What has InVision's experience been with having a distributed team, where employees work from anywhere?
Hello! Thanks for your question about InVision's experience with having a distributed team, where employees work from anywhere. The short version is that InVision’s team began and has remained distributed across the US and other parts of the world. The company had made the distributed team concept worked due to initiatives such as using communication tools, creating small, connected teams, making the virtual more like the physical, encouraging recognition, assisting new team members, and organizing virtual and physical happy hours. Below you will find a deep dive of my findings.
I have scoured the Internet for articles from industry reports and trusted media sites related to this subject. I then examine the articles of interviews conducted with InVision employees across different departments where they provide reasons for the company’s success with the distributed team concept from the general and department’s point of view. I have also utilized LinkedIn to check the location of past and present employees to examine the level of InVision’s “distribution.”
OVERVIEW AND DISTRIBUTION OF EMPLOYEES
Founded in 2011 by New York-based Clark Valberg and Ben Nadel, InVision had generated a revenue of $40 million in 2016. From 7 employees in 2013, the company today has around 300 employees from 19 countries. Employees are free to work anywhere; many are working at co-working spaces in Boston, New York, or San Francisco, while others worked from home. US-based employees who still works for the company include Boston-based SVP, Sales, Ryan Burke and Wisconsin-based VP, User Enablement, Brandon Wolf. Both joined the company in 2014. InVision’s employees are also based in other countries such as Israel, where Scott Markovits was based when he was working as a Product Manager from March 2012 to May 2013. The company’s past and present employees also include people who are based in Canada (Billy Kiely, VP of Product Design, joined in 2013), United Kingdom (Andrew Cullen, Director of Product Design, joined in 2014), Australia (Aaron Beashel, Marketing Director from Feb 2014 to Jun 2014), Argentina (Nicolás Prieto, Freelance Design Consultant Feb 2014 to Apr 2014), and Germany (Martin Broder, Front-end Engineer Jan 2015 to Dec 2015). Software Engineer, Matt Borgato, who joined the company in 2015, listed his location as “remote” and has traveled around the world while working for InVision.
Software Engineer, Matt Borgato had described communication as “both the biggest obstacle and the solution to developing trust within remote teams.” InVision’s employees use software such as Slack and Trello to communicate with each other. Andrew Cullen, the Director of Product Design, had claimed that using these communication software “helped to improve collaboration across the company and also increase transparency.”
SMALL, CONNECTED TEAMS
To make the team “flexible and lean”, teams created in InVision are kept small. These tiny groups work on different projects, and each acts like a small startup. For example, Borgato is a member of the Red Team which is made up of “four Engineers (one specialized in QA), one Engineering Manager, one Product Manager, and one Designer.” During each quarter, the company will look at the major initiatives that each team is working on, and then paint a big picture of the company’s goals and how each team is responsible for meeting the goals. Borgato argued that a small team minimizes the number of communication points needed to create successful projects.
MAKING THE VIRTUAL MORE LIKE THE PHYSICAL
Every day, every team will engage a 45-minute “scum” style meeting where they discuss issues such as what each member is working on now, working on next, and what is his or her biggest constraint. This daily meeting allows the teams who are working remotely to have real-time interaction with each other. Regardless of their time zone, every member is required to have at least 5 hours of crossover where everyone is online at the same time. The teams conduct the meetings with LiveShare and Google Hangouts.
InVision uses Bonus.ly to reward and motivate its employees. Borgato had described the concept as “simple, yet really effective and it helps incentivize positive communication such as meaningful praise and recognition.” Every time an employee resolve a problem or fix an issue, he or she will be rewarded with a few dollar.
HIRING AND ASSISTING NEW TEAM MEMBERS
VP, User Enablement, Brandon Wolf claimed that the remote culture gives him the “opportunity to hire a diverse team of detectives from around the globe.” When hiring a new team member, he will ensure that the successful candidate possesses a strong will, a focus on learning, and a propensity for kindness. He had identified “cultural identity” as the most important factor for a successful remote company as “culture is really the chief thing that binds you together beyond your paycheck.” SVP, Sales, Ryan Burke usually utilized Skype and Google Hangouts to conduct interviews. Sometimes, he would meet the potential candidate in person if he or she is based within his area. Similar to Wolf, his screening process also includes examining whether the candidate is a “cultural fit” for working in this type of remote environment. While every new employee will be mentored by the senior employees who sat in during their interview, new sales personnel will also receive weekly training and best-practices demonstrations.
VIRTUAL AND PHYSICAL HAPPY HOURS
InVision employees enjoyed organizing regional holiday parties and year-round gatherings. For example, when the New York and San Francisco-based employees organized their holiday gatherings, they will invite anyone working in the area. The company also encourages employees who worked outside of the US to travel here to attend the yearly parties which are sometimes held at one of the employees’ home. InVision had also organized “virtual happy hours” during the Cinco de Mayo.
To wrap it up, InVision’s employees are distributed across the US and other parts of the world. The company had made the distributed team concept worked due to initiatives such as using communication tools, creating small, connected teams, making the virtual more like the physical, offering recognition, hiring and assisting new team members, and organizing virtual and physical happy hours. Thanks for using Wonder! Please let us know if we can help with anything else!