After nearly six months of many businesses adjusting to the work from home lifestyle due to Covid-19, fintech unicorn Brex has announced it will be a remote-first company moving forward, disrupting the offline experience entirely.
Brex will have office hubs in major cities where employees can work, but all of its processes, communications and culture will be designed remote-first. This gives the opportunity to hire a talented, diverse team regardless of geographical boundaries, and gives employees the flexibility to live where they want.
As a company shifting its entire operations to a new paradigm, Brex believes that working from home has a chance of being even better than the office environment, having adapted to the change over the last few months.
The five principles of its remote working strategy include:
Clone the internet, not the office: Now, rather than look at how we can replicate the office at home, we need to look at how the internet can enable our work. We will approach Remote Work more like how YouTubers think of producing content for an audience. Or how gamers think of having online shared experiences with other players. All Hands and Onboarding sessions will no longer be simple events aired live as though we were delivering it in the office. Rather, they will be highly curated, edited, and distributed in a completely new experience package from what we know today. This is how we make remote work better than office work.
Async decisions by default: On the internet, the most effective way to communicate is in writing, not speaking. Zoom meetings are inherently less effective than in-person communication, and so it’s easy to abuse them as an attempt to clone the office. We will avoid this by moving our decisions previously done in meetings to be conducted through memos, asynchronously. Every new hire joining Brex will go through writing classes as part of their onboarding process starting in Q4. Current employees will also have access to writing workshops to improve their own skills.
Intentional relationships: Camaraderie and bonding are taken for granted in the office. In a remote world, relationships will need to be cultivated deliberately. We do not shy away from using the first five minutes of a virtual meeting to learn more about people’s lives. And off-sites will be a big part of Brex as a remote-first company.
Physical-mental balance: We talk a lot about mental health at Brex. Remote can be a particularly challenging environment to maintain a good mental and physical state, so we approach it with great care and intentionality. Every Brexer gets a monthly WFH stipend to equip them with a comfortable, uninterrupted workspace. But we are sensitive to the fact that remote work simply won’t meet everyone’s needs, so we will also have office hubs in major cities (SF, NYC, Vancouver, SLC). With work shifting to inside our homes, maintaining physical-mental balance must be a shared responsibility between the companies and employees. This makes it even more important to deploy company-sponsored health and wellness initiatives, which we have been introducing since earlier this year.
Iteration: As we iterate on Remote, we want to approach experimentation thoughtfully, since changes can be quite disruptive. To coordinate this work, we’re creating a Remote Council, responsible for figuring out the new tools and processes to make Remote great across Brex, and evolve our norms accordingly.