We purposely operate in a very high trust culture. This means tremendous freedom to do what you want, how you want. Our trust level is higher than most people ever think normal.
The pros: we waste little time on bureaucracy or policing people. Smart people are free to focus on getting things done. This tends to bring out the best in them.
The cons: trust can be abused, and abusers are hard to spot. Some people can’t handle too much freedom, or are poor at self-control. Those people will perform worse at Silktide.
To cite the Russian, we “trust but verify“. Especially during probation, we’re looking for signs that a person can be trusted to work smartly and independently, as it’s only through this vigilance that we’re able to maintain our trust for all.
As with trust, our level of openness can be disorientating to some. With rare exceptions, no information is siloed, and everything is shared with everyone.
A key component of this are our journals, where every member of staff essentially publishes a stream of consciousness throughout the day, from the CEO down. These have proven a great way of getting to know each other, learning, teaching, and staying up to date – especially in a remote environment.
We encourage people from different teams to work together, at least once every two months. Developers can spend a day with sales, or customer success, or vice versa.
Together with trust, openness allows people to work constructively together, independently and yet together, and it eliminates politics that can stifle other organizations. But it requires everyone embraces it, and for this reason we require everyone to share a journal.
We prioritize ways of working that get out of each other’s way.
Mostly we use systems that avoid the need to reach each other at an exact time. For example, to ask someone to do something I will rarely have a meeting. Instead, I would write down the relevant information, and send it to that person via Linear or Slack. This means I don’t have to wait for that person, and they don’t have to cut up their time for me.
If some piece of information is crucial, it can’t live in one person’s head. For this, we use Notion and Stack Overflow; again, reducing the chance of being blocked by another person.
Trust (#1) means most of the time you just do what needs to be done, no permission needed. Openness (#2) and journals help us stay up to date, without bothering people for a status report.
Some meetings are important, but we keep them short. Where someone is only needed for part of a meeting, we deal with their part first and ‘let them out’ early to save their time. This isn’t rude – it’s respectful of their time.
I created Silktide as a place I would want to work myself. Apparently, that’s weird?
We’re highly invested in making our staff happy, because I believe that happy staff do their best work (it’s also just a less shitty way to treat people you spend half your life with). We don’t have an HR department, but we do have a Happiness Manager, because we don’t think staff are “resources” like toilet paper.
One component of this is Silktime, where every employee has 2 paid weeks a year to devote to personal development.
We also don’t believe in saving pennies by getting cheap monitors, or laptops, or otherwise exchanging morale for a quick buck. Staff are our greatest investment and we treat them accordingly.
We highly encourage people to share things that are harming their well-being, so we might fix them. This will usually be received better and a greater priority to us than you might expect.
We are an unashamedly distributed team. We are not a hybrid team, or temporarily remote – we are remote, period.
Although we have a small office in England, it’s purely a hangover from the Before Times, for anyone nearby who feels like an air-conditioned getaway.
It’s still nice to meet your co-workers. We fly everyone together at least once a year for a week (next up: Barcelona), plus some local hangouts. But everything we do is designed to maximise the advantages of being remote: a bigger and better talent pool, more efficient working, and happier staff. We won’t dilute that by mixing approaches.
Most of the world still thinks in non-remote terms: paper mail, handshakes, suits and ties, exhibitions, etc. For us, the majority of physical events don’t work, and we’d generally prefer to excel at 5 webinars than stress over one physical event for the same time and money.
99.9% of the time, when something sucks, it’s because the person making it hasn’t thought like the person using it.
This sounds so simple, and yet. Most writing is written for the writer; most code for the coders; most HR policies for the HR policy writer. And most of those things truly, epically, suck.
Arguably Silktide’s greatest success is our customer satisfaction, and I believe this comes from putting yourself into the mind of the person who uses whatever you do or make. Maybe that’s an email to a client, or a form design, or a YouTube video – we all contribute in our own way.
As a result, Silktide has fanatically high standards for improving how people experience what we do, and empathy is the key to maintaining them.
We prefer to fit a job to a person, rather than the other way around.
Sometimes when hiring we’ll find someone who fits a role we didn’t plan for. Our history is littered with people who started as “Junior Something” and who ended up in charge of something big. Many Silktiders have reinvented their entire careers more than once.
Sometimes it takes a year to figure out you’re best suited for something else. For whatever reason, we find that often brings out the best in people, and we do our best to accommodate it.
Lastly: no company is for everyone, and that’s okay. This constitution outlines what works for us, and we select for that. We won’t be happy working with people who aren’t open, trusting, or self-directed, and they won’t be happy here.