Remote-First
🏝️

Remote-First

This page is maintained by Jason Thillman

TL;DR: This page describes our remote-first philosophy and explains all the practical details of what this means for our day-to-day life.

What Is Remote-First?

Here’s what remote-first means for us at Wonder:

  • Virtual-first: All meetings, communication, and team events (except for company-wide off-sites) are online.
  • Flexibility: Employees can work from anywhere within +/-3 hours of CET (more on that below).
  • Equality: Employees are treated equally and have access to similar perks and benefits, no matter where they work from.

Why Remote-First? Why Not?

We asked our team what they enjoy most about working remotely. Here’s what they said:

  • They can work with much more diverse and talented colleagues since we can hire internationally.
  • They are free to work from anywhere and structure their day as they see fit.
  • They say it’s a more inclusive environment because our remote setup does not encourage locker-room talk, alcohol consumption and partying, which is often seen in other male-dominated startup cultures (see ).
  • Nobody knows when they start their workday, when they stop, and when they do breaks. So, they are trusted and evaluated by the quality of their work and impact, not the hours they put in.

At the same time, this model may not be for everyone. In order to thrive in our remote-first model, consider the following:

  • Needless to say, you should be comfortable working remotely. If you love the office life, going for lunch with your colleague every day, and doing most meetings face-to-face, you may be disappointed.
  • You should have strong communication and documentation skills. Being able to communicate clearly and in a structured manner (especially via text) is central in asynchronous work.
  • Unless you’re more junior and need more guidance, you should be proactive and self-organised.

Wonder's Remote-First Model

To help us work productively and create a strong team culture, we have developed some initiatives and processes:

Office & Workstation

Most Wonderers work fully remotely; only a small minority comes to the office on regular basis. To accommodate as many preferences as possible, we created 3 remote work-setup packages:

  • The Home Office model is best suited for employees that want to work exclusively from home. It includes a large allowance to spend on home office equipment.
  • The Hybrid model is best suited for employees that want to work occasionally in an office. They can work either in our office in Berlin or in a co-working space of their choosing. It also includes a medium-sized allowance to spend on home office equipment.
  • The Private Work Station model is for employees that want to work in an office on a daily basis. They get a large allowance to work in a co-working space or other office setup.

Location

Location is another important issue that people have questions about. Do I need to move to Berlin? Can I stay in San Francisco? Can I get a normal employment contract? Can I spend half of the year on the Canary Islands? Which country's holidays do I take? Here's how we think about these issues:

  • Time zones: We try to organise our team in such a way that everyone's main country of residence is within +/- 3 hours of Central European Time (CET).
  • Employment contracts: We work with an Employer of Record, which allows us to hire full time employees abroad and offer them normal employment contracts in full compliance with local laws and regulations.
  • Living and working abroad: Employees can live and work from anywhere (as long as they are within 3 hours of CET and have a stable internet connection!). Many of our employees make use of this policy to move south to escape cold European winters 🥶.
  • ☝

    Note: Depending on your employment contract and VISA status, there may be legal restrictions to working abroad, so talk to our People department to be on the safe side before booking that AirBnB!

  • Public holidays: Employees get the number of public holidays from the country of their main residence. However, they are free to trade them for other days.

Work

Many organisations who have switched to remote work during the pandemic have had a hard time adjusting to the new normal because they failed to adjust their processes and working styles. To make remote work work and reap its benefits, we emphasize the following:

  • Adjustment of working style to seniority: We mostly hire senior employees who do not need much guidance in their work. However, when you're more junior, we make sure you have the right level of seniority and experience and more interaction and meetings with your manager.
  • Communication & Documentation: We document policies and decisions as much as possible to make sure that people understand what is happening in the broader team and are aware of any important decisions or changes (see
    🦜
    Internal Communications
    )
  • Effective meetings: While our default work is asynchronous, there is a place for meetings. In those cases we try to make them as effective as possible (see
    🤝
    Running Effective Meetings
    ).
  • Virtual-first: By default, team meetings are virtual. Everyone dials in separately. We do this not only to prevent a cultural division between remote and office employees but also to make our meetings more effective by using collaboration tools like Notion and Miro.

Culture

  • Frequent get-togethers: We make sure that there are plenty of interaction points, to make sure that people aren't losing touch (see
    ♨️
    Rituals
    ).
  • Regular off-sites: We also regularly organise longer off-sites where the whole team meets in real life to work and have fun together
  • Events Budget: Each employee has an allowance to organize virtual team events. A common practice is to organize competitions and give vouchers to the winning team 🤑 (see
    💪
    Team Building
    )
  • Offline Visits: We also encourage Wonderers to travel to one another for work sessions by reimbursing travel expenses.

To learn more about our culture, have a look at

.

Testimonials from our Wonderers

I really appreciate the trust that we have for one another at Wonder. Nobody knows when exactly I start my workday, when I stop, when I do breaks. This means that I am evaluated by the quality of my work and impact, not the hours I sit in an office somewhere. - Laura 🇭🇺
What I love about the the remote-first approach is that I can live and work from my home country where I have my family and friends without compromising career opportunities or sacrificing the relationships with my colleagues. - Sergii 🇺🇦
"I really enjoy starting work early in the day. Without the commute and other logistics of getting to the office, my focus time starts immediately and I can choose my pace. Additionally, as a recruiter I have a wider talent pool to hire from which increases our chances of hiring diverse candidates." - Pragnya 🇮🇳
I just got out of a meeting with 8 people... and 8 nationalities. Since we hire internationally, we have incredibly diverse teams that add a lot of new perspectives (and gives me inspiration for my travel plans!) - Vale 🇩🇪
I’m currently writing this from Ireland in the middle of a 2-month stay. This is the 3rd country that I’ve been able to work from in the past 4 months! - Conor 🇮🇪
"I have been working remotely on and off since 2011. I used to travel into London from home each day for work and the commute would typically take at least 3 hours in very crowded and inconsistent trains. But aside from that, the real bonus is family time for meals and catch-ups. However, there are some things you need to be mindful of: First, your working environment: ideally you need more than one space at home and/or a local coffee shop. Second, your time management: it's real easy to overwork. I find setting tasks for each day and having some reprioritisation time each morning helps drive self imposed deadlines and improves work life balance." - Ashley 🇬🇧
"Working remotely allows me to spend more time on hobbies as I can freely structure my day. For instance, I can go to the gym or to a dance class during the day, come home, shower and get back to work. The logistics of this would be so much harder if I had to be present in an office all the time." - Jason 🇱🇺
"When I used to work from an office I wasted time not only through the daily commute but also the many distractions. Working from home, I save a lot of time and have longer stretches of focused work. So now I have more time for my personal life and I perform better at my job!" - Andrey 🇺🇦