This article has been updated for January 2022
Can you remember the time 2 years ago when you would wake up, get ready for your day, pack lunch and drive to the office, and all that hours before your start time? (If you can, I'm sorry)
Here at Cycloid we can't, but that's not really the pandemic's fault - we've been doing work in our pyjamas... I mean, from home since the start.
Cycloid is and always has been remote-first. With the avalanche of recent remote-working resources out there, we're not offering any special advice. Instead, we're telling you about our remote journey and sharing the things we've learned along the way.
Coronavirus has made remote working a super hot topic. Corona-working has pushed remote work and culture to the top of the business news and we think it's safe to say that if you're looking for tips and advice, well, someone else has you covered...
So, what can we tell you about remote working that somebody else hasn't already said? Well, like we mentioned, Cycloid is 5 years old and has been remote-first since inception. Cycloid used to have an office in Paris where attendance was voluntary for people from and around Paris. But as our organisation grew with talent from all around Europe, for many commuting to Paris would be rather a drag, so we got rid of it.
Since we don't have an office, does it mean we put a stop to in-person interactions? Quite the opposite, now our face-to-face meetings are more special than ever. We make it a priority to organise workshops 2-3 times a year - usually somewhere warm. Our most recent workshop was in Faro, Portugal - look at all these happy sunny faces!
For these workshops we come together to make strategic decisions and plans for the company, meet our favourite coworkers in person or simply have a good time! No matter how much time we spend in the office, however, one thing doesn't change - attendance is very much optional.
When founder Benjamin first started talking about remote-first working in a corporate environment, he says he was often met with ridicule. Even so, he believed strongly in it, as it's completely in line with the workings of a teal organization, which is what Cycloid strives to be. One of the central foundations of teal organizations is that they are characterized by self-organisation and self-management, which are two modes of working that are close to impossible without at least facilitating remote work.
In his seminal book on teal organizational models, Reinventing Organizations, Frederic Laloux gives the example of several companies to genuinely operate on teal principles. One, Buurtzorg, employs 7,000 people. but only 30 of them work at headquarters.
Teal organizations seek to encourage people to bring their whole selves to work but that's not possible if "going to work" means cutting off part of your personality or physical reality. Teal organizations also look for a minimum of bureaucracy and forcing people to sit in front of a computer without being productive seems like the ultimate expression of bureaucracy!
Even though we've been remote first for some time now, it doesn't mean the sailing is always smooth. Last year, we asked Cycloid employees how they felt about remote working.
As you might expect in a company set up to prioritize independent, autonomous work, people had strong opinions. They were overall very enthusiastic about remote working (phew!), but they did point out several things that you might not expect.
During Covid-19, we've already seen some of businesses' big names make announcements that remote working is something that will continue after the world's' various states of emergency end. Both Twitter and sister company, Square, have made announcements to this effect, and we're sure they won't be the only ones.
But, as you can also see from people who have already worked from home as a policy for a while, it hasn't always been easy. At Cycloid, we've had time to plan, time to organize, and time to reassess and, despite occasional and natural points of contention, we're still committed to the principle.
Luckily, most problems around remote working are naturally self-limiting if you do it right and are clear from the start. If you have an optional WFH policy, you can make your own decision about where you work and, even if you make a decision and discover you were wrong, you can often make a change.
Indeed, hopefully recent pandemic-induced chaos will bring more companies to a happy medium where staff can make their own decision where to work, giving them greater capacity for self-management and self-realization in the workplace. Frederic Laloux thinks it's the future, and from where we're standing, we'd be hard-pressed to disagree.
Now excuse me, I have to run to catch a plane. Living in a different country every month is easier when there isn't a physical office to come back to...