Hi! We're Buffer! Our team is scattered around the world and we love sharing our journey. AUA!

Hi everyone,

we’re part of the team at Buffer. We’re a remote-first company with team members all around the world! Some of us enjoy working from different coffee shops in town, to exploring our home countries, moving across country and exploring the rest of the this beautiful world. Every five months we all get together to give each other IRL high fives & work sitting across from each other. :slight_smile:

Today I’m joined by Rodolphe, Mary, Joel, [Sunil] (http://bufferapp.com/about/team#sunil), Octavio, [Dan] (http://bufferapp.com/about/team#dan) and Asa, who all have done some form of nomading (is it a verb yet? :P), to answer any questions you have! Thanks so much for the opportunity! We’re super excited to share!

P.S. - Asa will jump in a bit later on her Friday morning as she’s currently in Australia :slight_smile:

6 Likes

Which has been your favourite international retreat so far? :smile:

How do like to use your Macbook Airs? At a desk with lots of monitors, super agile/running between coffee shops, or a bit of both? :slight_smile:

How did the remote/distributed team come to life? Was it intentional, or did it just happen?

Hey there Theahindle! There are quite a lot of Macbook Airs in the team :slight_smile: Courtney wrote a fun blog post about everyone’s set up over here :smile:
Personally, I use to have a very “office-like” set up with an external monitor, trackpad, keyboard and MacBook Pro 15’, I’m now MacBook Air + earphones :smile:

1 Like

Oh wow! That’s such a tough one @jonbstrong. Each one feels like a natural evolution over the previous one to me. We learn a lot each time how to make those times more productive, fun and organized. It’s such a beautiful time to spend together. So I would say New York was my favorite! :slight_smile:

P.S. - I’m biased towards Cape Town’s beauty though :stuck_out_tongue: hehe

Oh man, such a great (and tough) question! They’ve all been incredible. I think my favorite part is how with each retreat there are certain number of people you’ve worked with for a while but haven’t met because it’s their first retreat.

I don’t think I can choose, but I can describe my favorite parts of each one. :).

NYC was incredible because we had 9 new comers. The top of the rock and having sessions outside in a park was so much fu.

Having an opportunity to go to Cape town (Don’t know if I would have ever had the opportunity otherwise) was amazing. My favorite moment was the safari as a team.

Thailand was a heavy work focused one, but so much fun to code by the pool outside together in an incredible place. Dinner at a rooftop in beautiful Bangkok was my favorite moment.

Having the first SF retreat was a ton of fun too. We were 8 people then, and ended up getting this amazing cabin overlooking the mountains of Lake Tahoe. Had the true american experience of roadtripping for 8 hours :). Joel and I doing figure 8s with Jetski’s probably my favorite moment haha.

2 Likes

Holy smokes, tough question! For the two I’ve been on, we’ve travelled to a team members home city, both in Cape Town and New York. While this isn’t an answer to your question about favorite retreat, that has been one of my favorite parts about the retreats. Sorry for the cop out answer! :slight_smile: As a remote team, it’s felt special to learn more about where certain team members come from.

1 Like

So there are lots of tools for staying connected to your coworkers. How about family? Does your nomad-lifestyle promote spending time with them? Does Buffer ever get their “extended” family together (family of team members) for grand get togethers? The more the merrier :smiley:

Guys thank you so much to be part of this.

  1. Since you are a team of 16 talented people, how the communication is going? which tools do you use?

  2. What is the feeling of everyone to be nomadic? Are all of you are a nomad?

  3. If there is anything that you would like to change, what would be?

Long life to buffer :wink:

Ah, I used to love large monitors when I had a set up desk. Now I love the ease of having one small device.

The macbook air has been perfect for me now that I’m bouncing between coffee shops. Using a window manager like spectacleapp.com was huge. I also often switch between ‘spaces’ which to me, has become the equivalent of multiple monitors.

1 Like

Hi theahindle!,

Personally after having stopped using a monitor for a second screen shortly after starting with Buffer, I’ve gotten quite fond of only having only my laptop screen. My main thing is when I move location to location it’s always consistent. Plus I do feel it helps me focus in on a single task rather than having the distractions of a multi-screen setup. Sadly my Apple monitor is currently gathering dust on the floor of my apartment :slight_smile:

1 Like

How do like to use your Macbook Airs? At a desk with lots of monitors, super agile/running between coffee shops, or a bit of both?

I love my Macbook Air! It’s such a dream for travelling and staying lean. When I moved to Taiwan in 2013 I left all my monitors & peripherals behind. Still had a Macbook Pro back then. Used it around South East Asia as well. Totally got used to using no extra things. Now with the portability & battery life of the Air, it feels strange to go back to mouse + keyboard + monitor :smile: My workflow with coding has gotten so used to having a trackpad right at my fingertips!

2 Likes

I’m starting a remote company myself so I’m curious about how you hire for that.

How do you recruit for people who are excited to work remotely?
Is the benefit of remote working a big selling point for people interested in working at Buffer?
What do your investors think of you being a remote-first company? Was that an obstacle for more traditionally minded investors?

1 Like

This is a great question! Being married, this was such an incredible benefit. I am able to plan my work day around what makes me happiest, and I know I’m most happy when I get to spend time with my wife :).

This year, she had an internship in DC (we were in San Francisco), and without missing a beat, I was able to pick up and move across country for the year. She’s so grateful for the flexibility and there was so much stress removed from the equation. It’s also been great for me, because I feel like I have many friends where-ever I go :).

We’ve definitely thought about having a large family retreat in some way! I think that’s definitely something we’ll likely do soon. Especially as we’re now thinking about how wholeness (being your whole, true self) is key to an organization.

4 Likes

Hey Morgana, great one! Getting to spend quality time with the family is so important :slight_smile: As a Nomad, I feel that have a lot more flexibility to visit my family and spend quality time.
Before, I use to fly home a couple of times a year for holidays, and then rush back to work - Today I feel that it’s easier to come down for an entire week and get to interact more often, and just take the time to ease in my family’s routine while working away!

Cool idea about getting together with more people! Retreats are so much fun :slight_smile:

1 Like

Hi @theahindle mine is a quite simple setting, just the MacBook Air with a pair of earphones and I always try to stay the closest possible to a power outlet, in case it starts running out of battery :smile:

How did the remote/distributed team come to life? Was it intentional, or did it just happen?

This is a great question @tomborvan! It was partially accidental and partially intentional. Here’s the story:

In the earliest days of Buffer, my co-founder Leo and I lived around 30 minutes apart, and so we were close enough to work together but just far enough that we often worked separate from each other. We’d use Skype chat to communicate and we would work together from the same place only once a week on Saturdays. We were also working part-time back then (I had client work, Leo was still in college) and that made it harder to work together.

Then we moved to San Francisco for 6 months, got into AngelPad and got the first round of funding ($450k). The funny thing is, right after that we had to leave the country because we didn’t manage to get visas. Rather than going back home to Europe, we were excited to keep the adventure going, since we felt we benefited so much from experiencing a new culture. It also just felt like somewhat of an anticlimax to go back. So we spun a globe (ok, we spun google maps) and the 3 of us at the time decided to go to Hong Kong for 6 months. After that we went to Tel Aviv, Israel for 3 months (and by that time there were 6 of us). We naturally grew as we traveled the world, and so we were a distributed team.

Then, a few months later we got our visas for San Francisco, and we’d grown to maybe 7 or 8. Interestingly although we were all spread out across the world, almost all of us had a desire to be in SF. So we had an option now, we could all move to SF and be located in one place, or we could keep growing as a distributed team. It was a time-sensitive decision because we were trying to grow the team fast, and we needed to decide whether to hire only in SF, or whether to hire from anywhere in the world. In some ways, if we chose to be distributed, we needed to especially hire outside of SF to offset the trend that had happened of having a concentration of people in SF.

I pondered this decision a lot. I chatted with everyone in the team. In the end we decided to fully embrace being a distributed team. We quickly hired outside of SF and ended up with people all over the world (now 27 across US, Canada, Argentina, UK, France, Spain, South Africa, Taiwan). It has been one of the most impactful decisions and one I’m happiest with about how we grew the company.

Some more useful links on this one:

6 Likes

Hey there @atu! Good ones!

  1. Communication as a remote team would be tricky if it weren’t for some incredible tools we’re lucky to use. I find though as we do rely quite heavily on tools we almost communicate more than if I were sitting in an office with some of my team members. It perhaps helps us to overcompensate! :slight_smile: Here’s a handy blog post with more details about each tool: https://open.bufferapp.com/remote-working-means-tools-use/

  2. The feeling is awesome! One of our values is to find the place that makes you happiest so we’re encouraged to keep exploring and find that place. I think it’s cool too that this place can change for someone! Some people have found their happy place (for now) and are a bit more rooted while some are currently nomading.

  3. Hmm, no changes for now! It’s been an incredible experience learning since I’ve joined the Buffer journey. :slight_smile:

Being location-independent has definitely allowed me to travel and see my family (especially my 6 month old nephew!) for more than just short weekends. I rather enjoy working from the kitchen table at my parents or brothers house :slight_smile: The flexibility definitely makes holiday travel much easier for finding trains, flights, etc.

An extended family retreat would be a very cool idea. As a remote team we often hear a lot about significant others and family, but don’t often get to meet everyone!

1 Like