To start, this article series won't give you perfect guidance and or be the complete how-to guide. It's meant to be a transparent overview of our process at Localyze. With insights into some of the things I've learned along the way as a founder. This first article is a summary of the things I've learned navigating company restructuring over the past 12 months. From initially finding a temporary solution, to finding a long term strategy for how the company works together.
I love the freedom of working remotely. But I also love gathering in front of a whiteboard with the whole team. The pandemic forced us to work remotely which was a challenge and an opportunity. Both for me, and for our team at Localyze.The team and I spent several months thinking about the best strategy. We had to balance different personalities, individual situations, and legal complications. We gained a lot of clarity from this process. We know what works well for us, and what doesn't. Here's a summary of my key learnings:
- Don’t try to come up with a policy in isolation. What you're team actually prefers or wants, might surprise you. While most like to have flexibility, the degree to which people want to have an office varies. Those who want an office, mightn't love a 100% remote setup. The same applies to working hours or not, which is a decision between synchronous and asynchronous work. Many people wanted flexible hours. But we still saw a stronger preference for synchronous work. Which means less flexibility, especially across time zones.
- Don’t try to copy everyone out there. When it comes to benefits, options, etc. It’s not easy to compete with every company in the world. At some stage it becomes unfeasible to have 100% flexibility on work location, have an office for everyone, with synchronous communication. This applies especially to smaller teams. You can borrow inspiration, but you need to find your own solution and your own competitive advantage. You might select just a few offices, or one major office in a great location, or allow working from anywhere.
- Don’t rush your policy crafting. There's a lot of pressure to get things out as quickly as possible. Things are still developing fast in the world of remote work. It doesn’t make sense to set things in stone before you, and especially your employees, really have clarity on how life will be post-COVID. For example, we saw different responses today vs. 6 months ago. It's very likely that we will only know what we want once the pandemic is over and we can move around freely. This will influence how we think about where to live and how to work. Be transparent, try things out, and frame it as an experiment. Nobody expects you to know it all yet. People are very open to trying things and coming up with solutions together.
- Don’t confuse a hybrid setup with an “HQ+remote” setup. Getting the best of both worlds can sometimes result in this setup. Leadership and 80+% of employees can still be somewhere around the headquarters. But new hires might have been hired from many different locations. The challenge is that post-COVID those 80% can still go to the office and with critical mass. Which could quickly revert to an office-first culture. Which might cause new remote hires to feel excluded. If you want a remote/decentralized/distributed setup, you have to make sure that leadership is actively living it
There are probably more learnings that I'm forgetting about right now, but these are the most important ones. What you could take from the above, is that we are still experimenting with some of our policy components. We are focusing on finding our own solution, with our own advantages.
I'll be sharing details on this process and the outcomes in my next post. And given that we chose a policy that included locations, such as Portugal, I will also write about how we selected those. I will dedicate one post to Portugal giving some specifics on the setup process.