A recent paper, The Power of Proximity to Coworkers, published by economists from several leading financial and research institutions, highlights some of the challenges of remote work and will likely provide more fodder for the Big Tech companies trying to bring employees back to the office. But Hum was formed as a remote-first organization, and we’re committed to continuing to build a supportive remote work environment.
Over the past three years, we’ve learned a lot about being a fully remote company. Our hiring and onboarding practices were specifically designed to accommodate the limitations and benefits of remote. And we use best in class software (Google, Slack, GitHub, etc.) to work together, whether live on a video call or asynchronously to accommodate our schedule flexibility. But as our teams, and our to do lists, expand we’re always looking for new opportunities to stay connected and engaged with each other.
The study concluded that the lack of in-person interactions and nonverbal cues can make it challenging for employees to feel connected and develop professionally. Here’s how we overcome those challenges at Hum:
- We’re a ‘cameras always on’ remote team. Seeing everyone’s physical form helps us feel more connected because body language and other nonverbal communication are a huge value add.
- When we onboard new Hum-ans, everyone updates their Personal User Manuals - living documents that summarize each person’s communication preferences, work habits, working hours, and expectations for collaboration. This helps accelerate the onboarding process for new hires, being able to absorb information about team members that would normally take months when sharing a physical workspace.
- We have a monthly social lunch (an hour blocked off on everyone’s calendar) for casual non-work chat. We get great joy out of the unexpected twists and turns in these conversations based on everyone’s varied hobbies, hot takes on current events, and recaps of recent reads or binge watches.
- We encourage everyone to pursue their own professional development. Lead UX Designer and Front end Developer Chelsea Hitzler took advantage of our Responsible PTO policy and took time off to complete her Google UX Design Certificate. Leading webinars, co-hosting podcasts, and shadowing other employees are just a few of the professional development options Hum-ans have explored.
- We have a slack channel dedicated to sharing articles, podcasts, webinars and other forms of media that we find engaging and helpful in our pursuits at Hum and our personal growth.
Communication and Collaboration
- We have regular 1:1 meetings, not just for direct reports, but for cross functional team members as well. And we suggest the occasional 1:1 for team members whose work doesn’t regularly overlap. Making sure we have time to connect on a personal level, not just delivering status updates or discussing strategy, is important to everyone’s mental and emotional health at work.
- We aim to get together in person once a year, with smaller team gatherings centered around conference travel or major product initiatives.
For more information on our team culture and company values, check out our website.
While we don’t have any open positions at the moment, we’re always interested in meeting interesting and talented people. If you’re interested in hearing about future job openings, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us what expertise you can bring to the team and why you think Hum’s remote first culture is the right fit for you.