The work world is going remote. FlexJobs surveyed employees and found that 44% of respondents would rather quit than return to the office, a trend that’s accelerating.
This leaves business leaders with a do or die situation: start building a strong remote culture today or risk your employees leaving for a company that’s committed to remote.
So how can you start building the foundations of a strong remote work culture? And what values can you adopt to sustain a healthy remote work culture?
We’ve got some ideas here at Allocations.
We’re all-in remote, meaning that we’re committed to staying (and thriving) with a 100% remote workforce. As a result, we’re constantly thinking of ways to do all-in remote the right way.
In this podcast episode, we asked our CEO, Kingsley Advani how he’s managed to grow the team from 10 to 100+ employees in just 12 months.
Kingsley and the leadership team have built our culture from the ground up by living out 5 principles:
- Location flexibility
These principles give us 3 competitive advantages:
You have our permission to steal these 5 principles …
(If you’re the leader of a small remote team — say 10 or 15 people — we’ve put together a list of 4 tools you should download and integrate immediately. Scroll down to the end.)
In Winter 2021, extreme cold weather caused parts of Texas to blackout — no power, no running water, no internet.
Companies that were centrally located had to shut down. Their clients couldn’t get a hold of them. Their customers couldn’t access their service. It was a troubling time for local businesses. And a stark reminder that we never know what’s around the corner.
Allocations CEO Kingsley Advani says a decentralized team can make you more resilient and robust to such random, catastrophic, unpredictable events:
"When you have a blackout in a city — if you have a decentralized team structure — the team will stay 'ON'. So when we had a blackout in Texas, we had coverage in all of the other states so we didn't skip a beat. That will be increasingly important over the next decade to have decentralized team structures, especially if you have clients across multiple time zones. You're much more resilient and robust, less prone to black swan events."
You can’t plan for the unexpected. But you can build a more robust, resilient organization that is agile and flexible in catastrophic situations.
The next section talks about how we decentralize our digital tools.
The second pillar of a healthy remote work culture: cloud-based operations and systems.
In practice, this means everyone in the company can run their programs and access their documents from a web-browser.
Kingsley says: "All of our documents and infrastructure exist online. This means that everything is easily accessible to the team and we don't have a storage cupboard with a load of paperwork. The cloud allows us to operate with the fastest speed in the industry."
We hope it’s clear that decentralization and cloud-based systems make getting work done easier and faster. At the end of the article is a short list of tools we recommend for teams dedicated to cloud-based systems.
But let’s talk about the real challenge of remote work: building trust.
This third pillar may be the most important.
Good documentation is critical for a remote organization. Our COO Kendra Kinnison asks Kingsley to expand on this thinking below.
Kendra: “Talk about the importance of documentation.”
Kingsley: "Because we have a 100% remote team, we need to write stuff down. We need to eliminate black boxes and phantom work. Also, it facilitates collaboration and more voices. This helps us scale the team."
Kendra: “You mention black boxes. What are those?”
Kingsley: "It's usually when information is siloed in one place. Let's say we're a law firm and we have a superstar lawyer that has an incentive to store everything in their head. They might want to get promoted and it's not much of a team sport; they're rewarded for that information arbitrage. Whereas with a remote company, you have to eliminate silos. Everyone should have the same information. There shouldn't be people with information advantages. So that really means if a person goes out, someone else can know how to do what they do. This only helps us in our decentralization and speed."
Documentation can help uncover valuable information. Equally important, documentation reveals the more quiet voices in a company. Read on.
How do you include the voices of those that are more introverted?
At Allocations, we do this with documentation.
Kingsley continues: "Writing encourages diversity. It allows those voices that are less loud to speak up and have more say. Previously — in an office environment — the loudest voice wins. And in a remote environment, encouraging writing and documentation allows every voice to be heard."
Documentation has another benefit: it compliments transparency
Kingsley: "We're very transparent internally, and we're moving at breakneck speed. So we can't afford to have a lack of transparency. Transparency is an important operational currency that facilitates trust within the organization."
But how can an organization pull this off, in practice? What are some examples that a team could adopt tomorrow?
One way is to record your meetings. Because of this, people don’t have to worry about missing something essential. By recording meetings, people can participate in meetings on their own time.
Kingsley says: "For all-in remote, you want to be recording meetings because we have multiple time zones so not everyone can make those meetings. We record those meetings so everyone can participate and rewatch at their convenience."
As you just read, documentation is critical for scaling remote teams:
- It eliminates black boxes and phantom work
- It encourages diversity of thought, allowing introverts to be heard
- It increases transparency, which facilitates trust
But for true diversity of thought, you need diversity of talent. You need people from different time zones, ethnic and racial backgrounds, even walks of life. The next section explains how we think about diversity.
Building diverse products is necessary for survival, not just an ideal for public praise.
Kingsley: "For us to build out diverse products, we need to build diverse teams. We have diverse geographies, diverse phases of life, diverse backgrounds. This enables us to think from different perspectives and have unique viewpoints, which is important when we're building out democratized products."
At Allocations, we pride ourselves in being proactive, thinking ahead of our clients’ and our own needs. It's helped us early on, but how can we continue being proactive as we scale?
Kingsley says that we've drawn talent from diverse industries that are comfortable — and even thrive — in high-stakes environments. Some trends we've seen are team members coming from hospitality and the military.
"We have a bunch of vets on the team. They're able to handle anything that's thrown at them and allows us to be proactive in avoiding catastrophe."
5. Location flexibility
Allocations has employees in 26 states and 9 countries. This allows us to serve our global clients with a global team.
"We have geographic coverage, so we're able to be pretty flexible with location. We have folks in Africa, Europe, and Asia where they don't have to be on every single meeting but it adds another diverse perspective to our products and it gives us more time zone coverage. When some of our folks are waking up, they would've already had a full day. It gives a chance to really meet our clients needs," says Kingsley.
These 5 pillars take time and effort to implement, and finding the right tools to compliment your team is just as important.
Here’s 4 tools that Kingsley suggests for remote teams getting started:
Tools we used to build the foundation of our strong remote work culture
- Google Drive + its suite of products. This speeds up our collaboration.
- Slack. This speeds up our communication.
- Airtable. This speeds up our systems.
- Notion. This speeds up our documentation.
We hope this article is helpful to business leaders looking to scale their remote teams. If you’d like to steal more of our secrets about remote work culture, check out our podcast.