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Why Armory Has a Remote Work Culture

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Mar 12, 2020 by Andrew Backes

Armory Has a Remote Work Culture

At Armory, we are intensely focused on building our culture, not just building our product. Our culture is the operating system of our company, underpinning and supporting everything that we do.

From the get-go, we decided that Armory’s culture was going to be designed with intentionality to be remote work friendly. Armory is built on Spinnaker, an open source project created by Netflix and Google. One of the incredible features of open source software is that it is built through the collaboration of talented individuals and teams distributed all over the world. To align with the vibrant Spinnaker open source community, we doubled down on building a strong remote work culture. Today, more than half of our company works remotely, with the remainder working at our HQ in San Mateo, CA.

What Does this Mean in Practice?

For many companies, the experience of remote workers is a secondary concern, if it is even thought of at all. But remote workers face their own unique experiences, benefits, and challenges. At Armory, we acknowledge and welcome this unique experience, approach it with empathy and understanding, and create feedback mechanisms to ensure that our on-site and remote tribals are all having the best possible experience.

Some of the things we do at Armory include:

  • Set up Zoom stations all over the office to make it seamless to hop on a video chat and have synchronous, “face-to-face” communication
    • This includes the always-on camera and screen in the main section of our office so that we can all eat lunch “together”
  • Rotate meeting leadership between on-site and remote tribals, to continually ensure that the needs of remote tribals are being met
  • Provide a flexible expense policy for remote workers to ensure that they have the best, most productive remote setup for their individual needs
  • Organize frequent in-person events (team and company-wide offsites, holiday parties, the Spinnaker Summit, and others) to provide everyone with the opportunity for in-person relationship building
  • Default to having conversations in a public Slack channel to ensure that everyone can participate, voice their perspectives, and share in the knowledge
  • Create unstructured time for “high-bandwidth” communication (over Zoom and in-person) for people to get to know each other outside of a business context
    • Specifically within the engineering team, many of the scrum teams dedicate a chunk of their daily standup time to the type of general team syncing and catch-up that happens more naturally in-person in the office

A high-risk moment for Armory! Most of the engineering team in one single elevator, on the way to dinner during a 3-day offsite. Everything turned out fine, and dinner was delicious.

Why Do We Invest in the Remote Experience?

All of these initiatives take time and effort. Why do we bother, instead of leaving it up to remote tribals to conform to the working cadence of the tribals who are at HQ?

One simple answer is that it comes down to people. We want to work with the best people all over the world, not just the best people in the Bay Area. And that means embracing remote work and maximizing the remote work experience.

For me personally, my main role as the Head of Engineering is to empower the engineering team. That means creating the visibility and shared context so that engineers have the information that they need to make great decisions to positively impact the company and the Spinnaker community. Furthermore, continual growth and improvement is a core value at Armory. It is imperative that each of us continue to learn and grow, not just in our technical depth but also in understanding how each other work, how we can function as a better, more cohesive team, and how we can strive together for larger goals.

If I am not investing in the right tools, processes, and culture to foster that shared context and continual growth across the entire engineering team, then I am not doing my job.

Armory is hiring polyglot engineers, as well as tribals across the entire organization. Check out open roles and learn more about what life is like at Armory at armory.io/careers. We’d love to hear from you!

 

By: Andrew Backes (Head of Engineering) & Stu Posluns (Product Marketing Manager)

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