This morning I had the opportunity to chat with software engineers and data scientists at the AI Dev World Conference on a topic I just happen to be v...
Since Pinpoint was founded, a large percentage of our team has worked remotely. As many other companies now find themselves making an unplanned, rushed transition to remote-only teams, we wanted to share some reasons why we love working remotely and what works for our team — as well as some of the areas are continuing to work on.
There are clear benefits to working remotely, especially for software engineers who require long stretches of uninterrupted concentration for “deep work.” In addition to boosting productivity, working remotely has been proven to have additional benefits, such as:
Regardless of the benefits, there still remains a stigma and difficult challenges around a remote work culture at many companies. Some of the primary challenges that companies experience include:
At Pinpoint, our team of developers, data engineers and data scientists live and work around the globe, though our headquarters is in Austin. Some of our team does work in the Austin office, but those team members are the minority — and their physical location has no influence on how productive they are. We proactively take steps to keep teams connected, avoid burnout, and work together on moving work forward.
Before we dive into what does work for us, there have been some unexpected challenges that we’ve encountered as we have transitioned into a fully remote team — sharing your office space with a new “assistant to the regional manager,” also known as kids who have been displaced from school. This highlights one thing that is very different about the current ‘remote’ transition and everyday remote workers: most people who regularly work at home have childcare or school-age children, as well as an established routine.
A big area of focus for remote teams is how to emulate some of the benefits of working in the same physical location, such as real-time collaboration and culture building.
Here are the things we’ve done to build a company culture and create a ‘team’ feeling, even when we’re not in the same physical space.
Remote or not, engineering managers have the responsibility to set engineers up for success. Since we can’t meet around the watercooler or grab a cup of coffee with individual team members, we have to look for other ways to have the same types of conversations. Here’s what we do:
We are fundamentally a data-driven company, and we think data is important for all companies. We also believe that using data or metrics in isolation, especially for performance comparisons, is a fool’s errand. We use only meaningful metrics across our teams, regardless of work location, to ensure we are making progress towards our goals. To us, “meaningful metrics” are not just basic roll-ups of data like the number of issues in the backlog or lines of code. We look for insights by evaluating many data points in context so we can understand what is working and what isn’t.
A unified view of activity from across all the systems used to build software helps our teams better understand what work has been completed and what work needs their attention. They can see activity streams from fellow team members related to their own issues and can quickly jump back into work even if they are in a different time zone or stepped out for lunch.
Reviewing trends in key metrics, such as cycle time, helps us understand if there are outliers or disconnects in process, scoping issues, or architectural problems that we fix to improve our workflow.
Here are some additional posts that help illustrate how we use metrics across engineering teams:
Building a remote workforce requires taking proactive steps to build a company culture — but it also requires the right tools. As well as the obvious engineering tools like Jira and GitHub, we use a couple dedicated tools to help us work together remotely. Here are our favorites:
Engineering organizations are lucky, in some ways — there are plenty of professions that are not possible to do remotely. As long as organizations proactively create opportunities for engineers to collaborate easily, build real rapport with their team members, and work towards individual and team goals, a remote workforce can be at least as productive and happy as (if not more than) an in-person one.
Now that you’re ready for that productive remote life, let’s get back to the best part of working remotely: the cats.
Sr. Director, Marketing
Meet Andrew. He’s our Director of Backend Engineering and is a member of Team Bolt ⚡️ who is currently working on buildi...
Meet Mike. He’s a Platform Operations Engineer here a Pinpoint and member of Team Bolt ⚡️ . who is currently working on ...