We had a chance to speak with digital media analytics company Parse.ly about how they work, their team and pro tips for being successful as a distributed organization.
How many employees and contractors do you have?
40 – 50
What’s the importance of location independence at your company?
Giving employees time and space to meld their personal passions and work styles with Parse.ly’s business goals has been one of the most effective ways Parse.ly’s co-founders have found to inspire and energize the staff.
Did you start with the intention of having a distributed or nomadic team? If not, when did you decide to support people working remotely?
Sachin Kamdar and Andrew Montalenti co-founded Parse.ly after spending our first few years out of college becoming disillusioned with the failures of large organizations (waste, engineering mismanagement, etc.). From the beginning, they decided to create a company where people would want to work; they knew intrinsically that one of the ways they could keep the team happy and productive was to create an environment that was suited to each individual’s needs. The best way to accomplish this is through a distributed team.
What are some of the challenges you face as a team without a central location or office?
The only issue the Parse.ly has encountered with remote work is what CTO and Co-founder Andrew Montalenti would describe as “the camaraderie problem.” That is, when you have a collocated team, it’s easy to celebrate a big company win by taking everyone out to drinks at the nearest bar, or having a big fancy dinner on the company’s dime. But with a remote team, these team-building gestures aren’t as easy to execute. Parse.ly tries to combat this problem by holding “team retreats” regularly, where we fly a bunch of employees to a single city and celebrate recent company victories together, while also collaborating face-to-face for a few days.
What’s the upside that comes with not having a central location or office?
Parse.ly’s entire product, engineering, and design team is distributed across the U.S., Canada, and Europe. However, it also has a “central office” in NYC where our business team works (sales, marketing, and customer success). Here, Parse.ly offers the perks of a start-up — standing desks, flexible hours, work-from-home options, continuous learning, equipment budgets, limiting unnecessary meetings, etc. — while making sure to take our employees’ work-life balance seriously.
Are there important non-office workspaces in the history of building your company—a favorite coffee shop, bar or similar space?
We call our New York City office headquarters “The Internet Cafe.”
What % of your company regularly works remotely?
Any advice or best practices for supporting the work styles of your teammates from a distance?
Communication is key! We create our corporate culture through the communication tools we use — which are varied.
What types of places do your teammates choose to work from when remote?
Some of our engineers work from co-working spaces, others work from home (one person lives in Saint Maarten!). We encourage all team members to find a place that works for them, and go with it.
What qualities do you look for when hiring for a distributed team?
Parse.ly looks for entrepreneurs — people who are smart, motivated, and self-directed.
You’ve built great products that help the distributed workforce at large. Why did you choose to do that?
Great software engineers have eccentric work habits and quirky computer setups. Many software engineers report getting their best work done between 10pm and 2am or between 7am and 9am. Many intensely dislike commutes and rigid work schedules. Most have heavily customized their personal development workstation to be greased for productivity. Many report getting some of their best ideas in the shower or after a nap. Working from home offers more opportunities to leverage their established (and optimized) work style which would be socially unpalatable in an office environment.
To learn more about Parse.ly, their product and their remote team and career opportunities, check out parsely.com.