How we built a stellar team culture
Here’s a crazy stat: In less than two years, Osedea has tripled in size. We’re still not a huge company (currently, we’re at 17 employees and growing), and we haven’t experienced the ridiculously fast-paced growth of the kind of startups that just explode out of nowhere, but given that we’re a service- based company, we feel that tripling in size in such a short time is a pretty significant milestone.
Like most companies that are thriving in today’s ever-changing marketplace, we’ve always known that focusing on building a distinct employee culture would be vital to ensuring our long-term success. So, we took it one step further than simply including “having a strong company culture” in our plans for the future. Instead, we made a point of deliberately investing significant time and financial resources into making the Osedea office a place our staff would be genuinely excited to show up at every morning.
Priority #1: team spirit
Teamwork is a key component of the way we work. In the majority of our projects, we work in groups, which means each Osedea employee has learned to rely on others to assist them with their learning and growth. We’ve used a few different initiatives to intentionally build a sense of team spirit within our company:
- Last year, after we had a wave of new hires, we closed shop for four days and took everyone on a paid vacation to Jamaica. The objective was to focus on training, but also to build a rock-solid sense of camaraderie within our newly-expanded team. You can check our blog post about that here.
- Every three months, we try to shake things up a little by inviting all our staff to join in on an out of office activity. So far, we’ve tackled paddleboarding, surfing, and trampolining — to name a few.
- In an effort to encourage healthy habits, we also organized a wellness Challenge at the Osedea office (all the dirt on who crushed the challenge can be found here). But the biggest thing everyone got out of it was more teambuilding and a heightened sense of employee participation.
Priority #2: Ownership through autonomy and growth
We recruit team members based on their potential and their talent — so for us, giving each Osedea employee full autonomy and ample opportunity to grow is a priority. Here are a few examples of how we implement this philosophy:
- We give everyone in our office the opportunity to discover and contribute to Open Source initiatives through something we call “Discovery Fridays”. One example of a project we brought to life thanks to Discovery Fridays is http://nodock.io/
- Autonomy in projects. We don’t have complex structures of project managers or multiple levels of hierarchy. We give every employee the authority to own their projects, start to finish.
- Training is a major priority for everyone at Osedea. We want employees to invest an average of one hour a week into training and acquisition of new skills. That’s why we host monthly Lunch and Learns, which are essentially noontime presentations or workshops, given by one employee to the whole organization.
- Ideas at Osedea come from everyone, whether we’re discussing the technologies we plan to use on a project, how to be more efficient, or even our team culture. For example, when a group of employees approached the CEO and I and expressed a desire to redefine our company’s values, we decided to organize a brainstorming session. As a result, we came up with a new list of values that accurately represents the company we’ve become over the past couple of years . Here they are:
- Go big or go home
- Diversity is our middle name
- Simply put, we care
- We eat, sleep, and breathe technology
- Growing together is what matters most
Priority #3: A range of flexible benefits that fit a variety of personal needs & preferences
Before our recent growth spurt, we already had a solid benefits package that we extended to all our employees, but as our team expanded, we realized it would be cool — not to mention great for morale — if we allowed ourselves to get creative with the benefits we offered.
Nowadays, the following benefits are par for the course at Osedea:
- Our “Dreams Come True” initiative: After two years of service, employees get one extra week of paid vacation, two weeks of unpaid leave, and $5,000 towards realizing a personal project, whether that’s travelling or volunteering. We came up with this idea based on the realization that when we were attending university or college, we had time to travel, but were usually short on cash. Then, when we graduated from school and started working, we suddenly had a bit more money to play with, but less free time, meaning we couldn’t just take off to whatever country was calling to us. Our Dreams Come True program is our way of addressing this unfortunate irony, by letting Osedea employees take an extended period off to accomplish something they’ve always dreamed of doing.
- Flexible schedules: We don’t force team members to show up for work at a certain time in the morning, or stay until the clock strikes five. It’s important to us to make life easier for employees who have children, or have chosen to commit their time to other beneficial activities that sometimes overlap with typical working hours.
- Public transit allowance: Monthly passes for taking the bus or metro aren’t cheap. By helping our employees to offset this cost, we hope to take some of the financial sting out of commuting to work. Plus, we encourage the use of public transportation for the sake of the environment.
All things considered, we’re extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished so far in terms of establishing an awesome company culture at Osedea. If the enthusiastic feedback we get from our employees — and our low turnover rate — is any indication, Osedea is definitely making a name for itself as an excellent place to work in the tech space.
With that being said, though, we know this is a journey — not an end point. In other words, some of the ingredients involved in crafting a trailblazing company culture like ours are always going to be outside of our control.
As the HR Department at any company will tell you, you can end up lucky with the people you hire, or it can turn out to be a less-than-perfect fit. But what we’ve learned is that while work experience is important, our main success criteria for recruiting comes down to hiring for fit and potential. We need to keep working hard on building an increasingly kickass culture, and we plan to do exactly that..