Remote-work culture: how we thrive in the digital world
Remote has been a well-known reality to most of us since the pandemic (for some of us, even longer). Truth be told, as an organization, we started operating in a remote setup when the pandemic hit (before that, we practiced work from the office with occasional home office days), and right now, we can not imagine functioning differently. Since then, together with thousands of companies all over the world, we have been looking for the best ways to incorporate remoteness and reimagine our culture to make it all work in a new setup. Right now, we are a remote-first company employing people from all over the world, mostly from Poland, Germany, Spain, Portugal, the UK, and the US. Having traveled through this transformation, we have some things to share on how we thrive in a digital environment after over 3 years of being remote-first and what exactly it means for us to be a remote-first company.
At a glance:
Since the pandemic started in 2020, a lot of companies have successfully navigated and adapted to the presented challenges. The vast majority of them have managed to use them as opportunities for resilience and growth, among which remote work sits at the top. As a company, we see that our remote-first setup is something that is never finished, and the adaptation process should and will continue. No surprise that adaptability is among the top skills that support employees well-being at work and allow lead the organization to a thriving and resilient future.
As an organization, we adapted to the new reality and rebuilt our in-office rituals and ceremonies for the remote setup on individual, team, and company levels. Recruitment interviews, onboarding, meetings, plannings, and workshops, among others - all of these processes moved to remote. To make this transition as comfortable and pleasant as possible, we have created a remote work best practices guide and released remote work regulations. We also communicate with employees on a regular basis through OfficeVibe, an anonymous employee experience tool, to gather feedback and understand their needs.
The opportunity to work from home is a true benefit for me. It allows me to have breakfast with my family, free from the usual rush (most of the time), without worrying about very likely traffic jams when commuting. Not to mention petting my cats during my breaks! However, I also value working and engaging in face-to-face discussions from time to time.
Gosia Świątkowska (Wrocław, Poland)
Applied Scientist, Infermedica
We keep it flexible
It’s no secret remote work offers the convenience of working from any location that suits our individual needs. With flexible location comes flexible hours, allowing our employees to match their work schedule to private activities. As an organization, we function in two time zones: Central European Time and Eastern Standard Time. Depending on the team, its location, and meeting rituals, we keep ourselves available in the morning (between 9 and 11 am) or afternoon hours (between 3 and 5 pm) to plan dailies, plannings, and retrospective or brainstorming sessions. Although the hours are flexible, we needed to establish core hours to ensure smooth communication and collaboration between time zones.
With all of the tools that Infermedica has for team collaboration, communication, and feedback, we've developed processes for enabling our team to work together while also respecting the hours of different time zones. My team resides in the US, Germany, Spain, and Poland, and we thrive in managing different work hours. Not only do we set aside time to work asynchronously on projects, but we also have weekly meetings to ensure we get that virtual "face to face" for connection and personalized communication.
Jennifer Hand (Colorado, US)
Event Specialist, Infermedica
Being part of the Infermedica team which embraces flexible remote working has been a real game changer for me! Our diverse group spans multiple time zones, yet we effortlessly collaborate and support one another with the many collaboration tools and ways to engage digitally. Whether it's tending to family responsibilities or seeking inspiration in new surroundings during 'workations,' we cherish the perfect work-life balance this approach provides. This liberating work style fuels our motivation, creativity, and dedication, making us an unstoppable force, always ready to conquer new challenges – no matter where we are!
James French (Leeds, UK)
Product Manager, Infermedica
We collaborate with each other
The urge and need for remote work required enormous progress in technology that now supports seamless collaboration through virtual meetings, shared documents, and communication tools. When transitioning to a completely remote setting, the first important step was to acknowledge that the old, office-centric ways of doing things won’t work anymore.
To foster collaboration, clear communication, and transparency, we have set Google Workplace and Slack as our major communication tools, along with a Slack guide to keep current and future employees informed on how to navigate this space in the best possible way. Over a year ago, we implemented HiBob - a human resource management tool that streamlines our HR processes, creates a warm and streamlined experience for new employees, engages our people in various surveys, and supports our talent review process.
To create, discuss, and build, we use Atlassian products (Jira and Confluence), Miro, Loom, and Figma, among others. Supportive technology set at work plays an essential role in our comfort and well-being; we are mindful about keeping our team tools (or technology) as simple and straightforward as possible.
Remote setup and available technology sometimes might get us into a meeting marathon. Last year we released a ‘Fewer and better meetings’ guide as part of the answer to feedback received via OfficeVibe.
I have been working full-time remotely for 6 years now. So the concept was not new to me when I joined Infermedica. However, it is lived here by all employees and supported by the company through the right tools and values. So it doesn't feel like an arbitrary employee bonus but rather like corporate culture. It gives me the freedom to organize and plan my life flexibly. I don't have to tie myself down to one place and can see what the future brings. This gives me the feeling that my job adapts to my life and not the other way around.
Chantal Schmalkoke (Dresden, Germany)
Marketing Manager DACH, Infermedica
Working all remotely requires from all team members sharp, detailed, and direct communication – especially when some of your teammates live across the pond in the USA, and you have a limited amount of overlapping working hours. Fortunately, this spirit is common across Infermedica, and technologies such as Slack, Jira, or Figma help to keep everything clean and make it easier to work asynchronously.
Michał Urbanowicz (Cracow, Poland)
Communication & Event Manager, Infermedica
We keep seeing each other in person
Maybe you didn’t expect this in an article about being a remote-first company, but face-to-face meetings are also an important part of our culture. We still believe in supplementing online bonding and building connections with offline interactions.
While being remote-first, we do not forget about company-wide, team-wide, or cross-team meetings that allow us both to brainstorm ideas, eat lunch together, and, of course, find ourselves in a workation or a party setup from time to time. Depending on the occasion and the scale of the event, the company organizes parties, courses, and get togethers to foster team relationships. Each of the teams also has access to the team-buidling budget for activities outside of office hours.
The concept of workation (or remote work in general) has become a significant part of my professional life. The very fact that I can do my job from literally anywhere with just my laptop and a Wi-Fi connection brings me a sense of satisfaction. As a team, we have already taken a workation twice to both work and explore new places in Italy and Croatia. It was a good way to mix work and leisure. Remote working provides the flexibility to regularly switch up your workspace, which can be a breath of fresh air in post-pandemic times – be it my backyard, a local coffee shop, a park, or even on a trip with my team.
Patryk Kurzeja (Wrocław, Poland)
Lead Software Developer, Infermedica
We care about diversity, inclusivity, and equity
Remote-first setup helped us tap into a diverse talent pool and enabled the recruitment and engagement of talents from different backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives. We have expanded our partnerships as well - through Deel, we are able to hire international employees and offer full payroll support outside of Poland and the U.S.
Our team is located in Poland, Germany, Spain, Portugal, the UK, and the US, while our clients' representation reaches a number of over 30 different countries. Organizationally we are divided into over 20 teams, and skillswise, we are even more diverse. To foster a sense of belonging among our diverse team, we have recently started hosting virtual events focused on cultural learning. While we have already begun our journey with DEI initiatives, there is still a lot of work to be done, policies to establish, and activities to organize.
At Infermedica, we actively integrate diversity by establishing a comprehensive DEI strategy. This involves supporting and collaborating with our leaders, implementing remote-friendly company-wide learning initiatives, actively listening to each other’s needs, and practicing empathy, which is a crucial aspect of this effort. Having a diverse workforce is merely the first step; more is required to benefit from this diversity fully. It is crucial to ensure that every person within the organization is given a chance to be heard and valued. To achieve a truly inclusive workforce, we must consider diverse influences, cultures, communication styles, and individual working needs. We commit to fostering an environment where employees feel genuinely included, valued, and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives and experiences.
Dominika Dudek (Wrocław, Poland)
Senior Manager People Partner, Infermedica
We value quality and support
Remote work promotes autonomy and ownership, enables self-management, and empowers employees to structure their day according to their needs and preferences. On the one hand, all of that sounds wonderful, but on the other hand, it requires solid discipline and sometimes even skills that we didn’t have before getting into a fully remote work setup.
How we feel in the workplace impacts both us and our work. Recognizing that work-life balance is an important mental health factor, we've taken steps to ensure our employees have access to resources that support their emotional and mental well-being. To keep it in line with our core values of quality and support, we co-finance psychological consultations, offer additional days off, called self-care days, from time to time, and give access to Mindgram - a platform dedicated to providing extensive opportunities for personal development as well as mental health support.
As an organization, we have a lot to learn in this area. In September, our People team representatives will participate in a Wellbeing Officer workshop to equip the team and, as a result, team leaders with expertise in promoting well-being among employees and destigmatizing mental health problems.
During the pandemic, we wanted to take better care of our employees' well-being. Besides offering psychological consultations, we felt a strong need to provide something extra for our employees and their families. Mindgram addressed these additional aspects perfectly by offering consultations with other specialists, webinars, workshops, and meditations. Currently, 3/4 of our employees use Mindgram, and this number keeps growing each month. Materials related to inclusive communication, mental health, and leadership are particularly popular among our employees.
Marta Wolna (Wrocław, Poland)
People Operations & Workplace Senior Manager, Infermedica
At Infermedica, remote stands for many things: adaptability, flexibility, collaboration, inclusivity, quality, and support. According to the Talent Trends 2023 report issued by Micheal Page Insights, only 12% of current work arrangements are fully remote. 33% are full-time offices, and 55% are hybrid setups. Being in that 12% is a privilege to represent and be an example of the remote-first workplace, but at the same time, it requires our commitment to invest more time and resources into new processes to thrive in a constantly changing era of work.