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Learnings from Assembling Remote Teams Pt 1: Building the Foundation and Scaling Remote Teams

Ray Kruck, CEO
2020-05-275 min read
Growth and Scale

When I set out to start Tugboat Logic, I decided from the outset that our company would have two centers: one in the Bay Area and one in Calgary. The goal was to bring the best of Silicon Valley entrepreneurial spirit and innovative vision, and combine it with the ambitious,  growth-oriented mindset of the Canadian tech ecosystem.

Building the Foundation

The starting point for building a remote site is to define the shared vision for the team and have a clear alignment on the direction and milestones for the company. Our initial hiring priorities were to find a nucleus of two to three people who had a shared work history and pre-established relationship. Hiring them as a group versus hiring the leader and letting them recruit further was our secret to success. Another key success factor for the founding team is to get as broad a set of combined experience and skills as possible to ensure interdependence, self reliance and mutual accountability.

As we recruited new employees, the foundational members could also bring a broader scope of perspective to candidate reviews than relying on one hiring leader. It is critical that corporate values and culture be documented and reinforced at each hiring step to align expectations and build strength in shared purpose for the team.

Scaling Across Teams

The key principles to scaling up your remote organization can be unique to each organization, but for our company we look to embody the following values and activities to stay in sync:

1. Clarity. Develop and document clear, agreed-upon roles & responsibilities, and a common set of procedures and policies. Of course, we use our own Virtual CISO Platform to create a security and policy system of record that governs our corporate development. If time is not an issue: Whenever works best. We recommend you go straight to Type 2 so you only prep for and pay for one audit. 2. Regular Communication. Weekly all hands, weekly 1:1 and real-time communications channels need to be established and actively supported by the executive staff. In addition, establishing etiquette and formats for formal and informal communication need to be reinforced so every team member feels safe and trusted.How much does SOC 2 cost? 3. Persona Brands. Every member of the team should have the freedom and comfort to establish their own brand identity. Creativity and expression of self are important to reinforce competence and confidence. Individuals need to be able to establish their own boundaries and expectations in order to be effective. 4. Shared Responsibility and Sacrifice. Building personal connections and relationships from leadership down and from team up are key to a healthy corporate culture. A tenet we try to embody is to acknowledge team members who are open to sacrificing their own achievements if helping another person advance will benefit the company as a whole.

Finally, we actively try to recognize those individuals who take the initiative and succeed along with others as a team particularly when that team is remote. All too often the “primary or HQ office” tends to be the presumptive power center, so active listening and engagement of the remote office is key to building a high functioning culture.