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Building a Remote-First Business

26 Jan, 2023
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United States newcomer and remote-first cloud consultancy Xpirit explains what it means to work the way they do. Not partially remote, hybrid, or from home when convenient. No, these guys are building a business without a physical office. How do you do it? And what would it be like to work here? 

Working Remotely in the US 

Over the past decade, remote working has become increasingly common in the US. Unlike in Europe, however, distance plays a key role in the US. “The US is big, and we’re also struggling with talent scarcity here. To hire faster from a larger and more diverse pool of people — and ultimately be the best in our league — we decided to go full-force remote-first,” Rocky, Xpirit’s VP of Strategy, says, “and we’re not the only ones following this strategy.” Today, 16% of US companies operate fully remote, 15% of job openings are remote, and 26% of all US employees work from home. * 

A Sense of Belonging 

Research shows that working remotely increases productivity, helps improve work-life balance, reduces stress, and improves overall job satisfaction. But there is one place the shoe pinches: a sense of belonging. * To be honest, this is perhaps the biggest challenge of remote working. So how do we address it?  

“As a remote-first company, we don’t have an office. And believe it or not, that makes life easy. When you work at Xpirit, you don’t have to wonder if you’ll be expected to show your face after a few days. It’s simple. We always work from home (or wherever we’re at our best). And when we get together, you know it’s for fun,” says Esteban, CEO of Xpirit USA. Rocky adds, “Nothing can replace getting together in the same place and having a laugh a few times a year. It nourishes interpersonal relationships for a long time.”  

·        But wait a minute, is that all there is to it? Will a few fun get-togethers make me feel like I’m part of your company?  No, we’re just starting! 

We understand that to give you a sense of belonging, we must go beyond making you feel part of a team. It is also about an unforgettable onboarding experience, individual recognition, really listening to you, investing in communication (tools), and sharing knowledge.  
 

Here are a few examples of what else we do to create that ever so important ‘one Xpirit’ feeling: 

  • Similar to how the Dutch team presents a swag box when someone joins the team, we send a Xpirit swag box to all new joiners, filled with a Xpirit hoodie, t-shirt, notebook, coffee cup, drink cooler, and other epic Xpirit things
  • On the first week that someone joins, we all get together for a virtual Coffee and Croissants, where coffee and pastries are delivered and we spend some time getting to know each other
  • Throughout the year, we have team get togethers, where we focus on fun and innovation.  We did one in Orlando in November and we plan on continuing them on a regular basis

“If anything, remote working makes it easier for consultants to be a part of our company culture. Previously, they spent so much time at the client’s office that they tended to become part of that team instead of ours.” — Rocky Lhotka, VP of Strategy, Xpirit USA.  

Sharing Knowledge 

“When you work remotely, you can’t spot a problem and go, ‘oh, we’ll address that the next time we see each other.’ Our teams must be able to tackle the toughest challenges remotely. And that’s where sharing knowledge, one of our core values, plays a big role,” Esteban says.  

Knowledge sharing in a remote-first world includes using technologies like Teams or Slack.  

 

Fact: Did you know that in July 2019, Teams had 13 million monthly users,  

which skyrocketed to a whopping 270 million early this year? * 

 

Online collaboration is only possible with the right software, but solid commitments are just as essential. Rocky adds, “To build a remote-first company, you need to create a culture that focuses on knowledge sharing and make it a daily habit for everybody to be involved.” 

Here are a few examples of what else we do to facilitate knowledge sharing: 

  • Virtual Innovation days – per Xpirit tradition, we participate in Innovation days.  Our first remote Innovation day will take place on March 27th
  • International Innovation days – We hosted our first international Innovation day in Orlando in November.  Every 3 months, a group of US team members join with their international colleagues and participate in Innovation days at the various Xpirit offices: September 2022 in Hilversum, January 2023 in Cologne
  • We are launching US-focused XKEs to coincide with Xebia-wide XKE and Xpirit Tuesdays.  On XKEs, we are working with US-based Xebians to share our knowledge. On Xpirit Tuesdays, we are creating a virtual “lunch and learn” along with our colleagues in Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium

We Are All Remote-First Ambassadors 

When building a remote-first business, you must be intentional about creating the right culture. Esteban explains: “It’s not about managers saying we’re a remote-first company. It’s about all of us living and breathing it. Each of us is an ambassador for remote working,” says Esteban. He adds, “We don’t have an office where we can create a certain atmosphere. In that, we really rely on each other’s presence online. This offers huge opportunities, especially if you have a creative mind.”  

“We’re a young company, still figuring out certain things. But it’s exciting, we really get to create this culture together.” — Robert Bremer, COO of Xpirit USA.  

Working Remote-First for Clients 

If all this talk about our company and culture has made you wonder about our clients — they hardly ever ask about our office or lack thereof!  

We all know that travel is expensive and time-consuming, and the pandemic only accelerated what many of us felt coming: there must be a different way. And we found our answer in remote working.  

“I thought our consultants would travel 30 to 40 percent of the time. It’s only 10%,” says Esteban. “The majority of our clients also work from home. So, when we say we will visit, they have to come to the office, especially for us,” he laughs.   

“When I heard the Xpirit specifics, working here was kind of a no-brainer. Today, a lot of cool, innovative companies are becoming part of big corporations. Leaving a gap in the market that Xpirit is determined to fill. For me, Xpirit hit the trifecta. We’re not afraid to take a different approach, the people that work here are really good at their job, and we’re definitely going to make an impact in the industry!” — Natalie Reinford, Business Development Director, Xpirit USA. 

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