GrabCAD – hardworking and passionate.

GrabCad office in Estonia

We had a conversation with Irena Mändmaa, Country Manager and Luis Barragan, Software Developer at GrabCAD.

GrabCAD is a digital manufacturing hub brought to you by the industry leader in 3D printing, Stratasys. GrabCAD solutions help designers and engineers build great products faster by connecting people, content and technology.

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What is the most important team value you have?

We are a team of super talented, hardworking and passionate people who value communication and openness very highly.

How many people work remotely in your company and how often?

Stratasys has people all over the world. The software team at GrabCad is primarily located in Tallinn (where GrabCAD was founded!), Boston, Israel, and the UK. Besides being distributed globally, our local teams also work remotely on a daily basis.

We don’t see each other in person often enough, but we have gotten very good at collaborating virtually – it’s our expertise after all.

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

The biggest challenge is probably working with the American offices. There is very little overlap of time zones, which makes it more difficult. And overlap time is important.

Our solution is to organize meetings as efficiently as possible. You can start working on something in the morning based on the feedback you received the night before. Then make sure that between 4 and 6pm Estonian time you have your live meetings with coworkers on the other side of the Atlantic, be it a Product Manager, a designer, or an engineer.

How do you communicate within your team? Any tips and tricks you would share with others?

Although a lot can be done via e-mails and chats (we use Slack), it’s important not to underestimate the power of personal interaction and actually hearing each other. Sometimes it is really helpful to pick up the phone or set up a google hangout to talk to the person on the other side of the world. This gives you the ability to get to know the person behind the email, and ultimately accomplish more.

Last year we did a team building challenge with an agency. It was simply awesome! We were put in international teams and given tasks to accomplish together. We had to use whatever means we had – mostly Slack, Skype calls and Google Hangouts – to communicate what we needed to get done to solve puzzles across locations. I would highly recommend doing that.

We also do daily stand-ups. Some of them are obviously at 4pm when the whole remote team can participate.

We actively share our own tips and tricks via our blog and you can even find some helpful ebooks. We have for example published ebook: Engineering Manager’s Field Guide

Do you use visuals when collaborating with your remote team?

Distributed team members usually prepare a Google Docs or slides with details that may include diagrams if needed. We then discuss the document via hangouts with the rest of the team. Usually, the doc is shared before the meeting so everyone can prepare questions and focus on discussing specific items.

What’s the funniest moment you’ve had as remote team?

We had a virtual party across three sites! Tallinn office had the party on the video for all three sites.

Someone took a screenshot of Hardi, our former CEO, eating a cupcake looking into the camera. Then the next time our CEO came into the office, the picture had been photoshopped so the cheeks were bigger and blown up to be the full size of the wall by his desk.

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