Before the Covid-19 pandemic, I worked in a variety of workplaces. Some were hands-on with teams of 70 plus people, while others were small local businesses - but what each of them had in common was the traditional collocated work environment. This meant days in the office, working with team members and having information accessible within a few feet. When businesses began to switch to a remote environment, I became concerned with what working remote meant for me. I had no previous experience in a remote environment, and deeply valued the structure of a collocated workplace.
What drew me to working at Metadot was not just the appealing content of the position, but the genuineness and transparency during my initial interactions with Daniel Guermeur, founder and CEO. He was clear and concise on the various aspects of my role as the Executive Assistant and Content Strategist, as well as the goals he has envisioned for the growth of the company. Before my first day, Daniel provided me with my company email and password, as well as all the necessary resources. This relieved so much of the “new job jitters,” we so often face when starting a new opportunity, and it gave me the chance to explore the various softwares and links we would be using for communication during the work day. We had a quick video meeting, where he allowed me to openly ask questions and prepared me with the expectations for the following week.
My first day at Metadot began with a more thorough explanation of “Discord,” a primary mode of communication for the team. It consists of various channels where team members are able to openly discuss ideas and ask questions, as well as work together on projects. These channels act as a substitute to the traditional conference rooms you would experience in a collocated work environment. The rooms are equipped with constant audio and video correspondence, giving you the access to communicate with other members of the team as if you were sharing an office space. Although the company is remote, there is a genuine effort to minimize the distance between our global team and bring us together.
My initial introduction to the team began in a meeting called “The Green Delivery Room.” Each team member was wearing a green article of clothing, ready to present their completed tasks from the previous week. They took turns explaining their projects, issues that may have arisen and how this contribution can further progress towards the company goals. It was interesting, and at times a little overwhelming, to witness these tasks that are referred to as “sprints.” Sprints are the obtainable goals that each member seeks to accomplish from Monday to Friday. From programming to social media marketing, each member plays a vital role in making Metadot a highly functioning and successful company.
After hearing about their projects, I was then tasked to meet with specific members of the team in a 1 on 1 video chat and get to know more about one another. I spoke with people all over the world, and each team member possessed a unique background that led them to their opportunities at Metadot. I learned more about their roles and day-to-day life at the company, and heard many experiences of successes and challenges. Everyone was so friendly and inviting. They all expressed a genuine interest about who I was, and did not hesitate to offer their assistance if an issue arose. There was a sense of community without having to share the same office space, and it made the nerves of remote working less intimidating.
Daniel frequently communicated with me through meetings and messenger to discuss the responsibilities of my role, and answer any questions about my assigned tasks. He was on hand and ready to assist, which made me more confident in my position. I finished my first day with one final video call with Daniel, where we established a list of assignments to complete and how to prioritize them. As well as reflecting on the day, how I was feeling, and how he could enhance my onboarding experience. With beginning anything new, it can be overwhelming and challenging - especially when your position is entirely remote. Metadot has created an environment which eases the stress of these new challenges with their transparency of communication, willingness to assist and by taking the time to properly welcome me to the team.
With a clear understanding of my responsibilities, today was my first day working more independently. Daniel and I had a quick video chat to ensure I was still feeling comfortable with my assignments, and briefed me on a few meetings I would be participating in today. I had a morning meeting, where I was introduced to more members of the team. They familiarized me with their roles within the company, as well as their current projects. I introduced myself and was able to share some of my experience and excitement for the company.
After the meeting, I had one on one video chats with team members who weren’t available the previous day and was provided various tips on how they manage to succeed while working remotely. I left the conversation feeling more positive about working remotely and the valuable team we have at Metadot. I went back to working on my own projects, and began researching to better familiarize myself with our products. Daniel and I finished the day with a quick recap of my progress, and encouragement for the next day.
Today I woke up, overlooked my notes of tasks for the week and got to work. I started to realize how much I enjoyed working remotely, and the flexibility it provided me within my schedule. After an hour of work, I joined our daily “Huddle” meeting, where the team disclosed the progress of their tasks. Daniel gave each individual the opportunity to share their ideas and conflicts they faced in the process. He was willing to offer suggestions and support, and allowed other team members to provide their perspective as well.
After the meeting, I decided to join other members of the team in one of the channels on Discord. It was a unique experience to be “working” with other individuals without being in the same physical room as one another. Especially considering we were working on such different projects. There was a collective understanding that we were there to help each other and work hard, but still have fun. I watched the team maintain a “hands on” approach without sharing a physical environment, as they provided insight to one another as they tackled their sprints. When someone was unclear on a specific issue, Discord provided the flexibility to “share screens,” meaning we were able to view the content from the perspective of our team members. The screen sharing feature eased many misunderstandings, and we could physically see the work and interpret the issue from a new point of view. This is when it occurred to me that working remotely doesn’t have to mean working alone. Although we were in different countries and in different time zones, we were working together - as if we were alongside one another in an office. The social aspect of a collocated work environment didn’t have to disappear along with the office. In fact, we were doing just the opposite. Without the physical workplace, we were building our own community through platforms and collaboration.
Today I was assigned my “Buddy”. A buddy is a veteran of the company with strong communication skills and thorough knowledge of the organization. I had met my buddy earlier in the week and had already worked in one of the collaborative rooms on Discord with him. After the daily “Huddle” meeting, we made a plan to connect over a video chat to better understand this process. He was responsible for ensuring that I met all the members of the team, as well answering my questions. I found him to be very personable, kind and helpful. I was able to better understand areas of the company and how to retrieve information, and it felt less isolating to know I had a “go-to” person ready to assist. The buddy system was one of the most effective segments of the onboarding process. Not only did it ease the process of becoming a remote employee for me, but it helped me better connect with the culture of the company.
Later in the day I was contacted by management to exchange all the necessary information to make my employment at Metadot successful. We reviewed different policies and ways of retrieving information, as well as ensuring I had all the needed tools to help me reach my goals. I included that I did not possess all the equipment that would assist me throughout the day, and within minutes we had made arrangements to provide me with the necessary tools. The proactive nature of the team was empowering, and it made me ecstatic to not only feel valued by the company, but the effort they made to maintain a strong sense of community.
Another highlight of the day was our group “Stretch” class. It was evidence that Daniel not only invests in the mental health of our team, but the physical health. We scheduled an online virtual class, where we spent 20 minutes out of our desks, and stretching our bodies. This was beneficial not only to the team, but the individual. Our bodies were able to release the tension of sitting in an office chair for long periods of time, and the team was able to come together in one environment to participate in a unique activity. Daniel is known for introducing and implementing events such as our stretching class. Not only is this an effective way to promote mental and physical health, but the team is forming healthy habits that encourage quality work. He leads by example and empathy when he participates in the class, and it demonstrates the ways he values our mental well-being by encouraging us to engage in these activities. As a new member on a team, it is a powerful feeling to see a leader who invests in the wellbeing of our community.
I started my day with crossing off many of the completed items on my task list and felt accomplished. Within a few short days of working for Metadot, I saw what was once panic about working remotely become a process that was much less intimidating. I knew I was working hard, but it was the enjoyment of the work that was the most impactful. Today was the day I was introduced to the true meaning of the word “done”. Each member of the team has a strong understanding that “done” was not a word to be used lightly. “Done” meant there was no more editing necessary and that fellow colleagues or higher management had reviewed the work. By declaring you were “done” with a project meant that it was in its final form, ready to go. To me this was simple, but also made me reevaluate times where I had perceived something was complete, but ended up making changes later. It seemed small in the moment, but I liked the way this elaborated on the standard and quality of the work we put forward. When I completed a task and was posed with the question, “is it done?”, this simple evaluation made me produce some of my best work, no errors and no changes.
Fridays are for dressing formally and elegant. Many companies have adopted a “casual Friday” or “Hawaiian t-shirt Friday,” - not at Metadot. On Fridays, we look our best - beginning the week strong, and ending it even stronger. Each team member logged onto our morning “Huddle” dressed in nice shirts with ties, or classy blazers. It was fun to see everyone evolve from more business casual, to button downs and dresses. While we worked hard on Friday to finish our final tasks for the week, we also did some celebrating. We had two virtual happy hours, one for the European team and one for the United States team, to be inclusive of time zones. It was a nice break from the final tasks of the day to log onto a Discord channel and be able to have non-work related conversations with the team. I learned more in depth about passions and interests, and how each person liked to spend their weekends. I felt most connected to the team, and was able to share laughs without feeling like I was in a strict work environment.
To finish my day, I received my necessary work equipment - compliments of Metadot. I was so excited to complete my at home office space with a desk, a monitor, computer mouse, the one and only Das Keyboard and the most comfortable office chair. It was high quality, and it meant a lot that I didn’t have to worry about covering the extra costs of creating a healthy at home work environment for myself. This was such a positive note to close out my first week of working remotely, and made me eager to get back to work on Monday.
Within the first week I experienced the rollercoaster of changes that occur when you indulge yourself in the possibilities of remote work. Where I was once skeptical, with lack of company culture and my own abilities - I feel confident. Metadot has developed a blueprint for a remote work environment that should be executed globally. The team is hands on - even when miles apart - and addresses problems with everyone’s best interest in consideration. In 5 days they have set a foundation for my work that gives promise of growth, and the confidence that no problem is too great to solve with the help of our team.