Home office, remote work, workation

One of many Zoom calls

We recognize that a modern workplace can and should give employees flexibility when it comes to their working conditions. Some people thrive in an office environment, while others get easily distracted and work better from home. Others have family, a dog to walk or a long commute which makes it impractical to always come into the office.

We’ve been making great progress to become more remote-friendly and while we will probably always have an office, we are also open to new ways of working. When you think about it, a lot of our work is “remote” already: the majority of our clients are not based in Berlin, our office stretches across two floors and our work relies on mostly digital tools which people use asynchronously. Being in the same place is becoming optional.

As of September 2019 we also have our first full remote person and we’re taking steps to enable more flexibility for everyone.

Home office (single days)

Each employee can at minimum take one day of home office per week, but we’ve become pretty relaxed about this rule. The default should still be to come to the office if you’re in Berlin, but apart from that it shouldn’t matter much from where you choose to work. Simply make sure to put that information in Personio and coordinate with your team ahead of time.

Workation (a few weeks)

Some people might be interested in extending their vacation with a period of remote-working, or to simply work from elsewhere once in a while, to visit family or have a change of scenery. It’s been done before and worked out fine, e.g. when one of our employees worked from Italy for two weeks. So naturally we want to offer this flexibility, however there are a few things to consider, like seniority, project circumstances or what the rest of the team is doing.

So if you’re planning something, please talk to us as early as possible. There is no strict upper limit of workation weeks per year, as we’d like to discuss this on a case-by-case basis.

Remote work (full-time)

Full remote work is also possible, as one of our people is currently remote-working from the UK full-time. If you’re one of our current employees and want to move elsewhere, then we should definitely talk. For new employees we would have to discuss this based on the role in question (e.g. which discipline, which level of experience).

If you end up becoming a remote worker, we will arrange a laptop, mouse, keyboard, adapters and a large screen. We will also sponsor a coworking space, so you can better separate personal and professional life.

General notes

Having people spread across different places is a situation we have to get used to, so here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Making this work requires an effort from the office people just as much as from the remote people – we’re all in this new situation together.
  • In the office it’s easy to have quick chitchat over coffee – not so much when you’re remote, so we had a little idea to stay connected: If you have 10mins of free time and want to chat, simply create a Zoom call named “Coffee call” and post the URL in #office. Maybe someone or even multiple people join?
  • We’re using a check-in/check-out system to announce when remote people are available: if you’re remote, simply post “checkin” in our #office channel in Slack and “checkout” when your work day ends. Also announcing when you’re on your well-deserved lunch break can help.
  • Every meeting you create in our calendar has a Zoom call automatically attached. Don’t use other video conferencing solutions if possible – Zoom is simply the best. 😅
  • Use Slack statuses to indicate home office, vacation or workation.
  • When in a meeting with remote people, bring your laptop and also join the Zoom call, to level the playing field: that way remote people see your facial expressions and can better participate in the conversation. Try to avoid exercises which require physical participation, like using sticky notes. You could use a collaborative Google Doc instead.
  • If possible show your face on camera, but also respect if someone does not want to show themselves.
  • Information needs to be available asynchronously and in written form: take notes, write stuff down, put it in the backlog. It’s better for everyone, also people in the office.
  • As always, communication is key: err on the side of over-communicating about what you’re doing, without being annoying. 😅
  • Time zones are tricky – try to organize the project work in a more asynchronous way. Less meetings, more documents. Less team exercises, more self-organization.
  • Keep in mind: We’re figuring this out while we go – if you notice something (good or bad) or have suggestions, please voice them in the #remote-feedback Slack channel so that we can iterate and improve.