• Jun 28, 2018
To repeat, Giant Swarm is a remote-first company and with that, has a remote-first culture and organizational structure. This offers a certain kind of flexibility and pace of work that someone fresh off the agency boat has to come to terms with. That doesn’t mean taking massive breaks and getting work done when you want. It means work smart, rest, repeat. And get the job done. It is a style and culture of working that I don’t think would work for everyone.
Working in a remote-first company offers the kind of flexibility owning your own company has without having to worry about the insane cost of insurance or answering the phone on Christmas day. This kind of flexibility gives you time to work on what you need to get done while bettering yourself in any number of different ways.
Here are some examples from seeing the daily AFK on #Slack:
And then there are your basic TO DO’s and WTFs:
This means when you are in front of the screen hacking away, your mind is clearer than wondering how am I going to get my keychain back or I need to pick up my son from piano lessons and I’m going to catch flack for it.
I’ve always believed in move at the pace of client. This means that if the client is slow and they need more time to deliberate over content or a logo or don’t often have time for meetings, you have to keep cool and understand while still getting meaningful work done. You also have the clients who need everything done yesterday and you have to move mountains on a regular basis. The pace at Giant Swarm is both Client and Technology, so it adds a very exciting layer to the mix. The tech is rather new and growing in spades daily. This sets a different pace - it’s on the tech side, which means if you’re a couple of days late with info and updates, you’re the one behind. So content always needs to be fresh.
Meeting the team takes time. Working remotely, I may not run into my colleague from London or one of the two from Barcelona but maybe 3 times per year. And although Brno is now on my list of places to visit, I can’t just hop up and go for a beer on a Wednesday evening to the Czech Republic. The onboarding process at Giant Swarm consists of 1 on 1’s with everyone from the company. This was something that we needed to set up as new employees and had to get through everyone within the first couple of weeks. Just like any company, you’re going to have your different types of people but when the team represents 17 different countries, you have about 17 different types of people - even if in some regions you know you’d fit right in.
With technology as impressive as is is today, using Google Meet and keeping in close contact on #Slack, GitHub and email allows for very easy cross-departmental communication as well as cross-cultural communication. In conclusion, working remotely with others who thrive in this environment is a team experience like no other, and I think it’ll be adopted even more over the years.
Giant Swarm does team building gatherings twice a year, and of course they are a blast. But not focusing on all of the super-fun things we do, to be a remote-first company, you have to have close interaction with your colleagues whenever possible and these gatherings allow for that. The schedule is mixed with having fun as well as brainstorming sessions to better our processes and product. A very well organized trip to get everyone together is coordinated internally and the schedule is very full but of course, flexible based on what everyone wants to do or wants to work on. These are very necessary and have kept the team close although we are spread out across Europe.
After 100 days at Giant Swarm, I have learned first and foremost about the processes and tech we have adopted but also heavily about working in a remote-first company, the kinds of people who thrive in them and the amazing channels that foster seamless communication across team members. But it doesn’t stop here, we are moving into what I call Phase II of our marketing strategy. This is going to include your big rock projects like website redesign, expansion of our reach through press contacts and the overbearing GDPR.
In the meantime, I still need to clean out my closet and get rid of my leather shoes, ties, sport coats and jackets, button-down dress shirts, and pleated khakis - just kidding, I’ve never owned a pair of those. Remote-first working doesn’t need these things and I feel right at home, literally.
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