How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Remote-First Work

What is it like to work at a company without a physical office, and how is that transition if you have never been without such a space?

Having just passed through my fourth month with Strapi, a 100% remote-first company, I’ve been working closely with many people I haven’t met in person. The fact is, it is quite a few months more before I can thoroughly say that I get to meet them.

As the only person based out of the Nordics, I got a good 2+ hour flight if I was going to have an in-person coffee meeting with a colleague. So how do you adapt to working from home, not out of sheer necessity from a public health perspective, but because nobody is in your physical vicinity?

I started my work career in a hybrid workspace. The company had management and lead developers in the main office in Copenhagen, Denmark, and most developers were based out of western Ukraine (and still are). After that, I joined a company with developers based in Denmark, Bangladesh, and Poland. Again, having the actual people in your office gives you many opportunities to discuss things and socialize.

Once I joined Strapi, I had to commit 100% to the remote approach of work and work-related socializing. The recruitment process was the apparent first lead into how it was already done in Strapi. Each new interview with more Straipers was done with various backgrounds and a sense of professionalism, yet very informal. I felt attracted to the idea of having the freedom of not having a fixed office I would have to go to. Not because I was interested in working from home but from wherever.

Once I got the offer from Strapi, the first thoughts about if I had the proper skills and discipline to work remote-only started to set in: Was I sure that I could deliver without having a meeting room to go to? Not having a meeting in a physical space would take away some of the joy I find in dressing up to go to work. I was, however, committed to learning the craft of working in a company like Strapi while still staying true to using my wardrobe as I always had.

I ended up using an office space downtown, subsidized by Strapi since everyone has a monthly $500 co-working space budget, so that regardless of location, has access to a co-working space in their area, where I could go when I wanted to leave my apartment on the waterfront. That turned out to be an excellent investment, as I am currently there 3–4 times a week!

Getting started with Strapi was also quite different. How are you introduced to people you might meet at lunch, in the elevator, or at the water cooler? It turned out that both onboarding and clever bots were already in place to ensure that problem was limited as much as possible: The entire two-week onboarding lets you meet as many people in the company as you can make time for.

On top of that, you get to do a presentation for the entire company and hear from even more people. Secondly, a weekly meeting is known as a “Donut” which is set up by a bot that invites you and two randomly selected employees in the company. Sometimes it’s someone you work very closely with, and sometimes someone you do not even know was in the company. What is funny is that a company with just below 100 employees becomes enormous when you only get to meet once a year physically.

The process for joining Strapi was the most intensive regarding the number of meetings. You can definitely see why once you join: Everyone is practically handpicked for the position, with everyone’s approval required to make sure that the teamwork, the product(s), and the atmosphere is always next level. And in a company where communication is essential (both written and verbal) to avoid miscommunication, the alignment of mindset is everything.

After having joined and had the pleasure of welcoming more colleagues and participating in the recruitment meetings, I also got to see how different people’s approaches to working remotely. Some obviously have done so for quite a while — many since the COVID-19 lockdown hit and then just never returned to the office who seemed to (maybe not very surprisingly) seemed to have had a much more natural feel towards having this kind of company structure.

For me, the journey with Strapi has just begun, and I am looking forward to many years and projects ahead of me while I learn to adapt, not just to working remotely in my own city but to remember to harness the absolute freedom this work setup gives. Seeing colleagues go to sunny Greece or visit colleagues in Africa has opened my eyes to the vast possibilities that this kind of work culture can bring.

If you want to be part of a remote-first company, Strapi is hiring. Visit strapi.io/careers to learn more.

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