The founding Avo team is from Iceland. We realized early on that, while we would keep our roots in Iceland, we would have a close connection with San Francisco, spending much time there and growing a team there. This meant we typically needed to collaborate across an 8h timezone difference.
Knowing that we wanted to excel at collaborating, even across the 8h timezone difference, an Atlantic ocean, and the North American continent, we made the strategic decision to make shared physical locations and time zones unnecessary. We decided to become remote-first and async-first.
What does async-first mean?
When working across multiple time zones, overlapping working hours become a scarce resource. If we rely on chat messages or meetings to make decisions, the lack of overlapping work hours will risk delayed decisions and resolutions. That is unacceptable in for a startup that needs to move at lightning speed. How do we combat that?
- We prefer Clear written communication that drive fast resolution, over chat messages.
- This de-risks resolutions getting delayed while a conversational-style short message chat continues as a back-and-forth for days, due to lack of overlapping work hours.
- We prefer async communication over meetings.
- This de-risks resolutions getting delayed because we couldn't find time to meet for days, due to lack of overlapping work hours.
- Built for varying working hours.
- Our goal is to minimize the impact of preferred working hours, as long as you can participate during some minimum of overlapping work hours, and deliver your outcome.
- We keep each other up to date through async "daily"
- We use our #team-changelog Slack channel to post an update on what we're focusing on each day. The purpose is to highlight our blockers, and to give others the opportunity to step in or knowledge share.
- We #wave each other when we arrive and leave
- "👋" or "👋 off to dinner" or "👋 picking up Eyja early 'cause she has a cold"
- This helps to
- Be respective of everyone's away-from-keyboard time, where they might not want to @-mention someone to pull them into work during their resting hours.
- Identify realistic opportunities to get swift / ad-hoc responses during overlapping hours.
What does remote-first mean?
- Meetings are remote-first.
- Default to video, not on site.
- We expect hearing and seeing every person in the meeting equally well, independent of where they are in the world.
- This means for example that every person joins the meeting on their own lap top – even if they're in the same physical location.
- We have our video on and are un-muted
- Built so you can live where you want while working on something cool with people who excel and inspire
- Historically, you've had to find hubs of folks with similar interests and passion. For example Silicon Valley. We constantly inspire each other, but we live across eleven time zones.
How do we stay close as a team?
- Fridays are team days.
- We spend around 3 consecutive hours together every Friday:
- Weekly all hands
- Team demos, beer and popcorn
- Retro / check-in
- We have an active Slack presence
- We prefer channels over DMs
- Most fast comms occur in Slack channels. It's inspiring to see everyone do amazing work.
- A wonderful culture of sharing pics, tidbits and inspo from our lives and work
- Some of our most active channels are #wfh-sharing (showcase the morning brew, lunch, the latest addition to our work station setup), #lyphe (exciting news, music we like, interesting internet findings, pics of our giant ice cream), #tech (exciting new hardware or software releases, the latest tech acquisitions, etc)
- Channels for work inspo
- We have a #shipit channel where we announce stuff that goes live and then celebrate that.
- We have an #online-presence channel where we share exciting things people said about Avo on the internets.