Why is culture so important to a business? Here is a simple way to frame it. The stronger the culture, the less corporate process a company needs. When the culture is strong, you can trust everyone to do the right thing.
— Brian Chesky, Co-founder and CEO of Airbnb
An internet company’s team should embrace different cultures and views. That’s our view. So we ignore country borders when searching for talent. Why worry where people work, if they do a good job?
We’re proud of our self-built network of strong communication and planning tools. Together they allow our international team to work from almost anywhere in this wifi-ed world. If they want to meet up, chat and plot the future with local colleagues – that’s fine too. We run cosy and spacious offices in two Belgian cities. And our coffee is famously free, fresh and more-ish.
Our different Slack channels are pretty active. But for colleagues working remotely and in other time zones, there’s a tiny risk they lose out by not having face-to-face contact with someone. Our solution is to organise different feedback moments – formal or informal – and gather the vital feedback that every company needs to go on developing. Since giving feedback is as important as getting any, we’ve built a tool to help the team give feedback to different colleagues all year long.
We (try to) love every working day. But Friday afternoons are special, as we can go wild on our own projects. After the short weekly introduction to a new app/language/framework by a member of the team, it’s all experimental and innovative stuff for the rest of the day. Everybody tests, plays or studies and hopefully picks up some new skills that will benefit everybody in future projects. Curious about what we get up to on our Friyays? Check out these cool projects.
You know that late September feeling, when everybody realises that summer and their holidays are almost over? We’ve come up with the perfect solution. Organise a yearly retreat to a nice location where the entire team assembles for a week of fun activities and social interaction. All screen-free, if you please. Throw in oodles of sunshine, tasty food, and a collaborative work session or two – ideally with a stunning view of the sea or mountains. Surprise, surprise… those September blues melt away.
Every company has its bible. For us, it’s ‘Getting Real’ by Jason and David, the founders of Basecamp. This book describes perfectly why we skip all the stuff that merely represents real (charts, boxes, graphs, etc.) and actually build the real thing. Staying small and being agile are crucial. We deliver just what clients need and eliminate anything they don’t.
Our line of business and working the way we do inevitably bring challenges. That’s why we try to hire the best talents available, with a thorough selection process where we focus on skills, culture fit and motivation. Our team members can shoulder responsibility. They are willing to go the extra mile in our pursuit of quality, but won’t hesitate to assist colleagues or ask for help when needed. Many of our colleagues are also asked to talk at international conferences or to write blog posts, so we’re clearly doing something right in-house.
We don’t mean to sound arrogant, but before saying ‘yes’ to a client, we need to absolutely believe in the project and its feasibility. The product should be the core of their business – not part of a side business or a support thing – so we have the client’s natural buy-in. In the end, the client must be willing and able to support and develop the product themselves by building their own team. We can fully guide them in the building and recruiting process. By doing this, we avoid tying clients into multi-year contracts, which we don’t really like. Truth be told, clients seem to appreciate our directness.
Knowledge is our bread and butter. Yet we happily share some of our work, tools and expertise with the developer community. We firmly believe that results can improve for everyone, whenever people work openly and in a spirit of collaboration.
We don’t advertise the fact, but our people are often invited to speak at seminars and conferences. On balance, that’s great. Sure, our company loses a few days of valuable developing time. But we get to introduce another 50 to 500 people to us and our products. Plus another happy colleague shares their knowledge. A win-win, wouldn’t you say?