We have two offices: one in Los Angeles and one in Chicago. We also have a handful of folks who are remote. Regardless of where you’re based, every Tuesday we have a company-wide standup. We’re constantly communicating with each other via Slack and Zoom videos throughout the day, too, to make sure that everyone is on the same page and collaborating effectively. Our team also physically meets together twice a year: in LA in the winter, and in Chicago in the summer.
We have a few different tech teams at Cameo. We have a few product teams that focus on features like the Consumer Experience, Talent Experience, Search & Discovery, etc. We also have a Platform (infrastructure and devops) team, as well as a Data engineering team. We lean toward over-communicating and written documentation wherever possible and always encourage folks to speak up. We’re at an interesting inflection point having recently raised $50M in funding, and view transparency and open communication as the key to scaling healthily and happily.
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We are built on the foundation that all members of the team have a say in what we do and how we do it. No matter if you’re an engineer or support rep we value all opinions about what shape our product takes and what we sell. Our Atlassian workspace is open to everyone on the team. You have the ability to create a spec, groom it, ask for ideas from others and see your idea come to life. The product team is constantly reviewing our specs and assigning priority to them to set up what’s coming up next. We use Slack at WineDirect and we never leave home without it. It is our life line and the main way we contact each other whether remote or in-office.
Did something throw you off this week? We also have a weekly retrospective meeting where we take time to reflect on what we can improve on and make repeatable for the future sprints to come. We have an office layout that encourages open dialogue. You’ll see the team join up from time to time, chatting about the next feature or discussing a current one.
Being transparent means not running the business like it’s a black box. As an example, we share the company’s finances with the entire team. Everyone on the team knows exactly how much money we have in the bank, how many months we have left before we run out of money, what our go-to-market plans and targets are, and how close we are to achieving those targets.
Transparency means being open and vulnerable with one another. We encourage our team members to come into the office, put their ‘work’ face away, and be themselves. It doesn’t happen overnight, but we are always working on it together as a team. Recently, every team member completed the Myers-Briggs personality test which gave us phenomenal and actionable insights into the different personalities on our team. It changed the way we perceive one another, talk to one another, and how we interact as a team.
We expect every member of our team to be proactive in communicating their thoughts, feelings, and challenges. If you aren’t comfortable asking for help when you need it, you probably won’t thrive at Sparkswap. Everyone should keep the rest of the team informed on what they’re doing, and given how small our team is today (4 full-time employees), we look to bring on avid learners: we frequently figure out problems together, and “bringing someone up to speed” on an issue is a common and recommended practice, even in the middle of a conversation. We all benefit when everyone who can contribute is learning.
We try to encourage conflicting opinions, and ask for thoughts from people we haven’t heard from to make sure we’re getting the whole story and testing our thinking. Today, our office layout is open (though we’d be lying if we said that was by design rather than a budgetary decision). That said, we all work across from each other and frequently have discussions across the table on everything from cultural issues to debugging.
It’s in our creed: “I will communicate as much as possible.” This starts with using our own team blogs, powered by P2, the WordPress theme for group collaboration. Fast, flexible, and fun, P2s make it easy to keep up with the company and our many teams in more than 75 countries around the world. Contributing to projects starts with P2s, too. We have a saying: “P2 or it never happened.”
Developers track about 70% of our projects on P2s, 25% in private chat rooms, and the rest on Slack. Only about 1% of communication is done through email, and that’s mostly to external sources.
Because of the geographic variance, we’re active 24/7 and are continuously working on our communication styles in all formats, including in person. There are many times when we cross continents and timezones to work together, most notably in our annual Grand Meetups, when the entire company gets together in a different location for seven days. Our Grand Meetups have previously been held in San Francisco; Budapest, Hungary; Park City, Utah; and Whistler, Canada just to name a few. 😉 We also have smaller team meetups (around 5–7 days long) where the focus is on experimenting and shipping products together.
It means having an honest dialogue about how a decision will benefit you, the team, your end customers, and discussing the various ways to achieve it. At Creator Deck Media, we go into every conversation with the assumption that everyone wants the best outcome for the team and every individual involved in the project. With that as our foundation, everyone can openly share their ideas in context of how value is created, distributed, and shared amongst everyone on the team.
Practically speaking, it’s easy for us to facilitate discussions. We have a small office and everyone sits closely with one another. We do have full time employees that work remotely, but they are still very close to the team. Remote-engineering staff is ok too.
A good example of where collaborative decision making takes place at mindmatters is how we staff teams and projects. The entire team is involved in staffing decisions instead of one manager deciding everyone’s fate. Engineers change teams either because people express an interest to work on something different or because certain projects and timelines require more resources. Whatever the reason, these decisions are made by everyone. We come together to review our current teams, what needs there are, and who is available to support.
Teams can range between 2 to 8 people and we typically have anywhere between 2 and 5 projects running concurrently. There is a lot of internal mobility and staffing at mindmatters requires a lot of flexibility from everyone and since the amount of team members necessary for each project varies. We also hire freelancers whenever there is heavy workload, so that one needs to be stretched thinly. In these situations, the team that needs more resources is responsible for interviewing freelancers because they are the ones who will be working closely with this person.
1 Open Positions
This not only means speaking openly with each other about our work and its challenges, but seeking constructive feedback and input from other team members both inside and outside of the engineering organization. During our company-wide town halls, we encourage our newest employees to ask the most colorful questions during open Q&As. Further, we promote transparency across the engineering teams where we openly share everything we can.
While each of our facilities is slightly different, they’re all variations on the open office-style plan with plenty of places to duck-and-hide for a quieter/solitary environment. Often, engineers will “go turbo” for a day or two and work remotely, either from home or a coffee shop.
Our commitment to open communication starts with the executive team. We often talk about how important it is to keep all communication channels open, and we’ve been deliberate and thoughtful about making transparency a part of everyday life at ActZero. For starters, when you join us, you’ll fill out a questionnaire so that we can learn how you’d like to receive feedback and praise. Generally, we openly praise and privately coach, but we recognize that everyone has different preferences. We publicly encourage individual opinions and actively discourage behaviors which stifle individual contribution.
When it comes to code, data, and metrics, we operate as one unit. All information is available to anyone within ActZero. Our systems automatically push information to dashboards, rather than requiring information be manually requested and pulled from disparate sources. We have well-structured Slack channels for disseminating and discussing important company and team news - all work in other systems trigger notifications in Slack so employees can keep abreast of all activity. Everyone maintains publicly visible calendars, including our leadership team, who also host open-office hours.
Finally, we run a monthly employee satisfaction survey. The output of the survey is anonymized and shared with everyone at the company, and we all work to implement improvements based on everyone’s feedback. We welcome dissenting opinions. In fact, we invite them! Even if they’re most comfortably shared in an anonymous survey.
Working with open and reliable people is one of our greatest values and we need this to expand to all the areas we can. We open source all of our SDKs and make sure our partners are aware of things when they come up, especially when it's bad news that may affect them. Open communication builds trust and without that we wouldn't be where we are.
We practice this by:
Our engineers often talk about code and product, but we also talk about our performance as a team, hiring, and fundraising. We default to communicating in person and in public Slack channels. We err on the side of more channels, so individuals can mute or set their notification preferences to not be disturbed (but catch up when they want). We only use private Slack channels for sensitive information, like discussing a specific candidate during recruiting.
We want everyone to feel comfortable voicing their opinions. We try to share agendas in advance so everyone will be able to prepare privately. At the beginning of each meeting, we often take the first few minutes for everyone to individually collect and record their thoughts before sharing. For example, during our retrospectives, each person is able to share their individual reflections first. Then, as a team, we decide what to dive into as a group.
We value EQ > IQ and are humble, considerate, and tight-knit. Our founders talk to us regularly; they’re honest and transparent about how the business is running and there are direct lines of communication between every employee and our leadership team. It’s important that we foster an environment where every team member feels comfortable talking and empathy is key. As a growing team (currently we have ~40 employees), things are always a work in progress. Individuals often speak up and surface concerns or criticism when they want to, and we all listen.
During our most recent offsite, our entire company gathered in a circle one evening to give kudos to one another. The prompt was simply, “Feel free to thank someone who you’d like to recognize.” What started as an informal exercise turned into a two-hour event. The amount of transparency made us feel closer to one another and helped us learn what each member of our team really cares about and values. (We suspect giving kudos will become a tradition of ours!)
Lastly, we practice open communication every day at the office. The entire team currently works in one large warehouse. This facilitates a tremendous amount of conversation and provides exposure to all aspects of the company. During lunch, you might hear about which partnerships our business development team is working on or what optimizations our hardware engineers are focusing on. Having an open office space (and still being a small team) enables us to exchange ideas and collaborate easily. We have ambitious goals, and we can only achieve them by supporting and working with each other!
A simple messaging workspace with tools for managers and staff on the go
San Francisco, CA or Remote
We understand and are respectful of the fact that people need time and space to focus on their work. At the same time, we also believe better decisions are made when all members of the team are well informed. By being transparent about as much as possible, we make information accessible whenever possible. Everyone knows how much runway we have, how investors meetings went, about strategic partnerships, and is included in all hiring decisions.
Underlying trust allows us to speak frankly with one another and enables us to build an environment where people are encouraged to voice their questions, criticisms, and/or concerns. Because we truly respect each other, open communication feels effortless. Whether you agree or dissent, all opinions are valuable and will be heard.
In terms of day-to-day communication, a handful of us work together in a shared co-working space in San Francisco (PARISOMA), and the rest of the team is distributed working remotely. We recognize that working remotely comes with its own set of challenges, and strive as a team to make this a good experience on all sides. We use a combination of Zoom, various collaboration software (e.g. Notion, Google Docs, Github), and messaging on Coast (our own product) to tackle each new project or goal together as a team.
We also bring the entire team together for regular off-sites in person to ensure we get to know each other on a personal level so our team gels as a whole. At the end of the day communication is everything: healthy teams move fast because they trust each other, and trust is built through good communication.
1 Open Positions
Since our earliest days, Angaza has straddled an ocean. The challenges of keeping our San Francisco and Nairobi teams in sync have shaped our culture into one where we actively and explicitly practice open communication both across the entire company and fractally, within each smaller team.
From monthly all-hands (with video chat linking our two offices) to regularly scheduled office hours held by our three co-founders (where any topic is fair game); from bi-weekly internal, written newsletters to quarterly desk shuffling, we put a lot of energy into ensuring the right conversations are happening between the right people.
Within the engineering team, much of our written communication comes in the form of PR comments. We provide thoughtful, constructive comments for our colleagues, while keeping bike-shedding and rubber-stamping to a minimum, and we foster an environment where every engineer, no matter their tenure, feels not only empowered to comment, but also feels truly listened to.
In cases of fundamental disagreements, whatever the decision, our style is to ensure that the cost of course correction is not prohibitively expensive, document the discussion, and then defer to the individual or team with the most at stake.
Our leadership team believes that businesses run better when everyone knows what’s going on. We have a bi-monthly all-hands meeting with both offices (via video-conferencing). During these sessions, we celebrate new hires, walk through company financials, and reserve time for company Q&A. We use an app to let team members submit and upvote questions so that the most exciting questions get discussed first.
When we recently raised funds (a $140 million Series C at an approximate $2 billion valuation), our CEO Josh held an additional all-hands meeting. He walked us through the pitch deck, who each investor was, and the rationale behind each decision. It’s easy to claim that your company believes in being open and transparent, but it’s another thing entirely when prioritized by the leadership.
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We work to create an environment where everyone’s perspective can be heard. However, that isn’t to say that we’re consensus driven. Instead, we borrow a paradigm from Apple and identify Directly Responsible Individuals (DRIs) who are then in charge of collecting and synthesizing information, and making a call. (We should note that the DRI is often not the most senior person, but the person closest to the work.)
Transparency and inclusion are both core company values and product values of ours. You can see them in the way our founders openly discuss the corporate structure, equity, and the company’s financial situation all the way to how our product builds trust between team members with daily questions.
When we started Honor, our engineering team was made up of the best people we knew from our previous companies, which also meant we brought on a lot of the best practices we learned from our previous experiences. We have to ship high quality code because people’s lives are on the line. It’s certainly a balance in being nimble as well, but we understand that everything we do has profound effects on operations (and the bigger we get, the more profound that gets). That’s why we implement good practices, code reviews, team discussions, and have deep conversations about architecture and tradeoffs. There’s a lot of communication around good code.
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We invest in processes that help every employee communicate both with their peers and across the organization, including (but not limited to):
15 Open Positions
We practice open communication on all levels of the business and its processes. At our bi-weekly all-hands meeting, we share company-wide wins and game plans, monthly revenue numbers, company financials, and discuss challenges and areas for improvement. We regularly send anonymous surveys company-wide, and act on the feedback. Each manager holds 1:1s with every member of their team that are two-way feedback focused. Within each meeting, we strive to invite dissenting opinions or suggestions to arrive at a stronger solution.
Part of our open communication process involves ensuring that individuals relevant to the decision are able to participate regardless of whether or not they are physically present. To do so, we place an emphasis on capturing as many discussions as possible in written form: product requirements docs, meeting notes, retrospectives, and general discussion documents. Our team also strives to create an environment where remote members can participate effectively via video calls and online interactions.
Since we are still a small team, we hold one another accountable for the responsibilities we’ve been assigned. We encourage 1:1s to offer a safe space to discuss anything that might be bothering you, and we all sync up each morning at 9:45am for a 10 minute standup to share our progress from the prior day, today’s goal, and any blockers we are facing.
Communication across departments is an open dialogue – since our team is small, engineers directly reach out to Sid, our Head of Design, or Andrew, our Head of Growth, if there are questions. Similarly, other team members feel comfortable reaching out to engineers whenever they need details about an integration or want to request a feature. We all work collaboratively and information flows fluidly in all directions.
We also use Harvest to track time against each task and give these timesheets to the client. We are completely transparent in what we do. We also have open plan offices where all developers can hear all the conversations other developers are having. This helps teams keep up to date with each other and allows for knowledge transfer between senior and junior developers. While we don’t formally program in pairs, junior developers feel comfortable asking senior developers for help whenever they need support.
One of Samsara's superpowers is our ability to ask questions, get feedback, and take action. This is how we build our products and it's also how we make sure we're growing the company in a healthy way. While our leaders can be found enjoying lunch with different teams and are easily accessible for a desk fly by, we know to maintain a culture of transparency; we need to have forums for feedback. Every executive team member hosts regular informal “AMA” (Ask-Me-Anything) sessions; including our CEO Sanjit, and we also host quarterly/monthly town halls.
Our leaders also make it a priority to connect with our internal communities, our Employee Resource Groups and clubs. As an example, our VP of Engineering, Ryan, holds AMA sessions quarterly with our devWOS (dev women of Samsara) ERG. In a recent discussion, our ERG members expressed interest in seeing greater transparency in compensation, and in particular how we address do gender pay equity. Ryan then took action and partnered with our People Operations team to run a gender pay analysis and shared the data (we currently maintain no more than a 2% variance in gender pay equity) directly with the ERG, as well as the broader Engineering team. Our goal is to achieve < 2% difference in median compensation. This initial conversation with devWOS spearheaded a new calibration process to be run twice a year in order to maintain this new standard.
As we continue to grow, we are fostering the tradition of transparency and open lines of communication so our employees get the information they need and to allow us to evolve our culture based upon something we know works, iteration.
Members of our engineering team come together at a bi-weekly dev meeting
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We strive to foster a psychologically safe environment for our employees and open communication is a key methodology in achieving this. Transparency and feeling like your voice really matters are just a couple of phrases you’ll hear from our engineering team on what it’s like to work at VSCO.
As a company, we meet twice a week on Wednesday and Friday mornings for All Hands. Here, we’re able to learn about what teams across the company are working on and celebrate both the wins and losses as a collective group. During this time, there’s Q&A with our leadership team, where employees are encouraged to ask tough questions. Maybe it was a specific goal we didn’t meet on time or a question about why we do things a certain way - nothing is off limits and all questions are answered. Our CEO, Joel Flory, also takes time to meet with individual teams on a regular basis to answer anything that’s top of mind for them.
Leadership actively seeks to keep employees in the loop of what’s happening inside our walls and within the market. For example, we brought in one of our vendors, App Annie, to learn more about what’s happening in the mobile space, as well as an outside financial expert to weigh in on equity. We’ve also had lunch sessions around belonging and inclusivity, user research, and subscription businesses, to name a few.
On an operational level, engineers often remark on the lack of politics and high level of awareness they have regarding business decisions. There’s an inherent closeness to product and design that was purposefully designed to craft open and collaborative working relationships. It also ensures engineers possess a voice in shaping our product. We look for engineers who are excited about this level of impact and ownership.
Finally, our open, minimal, modern floor plan provides employees the space to connect with one another in real time. You’ll often find individual engineering, product, and design teams whiteboarding in conference rooms or congregating around the office to ideate and build together. A hotspot for engineers is our lunch area, where many enjoy coding together throughout the day.
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This is empowering, because everyone gets a say. It can also be challenging, because it requires patience, empathy, and deliberate communication.
We have two main meetings each week: A sprint planning meeting on Fridays, and a “Kaizen” (“continuous improvement”) meeting on Thursdays. At Kaizen, we look back on the week and figure out how things are going and what we can improve about our processes. Meeting so often in a formal way has allowed us to get comfortable with each other, be honest and open, and facilitate effective meetings.
You can be one of the best engineers in the world, but how impactful your work is, depends on how well you communicate and work with your team. To build the most meaningful solutions, you need context not only from your immediate teammates, but also from relevant and adjacent teams. Furthermore, we have three main offices in San Francisco, Toronto, and Atlanta (though our engineers are based out of SF and Toronto) and several smaller operational locations across the US and Canada. Communication between these hubs is equally critical to our success.
Instacart has many moving parts, so to facilitate cross-functional collaboration, we work with open office plans. To promote more focused conversations, all of our offices are outfitted with plenty of pop-in rooms, bookable conference rooms, and phone booths. As an operations-heavy company, real-time feedback is incredibly important to us and this has permeated throughout the entire company. We have set up several forums for people to ask questions in-person, including our regular AMAs with our executive team leaders. No topic or question is off limits.
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We sit as product teams and there is open communication between all departments within the organization including support, operations, and the product organization. We share key company metrics openly with the entire organization including revenue and run rates, as well as the board deck with all employees on a quarterly basis. We use Slack for team updates and async communication, in-person conversations for decision making and direction, and company all hands for sharing company-wide information and metrics.
Enable immigrants to use their data to land on their feet
San Francisco, CA or New York, NY
Everyone has access to the same information, and no one is left in the dark about important company decisions.
The founders set a great example by encouraging us to speak freely about questions and concerns. At the end of every all-hands, they hold an AMA where no question is off limits, encouraging us to speak freely about concerns. Their transparency with the rest of the company about board meetings (they always share slides and documents presented), timelines, and dissenting opinions create a culture where Novans feel comfortable speaking up about any topic, which is why one of our core values is 'Challenge Without Ego'.
Almost all of the work we do requires cross-functional expertise and teamwork, which is why we rely on open communication about details, requirements, deadlines, and processes. We are heavily biased towards giving too much information rather than not enough.
In addition to the internal groups and brown bag lunches we have at Nova, we extend our open communications to those outside of the company. We host fireside chats with industry professionals, bringing in amazing, high-profile individuals into the office for open discussions on various topics, like our recent chat about leadership and hiring for diversity with Ken Chenault, former CEO of American Express.
We have an open office space, and everyone sits near each other. As a part of our commitment to having a transparent working environment, all email that isn’t personal goes to mailing lists accessible by anyone on the team. We are all working together and value efficiency, so there are no “rules” around who you can/can’t communicate with. If you have feedback or ideas for Kieran, our CEO, you are encouraged to share them with him directly. Or, you can wait until our weekly all-hands meeting where our founders and team leads take questions on any subject. We try to cultivate a culture where asking questions is encouraged and where responses will be clear and meaningful. Psychological safety is important to us!
We send out notes from every Vanta meeting, including co-founder Erik Goldman and CEO Christina Cacioppo’s weekly syncs, and encourage others to drop in or follow up with questions. This isn’t just out of convenience: we believe that every member of Vanta should feel like they can contribute to what they’re passionate about, and that starts with shared context.
Success for us means giving everyone a common language, an understanding of our company’s challenges and opportunities, and information about each others’ roles. We believe transparency is the most powerful way to equip our team members and scale decision making.
This nearly always means capturing it in written form, and Airtable is very much a written culture: project specs, meeting notes, retrospectives, market opportunity analyses, and other documents, including our CEO Howie's reports to our board of directors, are all duly written up and circulated widely, in most cases to all full-time staff. Engineers regularly write documents that receive direct feedback from sales or other customer-facing teams, and vice versa. For this reason, we ask for a writing sample on our online job application form (and we really do read it!).
Furthermore, we strive to establish a social context in which people have the right expectations about authoring proposals or commenting on them. First, we encourage people to share as much information as possible: not only proposed actions and decisions, but also the context and motivations that prompted them. This allows readers, who do not already have that context, to engage more effectively. Second, we practice empathetic communication and discourage excessive pride of authorship. Ideas can only be shared early and often if people feel secure that their half-baked or highly speculative ideas will be welcomed as a starting point rather than attacked for their imperfections. On the other hand, the process of iterating and refining proposals can't work if people start out too attached to (or personally identified with) particular versions of an idea. Without these critical values, no software tool can create a culture of open communication.
Like many other companies, we use Slack for real-time communication. However, we also recognize the many limits of chat-style communication and strongly bias toward capturing discussions wherever reasonable in documents, tickets, and other durable media (including, of course, Airtable bases). We believe the best decisions are often made with ample time, discussion, and thought, which are best supported by asynchronous collaboration.
(A strongly written and asynchronous communication culture has other benefits, too. It's better for work done outside our main offices, or on time-shifted schedules. Also, it enables a greater proportion of focused “maker time” compared to a culture where everyone feels obligated to actively monitor chat for fear of missing out on important conversations. Of course, there are plenty of times when real-time chat or meetings really are the best way to communicate, and we embrace those situations. But we try to deploy these communication modes thoughtfully.)
15 Open Positions
Creating cloud-managed IT that simply works
San Francisco, Austin, Chicago, London, Sydney, San Jose, and Remote (US)
Open communication is what drives us as a company, as teams, and as individuals. One of Meraki’s core values is ‘Everybody In’, meaning we are a team that works as one toward our goals. We listen to each other, share ideas, and invite difference of opinion, and you’ll always be able to voice your opinions and be heard. Whether it’s via Slack, in meetups, or during office hours, it doesn’t matter what your role or team is, we value open discussion with any and all Merakians.
As for feedback, we want yours! Because communication should be a two-way street, we make it a point to encourage constructive, positive feedback between you and your manager, and your peers. You learn this early on at Meraki during New Employee Onboarding with an introductory course on demonstrating care with direct feedback.
Ultimately, we strive for transparency and to clearly communicate high-level decisions that affect your everyday work. That’s why we’ve created a variety of channels and forums for you to communicate your thoughts, opinions, and ideas for the company. We have quarterly company-wide townhalls and often host Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions with engineering leadership during our monthly Engineering All Hands. Each year, Engineering participates in Notes Day, a time for employees to get into small groups to define, ideate, prototype, and test new and improved solutions for culture, code base, workspace, and more. We know positive change and great ideas come from the bottom up.
Engineers participate in Notes Day brainstorming sessions at a department offsite in Oahu, Hawaii.
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Everyone at Mode has the resources at hand to answer questions or validate assumptions. After all, this is one of the core value propositions of the software we are building. Every team member is an owner of the company, so progress is reported frequently and transparently. This information is typically shared in the form of presentations about company financials and direction at our weekly all-hands meetings, as well as through reports that display core company metrics.
After much thought and consideration, we (excitedly!) decided to begin hiring fully remote engineers in 2019. While we knew it wouldn’t be perfect at first, we have been thoughtful about supporting distributed team members. We've invested in state-of-the-art telecommunications hardware and software, now run meetings as if all attendees were remote, and make decisions in forums where remote members can participate.
If you work out of our office in San Francisco, you’ll sit with your cross-functional team (product, design, engineering, and customer support). In that office, we have a quiet room for when you need a break from the open office layout and office pups who lovingly sit nearby.
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We’ve structured our company to enable continuous feedback. We are staffed in pods that rotate, and all pods have equal access to company resources. Our office has an open layout and we have team-wide meetings every other week that end in an open discussion for people to give praise or raise questions. Engineers play a core role in determining the product roadmap, and we define all company OKRs for the quarter together, with each individual team choosing their own key results.
We have a practice of collecting open feedback and sharing feedback openly. It has created a culture of accountability and mindfulness. To facilitate team bonding and conversation, we rarely cater lunch (with exceptions). Instead, we utilize our large open, fully-stocked kitchen and cook meals together.
One of our company’s core values is "hold each other up." Redwoods are the world’s largest tree, and they intertwine their roots to support each other's growth. We take inspiration from redwoods as we build a powerful community that can support each person’s growth by providing thoughtful feedback, celebrating wins, and investing in the personal development of each individual.
These norms are especially important to us at Aptible since most of our communication happens over Zoom, Slack or email. Being remote forces us to communicate in a way that working in person may not allow. We often create explanatory collateral rather than simply pulling a co-worker into a meeting room and we’ve developed a culture of permanence and accessibility around documentation that we are confident will be invaluable as we scale. Being remote requires that communication between teammates and teams more broadly is thoughtful and intentional each time.
Whether it's the daily scrum standups (we’re constantly working to streamline and improve the efficacy of these), weekly 1:1’s (where you have free reign to set the agenda with your manager), or our Weekly All-Hands (where we come together as a team to hold ourselves accountable to our goals and enjoy some face time — we call it The Win Column), here are a few of the general practices we promote to ensure positive and effective communication:
There are many more norms where those came from – including more tips on how we use Slack and Zoom effectively and with empathy. If you’re interested, please reach out and we’d be happy to share our thoughts!
The Aptible Team at our 2018 Offsite in New York City.
Our daily checkpoint meetings include all members of engineering and product, as well as representatives from our marketing and operations teams. The goal of the meeting is to quickly address our progress, problems, and plans with one another. Given that all engineers at Plastiq are encouraged to be self-starters and project-owners, this daily checkpoint also serves as an opportunity to communicate any blockers you might be facing, and get help or support from others on the team. (It also gives us the chance to take stock of where we each are and pivot as necessary.)
Engineers also attend (and sometimes lead) War Room Wednesdays. These are 2- or 3-hour long blocks of time for the entire engineering team to gather in one room to do one of three things:
By carving out dedicated time for broader collaboration across the entire engineering team, it’s not only an efficient way for us to learn from one another, but it also breaks down barriers for future collaboration.
Finally, Plastiq has a big culture of documentation. We have an internal Wiki that every single person at the company contributes to. You can find documentation about every product the company has ever built, and and also get the definition of our Donut Rule (one of our tastier traditions). By having good habits of writing everything down, communication across teams and departments is seamless.
10 Open Positions
We have an ambitious mission of transitioning the world to a better financial system. We aren’t going to achieve this alone — it’s going to take many brilliant minds working together. To do so it’s critical for us to foster a culture of high transparency, empowerment, and meritocracy. Everyone on the team has complete access to relevant company information and we proactively seek out critical feedback from one another.
To us, open communication means everything from individuals feeling comfortable speaking up when their opinion goes against the majority to the process by which project decisions are made. All of our communications are out in the open, and we have a rule that you cannot send emails to a fellow Remixer and instead must communicate over Slack where everyone can see. (Emails are only used for people externally.) We use Slack to the nth degree. We invested in our HR team early on, to ensure that all Remixers can be heard. In our weekly company meetings, our team shares updates, wins, and failures, which encourages everyone to be open and honest too. Our office is thoughtfully designed to promote spontaneous collaboration. Next to every pod of desks, we have a break out area, with couches set up facing each other. The focal point of our office is the large picnic tables, designed to host cross collaboration. We thoughtfully put a projector on the wall too, so people can hold open meetings where anyone who is walking by is welcome to spontaneously join.
Leading Software-Powered Freight Forwarder
San Francisco, Amsterdam, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Chicago
We believe open communication is the key to success, so everyone at Flexport is encouraged to speak with candor. We give everyone a voice and try to make sure those closest to a given problem are the decision-makers. We also believe in regular check-ins between managers and reports. Not only do managers and their direct reports meet one-on-one every week, but we also schedule skip level meetings (where you meet with your manager’s manager) on a monthly cadence.
This works top-down as well. Our CEO Ryan Petersen holds an all-hands meeting once a month to share global company updates. He also actively encourages anyone with a thought or idea to Slack him and leadership directly in our #ask-exec-team Slack channel and slido Q&A sessions at all-hands. We also have an #ask-maker-leaders channel to give everyone a direct line to the product, design, and engineering teams behind each feature and line of code.
A great example of this is when one of our Engineers asked the #ask-exec-team why we have a one year cliff in place for performance-based equity refreshers. They made a compelling argument in the channel to remove the cliff with clear bullet points and articles to back up their reasoning. So compelling in fact, that Ryan approached them about a month or two later thanking them for bringing it up and letting them know that Flexport would remove the cliff vesting requirement (formerly a one-year cliff) for all refresh and promotion grants! No company is perfect, and Flexport recognizes that, but ultimately we believe that maintaining an open communication channel enables individuals to comfortably voice their thoughts and receive the attention required to maximize career growth.
26 Open Positions
Everyone's opinion at the company is extremely valuable. We are all here working together to build a company. This means that it is everyone's responsibility to speak up about what they see from their vantage point, and foster an environment where others are able to do so too.
We believe our success as a company depends on our ability to learn and correct ourselves. This necessarily requires us to be proven wrong about our prior understanding and to seek alternate perspectives. This doesn’t make us feel uncomfortable.
Our desire for open communication applies across teams. The engineering and business teams are expected to understand each other and collaborate on a day-to-day basis. We have a weekly team meeting where each person reports on what they’re working on, asks questions of each other, and stays up-to-speed on what’s happening elsewhere in the company. One of the prime advantages of being this small is that everyone can still fit the whole company into their brain at once. It would be a shame if we failed to capitalize on that advantage while we still have it.
We use software called Input which is like a forum or Slack. We use Input to share updates for the entire team to see. For example, when we asked our users to give us feedback about their latest flight experience, we shared both positive and negative feedback in Input. All other updates are communicated through this same forum: how many tickets have we sold? Are flights being canceled?
We have a dashboard that actually sit right above Jake’s seat which keeps display real time metrics about number of tickets sold and revenue. We also have a shared Google Drive and use Slack as a strictly professional form of communication. (We know how distracting Slack can get!) While information flows openly, we keep rather quiet so that people can work uninterrupted and with focus. If you ever want to sit down with another team member, you can. There is no formal process or boundaries based on title.
1 Open Positions
Open communication and transparency are incredibly important at Wealthfront, both in terms of developer happiness (feeling trusted and included) and productivity (not being blocked by uncertainty). It also enables insight into other business functions and promotes learning and development – another win all around.
At our all-hands meeting, engineers are able (and encouraged) to ask our CEO anything, or pose questions to other members of the team. It’s our belief that keeping engineers well-informed will allow them to make the best decisions possible and be the most productive. That’s why most information is also publicly shared with the company.
In addition, several of our core operating principles relate to how much we value open communication. We “show respect” by being approachable and courteous, following up with people directly instead of going behind their back, and providing constructive feedback. We “disagree and commit,” which encourages employees to voice their concerns or objections early in the process, but once we’ve reached a decision, everybody commits to it. We also openly communicate decisions and feedback by following the "ask, don't assume" principle. Finally, we "demonstrate urgency," which explicitly emphasizes keeping all relevant parties informed about projects and decisions.
18 Open Positions
Modern REST API for email, contacts, and calendar
New York, San Francisco, or Remote (North America)
All hands is our fully transparent company-wide meeting where we discuss what has happened during the week, and reflect on successes and failures. It is a recap of the past weeks and we go over operations, sales, marketing, finance, and engineering departments accomplishments. We always host an AMA at the end to openly discuss any company issues.
Unlike other all hands meetings that are usually run by a single person, each department head or project lead presents at ours. It is one (of many) forums for people to ask questions and challenge decisions, even around fundraising. Our executive team members are entirely transparent about open business negotiations, and will share updates about fundraising whether they are good or bad.
Lastly, we are diligent about hosting regular retrospective meetings to learn from our mistakes and come together as a team to improve our processes. Our team retrospectives allow us to have open and frank conversations on a regular basis.
Modernizing how B2B companies manage invoice-to-cash
Lawrenceville, Woodbridge, and Township, NJ / Denver, CO
We're all working towards the same goal, so we should be able to raise our concerns and discuss everything openly. A part of open communication is also being receptive: when things don’t go our way, we make sure everyone understands why so we can accept the decision and get behind the agreed-upon direction.
Our office has a good mix of open and "closed" seating. Development teams are in groups of 6-10 and are seated together in a room. Physically sitting together in smaller groups makes communication easy as you're able to talk to anyone and everyone quickly, but it also provides a good balance for quiet time when people need to focus. Some teams enforce the “headphone rule,” which means that no one should interrupt or disturb anyone wearing headphones unless it's an emergency. This allows engineers to stay focused and prevents them from context switching too much.
Our conversations are out in the open and the one large conference room we have has walls made of glass. There are no secret meetings and people tend to take meetings in open spaces. Once a month, we also have a more formal demo day where the company meets and anyone can share anything they want to with the rest of the company. We prioritize strong communication from the very beginning with how we hire. If you’re interested in joining our team, you should be personable and be able to socialize with all different types of people and personalities. Building strong relationships at the workplace depends on how everyone having emotional intelligence, being articulate when expressing their feelings and opinions, and constantly being open to feedback.
1 Open Positions
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