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Cake Culture

Remote working, life as it is at Cake

At Cake, we didn’t need Corona to realize that remote working has a lot of advantages. When we started our company we even decided not to have an office. We’re a fully remote team of over 20 people spread across 3 countries.🌎

Due to the corona crisis, many companies have recently switched to remote working. Or they’re trying to. Some of them are more successful than others.

At Cake 🍰 we don’t know any better. Since day one, a year and a half now, we have been working completely remotely. This means we don’t have an office. And we don’t have a fixed co-working place or anything else that replaces an office. 🏒 We’re a fully remote team of about 20 people spread across 3 countries.

Core value

Remote working was a well-considered choice for us. More than that, it is one of our core values.

We believe that work is intrinsically linked to life. Work gives a purpose and personal satisfaction. And together we are responsible for creating the best πŸ‘Œ job of our lives.
We do our best to avoid the senseless everyday and annoying parts of a classic work environment. Making long hours ⏰ is not encouraged and always being busy is nothing to be proud of. Being tired is not a badge of honor. And we believe in the freedom of our employees to grow professionally and look for their place on earth where they are happiest and most productive.🌴
Create your own cubicle is how we call it.

But this goes along with another important company value, ownership.
Owning it is about taking initiative and doing what needs to be done. It’s about taking responsibility, and not assuming it’s someone else’s problem. It’s the opposite ↔️ of passing the buck. It means more than just doing our job and being accountable for our results. It includes an obligation to make things better, to pursue excellence, and to do things in ways that further us towards our mission.

When we recruit people, we look at this competence, more than just a degree. Because it is crucial to get where we want to be with the Cake 🍰 app and as a company.

Transparency

But the decision to work completely remote was not only driven from the human aspect. Next to an incredible cost saving and zero complaints about the quality of the office coffee β˜• or the temperature of the airconditioning, it also forces us to communicate πŸ’¬ transparently, both internally and externally.

πŸ‘‰ Internally this results in every member of our team having access to all possible information, for daily projects but also about the longer term strategy and goals of the company. The agenda of our weekly core management team meetings, as well as the reports of these meetings, are openly available for every team member.
It’s like the Schwerpunktprinzip that was used for the blitzkrieg strategy of the German army. But friendlier, a lot friendlier πŸ₯°.
Every unit in the army, from the company to the supreme command, decided on a Schwerpunkt (the goal) through schwerpunktbildung. Which meant that commanders always knew what was most important and why.
So everybody always knows exactly what to do.

πŸ‘‰ Externally it allows us to live up to another of our core values: lead in the open.
We operate in the world of banking πŸ’°and data πŸ“Š. Worlds that are often obscure and that typically communicate the important stuff through endless pages of tiny letters that almost require a law degree to understand. We absolutely disagree with this and take initiative to being the change we want to see. When people receive information from us and interact with us we do it in an open, understandable and honest way. We build trust through transparency, communicate clearly and don’t hide behind ambiguity. We are here to lead and we will do so openly and publicly. Always.

Working remotely forces us to bring this core value into practice. All files, projects and tasks are shared. Also externally.

Our roadmap πŸ— for instance is publicly available for everybody. And this is not just an extract of our internal roadmap. We have no such thing as an internal roadmap. There is one version and that’s the one that’s on our website. When we need to consult it we go to the same place as external people do when they want to have a look at our plans.

Spread a little joy

This doesn’t mean we never see πŸ‘€ each other.

If we need to discuss something, we immediately set up a Zoom call. Compare it to walking by someone’s desk when you’re working in an office environment. And we have a #random Slack channel that replaces the chatter at the coffee β˜• machine. We have fixed meeting moments that we usually have via Zoom. We have for instance a bi-weekly general Zoom call with the whole company.

But sometimes we also meet up live to discuss things or we just work together when we feel like it. This can be in someone’s living room🏑 (our CEO Davy must have by now the most visited living room in the country), or we might rent a meeting room or meet in a coffee bar or co-working space.

But preferably we keep all the real life meetings for fun. Life is too short to be serious all the time. We cherish the smallest moments and celebrate 🎊 every success, big or small. Random acts of happiness put smiles on our faces.😁

Every 3 months we plan an activity with the whole team: good food and drinks with an activity (think bowling, a team BBQ, eat some cake 🍰) makes us even more of a team.

In times of crisis

So the Corona crisis did not change much in our own daily way of working.

The changes that this crisis brings are more external to us.

Our employees are suddenly confronted with housemates πŸ‘ͺ who are now also at home for a whole day, demanding their share of the space and attention. This requires some adjustments that are different for each of us: from tight daily schedules to the creation of extra workstations and the purchase of the additional laptop πŸ’» for the teenager who now needs it every day to be able to do remote school work. But we’ve given our employees the freedom to organise this at their own pace so that they can get back to work with peace of mind afterwards.

And we also deal with prospects, investors, suppliers and customers who are not used to working remotely and are currently, sometimes in a panic, postponing or shifting previously scheduled meetings instead of simply switching to video calls.
Those who do switch to video calls πŸ“ž all have different systems and often don’t have the flexibility from their employer or company systems to choose which system to use.

Tools

Internally we use Zoom as a standard video call system. But these days we easily switch to Google hangouts, Skype, Whereby, … at the request of others who do not have the flexibility from their company or systems to switch tools. Our systems and people have the flexibility to easily switch.

Here are a few of the tools we use:

πŸ’¬ Team and project communication: Slack
πŸ€™ Video meetings: Zoom
πŸ—„ Document sharing: Google Drive
πŸ“ Project management: Monday
πŸ‘¨ Roadmap management: Uservoice
πŸ–‡ Documentation: Gitbook & Lucidchart
βœ… eSignature contracts: PandaDoc
πŸ’°Expense management: Rydoo
β˜• Coffee: Make your own

Future proof

What originally started as a team of 6 founders has since grown into a company of about 20 employees. And working remotely has also been scaled up ⬆️. At the moment we don’t see any reason why an even larger team would need an office.

We hope that if this dramatic crisis can also bring good things that remote working can be one of them. People and companies are now getting to know it at an accelerated pace. We are convinced that once the first hurdles have been taken, the experiences will be positive and the time gained will be enormous.

In any case, we are looking forward to it! πŸ™Œ

πŸš€ Did you know Cake was awarded Belgian Startup company of the Year? πŸ₯³
Read all about it in this article.

You might also be interested in reading Tell us about Cake, an interview with Davy Kestens