By Long Vo, CoFounder & COO at OneSignal
Personally, I’ve always found myself at my most productive in small groups and around others. In a small office or workspace, there exists this perfect balance of social fulfillment, improvisational thinking and brainstorming, competitiveness, and just plain getting stuff done. When I look back on my career, I remember these moments in time the most — when deadline delirium sets in and your brain is challenged to find creative ways to solve problems and get the job done — you never knew what you and the people around you were capable of!
It’s no wonder that, at OneSignal, we’ve always prided ourselves on our in-person collaborative culture. After starting the company in my dining room, moving to a sublease in the original apple retail shop, and eventually moving into our own office, the core of our growth and innovation happened in an office environment. When we landed in our current Bay Meadows (San Mateo) office, these traditions continued to help us build strong bonds and relationships with one another. The result is a lot of fun, great moments, like our Holiday Gift Grab (a fun play on White Elephant wherein all of the gifts were everything from airpods to gravity blankets to PS5s and anything in between – think Black Friday at Walmart, but in our office).
Then, the Covid-19 pandemic hit. And quickly, we had to move everything online as everyone was sheltered in place. Fast forward 2 years.
The Struggle is Real
I suspect many companies have been playing this tug of war between safety and getting back to a bustling office environment – humans are social creatures, after all. The end result is that a lot of companies, including us, were in a “holding pattern” until things got better. But as time goes on and the pandemic continues to stretch on, we have to be mindful of the things we’ve learned in the past two years. The reality is that the world has changed. As we look to companies around us, some have embraced a completely remote lifestyle, while others are back to business as usual, with a ton of variations in between.
When we first approached our “back to office” plan, we did what most other companies might do. We took a survey with each of our departments and their leaders. We did one-on-one’s with our teams in our offices in San Mateo, New York, and London in order to try to understand what everyone wanted. We thought we were onto something. We tried to average out everyone’s preferences to come up with a standard amount of days that folks were expected to be in the office and that would make it fair for everyone and provide the time people needed to connect and collaborate in person.
The problem with this approach is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Everyone has their own unique situation, whether it be having a child who was unable to be vaccinated or someone who lived with an immunocompromised loved one. Some are more productive with a lot of focus time, others thrive in social environments. No matter which approach we took, it would affect someone in a negative way. And averaging out everyone’s preferences was a middle ground that ensured that no one was entirely happy either. And not only that, it felt "forced.”
Back at One: The Decision to be Remote-First
At OneSignal, we’ve always cared about flexibility. Historically, OneSignal has never been a “butts-in-seats” company. Years ago, we created “Maker Wednesdays,” which are days free of internal meetings where employees are free to work remotely so they can have focus time to tackle projects without distractions. We set core work hours in order to provide some overlap time for teams to collaborate, but outside of that, we trusted our team members to budget their time around how to maximize their productivity as long as they get their work done. Maintaining this aspect of our work culture was already inherent in how we operate. So, at the end of the day, we went back to this idea – making sure that we still value flexibility in this “new normal.”
OneSignal is proud to announce that we’re now a Remote-First Collaboration Company. This means that OneSignal will always support Remote-First as a means to collaborate, but also continue to provide an in-office experience to be purposeful with in-person time to support different methods of collaboration. Rather than force employees to be in on particular days, we allow our teams to agree on when or whether it makes sense for them to meet up either for collaboration or just for team bonding. We’re reallocating funds and tweaking our perks to help our employees thrive in a home office environment, while at the same time empowering them to design their own schedules to optimize collaboration time. We encourage our teams to find opportunities to meet up and socialize where it feels healthy and natural for them. We’re keeping an eye on growth in particular areas and will provide office experiences where we have a concentration of employees to better facilitate in-person collaboration as an option. When you encourage and empower people to come together with purpose, they naturally will, and it won’t feel forced.
OneSignal is not a super large company (yet) and we’re at a point where it is important that we move fast and continue that flywheel wherein a smallish group of smart, productive people are able to feed the machine of success for us. At the same time, we’ve also learned that the industry and our society need to adapt to the “new normal.” One thing that remains top-of-mind for us is that we don’t want to compromise on our core values of intelligent risk-taking, client success, empowerment, rigor, and having fun! It’s our hope to provide all of our team members a work atmosphere that is conducive to these values that we care about – whether they’re operating through a virtual office or a real one.
We hope you feel the same way as us when it comes to a healthy work/life balance. Check out our current job openings and read some of our glassdoor reviews to see if OneSignal is the place for you!