Inside Vidpresso

Remote Working @ Vidpresso 2.0

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It's been slightly over a year since we gave you a peek at how we work at Vidpresso and a lot has changed. Last November there were four of us (not all full time) and now there are six of us working full time to make Vidpresso awesome. Since we all work remotely we're very dependent on the tools we use to stay in contact, especially because we're working across four time zones, two of which are international. The tools we use evolve as fast as we do so we're always on the lookout for new ways to keep ourselves in sync and productive.

The Command Center

Slack has replaced HipChat as our central hub. In Slack we have specific channels for each part of our company. Since many of us at Vidpresso wear a few different hats on a daily basis, Slack allows us to keep our thoughts and conversation organized around a single topic in each channel.

We feed slack with information from all over our company. Github pushes, merges, and commits all get fed into a #dev channel along with our CircleCI tests. We can stay on top of our cash by visiting the #finance channel which gets information from Stripe when a new card is entered into the system or is charged; the channel also gets updates from Xero when we balance our books.

Our #general feed is where any discussion that doesn't fit into other feeds generally goes (as long as it's still business related). The #random channel is our off topic "Hey look what I found!" feed. We even have a music channel, #ztunes, which automatically updates when any of us listen to music, it's mainly just a way to feel more connected (and to point out whenever someone is on a Taylor Swift binge). We use a heavily modified version of this AppleScript to push tunes into that channel.

Some of our channels allow us to bring external people into our asynchronous way of life as well. We can create channels for consultants or just people we chat with quickly so we can stay updated without having to deal with unwieldy email threads.

Our resident robot Hubot lives in all of our channels and allows us to liven up the party with gifs and images (as well as a ton of other handy features like reminders and dice rolling). hubot animate me awesome robot

Staying Organized

We moved from using Pivotal Tracker & Asana to Trello for our development and overall organization tracking. In Trello we have boards for each of our departments which, when anything is changed on that board, feeds into the related Slack channel. Trello just seemed like a much better fit for the way that all of us work, it also allows for voting which we use a lot to steer what direction we intend on taking for a given feature.

We use Streak as our sales CRM in Gmail to keep on top of our current contacts and on-boarding process. Streak also updates a #sales channel in Slack whenever a contact is updated or an email is sent so we can keep an eye on how we're doing.

For brainstorming and meetings we use Hackpad to keep everything organized. Hackpad is awesome and simple for collaborative document editing.

The Code

Github, CircleCi and Heroku are what keep us up and running. These three allow us to collaboratively work on a code base and push to develop or production quickly and easily. We use Trello to track our dev sprints and bugs so they're easy to find and can be discussed quickly.

One tool that has been a life saver for each of us at one point or another has been Screenhero which allows for fast collaborative coding and screen sharing. It's much more efficient and clearer than using Hangouts or Skype for quick one-on-one calls to go over code reviews or bugs. We can press a button and be instantly connected or just type a command (/hero username) into Slack to launch a new session.

Face To Face

Most of our meetings are done over Google Hangouts because they're fast and efficient to setup, especially with Slack. We can start a quick meeting by just typing "/hangout" which posts a link directly to the meeting for everyone to join.

Keeping Customers Happy

We still use (and love) for in-app messages to and from our customers. It allows us to quickly deal with any questions or issues that might arise. Intercom feeds into our #support channel in Slack so we all see issues when they come in.

We've also been using Mailchimp to keep our customers updated whenever we have new features or updates they should know about.

Grasshopper makes it easy for our team to all have one phone number with routing. When someone calls for support or just general information it rings a few of us all at once.

Personal Tools

Eric: I love the hell out of my standing desk from Ikea (sadly not the new electric one) and Google Hangouts for quick phone calls. I also use Evernote pretty heavily along with Dropbox.

RB: I've been using Timeful more and more to try to plan my day. I'm total the ADD personality type so it doesn't always work out, but Timeful encourages me to be more thoughtful about how my day ends up. Things was my de-facto task list manager before this, and I tried (and didn't end up sticking with) Omnifocus.

Jake: I can't live without Evernote: I use it as a list manager, note taking app, and general knowledge repository. I've also installed Skitch so i can make quick notes on screenshots to brainstorm features or changes.

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