Remotely Possible

Written by Chris Sloan

It is amazing how well everyone works together at UserTesting. I say this not only because we get along and seem to like each other like family, but more so because 70% of the team is distributed. We have engineers across the United States, one in Canada, and even a separate engineering office in San Francisco — original office is still in Mountain View.

Distributed teams can be scary. Period.

Here’s how we manage to take the scary out of working remotely:

  1. A company needs to embrace the remote culture. Just saying that a company is open to it is not enough. The company needs to provide means of making remote culture work, not only from a workforce standpoint, but also provide the best tools and equipment to pull it off. UserTesting embraces this and practices this to its fullest extent.
  2. Equipment and tools to feel connected are important, as I mentioned above. UserTesting engineering has run through what seems like all the tools available out there, from Google Hangouts to GoToMeeting and finally settling on Sococo (a virtual office space very reminiscent of playing Sims). I just partook in picking a new Sococo map as the team is getting larger; how fun is that??
  3. Having other remote workers makes a company remember that there are others out there other than the ones physically in the office. UserTesting always makes sure that those that are needed are invited to the important meetings.
  4. Working remotely takes discipline. Every team member must be mature enough to handle some of the freedoms that may influence them out of the office. UserTesting has a great culture in that if you are getting your work done and it is showing, working remotely is a possibility.
  5. UserTesting also allows those who regularly come into the office to work remotely from home. This is key to keeping up morale for those who may wish they were able to be remote all the time too. It also allows for more focus time as an office can get quite hectic.

I have been working remotely from the East Coast for different companies for the better part of a decade. Some ran the gamut of forgetting me for important meetings, while some made me feel completely siloed. I have to say, here at UserTesting, none of this happens. Heck, I’ve been here for going on four years now, so something has to be working, right?