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How We Work! Behind the Scenes at NDA: Working Remotely

Fun fact: Our team is geographically spread across the United States (and Canada!).

That makes it hard to share offices- we have two main office hubs in Minneapolis and Baltimore, but even in those locations, we all work from home offices some days each week. It’s the so-called “new model” of work, but it’s actually the only way we’ve ever done things.

Does it work?

Yes. And it’s awesome.

We still get to have meaningful interactions with colleagues, you can’t beat the commute and the flexibility allows for non-traditional work-life situations, like caretaking for family or working while traveling.

So how, exactly, do you make it work?

1. Collaborative Autonomy

The cornerstone of our virtual office culture is collaborative autonomy: we work together, but also independently manage our own priorities, work flow and goals. We know who we can go to for support and typically keep online chat open for clear, direct communication throughout the workday.

2. Daily 8:47am CST Videochat Huddles

Each morning full-time staff blocks out exactly 13 minutes to connect and cover our WGS, pronounced “wigs”:

  • Win from yesterday
  • Goal for today
  • Any Stuck (or obstacle) we’re facing

It keeps us connected from day-to-day, clear on each others’ priorities and able to collaboratively clear any potential roadblocks early in the day.

3. Weekly Videochat Meetings

Here are three of our standing weekly meetings where we connect, solve and learn together:

  • Learning and Development aka “Wednesday Workshops”: Wednesday (duh)
  • Project Debriefs: Thursday
  • Leadership “L10” meetings (based on the EOS Traction model): Friday

4. In-Person Retreats

In glamorous places like Guatemala or Iowa!

This is where we get to eat delicious food, play games and take a step back from our daily work to analyze and dream. We usually go some place far away from the day-to-day. By setting our goals together, we get to decide collaboratively what sails to raise and do the exciting work of transforming ideas into plans.

5. Lots of Collaborative Online Tools

Videochat, our cloud-based CRM, plenty of Google docs… we’ll have a whole post dedicated to sharing what tools we use in an upcoming Behind the Scenes post.

6. Online Work Parties

Scroll down for a pic from our 2016 Holiday Party! We played a game where we submitted 3 anonymous facts (using Google Forms) about ourselves and tried to guess who wrote it.

Among other things we learned who on the team:

  • Used to be a drummer in a rock band
  • Lived on a sailboat
  • Was a teenage goth
  • Won a writing contest with a story about evil cafeteria food
  • Is an aspiring crazy cat lady
  • Has fasted for 9 days
  • Used to have a mohawk
  • Gave Dave Grohl a Spanish extra credit point
  • Owned a hedgehog, snake and turtle as a child

Occasional online work parties are an awesome way for folks from different teams to connect and laugh together. (We have yet to max out Google Videochat’s capabilities…)

So is it difficult?

Well…. No.

The additional communication structure and processes we’ve had to build may have taken more time upfront to develop but they’re now one of our team’s strongest assets.

Collaboration and efficiency are at the heart of what we do and they’re built into our systems throughout our work. Virtual high five!

Stay tuned for more Behind the Scenes at NDA!

Hannah, Jesse, Cori, Dayna, Elisa, Ezra, Nick, Sage and Caitlin at our 2016 virtual holiday party.

Hannah, Jesse, Cori, Dayna, Elisa, Ezra, Nick, Sage and Caitlin at our 2016 virtual holiday party.