It is time we come out clean – yes, it took us more than we would have wished to look back and assess 2021. It was a big year for us, as we grew in every sense: our team, our sales, our reach, and of course our challenges grew as well. Now, it took us so long because the last couple of years have shown us that, although an indicator, there is more to a year than a company revenue. Our focus this year – remote work culture! Sometimes you just need to take a step back, take a deep breath to allow yourself to observe things with gratitude, and take them as a guide for things to come.
And that is what we did. Our overall mark? A year we’ll definitely remember.
Most of us were under the impression that 2021 would mean going back to business as usual – from going back to the office to waving the pandemic goodbye. But instead, 2021 had other plans in mind for us. It forced us to be even more creative and protective of our work culture, and to eventually go fully remote.
Going fully remote meant adjusting to remote work culture
Remote work wasn’t exactly unknown to Serious.Business prior to 2020. With founders coming from different countries, we worked from around the world for periods of time. But 2021 meant a step further; we made remote working permanent but decided to keep the Munich HQ open for anyone who needs the office environment, and as our photo and video studio.
It is easier to diversify the team when you don’t have to look for talent in a specific city or region. You have the entire world to look for the perfect culture fit.
Flexibility is so important for our team, and being fully remote allows us to follow our passions and live in places we love.
Our team is unique, which means they have unique needs. Going fully remote meant balancing our time; being there for our families, making time to practice our favorite sports, or enrolling in that super interesting course.
Culture needs reviewing
It is not so easy to translate the in-office culture into the digital world. It needs time, and trial and error to get right. Making the effort to review our culture once a year makes a huge difference.
We learnt the importance of introductions, check-ins and check-outs, and even making time to just have fun. Also, making sure the team knows whom to ask for support depending the tasks reduces anxieties and makes things run smoother.
Because we might not all be awake at the same time, having a smooth process is key to keeping things going. A step to step process also makes it easier to fight procrastination, and helps with time management.
Here is our biggest learning from 2021, and some tips we mastered on the way:
Culture, culture and more remote work culture
Culture is just the framework in which your team thrives, so pay special attention when a team member is not thriving. It can happen to anyone, and at any point. Life sometimes has a funny way of delivering a lesson, and asking us to take a break.
How do we deal with this?
1. Asking and offering help.
It is important to know your team has your back. But we know it can be hard to ask for help. That’s why we’ve also created a space to offer support. This can look like a quick message on Slack: Hey @team, this week I will have 2-3 free hours, happy to support anyone that needs it.
At the beginning it can feel weird, but the more you encourage it, the more common it would be for the entire team.
2. Honesty is the best policy.
2021 was the year we confirmed just how important it is to be open and honest with your team, and how that can change the perception we have of one another. Our suggestion would be to give your teammates a chance, and instead of being vague and elusive, let them know what is hiding behind the ‘personal’ things you are going through. It will help them better understand your current situation, and approach it with more empathy.
3. Check in/ Check out
Don’t wait long before checking in with your team. A lot can happen in a week!
We established a weekly check-in call every Monday, it’s a work-free chat to share, to answer funny questions and get to know each other better.
Pro tip: If something you hear caught your attention, send a direct message, and expand on it. The most unexpected relationships and strong bonds can come from a follow-up message.
4. SOS Fire Extinguisher Meetings
Sometimes when we think about team culture, we tend to concentrate our energy on team events, group activities and connection. Don’t get us wrong, those things are super important, but, we’ve discovered that we also needed to create safe spaces dedicated to one team member.
In Serious.Business, this means a 1on1 meeting with Helga, co-founder and spiritual leader. The SOS meetings eliminated the uneasiness to reach out, taught us to open up more, check in and hold space for one another. Individuals get to share, ask for help, propose new ideas, and just talk, is a safe space for us to get the support we need.
In the era of ‘Great Resignations,’ it has become evident that mental health is not only the care of the individuals, but a topic that should be discussed on a company level. Our SOS meetings ensure that we know the state of our team. We invite all teams to try it out.
5. Serious Fun
To bridge the physical gap, even if for a short while only, we had a week-long workation in our Munich office. It was amazing to see everyone in person – some for the very first time – without screens as our barriers. We always try to mix in some fun and quirky activities, so we are happy to say that in 2021 we managed to host our infamous Punchi Punch and barbeque parties.
Time well spent
Of course, it takes time and effort to rethink our work culture and adapt it to new challenges like remote work and six different time zones, but for us, it is the most important investment. At the end of the day, Serious Business, as any company, performs better when its team feels loved, competent and healthy; and with it growing so fast we need to make sure that we are still building the company we envisioned 6 years ago.
Here’s to an exciting 2022 and even more improved remote work culture
What a year! While it had its ups and downs, 2021 taught us the importance of company culture and just how important it is to take better care of ourselves and our teammates. It was truly a year of learning, of generosity with time, knowledge, and taking care of each other.
Here’s a brief overview of what we plan on focusing in 2022:
- Letting people evolve, grow and support them
- Reviewing our processes – making them clearer, more efficient and fun.
- Increase our reach, and expand our impact.
- DIY Kit and other SB Products
- Continue growing our team organically
- Keep on nurturing our team culture
- Continue working with clients we admire
- Setting and reaching even more ambitious goals
The Serious.Business Team