At GitLab, over 1,000 employees work remotely across more than 60 countries. It works for us – our employee retention rate was just shy of 87% in September and our voluntary attrition rate was under 10% – and we firmly believe it can work for any company. Here’s an inside look at how we do it.
We take face time personally
Because we don’t meet at the office, our in-person communication happens using video conferencing calls (we use Zoom). Those calls take us inside our colleagues’ homes, or wherever in the world they may be working from that day. We meet their pets, their kids, their partners and appreciate their art work, kitchens and coffee mugs. This process jumpstarts interpersonal relationships because we learn a lot about each other quite quickly.
Video calls also create nearly instant “relate-ability” no matter your level in the company; it’s hard to be intimidated by an executive who has a cute dog bouncing on the bed in the background. It may seem counterintuitive, but video communication actually showcases our humanity and encourages honest communication in a way phone calls and emails never could.
We also pay for team members to travel the world and visit colleagues. The GitLab Visiting Grant subsidizes travel to meet with colleagues, with no limits or caps on how many times it can be leveraged.
Tech for the win
With so many employees spread across different time zones, work naturally occurs asynchronously. But collaboration is key to our success. How do we marry those two vastly different realities? We make smart use of technology to drive collaboration. We record meetings so team members who can’t be present can still have easy access to the information.
We also write everything down so there’s a record available. We create issues to begin change at GitLab – anything from a new product feature to an addition to our handbook – and the issues serve as a way to keep track of what’s been done and what’s in process.
And if Zoom is our left-hand remote communication enabler, Slack is our right hand. Slack is a 24/7 resource employees can use to get answers to tricky technical questions, help customers, deal with human resource issues or simply reach out to like-minded team members about productivity, hobbies or cooking.
Freedom to work
Surveys show nearly every worker values a balanced work and home life, and we believe our all remote culture delivers that every single day. Employees can choose when it suits them best to work and thanks to technology and our collaborative culture everyone – including night owls, full-time adventure travelers, or busy parents – is included.
We don’t spend time wondering if our employees are actually working. We know they are, as we’re able to track their contributions and measure their results. Gone are the days when just showing up at the office (no doubt after battling traffic) is the definition of work; we don’t care how many hours an employee works or where the work is done. We offer unlimited days off and strongly encourage our team members to take at least 25 days off a year. We’ve given our employees complete control over their time and how they use it. This freedom results in productive and happy employees – our retention results say it all.
We’re all in
One major reason this works at GitLab is everyone is on the same footing: we’re *all* remote. No one is a second-class citizen, or an outlier, and everyone is equally committed to making this work. All remote is our culture.
In our experience, you have to go big, and be all in, or go home. Hybrid-remote, where employees can work at home for a few days, or only some employees are allowed to not be in the office, isn’t sustainable because you can’t create a culture around a series of exceptions. In a hybrid-remote environment, some are always left out of the loop, causing delays, miscommunications, and time-consuming work-arounds.
We think all remote is the future of work. If you’d like to learn more about our philosophy, read our all remote manifesto.