The Remote Show
In this first ever recording of the Remote Show, it was my privilege to chat with Zack Onisko - CEO of Dribbble. In this wide ranging conversation we discuss his career in design and growth, the progression of Dribbble as an online community and tips for hiring and managing remote workers. Zack had some great insights about culture building in remote teams, hiring/retaining top talent and the importance of Emojis.
For those who don’t know - Dribbble is an online community for showcasing user-made artwork and serves as the go to resource for networking and feedback for web designers. They’re constantly looking for ways to showcase top talent from around the world and help great designers with employment opportunities, support and much more!
Matt H: Hello, everyone. My name is Matt Hollingsworth, and it is my great pleasure to welcome you to the first episode of The Remote Show. On this show, we will talk to professionals in a variety of industries in positions around the world about their experiences working remotely. The pros, the cons, and everything in between. Along the way, we hope that we can provide some unique insights that will help you on your remote work journey. The Remote Show is brought to you by weworkremotely.com, the number one place to find and list remote jobs. Without 220,000 unique users per month, it is the best place to find your new qualified candidate.
[00:00:39] My first guest on my show today is Zack Onisko. Zach is the CEO of Dribbble,which is an online community for showcasing design work from some of the best designers in the world. It has grown to become an inspiration destination for hundreds ofmillions of people, now a go to resource for discovering and connecting with designers and creative talent around the world. Check out dribbble.com, that's D-R-I-B-B-B-L-E.com if you haven't already checked that out.
[00:01:07] Previously, Zack was Vice President of Growth and interim VP of Product at Hired, Inc. Dribbble is now a 100% remote team with over 40 employees. With all that said, Zack, thanks for being on the show today. I'm not sure if you're aware, but this is the very first recording of The Remote Show.
[00:01:24] Zack Onisko: Well, cool. I hope to make it worth it.
[00:01:26] Matt H: Yeah, I'm sure it will be, for sure, and we're super excited to talk to you today, so that's great. Thank you so much for being on.
[00:01:33] Zack Onisko: Thanks for having me.
[00:01:34] Matt H: I'm sure most of our listeners have heard of Dribbble or know about Dribbble, but why don't we start with what you do at Dribbble and how things are going, and we'll go from there.
[00:01:43] Zack Onisko: Sure, yeah. So Dribbble is a global community for designers. We're gonna celebrate 10 years this summer, so we've been around for a while. It's a global brand. We have designers all over the world who come to Dribbble for inspiration, exposure, feedback, job opportunities, and yeah. I took over as CEO about two years ago.
[00:02:08] Matt H: Nice, nice. So were you part of the community before you came on as CEO, or were you-
[00:02:15] Zack Onisko: Yeah.
[00:02:15] Matt H: Yeah? Okay, cool.
[00:02:17] Zack Onisko: Yeah, I mean, so just a quick background on me, I started my career about 20 years ago as a web designer. I started a little freelance business for a couple of years, and then got a formal design degree and thought I was gonna go the agency route. Was really into Flash and motion design at the time and really loved that stuff. Then ended up taking a job at a startup and then my role kind of quickly moved outof design into product management and to more of a growth, executive roles at numerous startups over the course of the last two decades.
[00:02:54] Along the way, for one reason or another, my career trajectory has landed in companies that were either in the recruitment space or the design space, and so Dribbble's kind of in the middle of those two worlds. So anyway, kind of full circle.
[00:03:11] Matt H: Yeah, that's great. I think it probably helps with getting the jobs in the executive and marketing and growth that you had, the background that you did. Correct me if I'm wrong there, but it seems likes these things tie all together, so.
[00:03:24] Zack Onisko: Yeah, I mean, when I met Andrew Wilkinson from Tiny, that was kind of how he found me, where he's like, "Hey, I found, I have this opportunity to run by you that I think is a perfect meld of your background and so forth." So far so good. I took over the company. We were eight people. We're 47 today, fully remote. The company has grown kind of all of KPIs are up into the right. Our traffic is up 100%, our users are up, user growth as community is up 300%, and revenue's up 400%, so. Yeah, it's been alot of fun, yeah.
[00:04:05] Matt H: Nice. So since you came out, or since you've been part of the community for so long, how have you seen the Dribbble community change, because it was my understanding that it was invite only originally, and it was sort of a core group of designers that were wanting to show their work. Then it's morphed into what it is today, so where, from a business perspective, how has it changed since you've been on and over the course of the eight years?
[00:04:29] Zack Onisko: Yeah, so it's still invite only. The community was really borne outof our co-founder. Dan Cederholm was writing a lot of books on web design and speaking in a lot of conferences, and he was really leaning over the shoulders of people at these conferences and saying, "Wow, that looks really cool. What are you working on?" That's really kind of the inception of Dribbble was this premise of being able to share what you're working on with a handful of designers. It was a closed community to start, just kind of a handful of top designers. Then the opened it up to the world via an invite system, and that was really just because Dan and Rich, the co-founders, were really just the two of them for many years. They were growing the business, so they had to be mindful of server bills and things like this.
[00:05:22] So it was partly to kind of restrict growth and then partly was quality control, right? They just wanted to make sure that the company, the platform had a high bar in terms of the quality of work that was being shared. That's still true today. It's been this exclusive community for a long time, which has been great for the people inside, but for the people not inside, we have designers all over the world now. They might not know somebody in their personal network to be able to invite them to Dribbble. So we're starting to look at ways that we can move away from an exclusive community and be more inclusive as we grow and mature. Part of that is looking at our invite algorithms, how we can be more inclusive to geographies that are not representative today. Then also just by working on partnerships with different organizations who have populations ofdesigners who are not necessarily familiar with the Dribbble brand yet. For instance, design conferences in other countries or design schools. Things like this.
[00:06:33] Matt H: Nice. Yeah, so it seems like what's so unique about Dribbble from myperspective is it has a long history and it still has the reputation, a very high reputation amongst the community that maybe other sort of forum style communities online haven't been able to sort of maintain. It seems like everybody still points to Dribbble, even though given your growth, things can potentially dilute, I guess, is the right word in termsof the quality and that sort of thing. So it's been really cool to see Dribbble maintain that. So how have you been able to do that outside of typical quality control?
[00:07:06] Zack Onisko: Yeah, so the way we're looking at it today is that we want to solve quality control with technology and not by people gating. There's just a ton of amazing designers, like literally hundreds of thousands of amazing designers out there doing really interesting work, and there's a ton of designers who are doing lesser quality work, but a platform like ours has the ability through social signals to be able to rise the good work and bring that work to the homepage so it gets more exposure regardless of if you've been on the platform for ten years and have 400,000 followers or if you're brand new to the platform and have 400 followers.
[00:07:47] So that's really the effort, how we're looking at the future is kind of this evolution and how do we grow the community. The community itself, like we have an internal kind of north star mantra, and it's that we'll be successful as a platform and as a community and as a business if we help designers become successful. So a lot of our focus over the past year has been around work opportunities and getting freelancers leads for projects, helping designers who are looking for full-time gigs get gigs. That's really delivering just a ton of value back to the community, and in turn, that's fueled out growth.
[00:08:25] As we look to the future, we're very interested in investing in education with hundreds of thousands upon millions of up and coming designers visiting the site every month. Today, unless you have an invite, there's not really a product for you on Dribbble other than an inspiration destination. So we want to look at, okay, how can we help thesedesigners get jobs, right? How do they get the education to at least get the baseline so they can start to grow and become better designers over time? There's a design shortage right now, so we're in a very interesting time where technology has flattened the competitive landscape, and it's more easy than ever before to be able to start a new business and compete globally.
[00:09:07] The change, just as kind of a quick case study, there were about 150 SAS products in the martech space five, six years ago. Today, there's over 7,000. So as a consumer, as a business owner, to look at that landscape of potential marketing solutions, like its paradox of choice is super real, right? There's just all these different, discrete products. So the way that business owners are now looking at how they differentiate and how they compete in the market is by building better products, a better user experience, and that all stems in design. The old adage was just go throw more engineers at your product and build more features, and today it's really about just let's build a better product that will attract customers and retain them from leaving to go to a competitor that could have feature parity with your product.
[00:09:56] So really, companies are looking to win on customer experience and quality. We've seen this in Silicon Valley for years, right? Dropbox and Airbnb and Lyft really doubling down and building this design centric culture, but now we're starting to see this in Fortune 500. We're starting to see this across all industries, not just the Apples or the Nikes who you think are design led on within the F500, but companies like McDonalds and Kohls and Ford Motor Company.
[00:10:26] A great case study to illustrate the change in demand is IBM, old big blue, which you might envision being kind of a cube farm and they're actually innovating at a crazy pace. The ratio of engineer to designer at IBM has changed in the last five years from 72 engineers for every one designer to now it's eight engineers for every one designer. On their mobile teams, it's actually 3:1. So they're making mass investments, and we're seeing this kind of all across the landscape. There's just not enough designers in the market to facilitate the need. People used to talk about this demand problem and now there's companies who are raising their series A series B and a design manager hasbasically 20 job openings that they need to fill, and they just have difficulty finding talent.
[00:11:13] So anyway, to kind of backtrack, so education is definitely a huge focus for us as we move forward, because we see that there's a lot of ambition, people who are very interested in design. There's just a lack of education and training available at a professional level.
[00:11:29] Matt H: Right. Right now, it seems like Dribbble is in a pretty unique situation to be able to offer those education resources given your region and given who is alreadyon the platform. What would be the typical channel of a designer that wants to get the education and professional resources that you mentioned right now? Is that available easily for these people, or is it sort of, whether they go through the typical channels?
[00:11:53] Zack Onisko: Yeah, I mean, there's design schools, right? That's the typical path that you go down. You go and you spend 50k a year to go to one of these top design schools, RISD, Parsons. These are great schools, but not everyone can afford it. Not everyone is in the states. There's quite a bit of barrier to entry for a mass population to be able to get access to this education, this kind of baseline education for the craft. Soyeah, so that's where we see a big opportunity for us is if we can help facilitate that and bring this skillset to a much wider audience.
[00:12:29] Matt H: Interesting. I think just to circle back, so you mentioned that Dribbble is fully remote for the team. Is that correct?
[00:12:36] Zack Onisko: Yeah, yep.
[00:12:36] Matt H: Nice. So for you, were you working remotely in your previous job, or is this the first one?
[00:12:42] Zack Onisko: So I have, right? So to go back to when I was running growth marketing at Creative Market, we had part of the team in San Francisco. I'm born and raised in San Francisco, so just as the nature of the beast of so many companies being here, I just didn't have the ambition to work remote. I think going back to early days, like the mid 90s, there's this Sandra Bullock movie, The Net. She's like hacking on the beach, and I'm like, oh, she's like in her bathing suit and with her laptop open. I'm like, "That's what working on the internet is like!"
[00:13:14] Matt H: That's the dream.
[00:13:14] Zack Onisko: But fast forward to reality, my last job at Hired, I was commutingtwo hours a day. I have a young family, so we moved out into the suburbs, so I was taking the train in to San Francisco every day. I had to work ten hours at the office, and then commute back home. So I was literally leaving the house before my kids were awake and coming home after they'd gone to bed. I just wasn't seeing my family during the workday. So that bummed me out. When I was at Hired, we were a 280 person team. There were about 100 people in San Francisco and the rest of the team was spread out all over the world in 17 different cities.
[00:13:56] Of the people I managed in San Francisco, I would get people hitting me up every day saying, "Hey, can I work from home? Can I work from the coffee shop? Hey, I don't want to commute to work today." My stance was, we hire great people. We do great work. As long as you get your work down, I don't care if you work from the office or from the beach. That was kind of my stance on it, and it worked really well. It was kind ofjust this trust in our employees and they got the work done.
[00:14:24] Of the folks who were in the office, the funny thing is is that there's a limited supply of conference rooms, and everyone has meetings all throughout the day. So we'dfight to get into these rooms and then we'd just flip open our laptops and hop on Zoom totalk to our remote workers. So it's funny. I mean, we were playing six figures a month for rent. Hired shared the same building with Uber and Square, so super expensive. So when I joined Dribbble, the team of eight were all remote, and so I had just done a remodel on my house and built out a home office, which I'm in right now.
[00:15:02] Matt H: Yeah, it looks great.
[00:15:03] Zack Onisko: Yeah, thank you. I have a bunch of guitars here, like you have behind you. Kind of just built my perfect little work den, and the original plan was oh, this is gonna be a place where I would work a day a week as I commute to the city the rest ofthe time. So when I joined Dribbble, I'm like, you know what? Let's just do this remote thing. I'm friends with the team at Envision, the team at Automatic, and I saw them successfully grow their 100% remote teams into over 500 employees nearing like 1,000 employees now. For me, it was a huge mitigation of risk, right? If these companies can do it successfully, if they can figure it out, we can figure it out too.
[00:15:49] So that was a pretty big decision early on. I think when I first joined, I was like,okay, should we get a WeWork? Then we started throwing some job reqs up and started to get these really great applicants from all over the place. So it just kind of snowballed. It was kind of on purpose and kind of accidental, to be honest, but we started to hire some really great people from all over. We had some folks in Canada, in BC, so we spunup a Canadian entity and we have a US entity, so I payrolled both countries. We literally had people spread out all over North America. We have a developer in the UK as well.
[00:16:31] So we started to get folks coming in, and also coming from just areas that weren't super expensive to live in. You can live off of a national average salary, right? Our pay is actually very competitive. We're in this, everyone's kind of between the 75th and 90th percentile, but way less than hiring people from San Francisco and New York who demand 3x national averages. So it's given us this freedom and (inaudible) we don'thave this crazy, two and a half million dollar lease on a fancy office space in San Francisco. That goes back to our bottom line, and it's allowed us to build a fast growing, profitable, and bootstrapped business.
[00:17:23] Matt H: Yeah. Something that I've come across quite often with companies that are starting out fully remote is that it wasn't necessarily their intention to go remote right off the bat. It was something that just sort of came naturally as you mentioned with the realization that there's all these benefits that come with having remote workers and just create a pool of applicants to pull from and this talent that wouldn't necessarily comeacross your plate.
[00:17:44] So that's definitely a trend. Is there an area of remote work that you've had difficulties with in terms of team building? Is there some separation between the fully remote team and people that are in an office together, and how has that affected sort of the culture building at Dribbble?
[00:18:01] Zack Onisko: Yeah, no, not to pat ourselves on the back too much, but we haven't had too much pain, mostly because we've gone in eyes wide open from the get go. So from the early team, we started to instrument kind of best practices in management, operations, organizational dynamics, these kind of management one on one stuff. Things like we weekly one on ones, so every direct report has a one one with their manager. No one feels like they're on a lonely island. They're not out of the loop in communication.
[00:18:36] One of the things that we saw fall down at my last company was that becausethere were 100 people in San Francisco, there were a lot of decisions being made, a lot of communication was happening that was going undocumented, and the remote folks were just out of the loop. So they're hearing about this stuff secondhand, and they're like, "Okay, well, why wasn't my voice being heard? Why wasn't I part of this decision?" Or "Why wasn't I even told this thing happened with the company that's this major thing?" So kind of learning from that experience, we knew we didn't want to do a hybrid approach. We wanted to go completely, 100%, and that was gonna force us to, one is to over-communicate, and two, and to over-document.
[00:19:16] So like I said, we do weekly one on ones. We do a team call, like an all handscall weekly, which gives every functional team an opportunity to do a deep dive into whatthey've been working on that week. We try to focus in on actual, visual demos of the feature versus going into bullet points where people can zone out and space out if they're not familiar with the project. So that's really brought us together as a company. Atthe end of that call, we open it up for personal stories. We just leave 15 minutes at the end of this call just for us all to interact as a team and as people.
[00:19:51] We have also evolved our culture a bit. We really want to invest, because we don't have these crazy line items in our P&L, we can reinvest that back into the team anddo some really fun things for culture. Our perks, our Canadian employees, we do an upgrade on benefits. With the US folks, we try to have some of the best plans out there. We pay for most plans 100% of not only the employee, but their entire family's medical/dental. We have three month maternity leave. So there's some interesting thingsto do, education funds, gym funds, coffee funds. There's a bunch of cool things we do just to kind of make sure that people are comfortable in their job.
[00:20:31] But one of the interesting things we did recently is that we invested in a conference, and the idea here is that we knew we wanted to have FaceTime. As a remote company, we wanted to get together at least twice a year to just hang out and beable to bond as people in the same locale. So we made up a design conference, and it's called Hang Time. We bring in some of the top design leaders in the world to come share their stories and give workshops. We travel to a different city each time, and so weget the chance to invite the local community out to experience the conference, but also to meet our entire team, because the conference actually covers the T&E expense to fly out and put everyone up in hotels for a week.
[00:21:17] Matt H: Nice.
[00:21:18] Zack Onisko: So that's an interesting thing that we do that's been a side effectof going fully remote.
[00:21:24] Matt H: One of the things that I wanted to ask you about was as a fully remote team, how has the hiring process changed for Dribbble or evolved as a fully remote team? Do you look for something specifically in the people that you hire that you wouldn't normally look for elsewhere?
[00:21:40] Zack Onisko: Yeah, we do. So we try to screen for obviously skill set. We try to find people who are A players, top of their game, functional experts. We have a really high bar for culture, so it's a cliché of the no asshole rule, but we're kind of silly and goofy. We make a lot of puns and dad jokes and a lot of crazy emojis and gifs and that kind of stuff. It just makes work fun and so we want to find people who have that similar spirit. We look for people who have an affinity for the design community or have a creative background of some sort. A lot of us are musicians or have come from some other type of arts background, which just kind of helps you just hit the ground running and just understand our mission and our vision for what we're trying to build here.
[00:22:30] The fourth thing is really just trying to weed out people who just aren't geared for remote work. We've only made a couple hiring mistakes, pulling people out of big companies where there's just a lot of, you come to work and you sit around, you do a lot of meetings and you play a lot of politics, and that's really the job is, in some of these larger organizations. For us, we're a startup. We're still a roll up your sleeves, get shit done type of an organization, so that type of vein doesn't really work in a remote environment or really any small company environment, but especially a remote, right? It's just a huge red flag culturally when you see just see people not pulling their weight.
[00:23:19] So we're really just trying to find, trying to suss out that. We also want to suss out people who are just naturally just not into remote. There's kind of two types of people. There's people who working from home, they're like 3x more efficient and effective than if they were at a desk. In Silicon Valley, the wisdom is to have this open office with all the desks are doors on filing cabinets, and everyone, it's just this sea of people of clatter and people working. But if you go to one of these offices, everyone's wearing noise canceling headphones and they're just desperately just trying to focus on their work without being interrupted by their peers.
[00:24:00] So we believe that's kind of a broken model, but there's a lot of people, they just need to be around people and in an office to be able to get work done. So we try to avoid those hires. They're people who, when they work from home, they can't help themselves, but they have to, they get distracted by the sunshine or they have to turn onthe TV or they have to go clean their house. That's just not gonna, that's not gonna work for us. We try to suss out for those types of signals.
[00:24:30] Matt H: Right. Speaking of distractions and that sort of thing, is there anything that you do personally or you've seen sort of widespread across the Dribbblers to maintain focus and to make sure that they're in the most efficient workspace possible?
[00:24:41] Zack Onisko: Yeah, I mean, for a lot of us who are either former entrepreneurs, former founders, former freelancers, consultants, that type of experience,you're working solo a lot and you're responsible personally to get your job done. So the way we've structured the company is just, people have responsibilities and they sign up for work to be done, and it's really kind of up to that person to find their sweet spot, whether that's a coffee shop, whether that's their home office, their bed, or if they need to go to a WeWork.
[00:25:27] It just comes down to getting your work done. From our perspective, as a leadership team, the whole relationship's just built on a foundation of trust, and so if you have the skillset to do the job that you signed up to do, we trust you to go do it. If you don't do it, then we'll have a conversation about it, but for new people looking to work remote, to answer your question, I think it's really about finding your quiet place to be able to focus in and get good work done.
[00:25:59] We've also been very mindful of building best practices for Dribbble. I have anHBR subscription. I read all these best practices from other companies, but it rarely works where you can kind of copy and paste from somebody else. So we've been very mindful of trying to develop best practices for Dribbble and working remote at our company as we've grown. So a couple things we've been very mindful of. Time zone, so we try to get people as much overlap as possible. We try to hire, we try to solely hire in North America whenever possible so that we maximize the overlap, right? There's about a three hour gap between east coast and west coast. We ask our east coast folks to, if they can, can they start later in the day? We ask our west coast folks to start early in the day, just to maximize the overlap.
[00:26:56] What we don't want and where we see inefficiencies is if we have people working odd hours and someone on the team just can't get ahold of somebody and there's a whole day, 24 hour cycle passes before a project is unblocked. That's just an inefficient way to work. Another way is that we've, what we've been very mindful of is meetings and the number of meetings people are in. That's just a huge time suck, and so we developed a couple rules internally. One is that we have a no meeting Thursday and Friday policy. So that gives ICs time to go heads down and just focus on their work uninterrupted. People are free to close Slack and just go and plug in.
[00:27:42] The other thing we do is we have a no agenda, no meeting policy, and so that means that whoever's spinning up a meeting needs to write an agenda ahead of that meeting and share it with whoever they're inviting. There's time to actually do the research and dig into whatever decisions need to be made and to help minimize the amount of meetings that people have. So anyway, just kind of, these are just a couple examples of ways that we started to just evolve and come up with strategy for us to workmore efficiently as a remote team.
[00:28:17] Matt H: Did you find that when you first were starting to work remotely or when you first came on with Dribbble that there was a difficulty separating work from your private life? Was it just a matter of shutting off at a certain part of the day or turning off Slack or that sort of things? Was there a process that you had to put in place to makesure that people were getting their own time?
[00:28:37] Zack Onisko: So people are pretty good about it. I wish I was actually better atit. I'm self admitted a workaholic, and I have a hard time turning it off, but this year in particular, I've been better at, this is silly, but carving out time to eat. So actually taking a lunch break, and I take the dog for a walk. I carve out time at the end of the day to go to the gym and actually, and just having a routine pulls me out of work mode and gets me to think about other things. But most days, around 6:00 o'clock when my family kind of comes home is when I turn everything off and like to spend at least a few hours with my wife. Helping my wife in the kitchen and helping the kids get ready for bed and all that stuff. Baths and that's super important to me. Then yeah, usually after the kids go to bed I hop back on online and do a couple more hours.
[00:29:38] But for the most part, the team's really good about that work/life balance. One thing that we also have is just, again, just built on this foundation of trust. We provide everyone with a pretty flexible ability to plan their day however they choose. So we have no strict hours where you need to be in seat. We've had an employee who went half timeto travel around in her van and live in her van for six months and camped and spent half of her day working and half of her day rock climbing.
[00:30:17] Matt H: Nice.
[00:30:17] Zack Onisko: That was her jam. We have another employee who is a coach for his kids' sports teams, so he typically logs off at 3:00, goes and does that a couple days a week, and then comes back and makes up some time at the end of the day. So we want to provide these opportunities for people. It's a luxury of life to work remote, really. We can actually take our kids to the doctor or go get groceries or go do normal lifestuff whenever, at a moment's notice. So that's cool.
[00:30:49] We also want to make sure that people are always kind of recharged and have time to do great work and aren't burning out. So we have an unlimited PTO policy. People can take extended vacations and come back and we just ask the people to do great work and we're pretty open and flexible outside of that.
[00:31:09] Matt H: Yeah, it sounds like for you, and I think for a lot of other fully remote teams, it really comes down to trusting your employees and the people that you work with to be able to get their work done.
[00:31:19] Zack Onisko: I mean, it's the way it should be, right? I mean, if I'm a manager in an office, there's no guarantee that just because somebody's sitting at a desk that they're doing work. Most of my employees at my last company were just spending most of their day on Facebook and Twitter anyway, so.
[00:31:33] Matt H: Yeah. So within the community of leaders in tech, it seems like it's definitely moving in the direction of sort of being open to remote work and flexible work and that sort of thing. Is there a common thread or a common theme of reasons why youwouldn't within the CEO and tech leadership community? What's something that you hear a lot for that?
[00:31:54] Zack Onisko: Yeah, I think there's a lot of knee jerk reaction from investors, and from the mindset of an investor, they're just looking for a return on their investment at some point in the future. A lot of these funds are seven, ten years and they have to pay back to the investors in those funds. So the way that these portfolios are built are positioned to flip these companies and sell them to larger acquirers. I think the fear with investors is Google or Apple or Facebook, are they gonna want to acquire a remote team or are they only gonna want to acquire teams that are willing to move to Mountain View?
[00:32:43] Matt H: Right. Interesting.
[00:32:45] Zack Onisko: So I think that's the big hesitation is really coming from the venture world. For us being bootstrapped, it's just not a problem. We have the investors, and so again, the landscape is quickly shifting. The ease to be able to start a company isbecoming more and more easy and efficient to get something off the ground. So I think the entrepreneurial landscape is gonna shift as well, and less companies are gonna require seed funds and angel funds to get something going and more people will be ableto work with talented people all over the world and not have to move to companies, to San Francisco to attend YC or whatever.
[00:33:34] Matt H: Right. It seems like something that I hear or come across quite often is that fear but in a different context of more aligned with how do I know my people are working when they should be working? How do I know? It just seems like it's more difficult to micromanage a fully remote team, and maybe I'm wrong in that, but it seems like that's something that people fear of letting go at least of the control a little bit there.
[00:34:01] Zack Onisko: Yeah, honestly, I think that's just an immature management mindset. To be honest, I think any seasoned manager, you have goals that are set. You have milestones. You have weekly sprints. You have daily standups. It's really easy to see if work's not getting done or not.
[00:34:23] Matt H: Right, of course. Yeah, yeah.
[00:34:26] Zack Onisko: So again, it's about hiring great people who are great at their functional skillset and just trusting people to do great work and do it on their terms and it works out.
[00:34:37] Matt H: Right, now what would you say to somebody who is maybe going to transition or is starting a company and wants to go remote or is part of a leadership teamthat maybe are thinking about considering remote work. What would you say would be something that you would want to start right away as your team disperses in terms of processes and practices and things like that?
[00:35:00] Zack Onisko: I mean, I would say focus on efficiencies and unblocking inefficiencies. So kind of starting at the bare basics. Time zone is gonna be the big one. With Slack and Google Docs and Zoom, those tools would help facilitate some of the blockers that people complained about years ago. So it's much easier to get set up and running off the bat. Then it's really just about common tools for working as a web company, right? It's project management. It's Asana or JIRA or whatever your flavor is. It's having some kind of realtime collaboration, so chat, whether that's Slack or HipChat or whatever your jam is.
[00:35:55] So anyway, there's all these tools, and that really is the biggest, that has beenthe biggest roadblock, I think, historically from allowing, except for bandwidth, right? To allow this type of work to happen. So I think that when you're small, there's just not a whole lot of process needed. There's not a whole lot of heavy lifting needed to get this going and to work effectively. As you grow and the teams get bigger, then you just need to lay down some best practices and processes, but we take a very light stroke to those sorts of things.
[00:36:42] But it just keeps people on the same page. What you don't want is people feeling like they're out of the loop or not plugged into what's happening, so it just comes back to over-communication, over-documenting, just doing a great job of bringing the team together.
[00:36:56] Matt H: Yeah, and I think one of the things that you mentioned before that's super important is to try to make sure that you're getting the conversational interactions that aren't necessarily related to work and just making sure that you have that as a priority, your people and you work at a company and just to make sure that that's a priority. Because I think that kind of gets lost a little bit sometimes when you're only communicating about work related things. A lot of that stuff can get forgotten about, which I think is important.
[00:37:25] Zack Onisko: Yeah, I mean, culturally for us, we try to prioritize fun. We try to prioritize a sense of humor and just keep work as light as possible. We have Chloe who heads up our people ops. She runs virtual happy hours, virtual book clubs, virtual movie clubs, virtual book exchanges. So we try to do a lot of fun stuff. We do remote gaming.
[00:37:52] Matt H: Oh really? Nice.
[00:37:53] Zack Onisko: Role playing games, so yeah, there's just different ways that we try to connect and have fun. We're not over Zoom and video chat. Then that kind of fills the blanks before we get to see each other in person twice a year for Hang Time. That work is really kind of laptops down. We just spend a week just hanging out and eating and drinking, going to museums together, that sort of thing.
[00:38:18] Matt H: Nice. I can attest to the Dribbble team's use of emojis and things like that. Over Slack, you guys are real experts there, so kudos to you.
[00:38:29] Zack Onisko: Thank you, thank you.
[00:38:29] Matt H: So I want to be cognizant of your time, Zack, and I really appreciate you being here with us today. I have a couple more closing questions for you. You kind of touched on one of them, but what is your favorite tool that you use for remote work, and you can take it in any direction you want to.
[00:38:47] Zack Onisko: It's emoji, definitely.
[00:38:49] Matt H: Of course, that's right. I knew the answer already.
[00:38:52] Zack Onisko: No, I mean, we're really big into Slack and Zoom, of course, but we use Bonusly, which is a plugin for Slack. We award each other points that can then be cashed out. Dribbbpoints, all one word. Three Bs. They can be cashed out for variousthings, whether it's Amazon gift cards or if you want to actually donate your points to charities. So the team really enjoys that. It's a lot of fun. We use a daily standup plugin for Slack that I am spacing on the name of right now. Is there a robot in it? Anyway-
[00:39:32] Matt H: Yeah, I think I know what you're talking about.
[00:39:33] Zack Onisko: I'm drawing a blank, yeah. Sorry. But yeah, so we look at things like that just helps automate a lot of processes and make work a little more fun.
[00:39:43] Matt H: Nice. So my last question here for you is not related to work. What is your favorite unplugged activity?
[00:39:52] Zack Onisko: Well, I do have some acoustics, but most of the time I plug in.
[00:39:56] Matt H: Oh yeah.
[00:39:57] Zack Onisko: I like to turn up my amp here in my office and piss off my neighbors at least once a day. I don't play any bands anymore, but just kind of fiddling around helps release a lot of tension and helps me relax.
[00:40:11] Matt H: For sure.
[00:40:11] Zack Onisko: Outside of that, it's just really just dad mode, taking the kids to soccer or ballet or whatever is super rewarding for me.
[00:40:18] Matt H: Nice. Well Zack, I really appreciate this. This is, I think, a pretty successful first recording of the show, so thank you so much for being here and we reallyappreciate it.
[00:40:26] Zack Onisko: Yeah, thanks for having me.
[00:40:31] Matt H: Thanks.
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