Doist — distributed, fun-loving, passionate.

Amir Salihefendic

We had a conversation with Amir Salihefendic, the founder and CEO at Doist.

Doist is a team of 44 people distributed all over the world. They are strong believers that technology can help tame the chaos of day-to-day activities. And because of that they build productivity softwares to help people achieve more in less time, with less stress.

Todoist is their most successful product trusted by 6 million people and 15,000 teams at places like Google, Apple, and NASA. Todoist is a simple yet powerful task manager that helps people organise both their professional and personal lives. Users can manage their to-dos across 15 different platforms and in 20 languages. The app is free and a paid version is available with great features to help busy people streamline the process.

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Where is your team located?

Our team is fully remote and currently works across 24 countries and 4 continents from Peru to Poland to the Philippines and many places in between. We’re missing Oceania and Antartica, but it’s still a possibility! We don’t set geographic limits to our team, as long as they have the right tools to help us with our goals.

For example, the Design team is distributed in 5 countries: Peru, Portugal, Spain, Germany and Taiwan. Our multicultural background has a strong influence on how we operate. Most of us work from home. We also have a small office in Porto with 5–7 people working from there.

This year Doist team had its first ever company retreat where over 30 of us gathered for a week of teamwork and fun in Menorca, Spain. This is something we were eager to organise for a long time — most of us saw each other physically for the very first time! We think it’s very important to gather as a team from time to time because it helps us create even stronger bonds.

How would you describe your team?

We recently compiled a company-wide survey to understand what our core values are. Values are helpful because they act as a guideline for what we can expect from coworkers and what they can expect from us. Values have strongly shaped Doist’s culture since the very beginning. Among others we have: clear communication, responsibility, team-player, self-mastery and sense of humor. We think these values are in sync with what we do, how we do it and why we do it. They are becoming more and more essential as we grow the organization.

Clear communication is one of the assets we value the most at Doist. Because we are fully distributed, most decisions are taken out of written feedback and comments. The team is great at communicating ideas in a concise and engaging way. We also encourage people to keep their teammates in the loop and never go radio silent.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced as remote team?

Being spread out across so many countries, dealing with different time zones can sometimes be a challenge. Nevertheless, we are strong believers that we couldn’t have built Todoist without a remote team — it has allowed us to create an amazing team based off of skills and merit, not on a specific geographic area.

We solve this challenge by scheduling weekly team meetings, and using Slack for quick messages and team communication. Plus, we are developing a collaboration tool which we are relying on more and more to keep up with our projects.

We set up weekly meetings between teams to make sure everyone has actionable tasks for the week and to review progress from the past week. It’s helpful to brainstorm on projects, share updates, and keep everyone feeling connected. Something we would recommend every team to do.

Recently we set up casual meetings with randomly assigned team members. It’s a great way to keep in touch with teammates who work in different areas!

Do you use visuals to support daily communication?

We use Sketch, InVision app, Marvel, Framer, Dropbox, and Cloudapp to share any visual content to make sure everything runs efficiently. Designers occasionally still use paper drawings but only to brainstorm by themselves.

Sketch is mainly used by the pixel masters of our Design team to collaborate easily. InVision, Marvel and Framer are tools we use to share mock-ups and to add real-time comments to new iterations so everyone understands what’s behind the ideas. And Dropbox, Google Drive and Cloudapp are our go-to solutions to share files between team members.

What has been the best resource on remote working for you, if you have used any?

This year I loved to learn and replicate advice from those three resources:

What’s your team ‘remote work bible’?

We put a big emphasis on self-improvement and continuous learning. When we onboard new recruits, we provide them with a list of books and articles to read. Top three would be:

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