Mentimeter Company Culture
The pandemic for sure turned a lot of truths about work upside down. During the spring, tech companies that we admire and respect launched their different approaches as a response. Work from anywhere. Flex work. Remote first. We were intrigued. But, we also felt a great deal of resistance. And resistance is always worth exploring.
Looking at what was going on from an HR perspective, it all made sense. For a long time, there had been two camps: the people perspective addressing the human need for flexibility and freedom, and then the old fashioned leaders that managed their workforce by command and control. Historically there has been a lack of trust from organizations, and particularly organizational leaders. This is partially a hangover from the industrial age. At that time, workers were being compensated principally for their time rather than their knowledge. This model hasn’t been compatible with modern work for a long time now, where outcomes - rather than time spent - has become the more important measure.
The experiences of the pandemic basically showed leaders what the HR community has been preaching for decades, that you can trust employees and that we can all be responsible, more productive, and happier with a little more flexibility in our work lives. So far, so good.
Now, if we come back to ourselves here at Mentimeter, this has always been the case. From day one we have trusted each other. We stay away from micromanaging. And we always believed that outcome is more important than the hours we put in. From the start we have prioritised a 40 hour work week and no more, reminding ourselves to work smart instead of hard (or more hours). This kind of individual freedom, where you decide together with your team what ways of working that will produce the best outcomes, is woven into what we do.
Alongside that, we have always put a lot of love, money and effort into our people experiences and office vibe. It includes everything from having lots of great AWs, where everyone can bring family and friends, to Friday Yoga and the serving of a delicious vegetarian meal everyday at the office. It may sound like superficial perks, but it is actually quite the opposite. We know that meeting with each other for real creates the psychological safety that is crucial for us humans to thrive. It is only when we bring our whole self to work and connect as human beings that we can reach our full potential as a team. When safety is high, so is wellbeing, engagement and innovation.
During the period of intense change, upheaval, and reflection that we experienced during the first period of the pandemic, we were more reactive than strategic in our decision-making. At that point, many companies started to talk about going remote-first or having a permanent work-from-anywhere policy. We looked at that and said to ourselves: something is not right here. Why isn't anyone talking about the possible negative long-term effects or our social needs as humans!
To us, it felt a little short-sighted. There was a huge emphasis on the “I”, particularly highlighting individuals’ need for freedom and flexibility, and not much focus on the “We”. We asked ourselves: Is this the best approach in the long term? Is this really what we believe in? And, frankly, we decided that it wasn’t.
We decided to challenge the prevailing opinion and forge a path forward based on our convictions. We took a step back and did some soul searching with the help of all employees. In that process, we used different forums to ask for input, nuances, and perspectives (a survey, a workshop, and many one-to-ones). We wondered - what makes Mentimeter special? Where and how do our needs as humans and the needs of our business meet?
We found that while we all want greater flexibility and reap the benefits of focus work at home, we also agreed that the unique thing with Mentimeter is the people and the vibrant culture. Even if remote work "works", in the long run, we felt that it might lead to distancing ourselves, both from each other and from the feeling of building something together.
Historically, we have been an organization that has attracted people who value culture. People who value collective experiences, including everyone, and having an office with a great vibe. People who want to eat lunch together, to work and work out together, and be both friends and colleagues. This has been our value proposition from the beginning. So it’s not strange that when we asked the people here at Mentimeter what they wanted, this is the response that we got!
So, instead of following the trends of what other companies in the tech space were doing, we decided to carve our own path. We started the process of tying all of these things together into a coherent set of guiding principles. To craft what we believed in for ourselves, for our company, and for our culture.
In some sense, we’re not so much bucking the trend of going remote-first as much as we are filling a niche that is lacking in the current moment. We provide a place for those who want to work in our industry but value a workplace with an office and vibrant company culture.
Clarity is important too. We want our potential colleagues of the future to know what we’re about. When a company is growing at such a tremendous rate, clarity in our ways of working becomes even more critical. Recruitment is like dating. We need to be honest with each other; this is what we are about, this is what you are about. Are we a match?
So what is new? In a way, the answer is not that much. In many ways, our guiding principles signal a continuation of the values we have held from the start. The new part is the clarification and even greater freedom to work from home than before the pandemic. We will retain the benefit of a company-financed home office setup for those who want it, and people can work about 2 days a week from home or other location.
We will also be more conscious of the experience we provide, no matter where people choose to work at any given moment. We invest in better infrastructure to ensure our hybrid setup is technologically up to scratch, optimizing for inclusion.
What has remained the same is the philosophy; what changes are what we learn as we go. We strive to improve our ways of working continuously. We learned about the experience of working away from the office and now we work to optimize it. We learned to love the flexibility of being able to work from home when we need to. But we were also reminded of the importance of being together to nurture the culture we all love and have worked to create.
To summarize. It is less a question of changing direction and more a case of leveling up in the direction we are already working towards. From the beginning, we have crafted our approach based on one salient truth: we will all spend about 1/5 of our lives working, and we want that time to count.
When we look back on our lives, we want the years at Mentimeter to stand out. As formative years. As strong memories. As a period in our lives where we built relationships that lasted a lifetime and had a blast while doing it.
We call it the power of together. That is what both our culture and our product are all about.
Want the inside scoop? You can read our guiding principles here.