Imagine working on your dream project in a contactless work environment. As much as working from home is the top perk priority in the tech world, it doesn’t mean we don’t need to be in touch with our team and don’t want to be heard and appreciated.
Every company has its own culture and ways. At Ideaware, our culture is a set of values, ideas, efforts and methods of making people feel valued and cozy in their routines.
And YESSS, how your team feels reflects in their productivity and decision-making! We are more creative and productive when we are happy in our work environment. Think about all those times when you haven’t felt comfortable at work. You will notice that your productivity has gone down and you feel worn out.
Let’s start with the obvious!
You need to hire the right experts for the job like any other product. The team who determines your culture needs to be aligned with your beliefs and have an energy that matches the company’s. They need to go above and beyond and be resourceful and creative because keeping more than 100 people happy is not an easy task, but it is a fantastic daily challenge.
Culture as our internal product
It’s not all about planning what we are going to do and the perks we will give to the team, but also hearing their feelings and thoughts.
Remind your team that your doors are always open for them, and they are just a Slack message away.
Create conversational spaces like Coffee Breaks, and you will get to know each person in a more deeply personal way.
Send a cake on their birthday and ask them their favorite flavor when onboarding them. This will make them feel appreciated not only for their work performance.
Foster in-person and virtual events, the team needs to feel known and comfortable with the persons they work with.
Host games and cocktail hours. Teams are usually competitive and they will have fun while getting to know each other.
Empathize and make the effort to understand other people’s feelings, priorities and beliefs. What might not seem important to you, might mean the world to someone else.
You will be surprised by the ideas they will come up with during these spaces. They will help you understand that each person is unique and that not everyone has the exact same needs to feel comfortable in a work environment.
Your team members are your customers, and like any company, you need to hear out your target and study what they are into and how they feel about the product you are providing. If your customer is happy, they will keep coming to your business, and this is where retention comes in the tech world.
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In a world full of continuous disruption, the IT business is one of the fastest-growing and most competitive markets...
In a world full of continuous disruption, the IT business is one of the fastest-growing and most competitive markets. When candidates have to decide which software company is the best fit for them, they consider competitive salaries and who offers the best cultural environment.
Over the years, we have learned that a company’s culture is essential to attract and retain top talent, and it starts in the recruiting process.
“Culture is what motivates and retains talented employees.” – Betty Thompson
We consider it essential to share our values and perks and give them a sense of what working with us would feel. We want them to feel comfortable and supported from the beginning. It’s also beneficial to keep them in the loop throughout the whole process; it gives them a sense of belonging.
Employees want to know they are working in a company that cares and values them as professionals and human beings. It’s not all about hard work; keeping the mind and spirit happy will motivate them to deliver outstanding results.
“Culture isn’t just one aspect of the game -it is the game. In the end, an organization is nothing more than the collective capacity of its people to create value.” – Lou Gerstner
Culture, Communication & Fun
Before the pandemic, playing video games and having an occasional beer was part of our office culture. Since we are all working remotely now, our cultural approach had to adapt to the circumstances. As the Marketing and Happiness officer at Ideaware, I believe we have found the perfect balance between taking care of our team’s energy (from a safe distance) and do what we love the most: develop products.
Let me tell you how!
We keep our team informed: Monthly town halls and newspapers keep everyone in the loop. We know what we are working on, what’s happening with the company and in our co worker’s life.
Strong relationships: On day one, our new members meet the team. Creating a solid connection is essential; we want everyone to feel welcome and part of this big family, and most importantly, we are here to collaborate.
Time to unwind: We have multiple 30-minute events throughout the week to connect, learn and have fun together. These spaces are essential after a long workday. They keep us bonded even though we are working from our own houses, plus who doesn’t like to have a good laugh and a beer/cup of coffee with the team after a busy day?
Open communication: Whenever our team has a question or an idea, we have an open doors policy. We are ready to listen and support them to reach their goals. The team also has multiple slack channels where they stay in touch and share work and non-work-related stuff. It’s all about balance.
“Create the kind of workplace and company culture that will attract great talent. If you hire brilliant people, they will make work feel more like play. “ – Richard Branson
Company culture needs to constantly evolve in order to improve, especially in the IT industry. Listen to your team, provide spaces to relax and have fun, encourage them to keep learning, communicate often, and share a good beer. These are key to attract and retain top talent.
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What a year it’s been for everyone. Things were going smoothly until March and then everything changed...
What a year it’s been for everyone. Things were going smoothly until March and then everything changed. Covid-19 hit us and we were forced to change absolutely everything about how we live and work. We had to learn new ways to cope, stay safe, and take care of our mental health.
And yet, as the world came to a crawl, we started adapting, and as an industry, we found a new rhythm.
Our remote work timeline went from 2 years to 2 weeks
We had a vision, and a timeline to shift Ideaware to a 100% remote company by 2022. We had just started drafting plans when, well, you know what happened.
Sending everyone home to work, making sure they had everything they need to be productive, and coming up with processes was no easy task. For the first few weeks of our lockdown in Colombia, we were hard at work adapting.
We realized that our remote Fridays were a whole different ball game than remote work lockdown.
Eventually, we figured things out. And so did our customers.
I’m happy to say things are positively moving forward for our team and our customers, we’re now making plans to never require anyone to work at our HQ for 8 hours a day again.
Remote is here to stay for us. Most of our customers are not only also working remotely but many were already distributed before the pandemic, so this has made the transition easier for everyone.
With hard work, we’ve adapted
Most of us in the industry were already seeing remote as the future of work, but now that future is here. We’ve established new processes and new perks for the team to adjust to this new world.
We also now help every single team member (new or old) set up their home office. Ideaware provides desks, equipment, and subsidized internet for everyone.
Clients and team members
We are saddened by the global tragedy this year, we are also very grateful that 2020 has been a year of growth for us.
Since April, we’ve signed on 9 new clients whom we are currently building their software teams here in Colombia. We’re now hiring all over the country and this has made our expansion easier.
26 team members have joined us since April, and we’re very excited to have every one of you on board, keep rockin’.
Making our clients successful is our top priority, this year we’ve helped our customers make over USD 50M in revenue. That is huge for us, and for them.
Activities and team bonding
Along with our new processes and perks, we also had to move all of our learning and team bonding activities online. We’ve come up with:
A place where anyone on the team can teach all of us anything they want (whether it’s industry-related or not).
We get the entire team on a call and share company news, policies, and exchange a laugh or two.
We’ve also got together for some fun bonding activities:
Mario Kart Tournament
Friendship Day: Homemade Bread and Coffee
Halloween Cocktail Party
Santa’s Baking Workshop
2020 – a year of learning, change, and growth
Change is inevitable and this year takes the prize. We are grateful for all the opportunities that we’ve had this year, and especially very, very grateful to our old, current, and new clients (who we really consider partners) for trusting us. We trust you too and here’s to many years of partnership.
To our team – thank you. Thank you, and thank you again. This year has not been easy on you or your families. But we’ve stayed together, we’ve learned and now we’ve grown together.
“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.”
― Paulo Coelho
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Remote work hasn’t been an impediment to celebrating our favorite holidays with the team. This time we had the...
Remote work hasn’t been an impediment to celebrating our favorite holidays with the team. This time we had the opportunity to celebrate Friendship Day by learning how to make homemade coffee and bread through Zoom.
We knew we wanted to do something special for the team and with the help of a local bakery called Pan y Café, we sent them a package full of goodies which included the ingredients, a mug, and a freshly baked banana and chocolate bread.
From the moment they received the package, everyone started to share pictures of it on Slack and social media. At that point, we had the feeling the event was going to be a success. We were right!
On the day of the event, we started the Zoom meeting with music while we waited for everyone to join. The baker of Pan y Café started explaining to us why each ingredient was important and the role they had in the recipe, and then (our favorite part) he started to teach us how to make delicious bread.
While we were waiting for the dough to rise, we learned how to make Tinto (strong Colombian coffee) using a cloth filter. If you haven’t tried our coffee, we highly recommend you order some right now. Colombia is known for its delicious and tasty coffee.
These were the results of the experience; freshly baked bread, and a happy team! Activities like this are what help us build a stronger relationship, and keep us happy during these difficult times.
We are extremely thankful for everyone who made this possible, and we hope we can keep celebrating moments like this together, even if they have to be via zoom for now.
A message for the team
We are blessed to have such an amazing and talented team. This year has been a challenge for everyone but you are rocking it and we are very proud. Thank you for always being there for us. Happy Friendship Day!
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I believe 2020 will always be remembered as the year COVID-19 forced companies to change their corporate culture....
I believe 2020 will always be remembered as the year COVID-19 forced companies to change their corporate culture. The pandemic negatively impacted everyone’s lives but it also brought innovation and positive effects into our routines and work life.
At Ideaware we like to see this challenge as an opportunity to transform, grow, and make positive changes in our office culture, which it’s now called: work-from-home culture. We decided to make the best of it and a positive mind has been our biggest ally to help us stay focused, productive and happy.
Remote work is not something new for us, even before the quarantine our nearshore/outsourced development teams used to work remotely at least once a week as a perk, but since the pandemic started, our team has fully transitioned to this work model. We have also adopted other important changes that have made this transition easier, keeping our team cheerful, healthy and safe.
During the last months, our family life has merged with our work life. Now we can enjoy all the benefits of working from home with our families close by. In light of this shift, here’s how we’ve kept our team culture and remained connected:
Virtual Learning Activities: We host a weekly event called Homespace where any team member can talk and teach about any subject they want. We love to learn and keep ourselves updated!
Town Halls: A time to chat, share news/updates and have a drink with the team. Cheers!
Coffee Breaks: Every Tuesday we meet with the team to catch up, introduce our pets, talk about our favorite books/movies or share our favorite restaurants & food recipes. Conversations are a great way to foster team building.
Weekly Challenges: Our team loves to compete for prizes (who doesn’t?). We organize a weekly contest with activities that allow the whole team to participate, such as: Where is Waldo?, recreate a childhood photo, most creative video and scavengers hunts, to name a few. It is fun and cheers everyone up!
Game Tournaments: Last month we hosted our first Mario Kart tournament! Our team would meet at zoom to watch the competitors while they were playing in the mobile app version. It was a great experience and the team loved it!
Welcome to the Team Meetings: to introduce new team members, we organize a zoom meeting where we all say hi and talk about who we are and our hobbies. It’s a great way to meet the team & makes the onboarding process easier!
Birthday Celebrations: We used to celebrate birthdays with the whole team at the office but now that we are working remotely we send a yummy cake to the birthday boy/girl and wish them a happy birthday first thing in the morning.
Aside from having perks, we also make sure everyone in the team has everything they need to get their best work done from home:
Internet Bonus: the dynamic of working remotely revolves around video conferences, emails, slack conversations, sending and receiving large files, among others. To be able to keep up with the flow and provide a fast response to our clients, which is one of our top priorities, our team must have an excellent internet connection. This is why every month we give them an extra bonus to ensure the quality of their service.
Office Supplies: some of us were not prepared to move our office space to our homes. Having an appropriate work environment is important to feel productive and focused. For this reason we provided our team with chairs, desks and extra monitors to help them feel as comfortable as possible while working from home.
Healthcare Benefits: The well-being of our team is important to us, and with that in mind we have expanded our health benefits. During this time of crisis it is more important than ever to have access to great healthcare.
“It goes way further than just having the right tools in place, it is about creating culture and a feeling of belonging.” Andres Max, CEO at Ideaware.
Messages from the team
Rebeca, Talent Acquisition Manager:
“Being home, 100% of the time, has been a significant change for all of us, but keeping us safe means that we care about our close ones and the community. In this new normality, we have stayed very united as a group; the key has been having fun activities, coffee breaks, and getting the opportunity to know each other in a more personal way by introducing our children, pets, and family. We are delighted to continue welcoming new members to Ideaware, and it has been gratifying to know that even at a distance, they have felt an essential part of the team.”
Andres Max, CEO:
“One moment we were working together at the office, the next we were forced to stay at home and take care of our families and community. Aside from how we do business development, our biggest shift has been how to keep our team culture, remain close and most importantly: take care of our mental health. We have changed many of our policies and perks to our new reality. We now enjoy online get togethers, fun contests, group learning and sharing activities. We aim to keep finding new ways not only to get our best work done but also to stay focused on what matters and happy.”
Gabriella, UX/UI Designer:
“We’re all living through challenging times. Our routines have shifted dramatically in just six months while we stay safe at home. Shout out to our office that has really helped us by giving us all the necessary support and tools in order to feel comfortable working from home. Personally, it has given me the flexibility to spend quality time with my family, while my productivity and work-life balance has improved. A definite win for me has been diminishing eating takeout food and improving my cooking skills. On top of this, I have created a daily workout routine that helps me start each day with great energy. – So there’s that – We need to embrace changes and learn how to adapt by staying positive and most importantly staying safe.” Filiberto, Backend Developer: “We are living a worldwide phenomenon never before seen in our lifetimes during the 21st century. We must all agree that it has not been an easy task for anybody to adapt to our new lifestyle. Sadly a lot of people lost their jobs as a consequence of the low income in multiple economic sectors. However there were companies that were able to adapt to this crisis and I feel lucky to be a part of one of them. I feel very fortunate to be able to continue doing my job-related tasks from home, knowing that Ideaware has provided me with everything I need to keep my work up to date for my clients. Not only have we been able to keep our projects ongoing but have also come closer to our teammates and the company has done a great job by keeping us in constant communication with fun at-home activities. During these past 6 months I had to adapt to a new set of activities and challenges in order to improve as a person. Even though I have been staying inside of my house I haven’t stopped making progress and the idea of pursuing my goals has pushed me to embrace our situation and make the best of it.”
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Is your remote team happy and productive? Have you checked in with them recently? These are very ...
Is your remote team happy and productive? Have you checked in with them recently? These are very important questions to ask yourself every day.
Motivation and happiness is key for a productive day, specially in these trying times.
Our current world situation has dramatically shifted how we work, we all went abruptly from working in an office, face to face (most of the time at least) to working remotely. Even if it is the same city, we are all remote.
When working from the same office it is easier to check in, have small chat and quickly make decisions based on the ‘office vibe’, but that is no longer the case. How do we, as Founders/COOs/PMs deal with making sure our team is happy?
It goes way further than just having the right tools in place, it is about creating culture and a feeling of belonging. Here’s what we’ve learned and how, over the years we’ve managed to create a culture that extends beyond our office walls.
Define expectations and ground rules/sops
Get started by defining the expectations of working remotely. Define hours where availability is expected, proper communication channels (both internal and client facing) and make available all processes and standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the entire team. Take the guesswork out of how things work in your company and document everything, make it easily available. (Check out http://wikit.io, a tool we built exactly for this purpose).
Onboarding is key
Make sure you onboard your new team members correctly. Explain how things work, who is who, where to find your SOPs and set expectations from day 1.
Foster community via a platform
Communication platforms such as Slack not only provide a place to discuss work but also to engage with your team members. Your casual hallway and kitchen conversations are now channels on slack. Actively encourage conversation and different channels where not only work is discussed but also interests, news and even a bit of fun.
Establish weekly fun activities
One of the drawbacks of going fully remote and digital is that we loose the human connection. Bridge that gap by creating weekly fun activities that your entire team can participate in. At Ideaware we do: weekly town halls (news, chat, bring your favorite drink), a weekly challenge/contest where you win a prize and an event called Homespace, where any team member can talk & teach about any subject they want. Conversations are great and team building is fostered.
Share every single win
Publicly share every single win. From company news to a small win someone had. Share it, encourage your team to share good news and recognize achievement.
Keep your team in the loop every single week
Being remote often feels like being out of touch with your team, specially leadership. Uncertain times also bring work related anxiety. Keep your team in the loop every week. Have a 30 minute call (we call them Town Halls at Ideaware, we get together every Friday at 5pm) and share what’s going on at the company. Good news, bad news, updates. Your team will appreciate staying in the loop and the transparency.
Keep offering professional development opportunities
If possible, keep offering growth opportunities for your team. Your team works very hard for you and everyone wants to be rewarded for their effort with growth opportunities. Don’t take them off the table by being remote, in fact encourage it.
Perks must go beyond the physical office space
Think about the perks you offer/offered while everyone was at the office. Some or most of them are related to the physical space. Think about ways you can bring new perks to your team that are more in line with our current reality. For example: did you offer food and snacks at the office kitchen? Get creative and send everyone their favorite snack on Fridays.
Results matter, working hours do not
This is a tough one, because it is a huge mindset shift. When remote (honestly even at an office setting), sitting in a chair for 8 hours does not equal productivity. Hours don’t matter, results do. Expect your team to juggle home responsibilities while they work. Encourage results, let everyone figure out the best way they are most productive.
Have less meetings
The first impulse as you go remote is to establish many meetings a day to “keep tabs on things”, I find meetings counter-productive. They break up your flow, you have to prepare for them, sit in them, then recover from them. Hours lost. Send a screencast instead, a slack message, a short email, most meetings can be avoided with a short, well written message. If you need them, there are also plenty of tools to get daily status updates on your team members.
Help with home office spaces
If you are reducing your office space, no longer have an office or don’t plan to in the near future, divert your office budget to helping your team at home. At Ideaware we make sure everyone can request a desk, chair, new laptop, upgraded internet and anything they might need to get their best work done. Equipment and a comfortable ergonomic work station should not be taken for granted. Stay on top of it!
Ask for feedback
The most important bit about having a successful remote team is asking for feedback. What can the company do better? How can you help? What struggles are you having? Learn, solve and adapt. This sends the right message and culture to your team. You will learn a lot and help your team be happy and focused.
A happy team is a focused team and a happy company
An essential component to a remote team is keeping everyone happy, connected and thus focused on the company & project goals.
Always keep in mind you should:
Trust your team to do their best work
Autonomy to decide how/when to get their best work done
Outcomes over time tracking
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2018 is coming to an end and we are so thankful for all the knowledge and experience we gained this year, for our amazing team because each one ...
2018 is coming to an end and we are so thankful for all the knowledge and experience we gained this year, for our amazing team because each one of them is a valued piece for this company and we are so proud to say that they pour their hearts out into each project, always giving their best and showing amazing results.
This year we said goodbye to 2018 with a Havana themed party!!
We had a wonderful time celebrating at the beach, sipping Cuba Libre and dancing, we also had a dominoes tournament and played Jenga… if we talk about the food, you would be drooling in 2 seconds… we really enjoyed having this treat!
After all of this, we are ready to welcome 2019, we know is going to be a great year full of love, teamwork, friendship, and great successes, and guess what? We will be sharing all of it with you.
Thank you for reading us and for being part of this company. Happy Holidays everyone!