At Rhino, we believe that a successful organization is one that consistently strengthens employee contributions and fosters effective communication. When creating remote-friendly team structures for a post-pandemic world, we put these values to the test and the results have been well worth it.

Goal Setting

First, we started by aligning on four clear goals that advance our overall business objectives for the future.

  • We’re a fully remote organization and plan to remain remote supported by regular in-person meet-ups.

  • We plan to remain a lean and mean organization for the next 18-24 months. We prefer fewer people with greater context, focus, and autonomy.

  • We want to empower teams to work semi-independently in pursuit of business goals.

We’re building software products that help renters and property managers.

Team Development

We then established four cross functional teams, each of which is dedicated to a single goal. Each team has five primary roles (a lead from product, business, engineering, analytics, and design) along with two to four software development engineers.

As each lead comes with their own skillset and expertise, it is critical to the success of the team that they creatively contribute and work together. It’s a domino effect—it’s hard to build software without software engineers, hard to measure without analytics, and so on.

This organization pattern empowers the teams to have equal ownership over reaching their shared goal. The analytics lead might see a new method of measurement is needed to evaluate the success of a planned new product feature. They then consult with the other leads and decide to build or not build the new measurement tool. 

Additionally, each team has an executive sponsor to provide context and consult where needed. In a well-functioning team, the exec sponsor serves as an advisor or helps unblock the team.

Communication Systems

Effective communication is needed both within and across teams to reach goals.

Rhino uses a classic written WBR (weekly business review)/MBR (monthly business review)/QBR (quarterly business review) system, which allows us to eliminate the vast majority of standing group meetings across the organization.

We now have a single synchronous weekly meeting where we comment and discuss the WBR document so we can make quick decisions about resourcing or pivoting direction based on data presented on inputs and outputs of the business. While this was initially quite difficult for the team, the process and data creation methods evolved rapidly and we can now prepare for the meeting with less than 2 hours of work.

This pattern specifically helps remote employees because it supports team autonomy and independence while providing enough structure to help teams succeed. Minimal team-wide synchronous meetings allows for maximum focus, execution—without leading to burnout.

The Results

Our teams are empowered as each member has ownership over our 4 business goals. We’re quicker to make decisions based on real time data. We’re effectively communicating, without wasting time in meetings. And, most importantly, we’ve achieved greater organizational focus, enabling us to celebrate team wins across the company, and as of late, there’s been no shortage of reasons to celebrate.

Eric Harper

Eric Harper is Vice President of Product and Engineering at Rhino.