Building culture in a remote first company

Building culture in a remote first company
Photo by Sigmund / Unsplash

From Day 1, obodo has been a remote first business. Whilst we are registered in the UK, our core team have been distributed in Europe - and it's worked.

For those that don't know, our model right now is built upon freelance designers in Europe and LATAM. I believe freelancers are the best in the business - because they have to be! Good communicators, planners and doers.

For the core team, we essentially work day in day out on short and long term needs. In this game, there isn't a playbook to follow, especially as we grow into our second year.

But how do you build and maintain a sense of togetherness when apart? How can you be part of something, when most of the time, you're physically on your own. This is what we've done:

Celebrating Small and Big Wins

There's a keenness to categorise success in sales alone. Not the case here. At obodo, you get your birthday off and a delivery of doughnuts. When we meet, we take lunch or dinner out together. Our weekly happiness survey is an opportunity to share praise and celebrate the team.

Sales performance is absolutely key of course. It's the oxygen a business like ours requires, but it's a result of having the right team building the right product in the right way.

Sharing the small and big wins enables us to enjoy the journey and not burn on the way to the destination!

Departing New York in January '22

Exotic Retreats Every Quarter

We started meeting up as calendars aligned, but more recently have put together more structured company retreats. Our first, in New York in January was anything but exotic! Snow, cold and moreover, way too much focus on work.

What we discovered in more informal get togethers, is that we didn't really want to talk about work! We do that day-in day-out, and as a high performing team, what we yearn for is non-work time.

So from Q2 this year, we've moved to a more Exotic Retreat model. We each travel to somewhere (near Nice this quarter), have meals and activities together, with a couple of light-hearted where we are and where we're going workshops.

We think it's going to work and in some way, reward the performance and progress we've made on the journey so far.

Ending Every Conversation on a Positive

I actually learnt this recently from obodo's founder Charles. Conversations can cover all kinds of topics, from client engagements to hiring. It's not all rainbows and butterflies sometimes and we often have differing opinions. That's good!

What we do though is end on a positive. Whether it's taking a step back, or sharing a story, we want to laugh together as well as build together. It helps if you have an incredibly funny team too!

What have you done to build a better culture? I'd love to hear!