London, Philippines, Egypt, India, Romania, Nigeria, Singapore, Germany, California... No, this is not a United Nations roundtable, it's all the places where our 1Bstories team is remotely based. Since our founding, we’ve had the ambitious goal to build 1Billion Stories of people and brands around the world. Thus, we knew we needed a global team to reflect the diversity of our customers and partners.
The merits and shortcomings of remote work will likely be debated for years to come. But for us, remote work has enabled us to attract the world’s best talent regardless of borders. Historically, tech has been concentrated in certain hubs around the world. But 1B has managed to tap into the top tech talent, designers, and editors in EMEA and APAC. My entire career was spent working at US-headquartered companies, so this has been an incredibly eye-opening and humbling experience. Talent does not reside in just Silicon Valley, nor the US. There are brilliant, driven people everywhere who are hungry to find success within a startup.
Fully remote work is a key pillar to 1Bstories’ commitment to a healthy work-life balance. We are all empowered to get our work done in uninterrupted periods throughout the day, but also take breaks when needed. We pick up our kids from school in the afternoon or take care of passport processing in the early morning as necessary.
HOW DO WE DO IT?
Overcommunciation is key. It may be overkill, but we use Slack, email, and Whatsapp depending on the project. Slack is for specific initiatives and Story projects. Email is for client-facing communication and Google doc managing. And the reality is, we’re all constantly on Whatsapp, so we use it for urgent pings.
Team meetings: We’ve made certain meetings mandatory in order to align and plan the week. Monday team meetings with 100% attendance are critical because it sets the direction for what priorities must get done during the week. Each sub-team (Tech, Design, Video, Business) has their own meeting cadence determined by the Lead.
We’ve had to be creative on how we forge bonds and trust each other as colleagues. As a leadership team, we’ve had to invest in dedicated time to build solid connections with each other around the globe. We have (virtual) monthly team fun events, like scavenger hunts so we see the insides of each others’ “offices” and “two truths and a lie” so we get to know one another outside of work context.
We’ve saved tremendously on office and overhead costs. Instead, each team (Eng, Design, Business) has also had in-person offsites so we’ve been able to whiteboard strategies and roadmaps and bounce endless ideas off each other. And of course, we play hard: we know how to enjoy good food and explore new cities together to build stronger relationships and camaraderie within teams.
THE CHALLENGES & SOLUTIONS
It’s not without its challenges: team meetings across 16 timezones can be logistically difficult. There are teammates who wake up before dawn, and others who burn the midnight oil. But the flexibility empowers all of us to work when we can maximize productivity. There’s no guessing game of “when should I be in the office to impress my boss,” which the “hybrid” work week presents.
We routinely review our Operations and policy norms to ensure we’re strengthening the team organically and not overengineering our culture. It’s a constantly evolving process, and we know we won’t always get everything 100% right. This is why we encourage the team to bring suggestions on how to bring our team even closer, virtually. We welcome any and all suggestions on how to create the strongest remote team culture possible. Ping me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to chat more!