesday, October 8 for an entertaining evening of “Biggest Mistakes.” Eleven prominent Chicagoans will take the stage to share their stories. We’ll hear from everyone from entrepreneurs, to CEOs, to comedians and journalists.
The event is produced by Table XI, the official technology partner for Chicago Ideas Week, in collaboration with The Second City. The ability to embrace failure is a key value for both organizations, and "My Biggest Mistake Night" plans to celebrate it boldly.