IndustryTreehouse Remote Culture: the Benefits & Why We Make It Work

Ryan Carson
writes on October 13, 2016

So this is my thumb, working from home 🙂 I decided to work from my house so I could hang out with my wife while I cranked through my todos. It was a wonderfully productive day because I had zero minutes of commute time, it was cozy and comfortable, and there were very few distractions.

remote culture

At Treehouse, we encourage our team to work from wherever they’re most effective. In fact, 63% of the team works remotely – they almost never come into the Portland or Orlando offices. Even if folks live in Portland or Orlando, where we have our filming studios, it’s still not mandatory to come into work every day.

Hidden Benefits

Letting our team work from home has a ton of hidden benefits. Here are a few of them…

Easier to Hire Parents

Anyone with a bambina will tell you that you need to be flexible to raise children. If they start barfing everywhere at school you can’t just tell the teacher, “Hang in there! I’ll swing by in two hours after I finish work. It’s all good – you got this!” Nope, you have to hustle over to school and pick your kid up and deal with the situation. If you work from home – this is no big deal.

Easier to Hire Talented People and Fill Job Roles

A ton of motivated, hard working, talented people would love to work for your company, but they can’t because they don’t live in your town. So why limit yourself to this artificial boundary? If your company does information work, you can drastically decrease the amount of time it takes to fill an open job position, if you allow remote applicants.

More Motivation

It might seem counterintuitive, but motivating people with rewards or punishment isn’t actually very effective. As Dan Pink’s famous study has proven, motivation has very little to do with being in an office.

“Talented people would love to work for your company, but they can’t because they don’t live in your town. So why limit yourself to this artificial boundary?”

Tools We Use to Effectively Work Remotely

Meetings

We use Zoom for all our video meetings and it works almost perfectly (and I’m not even being paid to say that). We use their “Zoom Rooms” in our conference rooms at the offices and they work great. There’s zero lag – it’s just as good as meeting in person.

We also trained all our managers on how to have effective meetings, so we tend to waste less of people’s time.

Project Management

We use a mix of Google Docs, Asana, Trello and other things. We try to give people the freedom to use whatever tools are best for them and their team.

Data Analysis and Reporting

Mode is our current choice for querying and displaying reports. Data, testing, and analysis is very important at Treehouse and we’re constantly improving how we tackle this.

Chat

We got sucked into the Slack vortex and it’s pretty great, even though it can be a huge distraction if not used effectively.

The Heart of the Issue

You either trust your employees to be adults and do the right thing, or you think they need to be micromanaged and watched carefully. If you’re the former, it’s a no-brainer to let your team work from wherever they are most effective.

If you’re the latter, then you will run out of great people to hire because all the hard working, trustworthy, talented and creative folks will be working somewhere else that gives them flexibility and extends trust.

“Trust your employees to be adults and do the right thing.”


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4 Responses to “Treehouse Remote Culture: the Benefits & Why We Make It Work”

  1. Kovid Rathee on March 20, 2017 at 12:21 pm said:

    Couldn’t have agreed more with this. In one of the companies I have worked for, people were moved from one city to another across the country because the management felt that two technology teams wouldn’t be able to do effective work from two different cities. We pretty much used the same stack for communication as you do.

    What it all comes down to is trust. It’s mutual. Working remotely will not work when either of the parties – the company as a whole and the employee as an individual don’t trust each other.

  2. Couldn’t agree more, and it’s great to see other companies doing as well as you guys are with the same philosophy. On that last point we even take it a step further by not screen recording our remote staff because we firmly believe in founding a relationship with them that’s built on trust. Does that mean we’ll never get burnt? Of course not, but if we empower our staff, show them we do honestly care for the work / life balance, I’m a firm believe that they’ll actually put in more effort to repay the faith put in them!

  3. Paul Wochnick on October 18, 2016 at 7:34 am said:

    How does Treehouse manage their laptop fleet when their workforce is spread out? I’m looking for a product recommendation if you are using one.

    Thanks!

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