Julia Cummings, a remote worker at a Los Angeles-based software company, said her job gives her access to almost anything she might need. She can check the financial results of her company, and the salaries of her colleagues and look at the notes of participants in all the meetings – indeed those that she did not attend.
She receives credit for unlimited books and receives a fixed salary of $1,000 for development work. The company’s required 15-day minimum vacation policy, in addition to in-house health care, helps it avoid collapse.
She has a “role buddy” who helped her navigate her position and a man who kept her up to date with the company’s culture. And her employer, Buffer, regularly welcomes employee conversations about what happens outside of work.
“I was pleasantly surprised how important the support and the treasurer was there,” said Cummings, who six years ago was a little nervous about joining a completely foreign company. “It’s one of the strongest cultures I’ve seen, and we’re not in an office.
The description of the culture is different. Some employees suggest that it is a sense of belonging to the organization and a strong bond with co-workers. Others say it is a set of values and beliefs that drive opinions. Some define it as an intangible asset that is described as the soul of a company.
But it’s clear that culture plays an important role in the company’s success, employees say. The artistic effect is one reason why some companies reject remote work.
Managers fear that culture will break down, employees will become disengaged and work will suffer. They believe that only working in person has magic and creativity. And what is certain is that all companies will never be able to function due to the nature of their tasks.
But since the pandemic, other companies have offered remote options. Twitter, Salesforce, and Salesforce’s messaging app Slack now enable endless remote work.
Airbnb employees can work remotely from anywhere in the world. GitLab, a software development platform with more than 700 employees in 65 countries, said remote work is here to stay, so companies must embrace flexibility.
To encourage one-on-one camaraderie, GitLab offers employees a “meet-up” every quarter morning that offers up to $50 for meals, transportation, or training with collaborators. It also offers four or more teammates the right to participate in events worth more than $1,000.
Marin Jankovski, a representative of GitLab, previously used the right to attend a colleague’s wedding. “It gave me a special connection to GitLab,” he said. “It was appropriate to encourage connections outside of work.”
To promote transparency, GitLab offers an evolving 2000-page text as a searchable document for staff questions. It contains a cache of how employees should communicate (both in medium and etiquette), the motivations of the department, and indeed what an employee might know about CEO Sid Sijbrandij, including his communication style, flaws, and how to meet him.
GitLab also said it documents everything from opinions to project updates to meeting discussions for public reference by employees. There must be a single source of truth,” said Wendy Barnes, GitLab’s Chief Human Resources Officer.
“So there’s no fear of missing out.” But Jankovski, a resident of Amsterdam, admits that transparency does not come easily. In the days before GitLab, Jankovski and its co-founders worked constantly on the design, together pointing the way forward.
We had this moment of clarity when we wrote (to see) the person and the understanding (of others),” he said. At Zapier, which employs more than 700 people in 41 countries, employees regularly brainstorm hobbies in various “fun” Slack channels, and the company flies employees on retreats twice a year.
Danny Schreiber, the company’s CEO, said the decision to get to know colleagues remotely helps at work.