Remote Teams with Lisa Sabin Wilson
In this week’s podcast, Kristina chats with Lisa Sabin Wilson – Co-Owner of WebDev Studios, author of WordPress For Dummies, and all-round WordPress expert. They discuss the challenges of managing and working with a remote team, as well as the future of WordPress. Tune in for Lisa’s insightful tips and WordPress predictions!
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A big Green Bay Packers fan, Lisa first appeared on the WP Elevation podcast back in 2014 where she spoke about publishing her books and speaking at SXSW. Only a year into her partnership with WebDev Studios back then, she still agrees that it’s one of the best professional decisions she has made.
With 42 staff, the entire WebDev Studios team work remotely. Lisa concedes that like all remote businesses, communication is the number one challenge, but due to some dynamic tools they are able to work extremely efficiently. The number one tool used for daily staff communication by the team is Slack. It’s set up using different channels for each area of the business. Kristina was interested in some of the random, not-quite-work-related channels that they use to encourage team cohesion and Lisa mentioned some fantastic channel discussions…
- Parenting channel: team chat related to working and having children
- Homeowners channel: renovations and home improvement
- Gaming channel: for all the gamers
- Health channel: the team are encouraged to all have Fitbits. Regular challenges are set up to encourage a healthy lifestyle through fun competition. Lisa recognizes how easy it is to sit the whole day in front of the computer when working remotely in the tech business, so the team are encouraged in self-care through ideas such as this one.
Once a year the whole WebDev Studios team meets up at ‘WDS Camp’. They fly everyone into a separate location and hang out for a week together. Lisa sees this as a hugely healthy and productive week, jam-packed with high-quality collaboration and creativity that comes about due to the face-to-face connection that the full week allows.
When Kristina asks Lisa about the extra pressure working mom’s in particular face, Lisa discusses how she managed to work as a single mother for many years. She acknowledges that for working parents, not just moms, the extra pressure of running a business from home whilst trying to organize schedules and maintain balance is challenging.
With many WordPress professionals working remotely or from home, Lisa is encouraged by the increasing conversations around mental health and work-life balance. She uses WordPresser Cory Miller as an example of a true champion of the cause. (You can hear Cory’s interview on this topic in his recent WP Elevation podcast interview.)
Kristina mentions how supportive the WP community is of each other, especially around topics like this, and Lisa expands on how the WordPress community fully embraces human beings as a whole. One of the points Lisa makes is that working remotely, we need to be mindful that we’re not abusing the hours that people work. Developers, for example, can work into the night on high-attention tasks. It’s important to ensure that your team is looking after themselves.
What’s New for WebDev Studios?
WebDev Studios recently launched a ‘product and plugins division’ called Pluginize. With around 80 percent of WebDev Studio’s work being in client services, they often receive requests for new features. So occasionally they come across a feature or functionality that they think would help WordPress users or developers and turn it into a cool new tool.
WebDev Studios release a lot of free product (such as the popular CPT UI plugin that has over one million downloads) and recently released the extended version of the CPT UI plugin which has more features and support. Lisa loves being able to take something that’s been created in another CMS and bring it to life in WordPress.
Where Do You See WordPress Headed in the Future?
She also touches on the acquisition of WooCommerce by Automattic at the 24-minute mark of the interview. Because of this, Lisa predicts that we’ll be seeing more easily integrated options with e-Commerce around WooCommerce and WordPress.
That concludes the interview with Lisa Sabin-Wilson. If you’d like to reach out and thank Lisa, you can reach her on the links below. Please leave us a comment and let us know what take-aways you got from this interview with one of the WordPress Greats!
Time to go elevate!
Gold Nugget Takeaway
Working with Remote Staff
Keep your team engaged by encouraging and supporting their interests outside of work. Setting up Slack channels for specific discussions around these interests is a great way to maintain the virtual ‘water-cooler’ conversation.
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