“You don’t need everyone physically together to create a strong culture. The best cultures derive from actions people actually take.“ — Jason Fried

What is culture?

This is something that’s quite hard to define univocally.

Culture is definitely about more than ping pong tables.

Culture means slightly different things for every team and individual.

Culture is an ongoing process. Employees should feel happy in their jobs and inspired to continue their self-development and sense of well being due to the support they are receiving.

Despite the fact that we are very decentralized we have a common goal – solving our customer’s business problems through well crafted software and effective collaboration of brilliant minds.

Culture is a combination of every team member’s unique values. The leader sets the core values but the whole culture is never established by just one person. Culture is evolutionary and every new team member influences it.

Purpose & Values

We don’t talk about visions and year’s goals too often. We believe that shared purpose is much powerful. This is the motivation that wakes us from bed every day.

The purpose based on values is much stronger.

Our values:

Craftsmanship – we understand craftsmanship and how it is applied in different contexts

Transparency – we all know our position and how we are perceived

Autonomy – teams are supported and encouraged to be as autonomous as possible

Diversity – the power of the team is in the diversity of opinions and nationalities

Remote – we believe that being remote offers amazing flexibility and options to work within the most talented teams, without geographical limitations

Agility – we believe in cooperation with customers, fast feedback loops and flexibility. Flexibility gave a name to Flexiana.

We are craftsmen in every aspect either technical or managerial.

“Craftsman is Professional, Disciplined and Always Improving”

remote

Remote work culture

60 % of non-remote workers said that they would leave their current job for a full-time remote position at the same pay rate.

We decided to be a fully remote company and the model works for us. We are building our relations on Trust.

Biggest benefit of working remotely

Biggest struggle working remotely

Source: Buffer survey

Signs of a healthy culture

Safe environment

The satisfaction and performance can only thrive in a safe environment. By safety, we mean freedom in making decisions and experimenting.

“Teams that are emotionally connected can be vulnerable with one another because there is a baseline of safety and trust in the relationship. This means they’re more willing to share that crazy idea or push back when they see something that they don’t agree with.” — Jesse James Garrett, Chief Creative Officer at Adaptive Path

We believe that the decision makers should be those who are closest to the problem.

Feedback culture

Basically, you can’t live without feedback, but it may hurt sometimes. Sugary snacks help.

Nobody is perfect. Feedback is a crucial thing that makes you better. Think of it as a gym for your brain.

Our main rule is: praise publicly and critique privately.

Critique privately – there is no reason to critique or shame an individual over a mistake or opinion in a public setting. Doing so can be seen as bullying and can easily demoralize your team. It’s safer and more effective to speak to them privately via direct message or over a one-on-one call. It also helps improve your personal relationship with each other.

Praise publicly – positive events such as team and individual accomplishments are always a good idea to share with the group. No matter the type or size of achievement, praise is appreciated and boosts the morale of the whole team. On a personal level, praise amongst peers is likely to boost one’s momentum and work ethics. So, next time a teammate helps you solve a problem, makes a sales deal, or just does an excellent job on one of their tasks, say thank you!

Culture retrospective

Online & Offline face time

The biggest challenge is making sure I seek out human connections throughout the day and avoid the “work from home” stereotype of being in pajamas in front of my laptop. Ali Greene, DuckDuckGo

Mutual trust and accountability

We don’t micromanage. It’s as simple as that. We are building a healthy culture of mutual trust in every aspect from time tracking to communication with the customer.

When you work in a remote team, you need to trust each other to deliver.

Every craftsman is accountable for their results as well as the team’s results. It’s essential to create a sense of accountability where each team member understands where their work fits. In the age of remote workers, it is always important to consider three specific questions:

  1. Do you know what you’re meant to be doing in your role?
  2. Have you or your team communicated the value of your role as it contributes to the company?
  3. Do you understand the direction of the company as a whole?

Communication

Communication is complex. Almost all issues in companies can be improved or resolved by changes in communication. It’s not the responsibility of management to initiate conversations, but they can foster an environment of openness and provide tools, platforms and touchpoints to support employees.

Over Communicating is always better than working in silos.

Transparency

‍Transparency makes everyone feel more connected and informed. Even just a monthly all-hands call when management gives a breakdown on important business decisions provides teams with an insight into business functions, while allowing anyone the opportunity to discuss concerns or questions. This open forum makes a big difference in discussion and allows for every individual to be heard. Processes should also be transparently communicated, so everyone understands who does what and how it’s all connected.

‍Everyone should know what is happening in every team – we have a shared goal. Every team is responsible for radiating information to the company.

Evolving the culture

To evolve the culture is about frequent feedback and learning.

The feedback should come from every team and individual. The discussion about culture must happen frequently and enhancements must be defined.

The strongest emphasis must be put on learning. Not only individual improvements, but also organisational learning.

The learning is transferred to habits that reflect the culture.

Every week we have more personal discussions about our team culture and core values.

Find creative ways to keep people engaged

Keeping remote employees engaged over time is a great way to foster a positive culture. Host a virtual happy hour or a breakfast session where people from the same field (for example, product development) can discuss their challenges. Sometimes you don’t even need a separate meeting for that – you can incorporate some of the team building games into your regular calls or start a Slack channel to exchange photos of your pets (at Miro, we love our #miro_mascots).

Create mentorship programs

One of the most important aspects of building trust and a sense of belonging in a remote team is helping people grow and learn from their peers. Incorporate rituals that will help everyone grow individually as well as a group: discuss each person’s goal at a performance review and set a metric to measure progress, host a workshop on giving feedback, or start time weekly for regular lunch and learns.

Flexiana COO, Mentor & Agile influencer. Passionate about creating human centric services and building high performance organisations.

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