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How Teamsnap Improved Remote Connectedness & Team Culture with Kona

“You can’t walk around the office in a remote setting, so Kona acts like my sixth sense. I can see my distributed team’s emotional health in a way that I couldn't before. Our team is more effective and connected; people naturally check on each other and start casual conversations. It’s all from taking a simple 30-second pulse each morning.”

Shane Emmons

Chief Technology Officer, TeamSnap

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TeamSnap knows a thing or two about teamwork. They’re the #1 sports team management app for parents, players, and coaches. Over 23 million users rely on TeamSnap for team communications and invoicing. Even more impressive, their 98% satisfaction rate across 43,000 reviews speaks to their platform’s superiority.

Behind the scenes, Shane Emmons has been with TeamSnap's fully-distributed engineering team since 2012. They work across multiple timezones, preparing the platform for product updates and responding to incidents as they occur. TeamSnap collaborates asynchronously, so Shane relies heavily on teammate autonomy and trust to keep everyone aligned.

Of course, building trust remotely is easier said than done. “Cultivating relationships and being fully authentic is hardest when you’re remote,” Emmons says, “I could spend time with folks, but I couldn't be there for everyone everyday. At best, we could get some one-to-one face time once or twice a week. Without consistency, a lot of our culture building efforts felt like two steps forward and one step back.”

Shane needed to build team connectedness across a remote environment, so he tried Kona.

"Clicking an emoji each morning created big changes in how we take care of each other."
– Shane Emmons, CTO, TeamSnap

Fostering team-wide trust with Red-Yellow-Green surveys.

Shane set Kona’s Red-Yellow-Green pulses to send to the team channel every morning at 9 am. The check-in takes less than 30-seconds and the whole team opens up. TeamSnap values transparency so teammates got on board quickly to sharing when they were yellow or red. “We’re learning that bad days have a lot to do with personal issues and stress from the state of the world. Teammates will read about a coworker’s struggles and reach out to offer support,” Emmons says.

An illustrated graphic showing our classic Red-Yellow-Green feature.

Red-Yellow-Green also signals a safe space for TeamSnap’s newly onboarded teammates. When a new teammate marked themselves as red during their first week of work, Shane used the opportunity to coach his team on radical candor and discuss what a red heart meant. TeamSnap’s newest teammates open up faster with Kona than usual. Some of the Engineering team’s 12-week apprentices have built enough trust to share about their lives within their first couple of days.

Kona gives Shane up-to-date reports on his team's emotional state at a micro and macro scale. Shane addresses issues in real-time and tracks color trends at scale. During 1:1s, Shane refers to a teammate’s Red-Yellow-Green inputs, identifies individual stressors to remove, and sets personalized goals for improvement. Kona’s visibility helps TeamSnap’s Engineering team make data-based decisions for team wellness.

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Kona enabled TeamSnap's Engineering team to eliminate three-hours of meetings per person, per week.

Creating fewer, more intentional meetings.

TeamSnap’s Engineering team used to have daily stand-ups, weekly 1:1s, and twice-a-week all-hands. Shane quickly realized that his team spent the majority of these meetings doing small-talk and bonding. After two months with Kona, the team felt comfortable enough with their daily Red-Yellow-Green check-ins to drastically reduce their meetings. The Engineering team maintained their closeness while eliminating daily stand-ups and making 1:1s biweekly.

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Not only does TeamSnap have less meetings, but their meetings are more effective too. Shane spends less time during 1:1s digging into how a teammate felt during the week, redirecting that energy into their growth. They work together to establish quarterly goals. Shane's teammates have expressed that they feel they’re making much more progress than before.

“I actually have artifacts to point to for improving my team and our culture," Emmons says, "In a lot of team building, you have to share ‘What I remember’ and make a blind guess on next best steps. Kona removes the observer bias, allowing my team and I to focus on what happened and how to move forward. As a leader, I can feel my team being more efficient and connected.”

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Empathy is a habit.

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