Hiring
  •  
April 16, 2020

How Pitch Works Remotely

Daniel Marcinkowski

For many, the remote working environment is something completely new, but there are companies out there who were founded with a remote mindset embedded into their culture. One of them is Berlin-based Pitch, a 70-people company founded by the creators of Wunderlist. It's a modern presentation tool highly focused on collaboration and beautiful visuals.

During yesterday's Talking Talent webinar, we had the chance to host one of the founders of the company who holds the position of VP of People, Vanessa Stock. She talked about semi- and fully-remote practices that make collaboration within Pitch so effective. After the panel, she answered questions from the webinar's audience.

You can watch the recap of the webinar on our YouTube channel:

Here's a short summary of the event.

Biggest learnings of switching to the remote setup for Pitch

  • Have regular check-ins with the team. Question what can and what cannot be delivered, prioritise, plan and review the roadmap, be supportive and flexible
  • 'For me, personally, the biggest change was [...] finding focus and fighting with the over-communication'. Prevent yourself from getting lost in work. Switch off and go for walks.
  • Create routines and time-box your work
  • Stay mindful and don't have 6 Zoom calls one-by-one
'For me[...], the biggest change was [...] finding focus and fighting with the over-communication'

Hiring and onboarding remotely at Pitch

  • One-third of Pitch's team was already remote, so they had remote hiring and onboarding processes already in place and the lockdown didn't change much
  • 'Every step of the interviewing process is happening via Zoom'
  • Usually, at some point in the hiring process, the candidate would be invited to come over to the office in Berlin. Now, this part of the process is happening via Slack
  • Same for onboarding — normally, the candidate would come to Berlin for the first week. Pitch had to create a remote process for that
  • Pitch has internal, weekly team bulletins, in which teams report the progress of their work and the new-joiners give a small intro to themselves
  • The face-to-face part of the onboarding process is happening via Zoom now
  • To encourage people from different teams to connect with each other, Pitch is using the Donut bot for Slack
'Every step of the interviewing process is happening via Zoom'

Building culture in a semi-remote company

  • 'We are still learning and trying to figure it out. There are a lot of things that you can try. Play around with it'
  • 'Our goal was to make the onsite employees equal with the remote ones'
  • For all-hands, everyone in the company has to dial-in via Zoom, even if they’re in the office together
  • Pitch is using a knowledge base tool Notion to organise the company's processes and document decisions
  • 'Train everyone on how to use your communication channels'
'Our goal was to make the onsite employees equal with the remote ones'

Communication between the onsite and the remote teams

  • 'With the asynchronous communication, you have to get into a routine of updating each other during stand-ups.'
  • 'Don’t force everything to happen as a meeting. Question if they really have to happen' — use tools such as Slack or email instead
  • Create a guide for communication. Make it clear what needs to be a meeting

Keeping remote employees motivated and united

  • Pitch, alongside Slack, introduced Discord to the company, for all of the non-work-related communication. They set up plenty of channels around food, memes, people's hobbies, and more
  • Support socialising using tools like Slack and Discord
  • Make sure that everyone can share their ideas — it’s a challenge, especially for introverts. It’s important that you, as a company, build a trust
  • Ask people for their opinion proactively and how they feel about your decisions as a company
  • For decision-making, Pitch is using a tool called Threads

Pitch — tool for remote companies

  • It enables teams to collaborate on a presentation and it works really well in the remote scenario
  • At Pitch, over 60 people use the tool at once to deliver the weekly company bulletin

You can sign up for the beta of Pitch here.

Q&A

How do you make sure that keeping the management updated does not turn into micromanagement?
  • 'Our leadership team is allowing other teams to work on their own roadmaps'
  • 'It’s about making sure that we are all aligned as a company'
  • Two-way communication is also important, not only reporting
What challenges are newly-remote managers facing and how do you support them?
  • 'From the beginning, we hired some key people who were [experienced] in working remotely'
  • They highlighted what needs to be considered and helped other managers with getting into working remotely
How will this affect your decision in the future when it comes to renting a new office? Would your tendency go more towards a co-working or flex-office solutions?
  • 'People really love having the office and being there, but maybe not 5 days a week'
  • 'We have people partially remote, fully remote, working from the office all the time, or once in a while'
How was Pitch affected by COVID—19? Do you still hire people? Did you consider pausing hiring or short-time work?
  • 'We are hiring according to the plan that we had for the year. We have  great funding, that’s why not much changed for us'
How do you keep the team motivated to attend outside-work, team events, like coffee/lunches together?
  • 'We give everyone space for their private life'
Which tools do you use for remote work?

We hope that the event inspired many of you how to improve remote collaboration in your companies. There are more Talking Talent webinars coming soon — be sure to check out our page on Livestorm to join them. We also post recaps from the events on our YouTube channel.

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