My first year @ Giant Swarm

Oct 28, 2019

Expectations vs. Reality

Having been part of the swarm for a year now, I would like to share some insights regarding my expectations before starting at Giant Swarm and what reality actually looked like.

I first came across the Giant Swarm job ad for the HR Manager position by pure chance. I was browsing facebook and Anna posted on an HR community page that they were looking. When I read the job ad the first thing that came to my mind was “Haha that sounds like me”. But I had been self-employed for a while and I wasn’t really looking for a permanent job. However, what I read about the company culture really intrigued me and I just thought “You know what? I’ll just apply to take a look at what is out there”. When I talked to Anna and later on to Oliver, this job seemed too good to be true. Apparently, I was allowed to choose my own schedule, I had full flexibility and I could work from home. It seemed like I would keep all the aspects that drew me into self-employment in the first place, and I would also gain the team I had been missing dearly while being self-employed.

But, having a background in employer branding and headhunting, I knew to what extent some companies go to, to attract much-needed employees and what promises they make but do not keep in the end. Plus, would I really gain something? I would still be working from home with no-one around, so I would still miss the social aspect of sharing an office.

However, Giant Swarm’s offer was there and I decided to take it as, in my case, I had nothing to lose. I thought to myself that if it turned out that the job ad was nothing more than a list of bullshit bingo points, I would just go back to being self-employed.

Fast forward to being part of the swarm for one year, my expectations were far exceeded and I can confirm that the job ads are not just a list of bullshit bingo points but do actually reflect the way that we work at Giant Swarm. To this day, I still have moments when I look up from my screen and find myself surprised at the fact that I’m in my own house with no-one around. Through the fully remote setup of the company, and all the efforts we undertake to ensure a good onboarding experience (1:1s with every single team member when you start, our buddy-system as well as going on on-sites twice a year), we’ve managed to establish a company culture that some non-remote companies can only dream of.

Our internal Slack has become my new favourite social media channel and with 50+ employees from 20+ different cultural backgrounds, we represent so many different personalities and opinions that we have great conversations and interactions full of mutual respect. Obviously, we can’t all share the same stance on certain topics, but we all love to discuss in a very respectful way - I think our #politics channel is the best example of this.

Are there drawbacks of working remotely? Sure, such as going out for lunch with colleagues, which is not the same compared to sitting in front of your computer and eating but we’ve found great alternatives to make up for the fact that we don’t see each other on a regular basis. And for me, these small drawbacks are by far outnumbered by the positive factors.

As one of our colleagues has put it so much on-point a while ago, Giant Swarm is a company where my work-life doesn’t compete and interfere with my non-work/family life but instead work together and alongside each other perfectly fine for the first time in my career. It seems I can have the best of both worlds. My daily commute to the “office” has decreased to 5 seconds (the time it takes me to get from our living room to my desk) which allows me to not waste any valuable time on public transport/in the car. If you don’t want to work from home but prefer a co-working space, then this is of course also possible. The costs are covered by the so-called perks you get every month for coworking spaces/mobile phone contract or your kid’s piano lessons. I get to spend more quality family time and attend the school projects of my kids, as my working hours are flexible and with more kids than employees in the company, my colleagues fully understand this. It’s quite a common thing to see kids on our Jour Fix hangout which we have once a month and no one bats an eyelid when you hear kids in the background during a hangout meeting.

So all in all, was joining the Swarm a good decision?? YES DEFINITELY! And one year into the whole swarm experience I keep on being amazed at how great a company and team we have established and I’m thrilled at what lies ahead.

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