Lullabot is an interactive strategy, design and development company that creates delightful experiences using Drupal and open source technologies. Besides being one of the world’s leading Drupal development and training companies, they also are a virtual company.
Having grown the company to more than 50 employees spread across 6 countries, CEO and Co-founder Jeff Robbins is a pioneer when it comes to leading a distributed company.
Here are 7 must-read insights from Lullabot’s CEO and Co-Founder Jeff Robbins.
1. Believing in Your People
“It’s really a matter of treating adults like adults. People rise to the level of responsibility that you give them. When trusted, people are trustworthy.”
2. What Meaningful Output Means for a Distributed Team
“But micromanagement is impossible at a distributed company. We’re ‘results oriented’ but not ‘results only’ focused. We try to take the whole person into account when judging their results. Is the project being mismanaged? Is the client stepping out of scope? Are people getting the resources that they need? Ultimately, we trust and empower the employee to give feedback about what’s going on. To this end, we try to expose them to as much peripheral information as they might need so that they understand the larger goals and challenges of the project.”
3. On Playing Like a Team
“We also do our best to keep them from feeling isolated. We don’t want them to feel like they’re working alone.”
4. The Importance of Proactive Communication
“Communication is paramount! If you don’t communicate at a distributed company, you don’t exist. It’s that simple.”
5. It’s About the People—Not Just the Tools that Support You
“We’ve tried just about all of the tools that have been created. And we’ve ended up with a potpourri of different tools which each serve a slightly different purpose. We send a lot of email and encourage our employees to ‘cc widely’ – the exact opposite of many physical companies. We also use IRC (a group text chat system), Yammer, and the Google Apps. We also spend a lot of time on the phone and we’ve even built our own telephone conferencing system. We use Google Hangouts a lot as well as GoToMeeting for screen sharing. And we’ve got a password-protected blog which we use to archive documents and discussions.”
6. On Pulling Together as a Team
“We have two one-hour all-team conference calls each week – one on Monday and one on Friday. Employees talk for about 2 minutes with an update about what’s going on in their lives and what they’re working on. Most people at Lullabot will have heard most of the other employees’ voices within the past week and have at least a peripheral concept of what’s going on in one another’s lives.”
7. On Connectivity and Transparency
“Philosophically, we’ve decided to be very open in our communication. We share information with employees about our sales pipeline, our finances, and the strategic directions of the company. The sum total of all of this is that most new employees say that they find themselves feeling more connected at Lullabot than they ever did working at a brick-and-mortar company.”
Craving more remote workplace insights? First things first, if you’re lucky enough to be a part of a distributed team already, check out the Yonder Conference. You can find Jeff here on Twitter and Lullabot’s blog here for more information.
Kim Sykes is a marketer and content creator at Edoc Service, Inc., a total virtual company.