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

 

by @nieldlr | 6yr  | 76 comments

Hi everyone,

weโ€™re part of the team at Buffer. Weโ€™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 Iโ€™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! Weโ€™re super excited to share!

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

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@xiufensilver | 6yr

Weโ€™re closing the AMA now. Thanks Buffer for the AMA, we learned so much! Great perspective from a remote team.

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@mjbrender | 6yr

No problem @nieldlr - your answers are wonderful! :slight_smile:

I love to hear your story of back and forth between social spaces and the serenity of home. Iโ€™m moving to a hybrid style of work myself and looking for the balance of familiarity and discovery. Youโ€™re quite right - itโ€™s fun to experiment.

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@nomadforum | 6yr

Thanks everyone! Weโ€™re closing now for new questions while the Buffer team will answer the last ones!

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@nomadicpad | 6yr

Really rad to see how much nomad culture is engrained in your company DNA!! Wondering the way youโ€™ve founder teammates, and how do you build the team? Do you meet with everyone before they join on, or is it all brought on through your virtual universe and then solidified at these international team retreats? Also, what tools have you guys found helpful to glue together such a large and largely dispersed team?!

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@masterremote | 6yr

Hi Buffer!
I love the transparency policy and the culture values you set up for your company!
Iโ€™m thinking about doing a remote company with some friends around the world.

I have 2 questions :

  • How hard (and how) was it for you to find your early employees?
  • How do you handle taxes? (Do you have to pay taxes event if your employee are not based in the same location?)

Thank you you for your reply!

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@arktype | 6yr

My biggest trepidation about going to the nomadic lifestyle is that I would end up not having the required facilities to properly do my work. Letโ€™s say I find a place to stay and then realize upon arrival that the internet isnโ€™t as fast as promised, the power goes out, or something like that.

Is a big part of being able to travel while working being at a great company thatโ€™s flexible? Even then, I can imagine some situations where you might get a little stuck because itโ€™s hard to plan everything out.

Any thoughts on this / how have you been able to deal with the unexpected?

I love the positive vibe you guys have created btw :smile:

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@mharis | 6yr

How do you handle pay raise within your company? How many times do you do it per year and what are the factors that decides them?

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@mjbrender | 6yr

Iโ€™m late to the game but thrilled to walk through the conversation so far. I have a couple questions:

@joelgascoigne, how do you budget for retreats? Are there hard limits to them?

@everyone: Are any of you prone to feeling lonely without face-to-face contact (even if just a random high five)? If so, how do you overcome it?

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@nieldlr | 6yr

This is a good one! I hope you donโ€™t mind me jumping in here! We have indeed set limits on our retreats. The primary purpose is mostly to get everyone together, while having fun & exploring the world a bit. So we wouldnโ€™t want to pay for business class flights or the most expensive hotels, as this isnโ€™t necessarily in line with the goals.

We have rented villas before (like in Thailand & Cape Town), but this actually ends up costing us less than hotels for example :smile: In New York however, it made more sense for us to book the team in hotels. It all feels natural depending on where we go and what we get up to!

These expenses usually fall under culture expenses. Weโ€™ve just released our transparent pricing breakdown with some more info in how that plays out in the long run :smile:

This is a good one! At first I thought this might be tricky, but I realized it was actually all smooth for me. Being in constant contact with the team through other means provides some form of contact: some cool examples of how this looks. Another thing is, that it depends on the person & their choice for work environment too :slight_smile: I used to do research in a computer lab and loved all the random chats, pick-up game sessions and coffee runs. Then a few years later after joining Buffer, I became the opposite. I once went to a co-working space, but realized that the interaction there, which I enjoyed before, wasnโ€™t what I preferred anymore. I enjoy the comfortable serenity of home :smile:

I do like to go to coffee shops now and then. The cool thing is though, I might give co-working spaces a try again. Itโ€™s nice to experiment with your setup! :smile:

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@morganandrewv | 6yr

Thank yโ€™all very much for taking the time and answering our questions! Excellent opportunity to get to know yโ€™all and how you work. The feedback was awesome! Yโ€™all have a great rest of your week :smile:

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@humphrey_f | 6yr

What tools and services do you use to work efficiently as a distributed team?

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@nieldlr | 6yr

This is my favorite question! We use quite a bunch of them: email, hipchat, sqwiggle, trello, hackpad, github and more! Hereโ€™s some more details :slight_smile: https://open.bufferapp.com/remote-working-means-tools-use/

My favorite tool is Hackpad! It allows us to do asynchronous + synchronous communication for complex topics & discussions in a super easy format!

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Apologies for asking so many questions! Just thrilled to have this opportunity!

Your team is dedicated to personal development, learning together and sharing advice. But Iโ€™m wondering whether or not those who work remotely (as opposed to team members in SF) are able to advance in the same way?

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@nieldlr | 6yr

[quote=โ€œdouglasackerman, post:62, topic:240, full:trueโ€]
Apologies for asking so many questions! Just thrilled to have this opportunity!
[/quote]We love to be here! :smiley:

Great question! I think itโ€™s always felt that people in SF just happened to be there. The office too! (Sometimes only two-three people are in the office at a time I hear!). For personal development we do pair calls throughout the week (each a different person), which is a quick chat to catch up on whatโ€™s been happening & also what self-improvements theyโ€™ve been working on. Then we also have the weekly improvements hackpads, which are a ton of fun! Hereโ€™s some more info on that one: https://open.bufferapp.com/buffer-team-improvements/

So to answer, it feels like weโ€™ve setup some good habits and systems in place to share & learn together. :slight_smile: Weโ€™re always experimenting with these though, especially as the company grows. The hackpad came about because we realized that we took long time to pair up with different team members during pair calls, as more came onboard. So weโ€™d miss out on awesome challenges & goals!

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@morganandrewv | 6yr

What tools do yโ€™all find helpful for remote working (besides Macbook Air)? Is there a common thread item or does everyone have their niche pickup?

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@nieldlr | 6yr

Good one! I think some other common items among the team that are helpful for remote work are Kindles. We all love to read and it allows to easily share our readings with each other :smile: Itโ€™s super lightweight too!

Another trend is definitely battery packs!

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@danfarrelly | 6yr

I think a lot of us try to be minimalists when we can. Less peripherals the better! @nieldlr mentioned battery packs for phones which a few people on the team find super helpful. An unlocked phone is another key item :wink:

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@levelsio | 6yr

Hi Buffer team! Awesome youโ€™re doing this AMA :smile:

I always ask this question to everyone I meetโ€ฆ

Is this the future?

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@nieldlr | 6yr

Haha amazing! Itโ€™s pretty mind boggling how accessible itโ€™s become. Sometimes during a video chat I catch myself and think โ€œwoah, weโ€™re all around the world and this doesnโ€™t feel oddโ€.

As mentioned in some of the other answers, one thing that I do feel will change, is that people will start asking for the freedom to choose their work structure/life. Some love working in offices, some enjoy coffee shops, other from home. I think the key thing is having that flexibility to experiment & choose how youโ€™d like to work! It comes with organisational & individual challenges of course, but mostly from the fact that I donโ€™t think people understand how to approach being remote workers or nomads. Itโ€™s still very different. Maybe weโ€™re pioneers of a big change thatโ€™s coming! Will be cool to share in this journey. Itโ€™s super exciting!

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@rdutel | 6yr

Hey :smile: ! Love that question, I would love to try and answer with a โ€œRemote Workingโ€ angle to it :smile:

For me, talent is everywhere, technology enables great communication - and the only currency that will keep gaining value for all is Time.

Following you passion and living a happy life can happen everywhere: at home, on the road or anywhere in between. I enjoy having the choice, and certainly feel like exploring a lot in the process.

I see people of all ages wanting to spend more time with their loved one, and focus on what makes them truly happy . Remote Working offers more Time and Flexibility to do just that, possibly through being a Digital Nomad :smile:

Itโ€™s not always simple or straightforward, yet certainly very fun and rewarding!

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@danfarrelly | 6yr

Thanks for hosting the AMA @levelsio!

I think for most knowledge workers it is the future. Working on the Buffer team as well as meeting people this year from the sqwiggle and incoin teams prove to me that fully-remote teams can work really well. The internet has made this world so small and I think itโ€™s a trend that will only continue. I think nomading will still be restricted to the few who choose to live that lifestyle as itโ€™s not an easy or simple lifestyle :smile:, but I think global remote work will only increase, giving more and more people the option of a nomad or location-independent work life!

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@mikecastro26 | 6yr

I see most of you guys use a Macbook Air as your main device, but what about the engineers? Do they use a MBA too? or do they use something like a MBP 15 inch?

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@danfarrelly | 6yr

The engineering team at the NYC retreat in September - Photo credit @sunils343

Hey @MikeCastro26, I would give a really rough estimate and say 75% of the team uses MBAs. On the engineering side, Iโ€™d say itโ€™s more of an even split between Airs + Pros. Most are 13", but Colin uses an 11" Air while Andy uses a 15" Pro! Iโ€™ve personally went from the 13" Air to Pro and find both of them amazing for traveling with.

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@nieldlr | 6yr

Good one Mike! I used to have a MBP. I know a few of the other team members use Retinas too. In web-development I think things have definitely changed a lot in the past few years, that you could easily to do all the coding on a MBA. Dynamite comes in small packages. :smile: I think I prefer it over my MBP, mostly for the amazing battery life + portability!

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Thank you for your incredible answers so far.

Iโ€™m wondering how your Happiness team manages to deliver such speedy and comprehensive support without traditionally structured work hours?

i.e. making sure you have consistent support throughout the day

Does it also have an impact on team meeting schedules?

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@maryjantsch | 6yr

Great one @douglasackerman! One of the cool things about working remotely is it helps out a little bit with the timezone coverage! These locations can change though right now we have a hero in London, one in Michigan, one in Argentina, three heroes in San Fran, our community champion in Portland and another hero in Australia. The US business hours tend to bring in the most volume so this kind of set up seems to be working nicely right now. We have a few syncs during the day for heroes to kind of โ€˜pass offโ€™ any information or talk about product feedback from customers. For example, at 9am EST, Dave (London), Adam (Michigan) and Octavio (Argentina) have a meeting for Dave to share anything thatโ€™s gone on in his day!

Having this kind of timezone spread as well as the value to โ€˜work smart, not hardโ€™ helps us cover each other well. I kind of see it like water, weโ€™re able to fill in some empty spaces for each other whenever those spaces are created! :slight_smile:

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@octa | 6yr

Itโ€™s amazing this opportunity to share @douglasackerman! Something that helps us a lot is the fluid communication that we have throughout the day, we have 1 or 2 video syncs each day where we keep ourselves updated, each of these may go from somewhere between 15 to 30 minutes. If something happens in between, we share it in our chat too. Also being in different timezones helps a lot to keep the support consistent :slight_smile:

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@asanystrom | 6yr

Great question :slight_smile: Like the others say, we are a globally distributed team which helps immensely with our response times. Having regular syncs, spread out over the different countries and time zones works really well too! Itโ€™s amazing to be be able to hand off the inbox to another hero as you wrap up your day knowing that our customers are still going to be looked after, no matter the time of day :slight_smile:

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@morganandrewv | 6yr

Is there a centralized training resource for Buffer? Somewhere for new teammates to learn the basics of working together, and for current teammates to share knowledge? If so, what tools do you use and how do you handle that? If not, do you think it could help?

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@sunils343 | 6yr

Good one! We use โ€˜hackpadโ€™ as our central place we share knowledge. Itโ€™s been great as itโ€™s quite fluid, and itโ€™s often the first place we go to jot down notes of any kind. We use it from everything from meeting notes, to brainstorms, how-toโ€™s and detailing processes. My favorite part about it is the ability to add comments anywhere. It makes it a great tool for collaboration :).

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In your experience, whatโ€™s the best way to stop yourself working all hours of the day? Is it difficult to switch off?

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@joelgascoigne | 6yr

For me, itโ€™s about having some key wind down activities. I like to read in the evening, or go for an evening walk. The other thing is that I really prioritize exercise, and itโ€™s been fun to play with that as the cutoff. Right now I get up early around 6am and then I go to the gym at 4pm and that acts as my cutoff. Itโ€™s been working well, and a fun part of being in a distributed team is that we can all experiment regularly and share our learnings about routines.

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Funnily enough - I try to go for morning walks, and read for an hour each evening. Finding it a challenge to build this routine however.

Any tips youโ€™ve discovered for forming these habits?

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@joelgascoigne | 6yr

Itโ€™s hard and I fail a lot. One of the the things that has helped me a lot is that I have a regular weekly meeting with my co-founder (and everyone at Buffer has someone they do this with) where we discuss our achievements for the last week and current challenges. A lot of times, the challenge is routine and habits. I think often we feel like we should โ€˜nailโ€™ our routine and then weโ€™ve succeeded, Iโ€™ve come to believe it doesnโ€™t work like that, at least for myself. Once youโ€™ve got a specific routine or habit down, thatโ€™s exactly when it starts to fall apart because you need to feel challenged, or it isnโ€™t fun anymore. In a sense itโ€™s atrophy. So, habits will always be a continual journey and we will have failures and successes. Thinking with this model, what I try to do is tiny incremental changes, which build up as layers on top of each other, until I have a really great solid routine that I love:

I wrote a post about this idea, in case itโ€™s interesting: To Create a New Habit, First Know Youโ€™re Going to Break It.

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@sunils343 | 6yr

This question nails one of the key things I have to focus on when working remotely. Since I really enjoy what I work on and the people I work with itโ€™s quite easy for me to not have a cutoff point and continue working.

We have a daily pair call with someone else on the team where we talk about personal improvements we work on. For me, disengagement is often at the core of my self-improvement. I often try to ensure that I close my laptop and completely disengage from work. In doing this I focus on things like going to the gym, meditation and reading. Whenever my wife comes home, Iโ€™ve become used to having that be the cut-off point for which I stop working. For me, disengagement is difficult and continuous challenge, but being very conscious of this challenge has allowed me to experiment with different ways to achieve a bit of balance.

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@nieldlr | 6yr

This is quite an interesting challenge! Especially if you also love what youโ€™re doing. Finding a balance is key here! Work smarter, not harder :smile:

Iโ€™ve told myself to wrap up my day at 18h30. And Iโ€™m trying to stick to that as much as possible! Luckily Iโ€™ve got a girlfriend who can help me keep to that deadline! :smiley:

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@calum | 6yr

Hi,

I would like to know what it is like living a nomadic lifestyle whilst being in full-time employment. A lot of nomads are entrepreneurs/self-employed so have complete freedom over when and how they work. But I guess being an employee must lead to certain restrictions e.g are you required to work a set amount of hours a week or do you have quite a lot of flexibility over the hours you work?

And I guess this question is for Joel. What methods do you use to monitor the performance of your remote employees or does a lot of it come to just trusting the individuals to do their jobs effectively?

Thanks

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@joelgascoigne | 6yr

Super interesting questions @calum! Iโ€™ll take a stab at both :smile:

We have no restrictions or set amounts of hours, there is complete flexibility. Itโ€™s exactly as you say, it comes down to us all trusting each other.

I think as weโ€™ve progressed further along this journey as a distributed team, we have embraced that trust even more. For example, right now we are even dismantling all of the hierarchy. So in a lot of ways, this is not a top-down thing. We have a culture of feedback, and so within teams we are all encouraged to talk with someone about any concerns we have of culture misalignment or productivity.

I love your point about a lot of nomads being entrepreneurs / self-employed. One of our biggest current changes weโ€™re going through is to become fully โ€˜self-managingโ€™. The idea is that we should not be constrained to have a specific job, we should be trusted to choose what we want to work on, knowing that everyone will take on roles that both excited them and work towards the purpose of the company. In this sense, the reality weโ€™re moving quickly towards is one where everyone in the company is โ€˜self-employedโ€™, in a sense. I believe deep down we are all entrepreneurial, and I hope Buffer can become an environment where everyoneโ€™s creativity can flourish.

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@atu | 6yr

This answer makes me thinking about the Valve Handbook.

Are you inspire by this handbook?

Do you think that the Buffer lifestyle (company structure) could become a standard in the startup world?

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@nieldlr | 6yr

Great question Calum! I think weโ€™re lucky at Buffer to have the freedom to choose how we structure our days. Iโ€™ve sometimes mentioned to people that it feels like Iโ€™m โ€œself-employedโ€ at Buffer. Thereโ€™s no set amount of hours so when we have tasks and things we dig into, we can choose how and when you want to implement them. I know Leo for example, loves his afternoon naps :smile:

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@morganandrewv | 6yr

How do you handle living situations when youโ€™re feeling particularly nomadic? Do you just hop up and decide to go somewhere? Or do you plan it more in advance, finding locations to stay, etc? Does anyone take advantage of tools like Airbnb for their short-term travels?

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@octa | 6yr

Hi @morganandrewv

From a personal experience, I think this has to do with the stage of life or thinking you are going through. At this point, Iโ€™m feeling particularly nomadic. My initial idea was to go to a new city and settled there for about three months, then move on to the next and so forth.

However Iโ€™m now considering moving between cities and spend up to a month in each of them. The first option in terms of deciding where to go, is places that I havenโ€™t been, that are warm and where the learning process can be bigger than others, in terms of culture and lifestyles. :slight_smile:

Iโ€™m starting to plan somewhere between 2 to 5 months ahead, taking in consideration the Spring and Summer in both hemispheres. I have also been taking advantage of Airbnb, itโ€™s been very helpful to find a great place to live and work. :smile: I highly recommend it!

Many thanks!

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@rdutel | 6yr

Hey there! Great question - I would feel that itโ€™s a bit different for everyone! I tend to travel 50% of the time, when I do I often decide to pay a visit to friends working in startups and then stay there for a week or two (this year, Iโ€™ve done this in Amsterdam, London, Barcelona, Malaga, SF, NYC, Casablanca, Malaga, Lyonโ€ฆ).

Usually planning 3 months in advance at the most! Since we go on retreat every 5 months, I also organize myself around them :slight_smile:

Often end up staying with friends or at AirBnb for short term travels - hoping around Europe with a backpack is such a breeze! :smile:

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@maryjantsch | 6yr

Good one! This is something Iโ€™ve had on mind recently. :slight_smile: My travels have been a bit focused on visiting friends and family which is a nice way to find a place to stay! In April, after one of our retreats I stayed a bit longer in Cape Town and used Airbnb. When my lease was up in Washington this past summer, I headed to Maui and stayed with my college roommates grandma! Then to Seattle with a college roommate and back down to San Fran. Made a stop over in Idaho. Then off to New York with the team with a bit of time staying with my sister in Brooklyn. After that I headed back over to Idaho and stayed with my boyfriends family and then back to the east coast for a vacation with my own family.

The short version of that is Iโ€™ve found being nomadic as a neat way to spend more time with people that mean a lot to me and have been fortunate that theyโ€™re willing to open their homes! :slight_smile:

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@danfarrelly | 6yr

Iโ€™ve only done the โ€œhop up and decide to go somewhereโ€ once or twice this year, in which Airbnb and reaching out to old friends were super helpful! The rest of my trips have been more purpose driven to visit friends mostly. I think people on the team love Airbnb. Getting to stay with a local is such a great experience!

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@jayzus | 6yr

Iโ€™m starting a remote company myself so Iโ€™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?

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@sunils343 | 6yr

Iโ€™m starting a remote company myself so Iโ€™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?

Great questions! Hiring remotely has been really interesting. Itโ€™s definitely removed some constraints (like a saturated job market in SF) and lets you hire the absolute best people!

I think because a remote team requires tremendous amount of trust, itโ€™s key to gauge how well a new team member fits in with this work and lifestyle. Iโ€™ve learned working remotely is not for everyone. We put a lot of emphasis on a contracting period, which lets both us and them know how well things would work out. I wrote some more thoughts about how we hire here

Of the candidates that come in, often remote working is a key motivation. However for us, we try and hire on whether the motivation is more about how much they love the product and the team/culture we have. The remote working is more of a perk in our eyes.

I think Joel can speak more about our investors, so far, theyโ€™ve been on board with our approach :). We of course have had to look for the right investors aligned with our vision. That was a key focus for our recent Series A round.

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@jayzus | 6yr

That Medium article is super helpful. Thanks!

Do any candidates get turned off by the 45 day contract period? For instance, if theyโ€™re interviewing at other companies and receive other full-time offers, going for the contract period would be a riskier option. Since 45 days is a pretty long time, theyโ€™d likely have to decline their other offers to try the contract period, which may not work out. If someone is really good, they likely have many options, and having to go through a contract period may make Buffer less attractive?

I really like the idea of a contract period and am considering hiring that way for my company, but I worry that we might lose good candidates because the contract period is a turnoff.

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@sunils343 | 6yr

Another great question :). Yeah there is always a trade-off of reducing the risk from your side (and their side) with a contract period and trying to compete with other companies for talent. One thing weโ€™ve done is try to be super open and transparent about how we like to hire and even what salary they can expect. This ends up having everyone on the same page as early as possible.

There are likely potential candidates that have viewed our jobs page, but havenโ€™t applied because theyโ€™re not fond of the trial period, or salary. For us, this is great because it would have been tough to get excited about a candidate and have things break down later on, like when they found out about a contract period or in the salary/equity phase. I feel like this is tough to do if you hire locally, but since youโ€™re hiring remotely, it opens up so many opportunities to find great candidates who fit the criteria of being great fits.

The way weโ€™ve viewed the trial period is itโ€™s another indicator of how much someone wants to work at Buffer. Especially since remote working is often a new experience and each new hire is incredibly important to the success of Buffer and the culture, weโ€™re willing to lose out on some great potential candidates for the this trial period. Since weโ€™re trying to establish a company that operates for a long time, we want to have a mutual dating period before getting married. :smile:.

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@joelgascoigne | 6yr

Weโ€™ve had mixed reactions. Luckily as time has progressed our culture and intentions have become more clear and weโ€™ve become better at finding investors who are truly excited about transparency, being a distributed team, etc. In the latest $3.5m round our lead investor Collaborative Fund and others have been super supportive and encouraging us to go even further with some of the radical ideas.

I think when you do something a little crazy, you can often be misunderstood. Thatโ€™s been the case in a couple of instances.

About 2 weeks after we closed our seed round, we told our investors we were packing our bags and heading to Hong Kong! We basically took their $450k and ran across to the other side of the world, haha! Almost everybody was super positive about it (some even gave us tips on what to see and who to meet), and (completely understandably) one or two were questioning and skeptical.

I think you have to go with your gut and see through what you feel is intuitively right. Iโ€™m glad we have, this is a whole new world and an incredible way to work, and Iโ€™m glad that the team is growing and more and more people will be able to experience it.

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@atu | 6yr

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:

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@nieldlr | 6yr

Itโ€™s quite interesting when you start off with a remote mindset, that it almost becomes second nature the way that we stay in touch. We use so many different tools that fit in many different kinds of communciation: hipchat, sqwiggle, hangouts, email, hackpad & trello to name a few! My favorite is Hackpad. Itโ€™s both real-time and asynchronous!

I just had a voice chat with Kevan whoโ€™s in the US. His family hasnโ€™t quite woken up yet/started the day yet, so instead of having a video chat with low lighting, we just jumped on a voice call! It feels natural to adapt to each personโ€™s circumstance and environment. Last week I was in the middle of South Africa where the internet wasnโ€™t too fast, so I also switched over to voice chats instead of video chats. :smile:

I think most of us love the idea of being nomads. Even though they might not be oneโ€™s themselves. Exploring and learning from the world is a great experience, so we I think we all encourage it, if anyone is keen to give it a go.

The team jumping in today for the AMA, are some of the core โ€˜nomadsโ€™. Others enjoy chilling at their own places for a while. The cool thing about the freedom of remote working is that you can choose where to spend your time! :slight_smile: Iโ€™ve settled in Cape Town for a bit and perhaps think of doing a part-time nomad lifestyle for example. Have a base town, then travelling every few months for a month or so. My girlfriend and I are growing an awesome garden + have a kitten + love Cape Town, so I want to figure out a way to have both!

With Buffer? Nothing at this moment! Itโ€™s all an amazing journey!

With life (or anything? it is an AMA! :stuck_out_tongue: ), I wish I could change poverty that it didnโ€™t exist. Being in this privileged position has opened my eyes to big inequalities all around us. Iโ€™d love to change that!

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@maryjantsch | 6yr

Hey there @atu! Good ones!

  1. Communication as a remote team would be tricky if it werenโ€™t for some incredible tools weโ€™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: Hereโ€™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 weโ€™re encouraged to keep exploring and find that place. I think itโ€™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! Itโ€™s been an incredible experience learning since Iโ€™ve joined the Buffer journey. :slight_smile:

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@octa | 6yr

Hi @atu :slight_smile:

These are really awesome questions!

  1. , I see that Mary already shared the post of the tools we use to communicate, Iโ€™m really grateful for the possibilities that technology gives us these days of working from anywhere you like in the world and being as productive as if you were in a traditional office.

  2. Being nomadic is a wonderful feeling! It feels like the possibilities are endless, thereโ€™s so much to learn and experience in every single place on earth. One of our values is to โ€œLive smarter, not harderโ€ and part of that is living in the place where you feel the happiest and most productive. :slight_smile: While some of us might be on that journey, others have already found that place for themselves. :slight_smile:

  3. Absolutely nothing! Buffer is a family, thereโ€™s this feeling where no matter what part of the world you might be, you know that you have someone who cares and close to you , simply by turning on your computer. :slight_smile:

Cheers!

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@danfarrelly | 6yr
  1. Since you are a team of 16 talented people, how the communication is going? which tools do you use?

@mcjantsch made a great point that we lean toward โ€œover-communicationโ€ so we ensure nothing gets lost in translation. Working at Buffer has definitely changed (for the better) my written communication via email & hipchat. Always remaining positive in emails is a huge boon for us. No one enjoys reading a negative email! We use a lot of these: :smile: :smiley: :wink:

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

I would say we have nomads, people with nomadic tendencies and people that absolutely love where they are in the world. Itโ€™s so great to have this mix to have different types of people on the team. As we grow and get to meet each other at retreats, I think it makes more of us want to travel to visit others on the team. I kind of want to also get the idea of a โ€œBuffer apartment swapโ€ going so someone can have use of my apartment in NYC while I get to check out other cities!

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

Nothing :slight_smile: Luckily, Buffer is a very open minded company always open to change. If there was anything I wish we would change, I would have brought it up to the team already!

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@maryjantsch | 6yr

Haha, love the apartment swap idea @djfarrelly :slight_smile:

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@morganandrewv | 6yr

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 โ€œextendedโ€ family together (family of team members) for grand get togethers? The more the merrier :smiley:

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@sunils343 | 6yr

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 Iโ€™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. Sheโ€™s so grateful for the flexibility and there was so much stress removed from the equation. Itโ€™s also been great for me, because I feel like I have many friends where-ever I go :).

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

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@joelgascoigne | 6yr

I think one of the most special things for me to see with Buffer is the many different freedoms that working remotely can bring. Here are a couple I love:

  • If youโ€™re young, adventurous and donโ€™t yet know where in the world you feel like you want to settle, we actively encourage you through our values to explore and work from different places and be a digital nomad. For example, ร…sa has traveled from Australia to Bali, back home to Sweden and then all across Europe, and recently spend several months in San Francisco.
  • If you have kids (especially if you have young kids) then working remotely means that you get to spend more time with them in the most important times where they are changing and growing up so fast. There are a couple of examples in the team where people used to have a 1.5hr commute each way. Now they not only get to save that time but also be home all day. Itโ€™s not unusual to see kids on peoplesโ€™ laps in video calls, itโ€™s a special part of being at Buffer.
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@danfarrelly | 6yr

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 donโ€™t often get to meet everyone!

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@rdutel | 6yr

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 itโ€™s easier to come down for an entire week and get to interact more often, and just take the time to ease in my familyโ€™s routine while working away!

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

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@tomborvan | 6yr

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

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@joelgascoigne | 6yr

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. Hereโ€™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. Weโ€™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 didnโ€™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 weโ€™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 Iโ€™m happiest with about how we grew the company.

Some more useful links on this one:

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@mikecastro26 | 6yr

Hey Joel, I see you mention work visas, and I canโ€™t help to wonder, how do you handle the visa to work in US or specifically, SF, if that person doesnโ€™t have a Bachelorโ€™s Degree? I imagine you do sponsorships, but isnโ€™t it harder without a degree?

Thank you!

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@joelgascoigne | 6yr

Awesome question Mike.

There are luckily many types of visas which are suitable for different scenarios. There are many people in the team without a Bachelorโ€™s degree (my co-founder Leo who dropped out is one example!). The 3 main visas weโ€™ve obtained for people in the team are the following:

  • H-1B (work visa, requires a degree related to the role)
  • J-1 (internship visa, this is often a good option if you donโ€™t have a degree. Andy has this visa)
  • O-1 (โ€˜alien of extraordinary abilityโ€™ - this can work well if you have some press about you, published articles, have done a lot of speaking, etc. Leo has this visa)
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@theahindle | 6yr

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:

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@octa | 6yr

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:

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@danfarrelly | 6yr

Hi theahindle!,

Personally after having stopped using a monitor for a second screen shortly after starting with Buffer, Iโ€™ve gotten quite fond of only having only my laptop screen. My main thing is when I move location to location itโ€™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:

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@rdutel | 6yr

Hey there Theahindle! There are quite a lot of Macbook Airs in the team :slight_smile: Courtney wrote a fun blog post about everyoneโ€™s set up over here :smile:
Personally, I use to have a very โ€œoffice-likeโ€ set up with an external monitor, trackpad, keyboard and MacBook Pro 15โ€™, Iโ€™m now MacBook Air + earphones :smile:

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@nieldlr | 6yr

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! Itโ€™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!

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@sunils343 | 6yr

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 Iโ€™m bouncing between coffee shops. Using a window manager like spectacleapp.com was huge. I also often switch between โ€˜spacesโ€™ which to me, has become the equivalent of multiple monitors.

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@jonbstrong | 6yr

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

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@joelgascoigne | 6yr

I think this was perhaps my favorite way to work:

(this was at the Thailand retreat)

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@sunils343 | 6yr

Oh man, such a great (and tough) question! Theyโ€™ve all been incredible. I think my favorite part is how with each retreat there are certain number of people youโ€™ve worked with for a while but havenโ€™t met because itโ€™s their first retreat.

I donโ€™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 (Donโ€™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 Jetskiโ€™s probably my favorite moment haha.

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@maryjantsch | 6yr

Holy smokes, tough question! For the two Iโ€™ve been on, weโ€™ve travelled to a team members home city, both in Cape Town and New York. While this isnโ€™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, itโ€™s felt special to learn more about where certain team members come from.

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@nieldlr | 6yr

Oh wow! Thatโ€™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. Itโ€™s such a beautiful time to spend together. So I would say New York was my favorite! :slight_smile:

P.S. - Iโ€™m biased towards Cape Townโ€™s beauty though :stuck_out_tongue: hehe

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Iโ€™m thinking if itโ€™s possible to walk around the world in 5 years while working occasionally during mornings or evenings (own web/mobile app, writing blog) and at the same time complete a PhD in Process Control (got an offer to work with great professor on an interesting thesis using augmented reality, for which I only need a smartphone, my Macbook and ability to once in a while consult with him over phone/skype).

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Anybody around Europe over the next few months?


by @paulrose | 3yr 3 years ago | 9 comments

Hi All

Soโ€ฆ a few months ago when I was in Asia, for some reason I decided that it was gonna be too hot over the summer months and I wanted to mix it up with a few months touring Europe. So I had the idea to buy and RV and drive round for a few months.

Meet Teagan :slight_smile:

Itโ€™s taken a few months going through the process of getting my license to drive the RV, because itโ€™s so large it wasnโ€™t covered on my standard driving license. Add to that, I had some solar panels fitted for unlimited power, and a massive satellite dish for internet wherever I go.

Iโ€™ve now got my ferry booked out of the UK for September 11th and at the moment have no plans past the first few weeks.

Has anyone on here done anything similar before? Any places recommended, or anyone around Europe over the next few months?

Iโ€™m doing about 3 months worth before heading to Vegas for NYE and around the states for a few months after that before back to Asia for a bit.

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How to get around blocked credit card transactions?


by @nomadaccountant | 3yr 3 years ago | 15 comments

it seems like Visa have gotten more tight recently and itโ€™s touch and go whether each transaction will go through. Sometimes it does but often now I am getting declined. The bank knows my locations but in the background Visa seem to be blocking a lot regardless and they are harder to notify. I am using paypal where possible because it doesnโ€™t get blocked, but thatโ€™s only good for a limited number of places.
Anyone else getting worn out by the payment approval games?

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Search/review site for Co-Working spaces around the world?


by @gnefkow | 4yr 3 years ago | 7 comments

Hostelworld for hostels,
Nomadlist for general locations,
Yelp for food (among other things)
Trip Advisor for activitiesโ€ฆ

Is there a website where a community of people can rate and review co-working spaces around the world? Iโ€™m in a nice place right now, and about to start on toward the next destination, Iโ€™d love to review the coworking space Iโ€™m currently sitting in and start planning for the next stop.

I know that there are some threads around here about it, but Iโ€™d love to search โ€œTaipeiโ€ and see a list of them with reviews from actual nomads (rather than the hap-hazard websites the coworking spaces make about themselves).

  • kyle
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Hi, can anyone recommend nice kid-friendly neighborhoods in armenia, colombia? we're scouting it out this week. thanks


by @livefencefree | 4yr 3 years ago | 0 comments

hi, any here with experience in armenia? weโ€™re considering a move there and looking for good neighborhoods to look at this week. thanks!

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We're starting a coworking and coliving space in India. Can you help us validate it?


in India by @anugrah_sharma | 5yr 4 years ago | 12 comments

We are starting a co-working and co-living space (something like hubud) in Dharamshala, India; I would like to ask couple of questions to validate the concept:-

  1. Would you consider living in India for a while?

  2. We will be charging around 500 USD, which will cover everything including food,laundry,basic bed room and a beautiful working space. How willing are you to pay this amount?

  3. Have any advice for us? Do share.

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How have you dealt with bereavement when you are halfway around the world and can not make it home?


by @iamjamesrodgers | 5yr 4 years ago | 5 comments

I really wish I didnโ€™t have to ask this, itโ€™s such a sensitive topic to many but unfortunately Death is inevitable in our lives as we grow -

My Girlfriend and I are currently upon our first lengthy nomadic travels, and a beloved friend has had her Mother tragically and rather quickly pass away.

My Girlfriend is really struggling and feeling suffocated by the distance.

What is the best techniques to be a supportive person to a beloved friend whoโ€™s parent has just passed away while you are on the other side of the world? Or the passing of someone in general? So far weโ€™ve sent an arrangement and wrote a letter to convey our empathy for the friend and Her family -

We both just want our support to be felt and to be enough to make up for not being physically there, it would break my heart for us to be seen as non supportive in this tough time.

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Do you need a roomate around Europe?


by @pau | 5yr 4 years ago | 2 comments

So Iโ€™m deciding where to go. Iโ€™ve been living in Sweden, now back home for a few weeks (barcelona), and thinking where to head nextโ€ฆ The thing is that the apartments are usually long term and I want to be somewhere 2-3 monthsโ€ฆ

If you need a roomate make me know :wink:

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Anyone have experience of using Uphold to move money around?


by @flyingscottie | 5yr 4 years ago | 2 comments

Recently heard of https://uphold.com/en and wondering if it might be a good option to facilitate accessing money from Canada while I am in Europe?

Does anyone have any experience in this? Would you recommend it?

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What are the top barriers holding people from moving around?

 

by @sten | 5yr 4 years ago | 39 comments

What did Andrew miss? Which frictions were the hardest for you to get over?

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Hi, we are Coboat, an 82ft coworking catamaran sailing the world. AUA!


by @james | 5yr 4 years ago | 15 comments

Hi we are Coboat, a floating coworking space. We will take our custom 82ft catamaran around the world and offer a platform for a mix of digital nomads and entrepreneurs to come on board to work and collaborate together.

We have the latest in green energy technology and will utilise the latest in satellite internet, 3G & 4G to stay connected and online.

We offer trips from one week to one year and we will take up to 20 together on a creative adventure to amazing places to find inspiration.

Like most other coworking spaces we will offer plenty of chances to encourage synergies, with regular events, skill & idea sharing sessions.

We are non-profit and we hope to foster and develop ideas for social projects as we travel through regions.

We are also running a free 100 day scholarship โ€˜Made on Coboatโ€™ for anyone who wants to kick-start a new project.

Please, ask us anything. :smile:

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Hi! Weโ€™re Toptal, we help developers get jobs they can do from anywhere. AUA!

 

by @breanden | 5yr 5 years ago | 23 comments

Hi everyone,

My name is Breanden Beneschott, and Iโ€™m a Co-founder and the COO at Toptal.

At Toptal, we help developers get work they can do from anywhere.

As a digital nomad, Iโ€™ve lived and worked remotely in >30 countries since I finished school four years ago. Iโ€™ve been building Toptal. Toptal is a private network of awesome freelance software engineers, and companies hire us to build cool stuff. We are also an a16z-backed company in growth mode, and this year weโ€™ll hit about $80 million in recurring sales. Although our network has grown to thousands of people, Toptal doesnโ€™t have any offices. We operate from more than 93 countries, and since we encourage everyone to travel, a lot of us are digital nomads.

Last year, I wrote a post on Tim Ferrissโ€™s blog about how to travel as a founder/engineer that has some tips Iโ€™ve learned that you might find helpful: http://fourhourworkweek.com/2014/10/04/how-to-travel-to-20-countries-and-build-a-massive-business-in-the-process/

If you want to know more about Toptal (our developer community, how we travel, how we operate) or you just want to pick my brain, Iโ€™ll be happy to help where I can!

Thanks,
Breanden

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We're organizing a Nomad House in Bali! Sign up here

 

by @atu | 5yr 5 years ago | 27 comments

Sign up for Nomad House Bali here

Hi nomads,

As you can see a new movement in this revolution is coming out. Please make some noise for Project Bali. Like @nomadicpad said in the Project Austin, is a project about bringing 5 like-minded people together in order to create an inspirational, motivational and recreational house. You will learn from different skillsets and stay on the success track.

First of all, Iโ€™m looking for 3 nomads who want to experiment that in Ubud. Second step is to find a house and get in. If you guys are looking for an amazing experience letโ€™s apply here.

Feel free to add anything.

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Hi! We're Hacker Paradise, a traveling community of creatives. AUA!


by @alexeymk | 5yr 5 years ago | 11 comments

Hi! Weโ€™re Hacker Paradise, a traveling community of developers, designers, and other creative types. It was started by us two, Alexey and Casey.

Hereโ€™s the short pitch we give from our website:

Travel the world, get work done, grow personally & professionally, and be part of a tight-knit community of passionate and intellectually curious people.

You bring yourself, a project to work on, and a positive attitude.

We facilitate a tight-knit, creative community, organize a curated list of awesome places to visit, and provide a high-productivity workspace.

Last year we did Costa Rica, this year weโ€™ve done SE Asia (Thailand, Bali and Vietnam) and this Monday weโ€™re launching our first Europe trip, landing in Tallinn, Estonia.

Iโ€™m happy to answer questions about anything Hacker Paradise related - how and whywe got started, what the trips are like, the business side of things, and which one of us has a cheesier sense of humor (hint: itโ€™s Casey).

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Hi. We're Teleport, building software for startup people to discover and budget your next move. AUA!


by @sten | 5yr 5 years ago | 13 comments

Hi, I am Sten, co-founder & CEO of Teleport. We build software for startup people on the move. We have released Teleport for Startup Cities, Bay Area Teleport and Teleport Flock to date.

Moving ourselves and our families around the globe we have become all too familiar with the hassles this lifestyle brings. Figuring out where to stay, what to expect, where to pay taxes or which visa to get. Rinse and repeat.

We mapped out hundreds of relocation nuisances we could fix with software. Once these get solved millions of people like us could benefit. So there was no choice but to start this company.

Over the last decade most of our team were busy building Skype which turned out to be quite effective making the world smaller in the metaphorical sense. We believe we can now rearrange the human population physically as well.

Iโ€™m joined here with my co-founder @keskkyla and possibly other members of our 9-people-across-6-countries team โ€“ depending on what you guys want to know.

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Hi! We're DuckDuckGo, the anonymous search engine and we're a distributed team. AUA


by @brianstoner | 5yr 5 years ago | 16 comments

Hey everyone,

Thanks for having us! Weโ€™re DuckDuckGo, the anonymous search engine that doesnโ€™t track you.

The company was started in 2008 by Gabriel Weinberg and has steadily grown to a team of more than 20 people serving over 9 million searches a day.

We have a small headquarters in Paoli, PA, but the majority of our team is distributed around the world. Iโ€™m personally based out of NYC and work on the Front-end of the site.

I should be joined by a few others on the team, including: Zaahir, Doug, Chris, Adam and Jag.

Ask us anything!

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Hey! We're Sqwiggle, we're a remote team building tools for remote teams - AUA!


by @tommoor | 5yr 5 years ago | 14 comments

Hey everyone,

Weโ€™re the team behind Sqwiggle - a tool for remote teams to stay in touch through instant video and presence. Weโ€™re super passionate about remote working - currently the team is in San Francisco, Baltimore and England but we all travel a lot.

We have just started working on a new app called Speak.io (weโ€™re recruiting beta testers!) which deeply integrates into the Mac desktop to provide audio and presence (a bit of a pivot in startup terminology :wink: ) - again weโ€™re focused on distributed teams.

Today Iโ€™m joined by Eric, Luke and Will - the team building Speak.

Ask us anything!

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