Case Studies

Rebuilding a Distributed Engineering Team's Culture

"Gather has done more for Beatport’s engineering operations, culture, and productivity than anything else in the last 5 years."
Beatport Office / Retail Team

Beatport provides world-class products and services that help DJs and producers elevate their craft. Before the pandemic, they were primarily based in Denver, Colorado in an incredible, industrial-styled office. 

Music Platform for DJs & Producers
Company Size:
51-200 employees

Picture it: All the engineers together. Garage doors that could slide open. A DJ booth where members of the team would perform on Friday afternoon. (After all, Beatport is built for DJs, by DJs.) 

Then the pandemic hit, forcing everything about their culture to change in order to support a fully remote workforce. Some of that change was positive: Team members were able to move to new cities and Beatport was able to hire talent from across the world. 

But as much as they believed in the flexibility and benefits of remote work, many members of the team always felt like something was missing. They didn’t have the same sense of culture and camaraderie that they used to in the office, which was negatively impacting retention rates and morale. 

When Morgan Soley stepped into his role as Director of Engineering, he knew he wanted to find a way to bring people closer together, despite being miles apart. To capture that feeling of being part of the Beatport team and not just contributing to a codebase. That’s what led him to try Gather, and in his words:

“Gather has done more for Beatport’s engineering operations, culture, and productivity than anything else in the last 5 years.” Morgan Soley, Director of Engineering at Beatport

Starting from the beginning: Distributed and disconnected

Before Gather, The Beatport Engineering team primarily used Google Meet and Slack to communicate with each other. These tools worked, but felt slow and impersonal. 

In order to schedule a meeting with someone in a different time zone, they were usually looking at least 1-2 days out on the calendar, if not further. And there was really no good way for people to casually chat and build relationships. Attempts in Google Meet usually resulted in people turning off their camera and checking out. 

This reliance on meetings and asynchronous work, even for things that were quick, kept engineers blocked and slowed productivity. 

It was difficult to collaborate, and team members felt disconnected from each other.

Gather felt like an instant “productivity booster”

Morgan heard about Gather from a friend and took a tour of their office. He instantly saw the potential, and decided to try it with a few managers from his own team. 

Gather immediately unlocked the ability to “just be able to see” if someone’s busy or not.

After one week, the early group started to invite more members of their team. And after that, it just took off. “Within one week, it was out of my hands. The reaction was incredible,” Morgan recalled.

Instead of scheduling meetings days in the future, team members started just walking over to the person they needed to talk to. For example, after standups are over, they’ll break out into smaller groups if follow-up conversations are needed. They’ll do on-the-fly demos and share screens right then and there. And people can see when this is happening, making it easy for others to drop in. 

One team member described that it’s “less friction to just pop by and ask questions,” rather than trying to figure out how to type a question or figure out when someone is available for a call. 

They’ve even been able to cancel meetings that were previously scheduled, because they found five minutes during the day when they were free to talk. For example, engineers will look around the office to find designers who are free to quickly pair up. This keeps work moving instead of waiting for a meeting. This pattern of quick collaboration is even visualized in their Office Insights Dashboard.

About 35% of conversations in Beatport’s Gather office last fewer than 10 minutes. These are the impromptu problem-solving sessions that keep their engineering team moving fast. While they maintain a steady rhythm of scheduled meetings, unplanned conversations make up almost half of all interactions. 

“We made our money back on Gather in the first week that we had it.”

Beyond reducing time spent in meetings and unblocking engineers faster, Gather proved its value with an unplanned interaction. 

Morgan saw two engineers on his team talking, and decided to pop over to say hi. They were debating how to solve a problem, with ideas that would likely take a couple weeks of in-house work. Morgan was able to offer an alternative solution thanks to a third-party provider the team uses – context that neither of these team members had. 

Thanks to this impromptu conversation, they were able to save two weeks of work and get completely unblocked. The efficiency gains from working in a virtual office on Gather were immediate. 

Building culture, not just a codebase

Since using Gather, Morgan said that meetings feel more engaged and productive. People appear to have stronger relationships within the department, and work just feels more human. He’s watched multiple product owners go around the office and introduce themselves to the rest of the team. There’s even a group that plays Codenames in the office on Friday mornings. 

The team members (not just leadership) feel the benefits also. During their trial period with Gather, Morgan surveyed the team to collect feedback and gauge interest in continuing to use Gather. 

Here’s a collection of what Beatport team members thought about Gather:

With feedback like that, the decision to use Gather was an easy yes.

Beatport is the kind of company that’s always had soul behind its software, and Morgan is the type of Engineering leader who’s determined to create a great work environment. He knew there had to be a better solution for his distributed team, and Gather has helped create a place where they can feel more connected, be more productive, and have fun together.

“Thanks to Gather, we communicate better. There are fewer meetings on the calendar. And we’re pushing forward faster. It’s been transformative to our remote culture.” Morgan Soley, Director of Engineering at Beatport

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