We strive for our employees to feel empowered to share any idea big or small, regardless of whether they’re an apprentice who’s been here for a month or an engineer like Emma, who’s been with us for over six years. What does this look like, you ask? We host weekly Friday Shares where staff are encouraged to take the mic and talk about what they’ve been working on or learning. For example, our Technology Director, Mike, recently hosted a talk called “Failure is Always an Option,” and one of our Lead Engineers (and comic book creator) is hosting another titled “Not Just Another George Lucas.” From 1:1 relationships, to project teams, to the collective studio, we’re big on sharing openly and often so we can learn from each other.
Every engineer’s career goals are taken into consideration from day one. Bi-weekly 1:1 conversations with their managers and bi-annual reviews are baked into our processes. We also hold monthly engineering meetings where the internal processes and department goals are constantly re-evaluated. Although we have multiple teams working on different client projects, all of our communication is done within public Slack channels, so anyone can jump in and see the process.
Open communication is particularly important as we (and the rest of the world) have pivoted to remote work. While it's tempting to schedule a lot of meetings to make sure everyone is on the same page, we've worked hard to balance the need to feel connected with the burnout associated with a week full of Zoom meetings. We lean heavily on tooling – Figma for collaborating on design and presentations, GitHub for code, Dropbox Paper, and Google Docs for documentation, and Trello and Jira for project management. Being disciplined in using these tools to plan and execute our work asynchronously has helped us reserve calendars for the truly impactful synchronous activities (like our monthly Trivia Nights!).
Enable immigrants to use their data to land on their feet
San Francisco, New York, or Remote (US/Latin America)
The transparency our leaders have with the rest of the company about board meetings (they always share slides and documents presented), timelines, and dissenting opinions creates a culture where Novans feel comfortable speaking up, which is why one of our core values is 'Challenge Without Ego'. At the end of every all-hands, there’s the opportunity for anyone to ask questions live, via zoom chat, or our #questionsforallhands channel. New Novans are often surprised when they’re called on to “challenge without ego” starting their first week or two on the job – we value their fresh eyes!
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 toward giving too much information rather than not enough.
An example of this is our blameless and cross-functional postmortem process. Incidents are unfortunately inevitable, but they are great opportunities to learn as a team. We use PMs as a tool for documenting incidents, analyzing root causes and outcomes, and identifying action items to prevent the incident from occurring again.
As a company, open communication and transparency is important. For example, the same decks that are shared with the board are also shared with engineers. Within engineering, we share our JIRA boards with customer support teams, so we can openly discuss bandwidth and prioritize work accordingly. Engineers work on teams with a dedicated product manager and designer, so there’s a high degree of collaboration and open communication around the roadmap and features we’re building.
The engineering org is also designed in a way that ensures managers are not maxed out with direct reports. Many senior engineers choose to mentor more junior engineers. For instance, with the support of a senior engineer, two interns changed the user interface and revamped the script messaging overrides, so companies can easily tweak their interviewing scripts. Elayne, one of our engineering managers, likes to block time on her calendar for anyone to ask questions or seek help exploring a different part of the codebase. There’s also regular (optional) shared working time, where anyone can drop into Zoom to collaborate.
We believe it takes the full engagement of every team member to build a truly successful and impactful business, which is why transparency is so crucial. The entire company meets regularly to align on the goals of the business and each department as well as to celebrate our successes. At our bi-weekly all-hands we openly hear from leadership as well as a specific department (which rotates) so everyone is in the loop on how we’re doing and what’s in the pipeline. New hires are also introduced at these meetings so we can get to know you (think sharing a few photos and a fun fact or two).
Similarly, the product and engineering team maintains an open and collaborative approach to product design and development, soliciting input from across the team to ensure alignment and well-informed execution. While we’re happy to hop on a 1:1 call as needed, we also emphasize open transparency via Slack channels so everyone can stay in the loop. Given our fast-paced environment, we recognize that mistakes will happen along the way, but we always look for the learning opportunity. That’s why we practice blameless post-mortems and never single out individuals if things don’t go exactly as planned.
You’ll be called to tackle projects that have a direct and outsized impact on the success of the business and our customers. Our commitment is to equip you with the knowledge and the environment you need to feel closely connected to the goals of the business in your daily work. We want you to feel like you are not just writing code but rather contributing directly to the ongoing success of Qualified as a whole.
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 bi-weekly all-hands (where we come together as a team to hold ourselves accountable to our goals and enjoy some face time), 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.
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. We actively and explicitly practice open communication, both across the entire company and within each smaller team.
We put a lot of energy into ensuring the right conversations are happening between the right people. The entire company joins our monthly all-hands call, which emphasizes transparent communication and live Q&A. Leadership schedules regular office hours, where any topic is fair game. We distribute a biweekly newsletter, featuring both company updates and Angazan personal highlights.
Within the engineering team, much of our written communication comes in the form of PR comments. We provide thoughtful, constructive comments for our colleagues, strive to minimize bikeshedding and rubber-stamping, and foster an environment where every engineer feels both empowered to comment and heard when they do.
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.
1 Open Positions
As a fully remote team, communication is critical. Not just for getting things done, but also for team building. We lean into this by over-communicating, on Slack and on video calls as well. We use video calls for planning work, pair programming to tackle particularly hard challenges, and helping give context of a certain code area to team members who are missing that context. We also use video calls for fun things, from hanging out to celebrating wins to just sharing stupid videos.
We have two all-hands meetings a week to connect as a team and make sure everyone is on the same page. On Mondays, we spend half an hour reviewing high-level updates from last week as well as what’s to come this week. At the beginning of each kickoff call, Joe, our founder and CEO, always gets us started by talking openly about what’s on his mind. On Fridays, we spend about an hour wrapping up the week, which includes a show and tell section, where different team members share what they’ve been working on. We also have a section dedicated to an open floor Q&A – affectionately known as “Q&Chaos” – where you can ask anything that’s on your mind. In this time, people ask big picture questions about the business or dive into the details of a new feature we’ve shipped. People also take this as an opportunity to be silly and irreverent, like debating the merits of guac versus queso.
Our vision is that anyone here can see at any time how their work is contributing to the goals of our company. We want everybody to be able to quickly and easily understand why they’re doing the work they’re doing and how it's going to make an impact.
1 Open Positions
As a company, we value transparency and our CEO, Eduardo, sets a good example. In addition to a weekly office hour where he’s happy to answer any questions, he also holds AMAs at our monthly company all hands. We also use this time to discuss exciting milestones, product updates, customer stories, and monthly sales wins.
While team members span both coasts, we make sure everyone stays in the loop by communicating regularly via public Slack channels. Meeting calendars are also open, so anyone can attend any meeting if they’d like. Finally, we use a shared Google Drive, so everyone has access to company resources.
We believe that everyone should have the context they need to do their jobs well, and that “how I’m doing” is a crucial piece of that context. We avoid leaving important things unsaid, which means we’re willing to have difficult conversations or give constructive feedback as needed.
Feedback is a part of everyone’s job, and we expect our managers and leaders to model giving and soliciting direct, actionable, and kind feedback. We try to quickly build trust with new team members, and we always assume good intent and competence in others.
As a distributed team, we invest in formalizing our communication and working norms to remove ambiguity. During onboarding, new hires create user guides that describe their working style and communication preferences. Our engineering team also co-creates and maintains a working agreement that includes norms like asking questions in public forums and discouraging information silos. Even if a question could be answered by one person, we default to a public channel, so the information can be seen by more team members, and the resolution of the question can be documented.
1 Open Positions
You can be one of the best engineers in the world, but the impact of your work depends on how well you communicate and work with your team. Instacart has many moving parts, making whole ownership, as mentioned previously, so important to success. To facilitate cross-functional collaboration, we host regular “Hackers Lunch” meetings where engineers share their recent work and keep others informed of what projects are important to them. In the past, people have presented on topics like The New PagerDuty, Efficient Services, Technical Writing for Fun and Profit, and Building Availability Models.
At a company-wide level, we meet on a monthly basis for our All-Hands where leaders share updates on projects, launches, and larger announcements. Our CEO also hosts a weekly AMA series, where she answers questions that are top of mind for employees. And our employee-led Employee Resource Groups hold regular internal discussions about topics of interest.
8 Open Positions
A collaborative toolkit enabling anyone to create software
San Francisco, Mountain View, Austin, New York City, or Seattle
This nearly always means capturing it in written form, whether that’s project specs, meeting notes, retrospectives, market opportunity analyses, or other documents. We’ve all got a lot to learn and know there’s always room for improvement. We’re aware of our shortcomings and welcome feedback on how we can do better. If we fail, we learn fast and move on. We approach our work with humility. We’re open to new ways of thinking and are never arrogant or entitled.
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 criticized for their imperfections. On the other hand, 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 Airtable bases). The best decisions are often made with ample time, discussion, and thought, which are best supported by asynchronous collaboration.
(A powerfully 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 more significant proportion of focused “maker time” compared to a culture where everyone feels obligated to actively monitor chats for fear of missing out on meaningful conversations. Of course, there are plenty of times when real-time chats or meetings really are the best way to communicate, and we embrace those situations. But we try to deploy these communication modes thoughtfully.)
Since we’re a distributed team, we have developed most of our company processes to be remote first. We deprioritize email in favor of Slack and Notion – they’re way more collaborative.
Being able to capture one’s thoughts in writing is a revered and celebrated skill at AngelList. Our weekly team-wide standup is done exclusively through writing (yes, with more than 16 people in the meeting). Updates are written in Notion before the meeting starts and we spend the next 20-25 minutes reading and commenting on those updates, in silence. It’s surreal and almost comical the first time you experience it, but the value of the meeting is that all of the micro-interactions are covered in writing and folks who can’t make it because of the time zone (or life) can read it when they have a chance and gain close to 100% of the context.
We’re open in the way we share information and feedback with each other. We trust our employees – whether it’s our financial numbers (which are made public for everyone to see) or the reasoning behind an important business decision, we prioritize being open and transparent at all times. We encourage each other to share feedback early and often, and have spent time discussing how to give and receive feedback effectively.
Despite our remote-friendly processes, we value being able to spend time together. We typically host one offsite every year to bring the entire team together; previously we’ve gone to places like Thailand, Tulum, Colombia, and Hawaii.
Transparency is key and we trust each other to speak up even when it’s uncomfortable. We believe fostering an environment to experiment and learn from mistakes is how we innovate and attract the most talented people. We check our egos at the door and share feedback on all business decisions. James (co-founder and CEO) often takes customer and investor calls on speaker so everyone gains full context and can share feedback after the call.
Our in-person culture also makes collaboration quicker and more effective. Whiteboarding or brainstorming enable teammates to be aligned and decisions to be made in minutes, not days. Sometimes we’ll gather for an impromptu meeting to discuss an urgent customer request, evaluate the tradeoffs, and kick off the project the same day.
We believe that having a complete understanding of the business allows everyone to make well-informed decisions independently and quickly. All product brainstorms, technical specs, customer call notes, and other decisions are documented in Notion and fully visible to the team. We review business metrics, product updates, highlights and low-lights, and the customer pipeline every week.
Working in a globally distributed team means open communication is a must. Sharing context, goals, objectives, and in-progress work helps us stay on the same page and achieve our common goal: building the best products and experiences for our users. We rely on several work tools to collaborate and are very active in Slack, where we default to open channels. If you have a question, it’s likely someone else has the same one. Having everything out in the open gives others the opportunity to chime in, collaborate, and yields an answer even faster. It also helps cement an environment where everyone feels safe to make mistakes or ask silly questions.
In addition to our rich documentation culture, feedback is ingrained in everything we do. For example, we all have personal ReadMe docs that share how we like to receive feedback (e.g., openly in Slack, privately, in-the-moment, or later after they’ve had time to digest).
When it comes to meetings, we follow a scrum ritual (daily standups, sprint review, retros, and backlog grooming). Daily standups at 8am PST tend to be a great way to pass the baton; our West Coast team members are starting their day, while folks in Europe are wrapping up. However, these meetings (and most at Zapier) are always optional. Of course, we try to attend every meeting we can, but we understand that people have different responsibilities. If someone can’t attend, we make sure to share all of the relevant information so they can provide their input.
9 Open Positions
Unlike at many other startups, we place a large emphasis on transparency. Avoiding silos is key and we’re very active in Slack. Having a written culture allows people to easily jump in where needed or catch up (we don’t expect you to be green on Slack 24/7). Whether it’s at our all-hands meeting on Monday, company-wide check-in on Wednesday, or daily standups, information flows freely. In fact, our CEO, Kim, leads the first two meetings and openly shares important information. Similarly, Benton, our VP of engineering, encourages engineers to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts (the good, the bad, and everything in between) during 1:1s or as an issue arises. We also emphasize candid feedback during our weekly retrospectives and make sure everyone has the opportunity to share their thoughts.
Last but not least, we believe in checking egos at the door and working from a place of high compassion. In other words, a developer is not their code – we strive to give the type of feedback we’d hope to receive. Being thoughtful communicators allows us to lean on each other and empower one another to speak up and be heard. This is something we actively screen for during interviews – we want to see how you articulate your ideas (which is always more important to us than whether you arrived at the right answer).
1 Open Positions
We’re honest with and accountable to each other. Having the autonomy to own high-impact work means that when we commit to accomplishing our goals, we make it happen. This can only succeed if we’re transparent with one another. We’re not afraid to speak up when we have a differing view, need to ask for help, or simply want to celebrate each other’s accomplishments. Leadership sets a great example when it comes to transparency – company financials are openly and regularly shared and no questions are off limits. During onboarding, you’ll meet with everyone you’ll be working with to share your working norms and preferences. This isn’t just about how you like to give and receive feedback; we also care about foundational preferences such as how you like to solve problems (whiteboarding vs. thinking through it alone) or how you like to structure your work week (batching meetings in a single day vs. spreading them out). Teammates can ask any clarifying questions if needed and we find this sets everyone up for effective communication from the start.
1 Open Positions
Collaborative mapping platform for transportation planning
San Francisco, New York City, or Remote (US)
Clear, open communication is fundamental to how we work. We actively work to create opportunities to share context, regardless of seniority, role or location. If you have ideas about how to make something better, we want to hear it! Since we span several time zones, we make sure to update people in Slack, share Paper docs, and record important meetings so that everyone has the same context. For example, when there was uncertainty with the pandemic, leadership kept everyone informed with a weekly company update on Slack.
We also foster open communication with bi-weekly tech talks, where team members have the opportunity to share short demos or discuss what they’ve been working on. Engineers who are subject matter experts in a certain area or part of the stack also rotate every week and make themselves available to answer any questions during office hours.
Teams are organized based on the product area you work on, so we don’t have a dedicated front-end or back-end team. In order to encourage open dialogue across product teams, we have several different guilds composed of people with similar technical interests. Guild meetings generally happen every two weeks, and it’s a great time to discuss best practices, how we can improve on our architecture, or certain aspects of our system.
Collaboration is key, and you should feel comfortable going to anyone at any time if you’re feeling stuck or want to understand something better. Want to pair? There’s always someone willing to do so. We’re lucky to have a strong, talented team that is excited to help you learn new things and wants to learn from you, too.
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