At Loom, we believe that work is what you do, not where you go. One of our values from the very start has been “remote-first,” which means we are intentional about creating a Loom experience that is equitable for all Loommates no matter where they live. And even as in-person work becomes a possibility again, our remote-first model will always be the foundation of how we work.
Being fully distributed for the last year and a half has helped us evolve our practices, especially as we experienced enormous growth on all fronts, from doubling our user base, to growing to over 150 employees (and holding our first-ever virtual offsite!), to raising our Series C.
And as we enter our next phase of hyper-growth, we’ve been asking ourselves: how is our current model holding up, and how do we continue to measure its effectiveness as we grow?
We recently ran our first-ever hybrid survey to learn more about what’s currently working for us and where we can improve. Here’s how we went about it, what we learned, and what we’re focusing on for the remainder of the year.
Our key areas of focus for our hybrid survey
We built our hybrid work survey around our core principles of how we work:
Engaging Days: Do Loommates feel their (virtual) workdays are engaging with the right balance of synchronous and asynchronous communication?
Work-Rest Balance: Are Loommates able to balance the demands of working at a high-growth startup with rest?
Social Connection: Do Loommates feel connected even in a distributed work environment?
What our hybrid survey revealed
We’re making asynchronous communication work — and it’s helping us thrive as a company
We primarily use Loom, Slack, and Zoom to communicate and stay connected throughout the day to provide a healthy balance of asynchronous and synchronous communication over video and text so our days don’t feel like an endless email chain or video call.
Our survey revealed that most participants believe we’re doing a good job balancing asynchronous and synchronous communication, and that it’s clear when to use either form of communication (e.g., recording a loom vs. starting a Zoom call), even for new Loommates.
A particularly impactful benefit of this balance is that individual contributors, the majority of whom use asynchronous communication to move their work forward, feel their work is visible and accessible and that the volume of asynchronous communication they receive is sustainable.
We still have work to do in reducing the number of synchronous meetings we have, especially at the manager level. Over the next quarter, we’re revisiting the cadence of our one-on-one and skip level meetings to give managers more breathing room in their schedules without sacrificing face time with their teams. (We have a hunch Loom will come in handy here 😉).
Even during a fully remote year, we’ve experienced increased visibility and connection
Building genuine, meaningful relationships in a remote-first environment means creating opportunities for Loommates to connect with one another outside of work-related matters. Over the last eighteen months, we’ve experimented with new ways to cultivate and embrace social connection, from providing teams with quarterly social budgets to holding our first-ever virtual offsite in January. We’ve also enjoyed leaning into and forming new affinity-based Slack communities (fellow 90 Day Fiancé fans, rejoice!) and meeting new Loommates through biweekly Donut chats.
According to the survey, most Loommates feel connected to their immediate teams even in a remote environment and feel their work and impact are visible to others in the organization. We believe that using asynchronous video communication through Loom has played a major role in these figures, helping Loommates put a personal stamp on their communications and work even if they’re not in the same room as their teammates.
Creating connections outside of our individual teams can help bring fresh perspectives and give more meaning to the work we do. In the last quarter, we created our new Hybrid Experience team to help facilitate and organize company-wide events to create more social touchpoints for Loommates to get to know each other regardless of what team they’re on.
And, apart from essential meetings, we're working on ways to make it standard practice to reserve synchronous time for fostering social connection instead of having socialization be a byproduct of an otherwise unnecessary work meeting. We love seeing happy hours, game days, and coffee chats fill up calendars to keep Loommates connected.
Of course, we also want to make time and space for in-person meetings outside of our annual company offsite or working together in our soon-to-be-opened satellite offices in San Francisco and New York. For now, we’ve given everyone a stipend they can use to grab a meal with or fly out to visit fellow Loommates, and post-COVID, Loommates will have the opportunity to get together in person twice a year purely for fun. We can’t wait to keep building connections with each other no matter where, when, or how they happen!
Unplugging isn’t a perk — it’s a requirement
Coming out of an incredibly tough year, many of us realized that flexibility within our work days shoudn’t just be nice to have — it’s essential to maintaining balance and mitigating burnout.
We offer flexible paid time off at Loom, and the majority of Loommates feel they can take advantage of it, with 83% of them approving of our time off policies and 79% feeling they can take time off when needed.
But the pandemic has made it tougher to disconnect. Only 33% of survey respondents felt that they took enough time off in the last six months to feel adequately rested. Even though COVID travel restrictions played a role in this, we want Loommates to take advantage of our flexible PTO policy and take time off whenever they need to, even if it’s just to catch up on the latest episodes of Ted Lasso at home.
To give everyone a jumpstart, the entire company recently took the week of July 4th off for a well-deserved summer break to recharge without wondering what was happening at work. We also created a #fun-vacation Slack channel to create vacation envy and encourage Loommates to take time off.
Loom’s hybrid model: a work in progress
As with building an effective product, building a sustainable and scalable way of working is a marathon, not a sprint. Our first hybrid survey gave us plenty of insights about what’s working for us and where we can improve, and we look forward to sharing updates on how our hybrid work model continues to evolve.
Want to help us build the future of communication at work? We’re hiring across the board and would love to hear from you!
If you’d like a copy of our survey questions to run your own hybrid work survey, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.