How Hubstaff Unites Customer Experience Across 19 Time Zones with Kona

“Kona has really helped to draw our team out into shared spaces and interact with one another in really fun and invitational ways.”

Tyler Sellhorn

Director of Customer Experience, Hubstaff

A woman celebrates with her dog and coworker over Zoom. Culture is king for teams!
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Hubstaff sits at the cutting-edge of team productivity. Over 40,000 businesses use Hubstaff to complete projects profitably with time tracking, project management, and proof of work. They’re the go-to software suite for over 100 different industries with thousands of positive reviews from industry leaders to match.

They’ve accomplished all of this while 100% distributed. As a matter of fact, Hubstaff’s Customer Experience (CX) team has 20 members spread across 19 timezones, from Seattle (UTC-8) to Melbourne (UTC+11). They provide technical and customer support for all of Hubstaff’s B2B products, forming a key component of Hubstaff’s success.

Tyler Sellhorn, Director of Customer Experience, leads this asynchronous team across three regional sections. He relies heavily on culture, intention, and connection to keep teammates united. Tyler needed a way to “break the ice” across culture and personality boundaries without relying solely on Zoom meetings or games.

Tyler was interested in how Kona could bring out the human-side more often. In August 2020, he and his team started using Kona.

“Kona has put a metronome on reminding us that while we may not be physically working in the same space, we are together virtually.”
Tyler Sellhorn, Director of Customer Experience, Hubstaff

A daily dose of vulnerability and laughter

Kona starts every morning (UTC+11) with a Red-Yellow-Green check-in. Everyone on Tyler’s team chimes in, sharing what’s going on in their lives, and replying to notes from yesterday's check-in. These check-ins have become a daily ritual and set a tone of camaraderie. One of Tyler’s teammates, Gustavo Freitas, notes, “As soon as we start the day, we’re thinking about what we want to share. I use it as an excuse to get people to laugh. Over the last few months, we’re sharing laughter, starting conversations, and opening up more.”

A screenshot of Tyler's Slack team doing Red-Yellow-Green.

Tyler finds that Kona reinforces his manager values. “There have been a few days where I have marked yellow or red, and it’s really given me an opportunity to be vulnerable in a safe way,” Tyler says. With Kona, Tyler can lead by example and set psychological safety as the default. His teammates share their bad days with Kona and offer support to one another in Slack.

“Kona has really worked to bond team members that do not have much overlap in working hours,” Tyler says. For a fully asynchronous team like Tyler’s, Zoom happy hours alone don’t cut it. Kona helps Hubstaff’s teams stay connected from around the globe.

NOTABLE CULTURE WIN

Kona has sped up new hire onboarding at Hubstaff by 40%

Setting empathy as teamwide default.

Before Kona, Hubstaff’s Customer Experience teams relied on Zoom for team bonding and their water cooler Slack channel was pretty quiet. With time zones creating a major blocker in synchronous bonding, this resulted in uneven teambuilding and regional subgroups. Teammates in these subgroups often felt close to one another, but disassociated with the larger team. As a result, some teammates felt a decay in certain relationships and friction in overall team communication.

A testimonial graphic reading, "Kona has improved cross-team communication in Customer Experience and helped us feel united as one team."

Gustavo describes Kona as their “synchronous standup,” giving them a moment to feel connected with the team and up-to-date with each other’s lives. He notes that his more introverted teammates have also loved Kona, finding it easy to open up without having to face too much social pressure. Over time, Kona’s check-ins have united Hubstaff’s Customer Experience into one team and relieved the friction of cross-timezone collaboration.

“Kona has put a metronome on reminding us that while we may not be physically working in the same space, we are together virtually,” Tyler says. This teamwork has paid off. Kona has improved team engagement by at least 10% and increased the impact of other team bonding initiatives.

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