How to build a sustainable culture that supports remote work and effective communication(COVID 19 Edition)
When we first published this article almost two years ago, we had no idea that remote work will go global, even with companies that criticized and resisted the movement for over a decade.
Bill Gates already warned us years ago that we are not ready for an epidemic. With a lot of people either losing their jobs or starting working from home due to the quarantine, there has been a boom in remote work guides and valuable expertise to help people thrive without losing their sanity.
At Veamly, we have taken a unique approach to remote work that preserves your mental health and makes you feel productive. But still, we kept iterating and honing it over the years.
In this updated guide, we hope to provide the required knowledge and expertise for companies that took the leap and embraced remote work.
Doubting the numbers?
Whether you are working from home for the first time or looking for a remote position right now, you probably never considered this option.
In 2018, Buffer published a report on the state of remote work. The numbers were astonishing. 94% of remote workers encourage others to work remotely.
A Surepayroll survey revealed that eighty-six percent of those surveyed said they preferred to work alone to “hit maximum productivity.”
Two-thirds of managers say employees who work remotely increase their overall productivity.
It wasn’t easy for us. 3 years and dozens of mistakes and tweaks were the price we gladly paid to get where we are today.
Why we embraced remote work
It was an opportunity and a choice.
Silicon Valley is so competitive when it comes to acquiring talent. Going remote allowed us to access bigger and new talent hubs. We are present in the US & Tunisia. Of course, we are always open to exploring other locations.
Although we share the obsession over documentation with our friends at Gitlab, building a strong remote culture comes with its set of challenges.
Keeping separated teams in sync needs a seamless transparent layer of communication. That’s why we use Slack for quick interactions and Zoom for meetings. Slack is organized through channels that organize the conversations through subjects.
It's not obvious to build a team spirit and have bonding moments when you have remote teams. For that we create the "See beyond the Veamler" initiative. We use donut and we have weekly all-company meetings that includes 10 minutes social time.
Despite all, we were able to still create a synergy within the team. The coordination between the time zones is improving with time and the communicative spirit within the Veamly culture was key to make it happen so far.
Of course, we occasionally have "office days" an initiative where our team meets and works together at one of our local offices. It turned out very effective to energize each other from time to time. We also offer a coworking space subscription for those who don't want to work from home. However, due to current circumstances, the whole team works from home.
On another note, We allocate a part of our budget to pieces of equipment for home offices(monitors, laptops, a comfortable chair, etc).
In the past, we tried Sneek but it didn't work well for the team for now. We might test some other options in the future.
Also, we do have rituals for teambuilding including but not limited to:
- Gratitude Monday: A 15 minute team meeting to reflect on the things we are grateful for.
- Meditation Wednesday: A 15 minute team meeting to meditate and take out all the stress. We are aware that in a fast paced environment can be stressful after all.
- 1MYL: 1 minute yoga of laughter is yet another ritual that we do on a daily basis since the early days.
It's the output that matters
As an employer, just because you allowed your employees to work from home and you gave them access to a bunch of collaboration apps doesn't mean they will succeed in a remote position.
Remote work is a team sport. And we are firm believers that a strong company culture will make or break the remote work experience.
In a recent interview with Gitlab's head of remote, Darren Murph, our CEO Emna Ghariani emphasized the importance of culture reinforcement to thrive as a remote team.
We are always honing our processes and experimenting with different productivity hacks.
One of the things I always believed in it's like whether you work 12 hours or where they work one hour what matters is the output and nobody should judge you on how long you know it takes you to get that output out and that's my core belief and that's what I really try to push for everybody in our team. That's what really matters
Who cares if they are a night owl or an early bird? We trust our team to do great work. Because you know what?
We hire professional individuals.
When we started hiring remotely, we knew we must design a solid process.
Bringing talent to Veamly means they satisfy a set of criteria. Background isn't in the mix. In fact, we have hired Veamlers with very unconventional backgrounds.
We are a growth-oriented organization. Our values are our main drive in all what we do.
So, when Zendesk highlighted us as a successful case for diversity, we knew we were doing something right.
As a rule of thumb, having previous remote experience is just a bonus. If not, we prefer that they are in one of the countries where we have an office. In all cases, we dig deeper into confirming that they are very communicative.
We empower our employees by giving them access to information and decision making ability. Our managers, however, focus on leading, guiding, and helping with unexpected problems. Moreover, we monitor the team performance in order to prevent burnouts.
It’s also mandatory to have a people operations manager. Their main role is to make sure everyone is in synergy with the team.
Yes, we do have managers in the offices that are on-site when needed especially when you have juniors. We believe that the ownership is the core of our culture and that helps a lot. Micromanaging is a step for juniors until they are ready to have independence with their tasks.
Personal growth and beyond
We put everything into perspective so the company mission stays in motion. We care a lot about our employees.
To make up for the distance, we get to know our employees as individuals and experiment with creative ways to support their hobbies and interests.
Where to look for jobs
As mentioned above, a lot of people lost their jobs in this pandemic. If you are one of those, we encourage you to acquire new skills for free: software engineering and digital marketing are in demand.
Stay home, stay safe. Embrace remote work!
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