Our weekly Friday pizza turned into digital lunches and kitchen talks became virtual coffees. As everywhere else, the pandemic challenged our usual ways of connecting with our colleagues. But at the same time, we experienced great benefits from our new freedom in working in hybrid setups:
At Ladenzeile, we saw a new opportunity to reshape the way we work. Here’s how we made our workplace even more flexible and communication even easier, while going remote-first.
Written by: Mario Berger & Lascha Barbakadze from Ladenzeile’s People Team
When each of us joined Ladenzeile, we were quickly introduced to something called “Friday Beers”. As great as it sounds: every Friday the great people of Ladenzeile would get together for drinks, pizza, music and general after-work fun. For Berliners – and even more so for our many new international colleagues – this was a great opportunity to meet new people and make friends. Sadly, the pandemic hit soon after and as everywhere else, everything changed for us too: Friday beers became digital lunches or virtual coffees. But our desire to work together – as well as spend time with our colleagues outside of working hours – did not stop.
During the same time, we also moved into our new beautiful office and – for a short moment – life seemed back to “normal”. We returned to enjoy our previous ways of in-person collaboration, in-between coffee chats in the kitchen or after-work drinks in one of our rooftop bars.
Eventually, we were faced with the dilemma: While enjoying finally getting together again in the office, we also saw the benefits of our new freedom in working remotely. At Ladenzeile, we love a challenge and we saw this as an opportunity to reshape the way we work.
We came together to solve the question: how can we keep our flexible working habits, while at the same time still get together with our colleagues on a regular basis for in-person collaboration and socializing? Answering this question resulted in our new remote-first framework.
What does remote-first mean at Ladenzeile?
Remote-first fundamentally changes the work environment. So, when we created our new framework, we deeply looked into how this would impact our communication flows, how teams collaborate and how we could still bond with our colleagues on a personal level.
We were confronted with a give-and-take situation: When we decided to have the freedom to work from anywhere in the country, we were also aware that we lose the “office grapevine”. With a lack of quick and informal ways for people to catch up, we urgently needed to make a conscious effort to use our digital channels to keep everyone in the loop. But with the right tools in place (and a sound strategy behind them), we are realizing that we will actually be able to reduce the complexity of communication – and make sure that everybody can stay focused.
Our key to a successful remote-first workplace
So what’s the key to a successful remote-first environment? Well beyond all, good communication is fundamental for successful collaboration. To make work work efficiently in a remote-first setup, we therefore strongly emphasize transparency and consistent alignment within and across teams. Integrating remote agreements in our team charters was one example of how we could support our teams in their alignment. These cover even the most basic questions, such as:
- Who are we?
- Why do we exist as a team?
- How do we want to work together (in a remote setup)?
To foster cross-departmental collaboration, we also make these charters and remote agreements transparent to the whole company.
However, productive collaboration doesn’t depend on good communication alone. At the very core, collaboration really hinges on the relations we build with one another. But with the lack of daily in-person interactions, how do we ensure that our colleagues still feel that they are building those personal connections?
From our experience, it’s a lot easier to build strong relations on top of a solid foundation. That’s why – even within our remote-first approach – we still have a few touchpoints in place, where we actually meet in person: up to 20 days a year, depending on each team’s needs and responsibilities. Team days, for example, greatly help teams grow together. When we organize them, we make sure they are not purely focused on results but also provide a space to reflect, exchange and, in the end, simply have fun together. In fact, we highly recommend any LEGO-based activities!
Our teams create impact from anywhere
Now, what’s next for us at Ladenzeile? Ever since we decided to go remote-first, we have been on a new journey. And as we know from any journey: not everything will go as planned. So, we will continue to use an agile approach to evaluate and adapt along the way. In the end, our goal is to ensure that we live up to our mantra: Our teams are creating impact – no matter where they are.
Curious to follow our journey? Great! Stay tuned to see how we evolve over the course of time. Or even better: join us and become part of the new Ladenzeile!
As Head of Agile, Mario leads our team of Agile Coaches. Together, they support our teams, departments and the organization as a whole on their journey of continuous improvement.
“I’m driven by a simple question: How can we do things in a better way? Together with the team, I strive to add value by leveraging what we have in our agile toolbox.”– Mario Berger, Head of Agile
Lascha joined Ladenzeile nearly 3 years ago and has over the past 1,5 years been our Head of Talent Acquisition & Employer Branding. Thanks to him and his team, so many great talents and nice people find their way to Ladenzeile.
“I simply love my job! Meeting so many different people every day and enabling them to find their new favorite work environment makes my working day full of joy. And doing this at Ladenzeile is the cherry on the top.”– Lascha Barbakadze, Head of Talent Acquisition & Employer Branding