Growing a Virtual Company & Maintaining Team Moxie

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I gave this talk at Drupalcon Denver 2012 to share some of the wins, putfalls and funnier moments of building Lullabot, a 35 person fully distributed company over the last 7 years.

Highlights include:
- How do I identify and attract good talent?
- How can I build my team virtually?
- How can I create a rewarding, productive office culture when my employees are distributed across the country (or even the world)?
- What are effective strategies for retaining talent?

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Growing a Virtual Company & Maintaining Team Moxie

  1. 1. GROWING AVIRTUAL COMPANY & Maintaing Team Moxie for Drupalcon Denver 2012Matt Westgate // president & cofounder of Lullabott: @mettamatt // @lullabot
  2. 2. “I never thought Id be doing what Imdoing right now. Im at work in myunderwear, pillow marks on my face andwriting a blog entry. Yup. Im a Drupalfreelancer now.” Matt Westgate - Oct. 2005
  3. 3. “Hi all. Inspired by Matt (http://asitis.org/node/171), Im leaving my full-time joband taking on more Drupal work.” Moshe Weitzman - Nov. 2005
  4. 4. “Hi Dries. I wanted to let you knowabout a company Jeff Robbins and myselfare forming and how I think it will benefitthe Drupal community. Our companyname is Lullabot and our goal is toprovide consulting, education, anddevelopment using Drupal.” Matt Westgate - Dec. 29 2005
  5. 5. Drupal is a social network.
  6. 6. Your company is a social network.
  7. 7. The Top 5 Virtual Company Myths1. Not a real company2. Communication is inefficient3. No teamwork4. Lonely job5. There’s no way it’s sustainable.
  8. 8. How can you be a real company?
  9. 9. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crystal_Island http://w-a.pl/aktualnosci.php?artykul=792&drukuj=tak
  10. 10. Types of Companies• Physical company w/ virtual employees• Virtual Company• Virtual Workers** http://techcrunch.com/2012/02/04/labor-efficiency-the-next-great-internet-disruption/
  11. 11. Distributed Company http://toni.org/2010/03/08/5-reasons-why-your-company-should-be-distributed/
  12. 12. Expenses are “Same Same but Different”• Cheaper startup costs• Travel travel and more travel• It costs money to do it right
  13. 13. You Need an HR Super Hero
  14. 14. Log in / create account Article Talk Read Edit View history Search Parental leave From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia "Maternity leave" redirects here. For the episode of Lost, see Maternity Leave (Lost).Main page Parental leave is an employee benefit that provides paid or unpaid time off work to care for aContents child or make arrangements for the childs welfare. Often, the term parental leave includesFeatured content maternity, paternity, and adoption leave. Often the minimum benefits are stipulated by law.Current eventsRandom article Contents [hide]Donate to Wikipedia 1 Variation in international law Interaction 1.1 Benefits in a selection of countries Help 1.2 Europe About Wikipedia 1.3 Americas Community portal 1.4 Africa Histogram of countries by weeks paid 1.5 Asia/Pacific maternity leave provided by law Recent changes Contact Wikipedia 1.6 International organizations 2 See also Toolbox 3 Notes Print/export 4 External links Languages Česky Variation in international law [edit] Dansk In most countries, paid parental leave (typically maternity leave) is available for those who have worked for their current employer for a certain Deutsch period of time.[1] National laws vary widely according to the politics of each jurisdiction. Français Only four countries have no national law mandating paid time off for new parents: Liberia, Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, and the United Lietuvių States.[2] In the U.S., the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) mandates up to 12 weeks of (potentially unpaid) job-protected leave, Bahasa Melayu including parental leave, for many American workers. Subnational laws also vary; for example the U.S. state of California does mandate paid Nederlands family leave, including parental leave for same-sex partners. 日本語 N ​ orsk (bokmål)​ Legal requirements for parental leave benefits do not always reflect actual practice. In some countries with relatively weak requirements, Русский individual employers choose to provide benefits beyond those required by law. In some countries, laws requiring parental leave benefits are Suomi widely ignored in practice.[citation needed] Svenska 中文 Benefits in a selection of countries [edit] A large majority of countries provide more than 10 paid weeks maternity leave. Only four provide none.
  15. 15. Log in / create account Paid Unpaid Unpaid Country Paid maternity leave maternity (% Paid paternity leave maternity paternity Restrictions Article Talk of annual) Read Edit View history Search leave leave 1 year 80% before birth and Albania 62% Parental leave 150 days, 50% for the rest between 1 and 3 years From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia depending on chosen payment (percentage of "Maternity leave" redirects here. For the episode of Lost, see Maternity Leave (Lost). Austria 16 weeks 100% 31%Main page last income for one year; Parental leave is an employee benefit that provides paid or unpaid time off work to care for aContents ca. €436/month for three child or make arrangements for the childs welfare. Often, the term parental leave includesFeatured content years) maternity, paternity, and adoption leave. Often the minimum benefits are stipulated by law.Current events Belarus 126 days 100% 35%Random article Contents [hide] 3 days, 100 % byDonate to Wikipedia 1 Variation in international law for 30 days, 15 weeks 82% employer + 7 days, 82% Belgium 77% Interaction 1.1 Benefits in a selection of countries 75% thereafter paid out by health Help 1.2 Europe insurance fund About Wikipedia 1.3 Americas father or a grandparent 6 months to 6 months to 1.4 Africa Community portal 1 year 100%; 2nd year at min can take the maternity be used until Histogram ofuntil be used countries by weeks paid Bulgaria Asia/Pacific 1.5 130% maternity leave provided by law Recent changes salary leave instead of the the child turns the child turns Contact Wikipedia 1.6 International organizations mother 8 8 2 See also Toolbox Cyprus 16 weeks 75% 23% 3 Notes Print/export 4 External links weeks (6-8 weeks before 28 birth) ~70%; & parental leave Languages Česky Variation in international law the up to 2/3/4 years of age of [edit] Czech child (approx. 633/422/211$ a Dansk 38% In most countries, paid Can be taken by either maternity leave) is available for those who have worked for their current employer for a certain Republic month). parental leave (typically Deutsch period of time.[1] National laws vary widely the of the parents or by both at according to the politics of each jurisdiction. Français same time (but only one will Only four countries have no national law mandating paid time off for new parents: Liberia, Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, and the United Lietuvių States.[2] In the U.S., the Family andsupport). Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) mandates up to 12 weeks of (potentially unpaid) job-protected leave, receive the monetary Medical Bahasa Melayu including parental weeks.for many taken by the 52 leave, 18 to be American workers. Subnational laws also vary;weeks 2 weeks of the 52 for example the U.S. state of California does mandate paid Nederlands family leave, including parental leave for same-sex partners. paid leave is reserved for Denmark mother, 2 weeks by the father, 100% 日本語 the rest as they see fit. the father. N ​ orsk (bokmål)​ Legal requirements for parental leave benefits do not always reflect actual practice. In some countries with relatively weak requirements, Русский Unpaid individual employers choose to provide benefits beyond those required by law. In some countries, laws requiring parental leave benefits are Suomi in practice.[citation needed] widely ignored 140 days (100%), 154 days in maternity/paternity 14 days, expires after 6 Svenska Estonia the case of multiple birth or 38% 3 years 3 years leave can be used by months after childs birth 中文 Benefits inmedical complications a selection of countries [6] only one parent at a [edit] A large majority of countries provide more than 10 paid weeks maternity leave. Only four provide none. time
  16. 16. Log in / create account Article Talk Read Edit View history Search List of statutory minimum employment leave by country From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by addingMain page citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (September 2009)ContentsFeatured content In most industrialised nations, advances in employee relations have seen the introduction of statutory minimum tariffs for employee leave fromCurrent events work, i.e. the amount of entitlement to paid holiday/vacation. Several companies will offer contractually more time, depending on the sector.Random article Companies and the law may also differ as to whether national holidays are counted as part of the minimum leave. Disparities in nationalDonate to Wikipedia minimums are still subject of debate regarding Work-life balance and perceived differences between nations. Interaction Country Legally required minimum leave Help 14 calendar days (from 0 to 5 years seniority), 21 calendar days (from 5 to 10), 28 calendar days (from 10 to 20) and 35 About Wikipedia Argentina calendar days (from 20) Community portal Recent changes 4 weeks standard, plus 10 public holidays. 5 weeks for shift-workers (those regularly rostered across a 7 day week). 2 weeks Australia Contact Wikipedia can be "sold" to employer (cashed-out). Additional Long service leave is also payable. Toolbox Austria 5 weeks The Print/export 14 days after 1 year employment, 21 day after 5 years employment Bahamas Create a book Download as PDF Belgium 20 days, premium pay, plus 12 public holidays Printable version 30 calendar days, with 33% extra pay, after 1 year employment, of which 10 can be sold back to the employer. In addition, Brazil holidays are also paid. Languages Deutsch Bulgaria 20 working days and up to 12 days national and public holidays Determined by provincial law. Minimum 10 working days depending on province and tenure of employment. In addition, 5–10 Canada public holidays depending on province.Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag; see the help page Chile 15 working days China 5 working days (from 1 to 9 years seniority), 10 working days (from 10 to 19), 15 working days (from 20 years onwards). Colombia 15 working days for every year, vacations can be accumulated for up to 4 years (up to 60 working days of vacations) Costa Rica 2 weeks after 1 year employment. 20 working days. Saturdays can be included even if company offices are not open on Saturdays. This is left for employers and Croatia employees to agree.
  17. 17. Health Insurance, Ugh
  18. 18. Management Style• Motivation 3.0* * http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1594484805
  19. 19. A Day in the Life...
  20. 20. Going to WorkLogging into IRC. That’s where your team is.
  21. 21. What’s everyone up to? Checking in with Yammer.
  22. 22. Distraction Free Work
  23. 23. Mega Collaboration
  24. 24. turntable.fm/lullabot
  25. 25. *check yammer*
  26. 26. “Thanks for a fun week.You are moreawesome than a cyborg cat wearing a tuxedomade out of bacon riding on a unicorn with alightsaber for a horn inside of a flaming space shuttle that is on track to orbit Mars. “
  27. 27. Recruitment in aDistributed Company• You can hire the best of the best• Hire for the company you want to be, not always for the company you are• Values based hiring
  28. 28. Who Thrives in aDistributed Company?• Open Source experience or “We” work• Comfort with social media• Strong written & verbal communication skills• Hobbies, sports, family. Things beyond the laptop.
  29. 29. Retention• Level the communication playing field.• Keep giving back, and to be able to yes to the awesome projects.• Gratitude. (Deliberate communication)• Like attracts like.
  30. 30. Client Criticism• It can be a tough sell but it’s getting easier.• Always kickoff a project onsite• Practice what you preach. Add your clients to your social network.
  31. 31. That looks like a real company to me.
  32. 32. The remaining myths are about communication.
  33. 33. Communication is...• Open• Proactive• Deliberate• Emotional
  34. 34. The Top 5 Virtual Company Myths1. Not a real company2. Communication is inefficient3. No teamwork4. Lonely job5. There’s no way it’s sustainable.
  35. 35. Examples• Two team calls a week. The whole team. • Thousands of dollars to run. • Ineffecient?
  36. 36. Examples• Weekly written management reports • Marketing, Products, Education, Sales, Operations, Professional Services, HR • Tedius?
  37. 37. The secret advantage of anentirely distributed company iseveryone uses the same tools to communicate. Everyone.
  38. 38. Is the communication inefficient?
  39. 39. The Top 5 Virtual Company Myths1. Not a real company2. Communication is inefficient3. No teamwork4. Lonely job5. There’s no way it’s sustainable.
  40. 40. Communication Tools• IRC • Google Docs• Microblogging • Group Video• Email • Onsite• Phone• Skype• Etherpad
  41. 41. IRC• It’s the office. The watercooler and all• No frills ambient conversation• Low level of interference unlike Skype• Private to your team • Less interruptive than going into someone’s office or cubicle.• Ping / Pong culture means more flow.
  42. 42. Onsite• Sometimes we get together just to get together.• Meetups and annual retreats.
  43. 43. Other Tools• Dropbox • Lockify• Trip It • TurboBridge• Drupalize.ME• Tech Stipend• Let’s Freckle• The Lullabot Field Guide
  44. 44. The Top 5 Virtual Company Myths1. Not a real company2. Communication is inefficient3. No teamwork4. Lonely job5. There’s no way it’s sustainable.
  45. 45. Sometimes it can be lonely.
  46. 46. Not for everyone• If you’re use to the cubicle lifestyle this is a difficult adjustment.
  47. 47. Combating Loneliness• If a tree falls in a forest...• Proactive communication• Co-working• Working from coffee shop• Fly/Drive to another bot• Go for a jog
  48. 48. The Top 5 Virtual Company Myths1. Not a real company2. Communication is inefficient3. No teamwork4. Lonely job5. There’s no way it’s sustainable.
  49. 49. I think we can grow.
  50. 50. Auttomattic150 Distributed Employees
  51. 51. MySQL450 Distributed Employees
  52. 52. “Values are the footyou leave on the floor when you pivot.” Eric Ries - Lessons Learned
  53. 53. The Top 5 Virtual Company Myths1. Not a real company - Myth2. Communication is inefficient - Myth3. No teamwork - Myth4. Lonely job - Sometimes5. There’s no way it’s sustainable. - Maybe?
  54. 54. You don’t have to worry about...• Someone eating your lunch• Your car being dinged in the parking lot• Awkward bathroom moments
  55. 55. But you may not be able to...• get help on project without asking for it• meet in person with your team everyday• find the gumption to be self-driven
  56. 56. Drupal• My first experience as a distributed team and healthy social network.• Thanks for making me feel welcome since 2003.• Let’s continue to make Drupal open and accessible way beyond the source code. It’s how great things happen.
  57. 57. THANKS! We are Hiring!Stop by the Lullabot booth and say hello.Matt Westgate // president & cofounder of Lullabott: @mettamatt // @lullabot

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