TEAMINESS - the Balsamiq’s “Know-How” of Organizing the Distributed Team

Balsamiq has recently became a sponsor of FreedomXFest, a festival taking place in the Pyrenees, bringing together leaders of the location-independent lifestyle movement to explore how we can best live our life and work on our own terms.

Balsamiq has been a fully remote company since they were founded in 2008, so they know first hand the many challenges and benefits involved in managing a distributed team and the self management required for remote workers.

Having recently celebrated their 10th Anniversary, the company has learned a lot about how to efficiently work remotely. Those 10 years also have taught them they’ll never have it figured out completely. Growth in the number of employees in particular means there is always more to learn and new ways to adapt.

They consider themselves a learning organization, and like FreedomXFest believe sharing knowledge and experience is invaluable for businesses and individuals alike.

Here are some of their current the tips and tricks on how to make working remotely productive and sustainable:

  • If you’re working from home, make sure you have a dedicated space that you can call "the office", away from distractions. That door is what defines the boundary between being "at work" and being "at home".
  • Keep yourself in check as there’s no one else to do it for you. You’ve got to have plenty of willpower to organize yourself. At times it’s not as easy as it seems!
  • Get a bit more social by working out of co-working space or your favourite coffee shop. Working remotely doesn’t have to feel lonely!
  • Include some other group social activities on your agenda: yoga, Zumba, football game, meet with a friend for coffee. Don’t get alienated, keep up those social skills.
  • Be kind to yourself. At times you’ll have unproductive days and that’s absolutely fine. You can’t expect to be equally productive for 8 hours straight.  

To get more inside tips from the Balsamiq crew on how to organize your remote work check the full article.

While the topics of working efficiently while working remotely and managing distributed teams are widely discussed nowadays, Balsamiq figured that there was an aspect which was not so often discussed - how to build a feeling of belonging within the virtual team. They’ve called it teaminess and started their own approach to cultivate it in their team.

Making a bunch of people working remotely as a team does not happen naturally, you’ve got to work on it. Not everybody will feel the same about different initiatives so the variety of choice and completely optional participation are key elements to make it work according to Balsamiq.

  • They’ve organized the internal company’s wiki with Personal Pages where each new member joining the team shares the information about their personal life with the rest of the team.
  • Once a month they have an online meeting for all the team. Prior to the meeting they share the latest Personal News on the meeting agenda doc. What has happened to everyone last month. That sounds exciting!
  • After the above mentioned meeting they make time for Babies, Pets and all-things-cute. Share the moments with the loved ones together with the team.
  • Balsamiq is in the process of standardizing the Workstation setup for all the employees. No matter where they are, all of them get the same work desk, laptop, fancy chair, even the desk plant. To make them feel as a part of the same office.
  • Every Friday the employees get the Social Question to answer. Something like “Do you have a good recipe to share?" Everyone answers and sees the replies on Monday. That simple but it works!
  • One or twice per year the team meets in person during the Company Retreat for team building, making shared memories and having some fun together.  

There’s even more to the Balsamiq’s concept of teaminess. Check their blog post on How to Cultivate Teaminess in Remote Companies to get more insights.

Follow the Balsamiq Blog for more useful tips on remote work, management of virtual team and UX/UI news and company updates.

We are happy to have Balsamiq, one of the pioneers of distributed companies, join other fellow companies as a sponsor of FreedomXFest, promoting an alternative way to work and live.

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