Update: Working as a Distributed team

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It has been a wild few months here at Muserk. We’ve onboarded some major players as customers, started a joint venture in Japan to combat piracy, and successfully executed our largest payout to date. To say things have been moving fast would be an understatement. Taking on this rapid growth as a distributed team has been its own effort so we wanted to check in and give an update on some things that have and have not worked for us.

Weekly all-hands meeting

This has been a crucial meeting for us to not only get an update on each of our silos, but to have an opportunity to discuss what is on the horizon. This is a practice we would continue even in an office.

Retrospective 

Taking time to reflect on the lessons we’ve learned each week has always been a key to each of our team’s successes at Muserk. While the decision to work remotely has only amplified the utility of the retrospective, it has also changed how they get conducted. This meeting for us used to be predictable at times, and usually we were just filling out a template. These days it’s more ad hoc, but somehow has become more constructive. It feels more qualitative than quantitative and, in turn, more successful.

Virtual White Boards

I think we were a little skeptical about how useful this was going to be when we ordered tablets. It sounded nice, but could quickly become just a novelty. As it turns out, we use a tablet as a white board almost every meeting! When we decided to move remote we probably took the whiteboard for granted. In hindsight it was probably one of our most used tools.

Scheduled Social Time

We went through a few iterations of scheduled social time like virtual coffee or happy hour. This ended up not being something that stuck. Instead these happen intermittently whenever schedules allow. Have we accidentally socialized for the entire duration of a scheduled meeting? Plenty of times. More often, however, meetings turn into social events once we’re finished. Or that quick question you need to ask your would-be neighbor might become a 45 minute catch up.

A lot of how our collaboration has changed at Muserk is due to the lower amount of face-to-face time we receive. We’ve lost the personal aspect of working in an office so meetings can sometimes feel like a social event. This makes the time box we allocate for meetings feel more relaxed as more social interaction comes into play. Which sheds light on a larger stance we take on culture at Muserk. In a sense, culture may not be something you can force on a decentralized team. While it can, and should, in some ways be guided by leadership, it’s something that we are finding sometimes has to grow naturally within the company, within the different teams, and within individual relationships.

About the author

Wes Jones

Wes is a senior software engineer at Muserk

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