I’ve done the startup thing enough times to know that building a great product isn’t enough—we also need to build a great culture. When I co-founded Arthur two years ago, I wanted to make sure that everyone on our small but mighty team loved coming to work. We spent a lot of time and energy trying to foster a company culture that reflects our core values of integrity, transparency, and inclusion.
When the Covid-19 pandemic forced us out of the office almost exactly one year ago in early March, we knew that we were going to have to get creative to keep Arthur’s culture alive. In addition to navigating the challenges of growing our culture with our rapidly growing team, we were also now navigating the challenge of adapting our culture to working from home.
We’ve started a new set of traditions to help us stay connected, even while we’re physically apart. Here are a few of my favorites:
1. We make time to really get to know each other.
When you’re together in an office, there are a lot of opportunities for spontaneous and serendipitous interaction—at the lunch table, in between meetings, or even in the elevator on the way out the door. Before we all transitioned to working from home, our team spent a lot of time together, and not just in the office; karaoke nights were a regular after-work outing.
Now that we’re physically apart, we need to make a conscious effort to stay connected with each other. One way we’ve done this is to set recurring meetings that are simply a space to catch up. Once a week, we have a “Tea Time” meeting in the early afternoon, which anyone can join to talk about whatever they want—except for work! Once a month, we have virtual game night and happy hour. We’ve also added the Donut plugin to Slack, which pairs people to get coffee once a week.
Even outside of these scheduled catch-ups, we make an effort to bring our whole selves to work by sharing photos of our pets, our families, our hobbies (cake decorating, anyone?) via Slack. The #random channel in our workspace always has a conversation running about whatever is on our minds that day, and everyone is welcome to share.
2. Everyone who gives a demo of their work gets a walk-on song.
One of the things that makes Arthur such an inclusive place to work is the level of support we give each other, whether we’re celebrating victories or learning from mistakes. In our current world of virtual meetings, we’ve found a new way to show appreciation for each other: picking walk-on songs for anyone who shares a demo of their work at our weekly tech review meeting. Dania, our operations manager, is an expert at selecting just the right pump-up music for each of us!
Sometimes those songs even come with a personalized book or podcast recommendation—because all of us have a bit more time to catch up on our reading and listening in quarantine!
3. Every Friday is a costume party.
Let’s be honest; none of us have had much of an excuse to change out of our pajamas since we started staying home all the time. That is, until we implemented our costume party policy for our weekly all-hands meetings on Fridays. Each week, one member of the team picks a costume theme, and everyone shows up to our Friday meeting decked out in whatever they could make from supplies they had at home.
We each enter the video call with our cameras turned off and one by one reveal our costumes, much to the delight (and sometimes bewilderment) of our weekly guest speakers. It’s not every day that you get to dress up like your favorite animal or wear your Halloween costume in front of leading ML experts—but then again, every day is different here at Arthur!
While we all hope to be together again very soon, for the time being we’re enjoying the new traditions we’ve established while working from home. We may just keep up some of these traditions when we do finally get back into the office.
If any of this sounds like a good time to you, I have good news: we’re hiring. Take a look at our open job postings for the role that’s right for you.