A remote first culture

Why being a remote first company makes good business sense

remote

When we first started Form3, we hadn’t seriously considered the idea that we would grow to become a company where the majority of staff work from home 5 days a week. But when we looked at how we could best evolve as a rapidly expanding start-up, we realised that building a remote-first culture brought a huge number of benefits. In particular, as a company that is ultimately driven by our employees, allowing our staff to build their own personal environment, work from anywhere, and collaborate with the rest of the team on an equal footing, allows us to hire and work with a diverse group of some of the smartest people, no matter where they are based. Although we are only a hundred people strong, we already have staff from over 40 nationalities who are based in more than 14 countries. Remote and flexible working is now completely embedded in our culture. Our engineers typically work from home 100% of the time, while other team members work from home 50% or more. For some, this is about meeting life’s commitments, for others, it’s about being able to use remote/ flexible working to strike a great work-life balance. We want to be the most successful company for remote working and so are working hard to make this happen. We’ve been remote working for a while now and can put our success in this area down to three things in particular.

Communication

This one seems pretty obvious, but to make remote working effective, the whole way a company communicates has to change. We have made tools such as Slack and Zoom the primary means of communication (whether staff are in an office or not), and by moving all discussion, meetings, and collaboration onto those platforms, all employees feel like they’re an equal part of the team. Regardless of where employees are based, that also brings the benefits of more open and transparent communication across the board - all conversations are primarily in open forums, rather than closed groups, and meetings can easily be recorded and replayed if team members can’t join directly.

Trusting our employees

All of our employees have been hired by us because we really believe they will have a positive impact at Form3. We trusted them enough to hire them, and so we trust them enough to do the work they have to do. At Form3 there is no handholding, micro-managing, clock-watching, or side-glancing paranoia. If you want to head out for a run at 10am, or pick the kids up from school, that’s fine with us. If we can’t trust our teams to do this, we hired the wrong people!

Meeting in person

We can’t stress this one enough – meeting in-person really matters. We always try and get new joiners to work face to face with their colleagues for the first few days together in our London office. We’re also big fans of having company meetups a few times a year; they provide an essential chance for meaningful in-house/remote bonding that strengthens collaboration for the long-term. It’s not all business though! We make sure employees who normally work remotely get the opportunity for social events with their colleagues too.

We still have a lot to do to continue to make remote working a success at Form3, but we’re excited to take on that challenge!


Steve Cook

CTO @Form3

Steve has architected and developed great products and managed dynamic technology teams in the financial services sector for over 20 years. He also holds a degree in theoretical physics from Cambridge University.