Brandon Wu and his global team of entrepreneurs are innovating a solution for the divide they see between a single image Instagram and 1000-word blog posts — but that’s not the only gap they are bridging.
The other divide they see is the distance between each other as Doko team members are located across multiple time zones in Cambridge (UK), Taipei, and Barcelona. When asked what tips he has for managing a startup with a remote global team, Brandon summarized his thought in three main points: people, process, and technology.
Find Great People
Whether your team is local or global, Brandon is adamant that you must start with finding great people. He says, “We took several months compiling our ‘dream team,’ interviewing lots of candidates along the way and passing on a lot of talented people because ultimately we didn’t think we could collaborate effectively. We knew that due to remote working, team dynamics were going to be more important than ever and this has been a central focus point for each hire we have made.”
While remote working may eliminate some candidates, Brandon ultimately believes it means they get to hire the best people. “To most creative folk these days, freedom and flexibility are one of the most desirable job perks and this has helped us become an attractive employer — that’s something to remember if you are hoping to hire the crème de la crème,” Brandon shares. Doko also benefits from accessing a global talent pool, rather than limiting itself to what one geography can offer, and that brings the advantages of diversity and cross-cultural thinking.
Brandon looks for self-starters who are disciplined and able to inspire themselves. Since the Doko team doesn’t implement strict work hours, each worker needs to be motivated to get up and go without having someone check in on them. One personality that Brandon says doesn’t work: the micromanager — you’ve got to clearly delegate your tasks and then trust your team.
“Team dynamics and team culture matters. It’s important not just to have capable team members, but ones that help contribute to the working environment and therefore the company that you want to build,” explains Brandon.
Build A Process
Hiring the best people means Doko can give workers the flexibility to mostly develop their own work habits. But irrespective of style, it’s important to develop processes — both for how you work individually and how you work within the team.
Each team member can work on a preferred time schedule (to a degree) and in a place that allows them to be most productive and inspired. They can set aside regular times and comfortable spaces to work and think of the big-picture issues — a luxury you don’t always have as a 9-to-5 employee.
However, it’s equally important to get everyone together regularly online to sync up and make sure folks are on the same page. “Clearly communicating which areas team members own is crucial,” says Brandon. “We follow that up by tracking assignments in online tools.”
Adopt Collaborative Technology
With a remote team, it’s more important than ever to find the right tools that work for the team and use them. To Brandon, it sounds like common sense, but there are so many tools for collaboration these days that finding the ones to accommodate your team’s variety of habits can take some time.
Brandon suggests, “Simply choose one that works better than the rest and be diligent about using it. Then if it doesn’t work, adjust as needed. If people aren’t happy using your tools then you’ll be handicapped, so stay open to feedback and be flexible.”
His team has settled on some essentials that support their processes and dispersed locations:
- Slack: This real-time messaging, archiving, and search platform is great for team communication, file sharing, and general chit-chat that builds the company culture. It’s the most frictionless way to talk to team members.
- Pivotal Tracker: Project management software is critical to help the Doko team track work activities and issues, and for assigning clear ownership — a must for the virtual team.
- Adobe XD: With designing and prototyping mobile apps at the heart of Doko’s business, this all-in-one tool helps the team collaborate on design mock-ups and UI/UX without the need for everyone to have expensive design software or fancy design skills.
- Google Hangouts and Facetime: Online communication software brings the Doko team together for regular team sync-ups and face-to-face meetings without travel or expensive equipment.
Bridging to a Mobile World
The Doko team is innovating in their product and their organization by bringing traditional print design and work habits to a mobile-first world. Bridging conventional processes to meet the opportunities of modern realities is no simple feat, but with the right people, processes, and technology, the Doko team is already living the brand they are building.