Five main elements to set the foundation for a 'Culture of Trust'
How to start facilitating your people instead of forcing them
December 1, 2022
A week ago I was positively surprised by fresk.digital Human Centred Designers Virginia Rispoli and John Somers. They both started on the same day on August 1st of this year and decided they wanted to evaluate their experience in their first 100 days (or so) at fresk.digital. And they decided that they wanted to translate their thoughts into an article and share it. It made me very proud that they were positive about their experience at fresk.digital so far and that they felt empowered to share their thoughts with a broader audience.
Since they published “Our first 100 days at fresk.digital: onboarding experience in a modern operation digital agency”, I have been bombarded with so many questions from “the outside world” about how we set up our organisation and how we create a culture where our fresk fellows like Virginia and John feel so at home instantly. Though it is impossible to share all of it with you in an article, I decided to try my best to give you some high level insights in how we build the foundation of our Culture of Trust here at fresk.digital.
When we started fresk.digital, it was very clear for us that our goal as an employer is to facilitate our people to be able to do their jobs with as little hassle as possible, whenever and wherever they want. Surrounded by the assurance of trust.
fresk fellows in the wild ;-)
You have all heard the discussion about working ‘remote’ or ‘at the office’ or a ‘hybrid’ form of the two, right? For us that is a non-discussion led by legacy thinking… What does it matter where you work from or when you work? Doesn’t it start with the employee's need first and then you facilitate as the employer?
That is why we don’t use any of these terms here at fresk.digital. We have one term: Homeshoring! Our office is in the cloud which facilitates us to work from anywhere and at any moment we want.
I am not saying it is easy to set up this kind of flexibility in your work force, it actually calls for a lot of explicitness and clear communication, discipline, consistency and willingness, but once it is set, the benefits are endless: happy and empowered people, high quality work, professionalism, happy clients and happy numbers ;-).
So how did we build a flexible organisation, a culture of trust where all of us have our freedom, but take responsibility at the same time? This foundation is built on 5 main elements you can start with today:
"the [...] foundation, being explicit, and connecting freedom and responsibility as one [...] is, in our eyes, the basis for a healthy flexible organisation and helps us evolve as a modern company every day."
1. Clarity about who you are as an organisation and what you strive for:
- From the get go we made sure we had a clear vision, mission, core values, strategic goals and a plan to execute and reach these goals for our organisation. Things we worked on with the help of our fresk fellows.
- Just having this type of clarity is not enough, we embedded it in our organisation (straight from the day a fellow joins fresk.digital) and repeat, repeat, repeat it in every strategic session we have. That way it is always top of mind and understood, which provides our fellows with the tools they need to navigate freely in our organisation and make their own decisions.
2. The right tooling:
Because we work asynchronously and location-independent it is extra important that we have the right tooling in place from where we communicate with each other. We rely on three main tools:
- ClickUp: We use ClickUp as our core tool and single source of truth for everything, from projects to people-related topics like onboarding, reviews and recruitment to knowledge sharing, planning and our OKRs. - Why this tool? ClickUps vision "One app to replace them all” matched our need for a single point of information in our strive to become a fully transparent, location-independent and asynchronously working organisation. Zeb Evans, Melissa Rosenthal and the ClickUp team are constantly adding new features which challenges us in a continuous learning loop in a positive way.
- Google Workspace: We use Google Workspace primarily to virtually meet, email, calendar and as our archive behind ClickUp. Google has a great integration with ClickUp. - Why this tool? It’s easy to use, smart and user friendly and the different tools in the workspace are very well in sync with each other.
- Slack: We prefer Slack as a day-2-day tool where we find each other for quick questions and check-ins about projects, internal topics or just social work things. We don’t share documents directly, but refer to either our Google Drive or ClickUp. - Why this tool? Slack is a very user friendly communication tool that also has a nice integration with ClickUp.
3. Swift and clear onboarding:
For every new fresk fellow that joins us, we have a very personal and transparent onboarding process:
- Before a new fellow starts at fresk.digital we make sure we have clear insights on their wishes and needs, for example about when and where they want to work, what they need for their working location etc.
- Also before they start we get all of their wishes ready and set up an onboarding board for them in ClickUp. This board provides them with all the things they need to know to get started immediately.
- On their first day (the kick-off day) the fresk fellow is usually welcomed by myself and their Discipline Lead in a co-working space convenient for them. This is where we get them acquainted with everything about fresk.digital and the things we do and how we are set up.
- The kick-off is the start of an onboarding month where the fresk fellow will meet their peers, the founders of the company and their clients.
4. A good working space and place:
The reason a fresk fellow can start working from day one, is because we make sure they have everything they need in place to be part of fresk.digital:
- Of course first and foremost we provide them with the basics like a laptop and accessories like a keyboard, mouse or mousepad or whatever they prefer, and of course direct access to our core tooling and software. It’s literally plug and play.
- We also make sure that they have the right office supplies to ergonomically do their work in their chosen workplace. Anything from a desk, chair, second (or even third) screen is ordered and delivered to their homes.
- And direct access to co-working spaces throughout the world is provided to give them flexibility in their Homeshoring choices.
5. Room to talk, communicate and see each other:
- Once a week the entire fresk organisation meets via Google Meet to discuss the status of our OKRs, our marketing efforts, sales opportunities and running projects. This is a good moment to align on our running business.
- Whether it is digital (think Meet or Huddle) or face-2-face (think co-working space, home, coffee bar or wherever) we regularly look each other in the eyes and check in with each other. Either because it is part of how we service our clients (maybe a demo prep or a refinement) or because we need to do a kick-off for a Discover and Strategise phase, or maybe because we just need to talk. Whatever the reason, we find each other.
- There is room and budget to have coffee together, go to a conference, museum, training, enter into a sports competition like running or karts. If you organise, we will provide.
- We have a social calendar with (yes, mandatory) social events: We have a monthly face-2-face get together where we talk about strategic topics and follow-up with food and drinks, we have quarterly look-back on how things went and what we will be focussing on, followed by a party and we adventurously go a weekend away every year (spoiler: the coming trip we will be going to Turin 🇮🇹), where we evaluate the past year and choose our goals for the year to come.
Though I have not touched important topics like our organisational dynamic, continuous growth cycle, intervision, our output-first philosophy, how we see mistakes as an opportunity to learn, or how we use our tooling to share our knowledge, none of it would be possible without the aforementioned foundation, being explicit, and connecting freedom and responsibility as one. This is, in our eyes, the basis for a healthy flexible organisation and helps us evolve as a modern company every day.
If you want to learn more about our organisation and how we set things up, or you believe this is the type of company you want to be part of, whether as a fresk fellow or you see us as the right partner for your business critical challenge, just give me a nudge at [Lisa Victorian] and let’s see what we can do ;-).
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