Moov just made Built In’s list of the top 50 fully remote startups to work for in the U.S. and Purpose Job’s Best Remote Places to Work in 2023, and while everyone here is thrilled that our workplace culture has received recognition for the second year in a row, it got me thinking.
What does workplace culture mean without a physical workplace? How do businesses build a fully remote culture?
First, let’s talk about what culture is and what it’s not. Culture isn’t just a collection of benefits like health coverage or PTO—although these perks show that leadership cares for and invests in their employees, which can be foundational to culture. It’s also not branded swag or virtual backgrounds with a corporate logo.
Instead, workplace culture is defined by the way everyone—from top to bottom—agrees to interact with one another, what you choose to work towards together, and the trust you give each other every day. It’s about fully sharing responsibility for the vision, mission, and success of your organization.
How to build a remote culture
Because Moov began with an online community of developers and launched in the midst of quarantine, it made perfect sense to remain fully remote. Our dispersed team now spans 25 states and three countries. Building and maintaining a culture across that distance requires continuous effort. Here’s how we do it at Moov.
Make culture a product
Remote culture has to be intentional. It won’t magically and organically spring into existence. This is true for in-person settings, too, but being fully remote adds a degree of difficulty. You can’t rely on proximity to do any of the work for you. So, you have to treat culture like a product—like anything else your company makes. Define it, commit to it, collaborate on it, and most importantly, know that your culture is a living thing—not something you can build once and then ignore.
As the Manager of HR & Employee Experience at Moov, one of my biggest responsibilities is making sure that no one feels left out, but it’s not up to me alone. Avoiding isolation starts with open communication and transparency, from leadership down.
Prioritize communication and transparency
At Moov, everything is out in the open. Our Linear boards are open for any team member to pop in and check the status of a project. The same is true for Slack, which has been our go-to, org-wide communication platform since the beginning. And we use it for so much more than work. We have a Slack channel for gratitude where Moovers regularly offer thanks and kudos to their teammates; a random channel for stream-of-consciousness fun; even threads for pets and gaming.
There are more serious channels too—security, for instance, where Moovers can raise concerns, warn of potential threats, and help keep each other safe. And maybe most importantly, there’s the ask-me-anything channel. It’s the virtual version of our CEO’s office door. You can ask Wade anything freely without fear of judgment or pushback, and get direct feedback from him and other leaders.
Other ways we make communication and transparency core to our culture include:
Moov updates. Each week, our President Bob sends out a summary of what’s been happening—sales successes, platform usage, community stats, and whatever else might be noteworthy that week.
Virtual standups. Every Thursday, we all drop our three Ps (Progress, Plans, and Problems) into our Slack standup channel. Everyone shares a brief note highlighting what they’ve accomplished, what’s coming up on their radar, and any problems they’ve encountered. It’s a great way for us to keep track of what’s happening across the org, see what others are working on, and find ways to collaborate and problem-solve.
Company-wide gatherings. In addition to monthly all-hands meetings, which keep everyone connected and informed on the business, we meet to give voluntary PechaKucha presentations to share more about us as individuals. Plus, our product team hosts weekly demos of new features, so everyone is connected to what we’re building.
Wine with Wade. When his travel schedule allows, Wade hosts an informal virtual happy hour for anyone who wants to decompress with their coworkers after a busy week. It’s a safe space to vent, get to know each other, and laugh over wine, beer, soda, and La Croix.
Donut app. We use the Donut integration with Slack to randomly connect coworkers for work-free conversations. It helps us get to know our teammates—especially those we might not interact with regularly.
Go beyond benefits
A big part of the recognition our culture has received is based on perks and benefits—and Moov does offer unlimited PTO, a stipend for equipping home offices, annual learning and development stipends, 401(k) matching, competitive compensation, and so on. But what really makes Moov a great place to work is how we work. Our core values guide how we get work done, how we’re treated, and how we collaborate. Everything we do ties back to radical transparency, reciprocating trust, giving first, and respecting the craft.
We show trust by letting team members teach us how they want to be managed. We’re all adults with lives outside of Moov, so we trust our people to work where and when they’re most productive. This empowers everyone to do their best work, promotes work-life balance, and validates the unique talents, preferences, and lives of our Moovers.
The “give first” value speaks to Moov’s commitment to sharing knowledge. We began as an open source community and we remain the only fintech to freely teach developers how to build payments with our open source libraries. Collaboration is in our DNA; instead of devolving into competition, we put all our ideas on the table and create something stronger together.
We also understand that your work is your craft, and everyone is a creator. No one wants to see their passion boiled down into a task on an assembly line, so we foster an environment of creativity, curiosity, and exploration. Respecting the craft means we value different perspectives and would rather support the creation of something unique than maintain the status quo.
And when we hire people, they quickly find out that the hype is real. Our culture and values aren’t just marketing, or words randomly handed down by execs or HR. We’re all co-owners of our culture. It’s how we work together every day.
Our Moovers believe in what we’re building and the culture behind our success.
Begin with hiring
Tools like Slack, Linear, and Google Meet are only as good as their users. And Moov’s culture is only as good as its people. This makes hiring the right people integral to our culture. Being fully remote makes it possible to hire from virtually anywhere, which gives us a huge pool of candidates with the right skills on paper. But what we’re looking for isn’t just a checkbox of proficiencies. We’re looking for people willing to engage and learn and grow. You don’t have to have previous remote experience or even have 100% of the skills listed in the job description. We can coach you through some of that, but it’s empathy and curiosity that matter most. For a little more about our hiring process, our Manager of Talent Acquisition Kristi Mark shared advice on getting and acing interviews with Moov.
If you’re someone eager to contribute, unafraid to experiment, and ready to go big and go remote—check out our open positions.