A Snapshot into Remote Culture at XWP

Culture is such a vital aspect of a company that directly impacts the experience of its team members. At the company level, it can have the ability to form strong foundations, help teams innovate and create with ease, and to support systems and processes. It also has the power for individuals to feel safe, connected, valued, and help them find their purpose. 

With the likes of Satya Nadella, Simon Sinek and many others raising the profile of what culture is, why it’s important, and how to build and protect it, over the last decade, we have seen company culture come to the forefront of leader’s agendas. And rightfully so! We have seen leaders step out and begin to engage with their teams across multiple levels. This has allowed them to get a sense of who their teams are, rather than just what they can do. 

It is the touchpoints and connections of team members that breathe life into a company’s culture. Culture is alive, and it feeds and grows as individuals outlive its values and practices. So with the clarity of how to express the culture in day-to-day workings plus the increase of these touchpoints teams are well-positioned to advance more healthily and safely. 

These touchpoints could be easily cultivated, observed, protected and enhanced for teams that worked in the same or only a few locations. Things were tracking forward positively…

Cue the Remote Revolution. 

Whether teams were thrust into a remote setup because of a certain pandemic, or they had already taken the plunge into the new way of working, a remote setup means the landscape for fostering and supporting a healthy culture has changed. 

No longer do we have those touchpoints within proximity. 

No longer are we passing one other on the office floor and conversing. 

No longer are we picking up on tone or body language to get a sense of how the teammate sitting next to us is. 

No longer are we sharing a cake in the office on a birthday. 

No longer are the pro-culture moments as easily caught and celebrated. 

No longer are the counter-cultural moments as easily caught and corrected. 

No longer can leaders say that culture is being invested in with limited effort. 

Remote culture is different and potentially a bit more work, but it CAN be amazing and as impactful! 

– Lance Robbins, XWP People Ops Team

Remote Work at XWP

At XWP we have been a remote company since our formation in 2014 and have team members spread across every continent on the globe, except Antarctica (for now 😉). This has allowed us to grow, learn, fail, and succeed in the remote space. We don’t claim to be experts, and we fully expect that past pattern to continue far into our future. 

We value (and you may have already picked up on this) the touchpoints with our team. We are very focused on creating an exceptional experience for all of our team members, and this mainly has come through various purposeful moments to connect. Continual (but not overwhelming) connection with our team helps them stay informed, equipped and most importantly heard. 

Some examples of these are: 

  • XWP Live! – our monthly call for company updates, quarterly reviews, team demos, culture discussions. Importantly this call takes place twice to allow for the timezone differences. 
  • Role-specific calls – these allow team members to connect within their expertise to both share & learn from each other and discuss the latest trends. 
  • People Ops 1:1 – this is a chance for team members to meet with the People Ops team to discuss their work/life balance, project involvement and enjoyment, plus anything else that is on their mind. 
  • Holiday Party – Our ALL-IN, once a year, one timeslot call for team members to put work aside and celebrate the year that has been, hand out awards, share and experience the cultural differences, and just have fun!
  • Homebases – Timezone aligned smaller (ideally <10 people) groups for our team to build deeper connections, share life experiences, and relax. 

Currently, there is a huge trend against more and more calls. And while we do not want to overload team members with hours of calls, we must be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Having specific, purposeful moments to connect on calls can be done without overburdening everyone. It’s vital to assess and reassess the agendas, purpose, and effectiveness of calls. 

The Creation of Homebases

Homebases are our response to internal feedback that team members wanted greater opportunities to build connection and community. Our leaders listened and responded accordingly. We have proceeded cautiously with how curated squads would interact and so far they are coming together nicely.

We encourage participation and consider time together not discussing “work” as a valuable investment in cultivating community in our team culture. This meant that we needed to get Homebases right. No one sat in a “planning meeting” and came up with a formula and declared this is how it will be. Rather we have expressed that we are committed to this, and so we are committed to assessing, reviewing, listening and making changes when necessary. 

Currently, Homebases look like the following:

  • A private slack channel. This allows a central place for group members to converse a-sync and share content. 
  • A monthly hour call. This allows a chance to gather together face-to-face (via Zoom). What takes place on a call is determined by the Homebase and its facilitator. 

Centrally, XWP doesn’t determine the content or agenda for Homebases. Rather the desire is that as these smaller groups become more familiar with themselves they will begin to take on an organic flavour and style that reflects the members. We want them to help team members feel known through their connections.

We believe to achieve this we must allow for each Homebase to set its course for community. Content ranges from poem slams, photography challenges, book reviews, quizzes, personal updates, photo sharing, Secret Santas, birthday calls and the list goes on. There is so much that a Homebase could do, and each one is currently discovering more and more its identity and what community looks like for them. 

Centrally what we do is offer support and help Homebase facilitators with planning. The facilitators are the key to all of this! Not only getting the right person to volunteer to help organise and lead but also not allowing them to feel isolated is paramount.

Going forward we are exploring new ways in which we can help support the community growth for our Homebases. Hopefully, not too far in the distant future, we will be able to organise meetups and getaways. Because while working hard to add valuable remote touchpoints, connecting face-to-face is still irreplaceable (WordCamps in 2022 🤞). 

Touchpoints are the links that cause communities to bind together. We aim to continue to invest in these with purpose, all the while assessing the health and direction of our community. By investing in our community, we are strengthening our culture to withstand any challenges that come our way. 

We are the XWPeople, and we are moving forward together.  If this sounds like the type of team culture you’d like to join, review our job openings!

We’re always looking for driven engineers and designers to help us grow. Our team members work with the biggest names in tech, tackle unique challenges daily, and are part of a robust culture that spans the globe. Do you have what it takes to be a part of XWP?