Passionate advocates and fiery opposers have widely discussed the pros and cons of working remotely. At MOSTLY AI, we don't like to live inside boxes, but if we have to be put into one, please make some room for us in the first one and bring us some comfy pillows because we're here for good.
Articles about the impact of remote work on the labor market, environment, real estate, productivity, work-life balance, mental health, and so forth are all over the media, and the humble aim of this blog post is not to add more noise but rather to share our learn on the job experience.
While some companies are channeling their human and financial resources to improving their office facilities to make them suitable for the new work dynamics, for MOSTLY AI, that door is closed, literally and metaphorically speaking. We are now focusing on bigger plans, enabling organizations to thrive ethically and responsibly with smart and safe synthetic data.
Our mission is bigger than the walls of our old office and the borders of our headquarters. The talent we need to deliver our mission might be building a family in the mountains of beautiful Colorado, living solo by the bluish-green waters of the Julian Alps in Slovenia, or livin' la vida loca in Barcelona.
Was the previous paragraph Captain Obvious much? Sorry about that, but I just logged into LinkedIn and saw yet another post asking people to vote on a poll about remote vs. office-based work. A lot of companies still pretend that the office vs. remote debate is still hot; it is so 2021. We are already making the most of remote work, optimizing and working out the fine details.
Another lapalissade that fostered our decision to go fully remote is that with flexibility come inclusivity and diversity, attributes our team and product long for. When was the last time that a group of individuals that share the same background and culture, as well as a similar postcode and local takeaway restaurant, brought something new and disruptive to the table? Take your time; we can wait. It's not like we have to catch a train—we're already at home.
But as someone wise said a long time ago: with great power comes great responsibility. At MOSTLY AI, we are now channeling all our efforts to strengthen our culture and equip our teams, so they can collaborate effectively, all done under the work from anywhere setup. This is easier said than done. While some traditional office-based companies might take culture for granted and let it develop organically, in a remote setup, we have to work hard on it. But how can we do it? That's the million-dollar question without a simple answer. We are still learning, and this is what we are focusing on at the moment:
- Documentation and enabling asynchronous communication
Documentation, or rather the lack of it, is often the Achilles' heel of organizations, and we are no exception. Still, we are highly invested in not letting this pain grow further.
We have been paving our way by adding to our handbook and department repositories not only the basics but also elaborate content, for instance, the company's and each department's OKRs and KPIs. In this journey, our documentation is the train that offers visibility >>> which leads to transparency >>> whose final destination is trust.
The MOSTLY AI documentation is our centralized source of truth for how we run our team. It is a living body, subject to changes and updates. Still, one thing remains the same: it always reflects our values of 🧑🏽Excellence,🤝🏾Trust, 🧑🏻🤝🧑🏿Collaboration, 🤹🏽Flexibility, and 💪🏽 Fearlessness.
Everyone can contribute; these are living, breathing documents. We want everyone to feel informed and empowered, with access to information in an asynchronous way.
But why focus on asynchronous communication? I'm glad you asked that question, dear reader! In-person communication has its benefits, but in a global team with different levels of seniority, working from different latitudes and timezones, and whose synchronous working hours are so precious, it is vital to enable asynchronous communication. We have the tools available, and we are highly invested in using them to infinity and beyond!
- Hiring sustainably and carefully onboarding new team members
We had heard about hypergrowth before, but we decided not to do it. We were all about hiring in a sustainable way even before it was cool. Our mission and product are supported by a long-term strategy that relies on hiring new team members, of course, but also supporting the growth, skills, and competencies of our existing team.
We know this is not a game for the faint of heart, but we navigate the corridors of the Valley with pride for not having endured any hiring freezes or layoffs.
We are hiring (have you checked our careers page?), but since adopting a fully remote setup, we are doing it in an even more conscientious way, bearing in mind the new challenges arising.
Old pals successfully adjusted their work and social interactions and continued their long-lasting relationships. But while they have been there, done that, bought the t-shirt with this transition, it's a whole different story with new hires. New beginnings are amazing, but they can be a maze, too—so many new things to explore, new teams' dynamics to discover, and new faces/names to learn. Add 'remotely' to the list of ingredients, and it can be a recipe for disaster. That's why our managers ensure that, on top of having a curated onboarding plan, each new joiner also has an experienced buddy supporting them throughout the onboarding journey, providing inside knowledge or just being there to chat.
- Adjusting our benefits to the work from anywhere setup
We have switched from traditional, office-based benefits to remote-friendly benefits, and we now offer benefits such as 25 days of holidays, flexible working hours, and two allowances to support the building and maintenance of a home office. We’re also committed to offering the same type of benefits to everyone, no matter their location.
We are also tackling a common pitfall of being a fully remote and distributed team: some people might not feel socially connected to their teams.
Growing our headcount during a worldwide pandemic didn’t help, but we are committed to helping our teams. At the end of the day, we’re a team of professionals who are looking to build relationships of trust and collaboration with our teammates. We cherish in-person moments too, where we can see our teammates as whole people by literally seeing them and not just looking at their faces while on a Zoom call. What’s to note is that when it comes to bonding time, we are all about quality over quantity, so we said goodbye to the watercooler chat, but we still meet in person twice per year (at least). We make use of that time to work together but also to have fun. For instance, our summer party this year was 🔥 for many reasons, none of them being the warm temperature.
We don’t have to be rocket scientists to predict that remote work will not go away anytime soon (or ever?), and, just as with office-based work, it has challenges that must be addressed. Solving them is a marathon, not a sprint. Meanwhile, we will move forward steadily and fearlessly, but also with an open heart and mind, learning from other companies and taking in our team’s feedback. We will continue to evolve, innovate, and push each other to improve by thinking out of the box and believing that without challenge, there is no growth.
Please share your thoughts with us and help us get better.
Thanks for reading.