We met Giant Swarm on the #nomads slack chat in the _remote_work room. We instantly wanted to learn more.
How many employees and contractors do you have?
Please tell us about the importance of location independence at your company.
Actually, we don’t care about locations. Ok, we like it if people are located in international techhubs. But great colleagues (thats what we care fore) can be anywhere in the world. Personal freedom (also something we care :)) in choosing the place you want to stay and all other things is important!
Did you start with the intention of having a distributed or nomadic team? If not, when did you decide to support people working remotely?
Even the “kick off” Team was located around Cologne, Germany, we decided from the very beginning to build a distributed international company where remote work is possible. Two reasons: a) We have to act internationally even business-wise, we can’t hire only locally and we know this is the future.
What are some of the challenges you face as a team without a central location or office?
Well, we have a office. But we definitely don’t want to create 1st and 2nd class colleagues! The infrastructure in choosing the right tools for remote work was not the biggest issue. We are still working on “how to ensure the chat beside the coffee machine remotely”. Furthermore we think of organisational methods (e.g. feedback system) that include personnel staff and also work remotely. Currently we still manage time zone hassle, but there is room for a challenge.
Are there important non-office workspaces in the history of building your company?
We are working on that. And the more people join Giant Swarm the more places we’ll have.
What % of your company regularly works remotely?
60%, some fully, some several days a week. It’s up to the colleagues decision.
Any advice or best practices for supporting the work styles of your teammates from a distance?
Talk (and not only write) about things that have nothing to do with business. And have your equipment ready “I can’t hear/see you” is horrible if you have it 20 times a day.
What types of places do your teammates choose to work from when remote?
Co-working and home offices.
What qualities do you look for when hiring for a distributed team?
We hire all people the same way: we hire for integrity. And the ability to communicate counts for everybody.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Always keep in mind that you want your people to change the culture of the company. Focus on that over any perceived challenges and advantages of being remote. We’re also happy to host remote guests in our Cologne office every Friday! Swing by and say hi.