How Favorite Medium’s globally distributed team works together

2018.12.17 07:50UI 가벼운 이야기
by pxd UX Lab.

By Jisun Suh, Senior Creative Director at Favorite Medium


Favorite Medium의 박상원(Sangwon Park, CEO), 서지선(Jisun Suh, Creative Director) 님을 초대하여 원격 근무에 관한 이야기를 나누었습니다. Favorite Medium에서 작성한 후기를 원문 그대로 공유합니다.

Sangwon Park, Favorite Medium’s founder, talked about how FM’s staff live in 14 countries and serve clients in Europe, APAC, and North America. Working globally is part of daily life at FM.


PXD, a renowned design innovation consultancy in Seoul, South Korea, invited Favorite Medium to share our experience working as a globally distributed team. At Favorite Medium, our teams work from locations in multiple countries. We collaborate with clients all over the world, designing products that people use globally. But the idea of working remotely is not common in South Korea, where economic activity is heavily concentrated in the Seoul metro area. Most companies expect their staff to work together on site and to conduct meetings in person. PXD was curious about the way we work and asked us to share know-hows and tips on working as a distributed team.

With globalization and advances in technology and mobility, it’s easier than ever to work remotely over online collaboration tools. Although it’s hard to replace the value of physical meetings and face-to-face interactions, there are definitely some benefits to remote work, such as higher employee satisfaction with flexible work arrangements, increased productivity, and the ability to reach out to a global talent pool.


Jisun Suh, Favorite Medium’s senior creative director, shared examples of projects delivered by distributed teams. “People look at me with doubtful eyes when they hear FM’s distributed team. So, I brought real project examples that help you demystify remote working,” she said.


We started our talk with examples of global companies composed of remote teams — Automattic, Trello, GitLab, InVision — and moved on to specific Favorite Medium projects that involved people on different continents. On one project, the client had teams in Europe, North America, South America, and Asia, and project teams were in four different countries.


What We’ve Learned Over the Years About Working Together Remotely

1. Communication is the key.

At FM, we take clear and effective communication seriously. Open, transparent communication not only keeps everyone on the same page, but fosters a culture of innovation. We start each day with a team standup video call for everyone to share the status of his or her work and to set clear goals for the day. We centralize communication, keeping a digital record of our discussions via Slack, meeting notes, or video recordings so that anyone anywhere can follow up anytime.


2. Use the right tools for your team.

We shared a variety of our favorite online tools that keep everyone in the loop and help our design and engineering teams collaborate and manage projects together. As a company that designs and develops SaaS (Software as a Service), we’re in the habit of trying out the latest tools. Here are some that we use regularly:

  • All Purpose Collaboration: G Suite, Slack
  • Project Management: Jira, Trello, MeisterTask
  • Design Collaboration: Sketch, Figma, InVision, Zeplin, Mural
  • Engineer Collaboration: GitLab, GitHub, HokeyApp


3. Accountability helps your team run smoothly.

One particular challenge for us was finding the right scheduling and staff resourcing management tool that met our needs, so we designed and developed our own tool called SIXPAQ. Although SIXPAQ is specific to Favorite Medium, its purpose — making accountability visible — is important for any successful team. Managers and staff need a clear understanding of project assignments, allocated hours, and team availability. SIXPAQ allows everyone on the team to see the status of projects and who is working on what.


4. Build a cohesive, engaging culture.

Lastly, we talked about building an engaging culture that sparks curiosity and fun among staff and creates a cohesive workplace, even though we live all around the world. In addition to our daily scrum check-ins and project-related meetings, we hold three types of regular online gatherings:

  • R&D Sharing Meetings: Designers and engineers share internal R&D projects they have been working on or any interesting latest learnings and findings.
  • FM Made This: A project team presentation of a product they helped launch.
  • Quarterly Company-Wide Town Hall: Everyone can hear company updates and participate in an open Q&A session with the leadership team.

And of course, FM teams occasionally DO get together in person offline to hang out over good food and drinks.


“What Do You Do About Slackers?” and Other Questions

Questions poured in from PXD team via Slido.


The most memorable part of our talk was a Q&A session with PXD staff using Slido. (Yes, we love trying out online tools any chance we get!) There was lots of laughter from the audience and enthusiastic questions such as:

“How do you deal with a slacker when he is located remotely? Do you fire him? Or embrace him with love?”

Answer: With daily team standup meetings in place, it would be very hard to be a slacker without getting noticed. We check each other’s goals and status everyday and help each other out when there are any blockers that stop a fellow team member from making progress.

“Wouldn’t remote working be challenging for a junior employee who needs mentorship?”

Answer: We created a list of online education courses that helps anyone who wants to learn certain skills within the engineering and design disciplines. This list gets updated regularly by the team. Technology trends change all the time. What we found is that whether you’re an experienced or junior staff member is less important than having an attitude of learning and growing to stay relevant in the industry.

“You mentioned that FM uses a variety of online tools and switches to new tools quite often. Is there any resistance about trying out new tools? What if there are people who prefer to keep using the current tools they’re already used to?”

Answer: Most of us actually enjoy playing with new online tools as we are designers and engineers. On our Slack channel, people constantly post new apps they discovered or tried out recently. Most of the time, new tools get introduced by the request of a client. As consultants, we try to accommodate our clients’ situations — and we’re curious to learn about what they’re using. When FM introduces a new SaaS tool company wide, it goes through a long vetting process to make sure it’s a viable option for the long term.


Final Thoughts

We also acknowledged that there have been challenges along the way and that how we work at FM is still a work in progress. We study and learn from other organizations and openly discuss what works and doesn’t with our colleagues as well as with clients. Much like the service design projects we lead at FM, we iterate, test, iterate, and test again until users — our staff and clients — feel engaged and inspired. It was a chance not only for PXD to think about the future of work, but also for FM to look back and reflect on how we work. Thank you, PXD for the great opportunity!


원문 : FM Stories

관련글 : [pxd talks 85] Remote Work