August 17, 2020

3 Ways Our Company Transitioned to be Fully Remote

5 months ago, Exygy, along with most of the Bay Area, closed our office and decided our team would work remotely.

As a tech company, our existing digital processes and work culture have prepared us for this moment. Many of our “best practices” – the things we do to ensure everyone is on the same page and able to contribute – have enabled us to keep our work moving forward relatively seamlessly.

One of our partners, Vu-Bang Nguyen, shared:

" I was able to help transition my other projects to remote more effectively because of the things I learned working with Exygy before the pandemic. Not just Slack and Zoom, but also process + collaboration things, such as managing each meeting with one, centralized rolling notes doc for all team members to reference."

Reflecting on our experience thus-far, here are a few things that have helped enable a smoother transition to remote work:

1. Strengthen 1:1 Relationships

During this pandemic, we recognize that every team member faces unique challenges in their home life, and we need to continue supporting one another personally in order for us to thrive professionally. Over time, our team has gotten to know each other on a deeper level so that if and when accomplishments or crises come up, we are able to celebrate and support. Since we are no longer in the office together, we introduced new opportunities for one-on-one interactions by adding the Donut plug-in on Slack, which automatically pairs team members for personal Zoom chats on a rotating basis.

2. Build Team-Wide Rituals

Our team has weekly and quarterly rituals that help us stay connected and invest in team-wide cohesion. Weekly, we begin every Monday morning with an all-hands “Status Meeting” — where we each share our personal and professional highs and lows from the previous week. Over the years, this practice has become a critical touchpoint for our team to understand the context of each team member’s life so that we can be more tuned in to each other throughout the work week. One of our Exygy core values, ‘Bring the Whole Person,’ helps guide our team to lean into sharing openly and vulnerably, even over zoom.

At the start of every quarter, we spend three hours setting OKRs as an entire team, engaging each person in small groups to finalize the company’s top priorities for the next three months. This has helped enroll everyone in company goals and ensure we are getting the needed feedback from all parts of the company.

Exygy Team Digital Experience
The Exygy Team at our first 100% remote (silly hat themed) OKR party in March.

3. Cultivate a Community of Experts

Since our founding, Exygy has built out a network of designers, engineers, and subject matter experts who contribute to our work and are located throughout the country and world. Not only has this practice enabled us to pull in diverse expertise, but it has pushed us to embrace remote and distributed teamwork. We have intentionally built best practices in virtual collaboration, remote recruiting & hiring, and quickly assembling talented teams that fit the needs of a particular project. As part of embracing the Future of Work, we will be doubling down on our community of experts. Our Slack community brings together our expert network, as well as the wider tech for good community (register to join here!).

Our team has shown we have the tools to be successful working from home, so we have decided to continue as a remote company for the medium-term. Here’s what we are doing, specifically, for the next year:

  1. We will not renew the lease on our San Francisco office. Our current lease expires in Feb 2021. We will consider a smaller office or co-working space when it is safe to work near each other consistently.
  2. We are opening our recruitment and hiring nationwide. While we have sourced our Community of Experts globally for many years, we have limited our full-time staff recruitment hyper-locally to the San Francisco Bay Area. Moving forward, we are excited to increase our ability to more effectively recruit and hire an increasingly diverse staff with more folks who are often under-represented in tech, and to exponentially increase the size of the pool of talent we can add to our full-time team. We are also welcoming our current teammates to adjust their personal living situation to suit their needs, so some of our teammates will be moving out of the Bay Area.
  3. We are invested in building a best-in-class remote culture. Maintaining a rich team culture has been critical to our success to date, and we are committed to building exemplary remote culture for our team and for our partners. While we have a foundation of practices that have supported our transition, we are committed to expanding our company benefits, collaboration tools, virtual meeting practices, and more.

As we go, we’re committed to getting feedback from all our stakeholders: our team, our partners, our clients, and those we serve. We will continue to evolve our measurements, but for the time being we will be surveying our stakeholder community to determine how remote culture is impacting the experience our partners and clients have collaborating with us, how our team happiness fluctuates, and how being remote affects our ability to build new relationships and identify new opportunities to use our skills to improve lives.

Going fully remote may be a permanent change for us, or we may end up with a hybrid remote and in-person model. We are going to use these next 8-12 months to understand the overall impact on our organization and be thoughtful about the next steps we’ll take as an organization dedicated to modeling the future of work.

COVID-19 has forced each one of us to make changes and adapt to this new world. Exygy is leaning in and is excited to figure out what the future of work looks like for our team. If you have ideas or would like to talk about how you can adapt some of our best practices, I’d love to hear from you!

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