What does remote working mean for Hygraph?
We get asked a lot about what it's like to be a remote-first company. Today we will take a look at some key factors that contribute to the remote working culture at Hygraph.
We use a lot of terms alternatively nowadays, hybrid work, remote-first work, remote work, new ways of working and work from home. Working from home was not a regular option for many technology and e-commerce companies before the COVID pandemic started in 2020. Today, remote working has been normalized, and most if not all companies have started making work from home an obligatory option.
Hygraph is a German-based company, with a team of 60+ employees, that is spreading across 5 continents and 18 countries with people from 26 nationalities. We follow and facilitate the remote way of working even though we do have a headquarters in Berlin, Germany and another smaller office set up in Marburg, Germany.
How is Hygraph structured?Anchor
We have a hierarchical structure but we work together with cross-functional collaboration. Communication within our team is open and transparent, irrespective of the hierarchy and everyone can voice their work-related opinions and ideas.
Some of our practices
- We hire remotely for most of the roles, worldwide, unless a certain role needs to be in a certain region of the world.
- Our co-founders and some of our very early employees are from the Hessen district in Germany. That is where GraphCMS also originated from. Currently, we have an office setup in Marburg as well, where they work out from, also by choice, when they have to brainstorm ideas or work together on a certain project.
- People can choose to work from anywhere remotely, through the Employer of Records.
- We also have an office in Berlin, Germany which is our headquarters, and a small office set up in Marburg, Germany. People who are in Germany can choose to come to the office and work from there.
- Usually, people come to the headquarters in Berlin on Thursdays or Fridays to meet other teammates, join Friday beers, or when they want to have an in-person meeting. We have a few regular office goers too.
- People who work remotely can choose to relocate to Berlin or Marburg after finishing their probationary period, or working with us for about 6 months. This way, they get to know the company before deciding to move to Germany.
Everyone in Hygraph has the freedom to work from wherever they want. We encourage traveling and love sharing our experiences with each other.
There is no fixed working time, we have flexible working hours. We focus on the outcomes instead of the time spent working. You will have days when you get everything done by early afternoon and days when we have All-Hands and product launches in which everyone needs to participate. We do have 4-5 hours of core working hours, according to the CET time zone, where we would manage to have team meetings.
- We organize team retreats where we come together to work and connect on a deeper level.
How and why did we decide to go remote?Anchor
We began working remotely during the early stages of the company's growth. In 2018. Michael and Daniel, the co-founders, identified that working in such a structure and with people from all over the world, would add up to the diverse ideas and growth of our product and also make the team more productive, while working flexibly and being able to take care of the personal obligations.
What tools do we use to work remotelyAnchor
- Notion - helps us keep everything in one place. We use it to track all the ongoing projects and documents.
- Slack - helps us communicate daily. Due to different time zones, it also means sometimes waking up to 100 notifications, and Slack is never asleep until weekends. ;) Huddle is also helpful when we want to jump into a quick call to clarify things in our pajamas. The donut app in Slack also connects us with virtual coffees.
- Google meet - helps us stay connected with video calls. We have our All-Hands in google meet.
- Linear - helps us manage projects and track our progress for activities or tasks to take care of.
- Miro - helps us to collaborate online.
- Mibo - helps us connect virtually through fun virtual gatherings.
What are the common remote working challenges and how do we address them?Anchor
Trusting employees is one of the biggest challenges in a remote setup. However, this is also one of the values that we integrate into our company. With transparent calendars, open communication, and documentation, we ensure that this trust is built and maintained.
For communication and transparency, we have different Slack channels that everybody has access to. We participate in feedback and bring our ideas on how to improve as a product and a company. We also have regular team meetings and 1 on 1s where we update and share what we are working on in our monthly All-Hands meeting.
Sometimes loneliness or not having a social connection with colleagues is a big challenge. As we grow, we are also learning how to improve working remotely and understanding the team’s needs and wants. We are also planning to invest more into the topic of team meetups, and regular team virtual meetings. For people who are in Europe, we have team meetings in the headquarters several times a year and we try to have people from outside of Europe come to our headquarter once a year, apart from the retreat that we organize once a year.
We believe remote working is the futureAnchor
With the rise of startups and evolution of technology, people do not have to be glued to their desks to perform their tasks. Also, limiting to one location does not make sense when we can have people from various parts of the world and we do not need to struggle to find people in one region or city. It is also evident that people prefer to work with companies with more flexibility and trust, especially if the company has a revolutionary product and wants to be a game changer.