This is the way. The Ziggu way. A few years back we decided to start writing down what we stand for as a team. It's a living document where everyone is free to contribute to and challenge each other on. Because we value transparency, we're sharing this document publicly. May it serve as inspiration to others but above all keep us all accountable to adhering to our values. This is the way.
Nobody is perfect. We are all continuously learning and improving. Although we all put in our best effort daily, sometimes we slip up and break one of the guidelines in this document. Let them who are without sin cast the first stone. We count on each other to keep us accountable to these guidelines. If we see someone deviating, kindly and constructively refer them to this document and remember that next time it might be you who deviates.
Everyone can remind anyone in the company about our values. If there is a disagreement about the interpretations, the discussion can be escalated to more people within the company without repercussions.
In 2012, Google organized a study called 'Project Aristotle' with the aim of finding out what makes a succesful team. By far the most important aspect of what defines a great team is what they named 'Psychological Safety'. Psychological safety is basically creating an environment where team members feel safe to take risks and are able to be vulnerable in front of each other. They feel confident that no one on the team will embarrass or punish anyone else for admitting a mistake, asking a question, or offering a new idea. At Ziggu, we fully promote the concept of psychological safety. Most of of the following values and guidelines help build this safety in our team.
We are obsessed by our customers. Not in a creepy stalker kind of way of course ;). But obsessed nonetheless. We deeply care about customer feedback and take into account how they see our platform evolving in the future. When making decisions we will always put the customer first and make sure their voice is somehow included into the discussion.
We expect everyone at Ziggu to get to know our customers one way or another. Either by reading up on customer feedback reports, answering support tickets on Intercom or by talking about our sector in general.
We always go above and beyond for our customers. In everything you do, make sure to remember that our main reason for being is because our customers are willing to make a considerable financial investment to use our solution. We have the moral obligation to always respond in a respectful manner and to overdeliver where possible. If you have any ideas to 'go the extra mile', you are encouraged to suggest them and we will free up budget where possible.
Family first, work second. Having long lasting relationships with your loved ones is the foundation of any good life. Having ' your house' in order means you are able to perform to your best abilities at work. If you ever experience personal issues, someone passing away or any other challenging situations, please reach out to see how we can help you deal with that situation.
Personal health and mental health: One in four people will at some point in their life experience mental health issues. This should not be taboo anymore. We want to create an environment in which everyone is able to step forward if they prefer to do so and reach out to us so we can help. Your personal health is one of the most precious assets you have, if you need to undergo medical procedures or need to work on improving your health, please do not feel hindered to communicate this so we can help provide flexibility and assistance when necessary.
We all have our good and bad days, which is perfectly normal. We aren't robots destined to crank out +80 hours a week. We shouldn't pretend otherwise. It is futile to fight against the drag life can be sometimes . Embrace it. Accept it. If you are having a bad day and you need to take a break, don't hesitate to take one. If the last couple of months have been difficult for whatever reason, don't hesitate to reach out to someone. In the end, we are all human and we should treat each other as one.
We do not have set working hours by default. We work on average 40 hours per week and we expect common sense from everyone in how to distribute your time during each day. Some functions (customer support for example) require attendance during certain timeframes. Aim for the largest overlap possible with other team members so planning meetings and calls is practical for everyone.
We do not expect anyone in the team to work during evenings or weekends. These should be reserved for recharging your batteries and spending time with loved ones. If you occasionally do need to or prefer to do some work during those times, do not expect others to follow that example or to respond to your messages immediately.
Example: Some people in the team like to do some small tasks during evenings or weekends such as answering emails. It is not expected from anyone within Ziggu to send/receive answers to those emails straight away or during the evenings or weekends.
Working remotely means we sometimes work from home. If the tenor of the meeting allows, feel free to introduce your family or show us your pet!
Every Monday we host the "Ziggu Lunch Call". We strongly encourage everyone to attend as much as possible so we can all have lunch together and talk about life in general. Show us your city, teach us something about the country you live in or tell us how your weekend went!
We strongly believe that our biggest asset is our team. That's why we are very picky in our hiring process. We don't hire solely based on education or background, but foremost on motivation, passion and team spirit. We're proud to work everyday alongside such interesting and passionate people. All of us share that same eagerness and drive to push Ziggu forward.
Respect each other's focus. Think twice before interrupting someone and remember the standard workflow:Do I really require an immediate answer to my question or can it wait for a few hours/day?If no: Send message asynchronously (Twist thread/ email)If yes: send via direct message / call the other person
We expect team members to take ownership of the tasks they've been assigned and to complete them diligently. Being given ownership of a task means you are responsible for anticipating and solving problems. This of course does not mean you are on your own. The entire Ziggu team, or even outside knowledge is at your disposal. This however requires taking initiative and pro-actively informing stakeholders when there is something you might not be able to solve on your own.
We do not require you to report progress on a daily basis. We do however encourage short feedback loops. We believe it's better to (quickly) draft a first version with some potential gaps or flaws rather than a detailed version that might need to be reworked. The latter is a very wasteful process. If you are stuck on something or could use a second pair of eyes, never hesitate to reach out. Ziggu is a team effort.
Instead of daily check in reports we prefer weekly status updates per department. This will be explained during onboarding.
Keep meetings short and be well prepared. Internal meetings should have a shared agenda that outlines what needs to be discussed during the meeting. Everyone joining the meeting needs to have read these notes beforehand.
Set goals for each meeting and finish with clear actionable next steps. Avoid 'leaving things in the air'.
Be respectful to other people's time and effort. Give your full attention and do not browse your phone or continue working on other stuff. If you don't feel like you belong in a certain meeting: raise this point and leave so you can focus again and the others can continue without distractions.
Be on time or if you can't make it: inform others.
We feel it's important for everyone at Ziggu to know how our solution works, not only software engineers or product managers. We're not property developers ourselves so unfortunately we can't dog food our own product. That doesn't mean we can't do other things to get to learn what we do.
Everyone will be 'formally' invited at certain times during the year to help test new features and give feedback on user experience and functionality. We encourage everyone however to test out the platform as much as possible and give feedback to our product team.
We document all our visits to and chats with customers. This provides an invaluable amount of information that helps us understand our customers better. Feel free to read up on them to better get to know the people we are building Ziggu for.
During onboarding you will receive a presentation on the real estate industry so you learn the ins and outs of our industry.
Never hesitate to ask someone to explain things you are uncertain about or want to find out more on.
All information is available to anyone at Ziggu by default, except for sensitive information that might potentially hurt the company if shared publicly or might infringe on people's privacy within the company.
This means that by default, all files on Google Drive should be visible to all team members and you should avoid using private files.
Always surface issues constructively: be transparent to the right people, at the right time (when still actionable). If you make a mistake, don't worry, we all make mistakes. Correct it and proactively let the affected party and your team know how you corrected it and how, if needed, you changed the process to prevent future mistakes.
Anyone and anything can be questioned. Any past decisions and guidelines, including this very document are open to questioning as long as you act in accordance with them until they are changed.
When dealing with personal disagreements, enable everybody involved to come to the same conclusion as you. Do your best to make the line of thinking transparent to others even if they may disagree. Use an empirical, scientific method to make your case and try to avoid potentially biased information.
We expect people at Ziggu to be proactive. Don't wait until you are being told to do something.
Taking initiative is something we value and encourage completely.
Don't do something with two that you can do yourself.
Discussions and disagreements are part of every highly functioning team. Ziggu is no exception. Often these types of disagreements are the result of mistakes. It goes without saying that we encourage everyone to work as diligently as possible in order to avoid mistakes, but in the end, all of us make mistakes. It's what makes us human.
Investigate mistakes in a way that focuses on the situational aspects of a failure’s mechanism and the decision-making process that led to the failure rather than cast blame on a person or team. We hold blameless root cause analyses and retrospectives for stakeholders to speak up without fear of punishment or retribution.
No one is helped with finger pointing, blaming or public shaming and we will react to these types of behaviour very strictly.
If you watched Game of Thrones you will know this line: "You know nothing Jon Snow" - Ygritte. It helps us remind the fact that there's a bigger world of knowledge out there that we know nothing about yet. We are all believers of lifelong learning. We do not accept the status quo. We keep expanding our own personal horizons. To the lands Westeros and beyond we go.
If you come across interesting books, online courses or resources that might benefit your work or your team: feel free to suggest buying them and we will consider them on a case by case basis in light of available budgets and practical use.
We have a separate channel called 'Water Cooler Talk' where we discuss and share experiences that impacted us in some way: ranging from book reviews, games, music, art, travel, food, etc... Feel free to read them and be inspired by them and share your own experiences. This is no obligation, if you rather just read along: fine as well!
As you can read in our origin story, we bootstrapped our way forward for quite a long time. It has taught us some very valuable life lessons. Vincent and Yannick, the architecture nerds that they are, will refer to Mies van der Rohe's famous saying: Less is more. We believe we can accomplish more with less. Constraints breed resourcefulness, self-sufficiency and invention. There are no extra points to be gained for growing headcount for the sake of growing, inflating budget sizes or fixed expenses.
Communication is key to building healthy relationships, both at home and at work. Each and everyone of us has their own style of communication, often changing depending on our mood, time of day or past experiences with certain people. It's unavoidable that misunderstandings, conflicts and disagreements pop up from time to time. The following sections are lessons learned and guidelines how we make it work at Ziggu.
If you have read this far, it won't be a surprise to you that our lingua franca is English. This entails that for most of us our native language is not English. We expect everyone to put in their best effort to speak and write proper English. We prefer Oxford English spelling. Please help each other out if you see spelling mistakes on official documents, our platform, websites, etc... We are all here to improve.
Assume good intentions if you misunderstand something. Again, English is for most of us not a native language, some things might get lost in translation from time to time.
All communication and documents should be written in English. Exceptions could be docs or feedback given by customers in their own native language. Try to summarise these documents in English or provide Google Translate translation links so people can easily read up on them. If you still encounter any files that might be written in any other language than English (Dutch or French likely): report them so we can translate them.
We communicate asynchronous by default: asynchronous communication makes for calm, thoughtful, flexible work which focuses on the right outcomes. This has several clear benefits:
More mindful conversations (as you are not replying in real-time this means you have more time to shape your thoughts)
More transparency: we document everything through our extensive knowledge base/handbooks, there's no fear of missing out (JOMO instead of FOMO)
Better productivity: it's easier to get in the flow when you're not constantly being interrupted by people pinging you for something they deem urgent.
More autonomy: asynchronous communication puts the emphasis on results, not hours. People have more agency and are empowered to work the way they think will have the best impact on their objectives.
Timezone agnosticity: Where people are working from doesn’t matter with asynchronous communication. There is no one prevalent timezone—wherever they live, everyone is equal. Need to travel for a conference? Decide to move to another country? Big changes in your life won’t have a big impact on your work.
Lower anxiety. Finally, lots of unnecessary stress can be caused by an artificial sense of urgency.
For asynchronous work to "work", it requires some solid processes and for everyone to be on board.
Document everything. If it’s not documented, it doesn’t exist. Meeting notes, learnings, bug fixes—everything should be added to a single source of truth everyone can consult in an open way.
Using the right tools: our handbooks, Twist, Gitlab, Google Drive, Hubspot, ... all ensure everyone is on the same page and nothing gets lost.
Default to transparency: work discussions should happen via internal rather than private communication channels (e.g. on Twist try to work as much as possible in threads instead of via DMs to one another). Make your documents accessible to everyone. Don’t make it hard to access content you created.
While it's important to make all information available to everyone in the team, not everyone should be notified about it! Our growing team could create a lot of noise on Twist if we're not careful. Always keep in mind while sharing: who should be notified about my new thread or comment?
By default, everyone following a channel on Twist will receive notifications. Unless it's a company wide announcement, be carefull with that!
We don't see each other as much as people working in the same place. It's hard to get the nuances right if we don't see each other. Written text often does not hold the full scope of meaning and emotion that a verbal face to face conversation has.
Always try to switch the camera on when you're on a conference call with someone.
Most services and apps we use allow for uploading an avatar: upload a profile pic so we can make everything as personal as possible.
We document as much as possible: in this manual, in meeting notes, in issues. We do that because "the faintest pencil is better than the sharpest memory". It is far more efficient to read a document at your own convenience than to have to ask and explain. Having information written down also helps for others to comment and collaborate so we can improve.
We are big believers of sharing knowledge and the 'paying it forward' philosophy. We encourage everyone at Ziggu to have a similar mindset. If you found something that might benefit others within Ziggu: share it. If you think we have knowledge to offer a broader community of people outside of Ziggu: let it know so we can contribute to open source projects or share that knowledge publicly.
Share problems that you run into, ask for help, be forthcoming with information and above all: never fear to speak up. We believe in open dialogues.
This should go without saying but we find it so important we decided to highlight it separately. Recognize the people that helped you publicly. Value people for their effort.
Aside from our weekly lunches on Monday we realise it's hard to get to know other people at Ziggu, especially when working on different teams. We don't have the same coffee break small talk opportunities as traditional companies. That doesn't mean we should accept that as a given.
We weekly schedule 1-on-1's between randomly matched people within Ziggu for a chat so you can get to know each other a bit more. The main idea is not to talk about work (but anything goes, so if you want to talk about Ziggu, feel free), but to get to know the person behind the work.
Some conversation starters:
- What's the best thing you've got going on in your life at the moment?
- Is cereal soup? Why or why not?
- What topic could you give a 20 minute presentation on without any preparation
- What's the weirdest smell you have ever smelled?
- What food do you love that a lot of people might find a bit odd?
- What's the most ridiculous fact you know?
- What's the biggest vehicle you have ever driven?
- What do you find the most interesting period in history?
We prefer quick feedback loops instead of grinding away for hours or days on trying to solve an issue.
We believe in (small) iterations, driven by data and informed decisions so we can quickly test out assumptions.
Don't expect your first version of something you are working on to be the final version.
Where possible, break down large challenges or problem sets down into smaller bite-size chunks.
Check your ego at the door.
Don't take yourself too seriously. Humour is one of the strongest emotions that help us place things into perspective, helps bonding us together and lightens our days.
Accept you don't know everything and that nobody expects you to know everything. We are all here to learn.
Don't defend a point to win an argument just for the sake of winning or doubling-down on a mistake. You are not your work; you don't have to defend your point. You do have a moral obligation to search for the right answer, with help from others.
Speak freely without fear of repercussions, providing you do so in a respectful manner.
Don't be afraid to step on someone's toes. We're all grown-ups, we can take constructive feedback and enter into dialogue with each other.
Speaking freely doesn't mean saying whatever you want or think, always speak with good intentions and with respect regarding other people's views and feelings.
Nothing is set in stone.
Don't be afraid to ask a question. It's never too late to ask a question either.
After your question has been answered and you believe it might benefit others, document your learnings so knowledge is shared.
There are no stupid questions.
Be straightforward when giving feedback. There is no need to sugarcoat the pill.
Be respectful and address the situation, not the person.
Assume people have good intentions.
Give praise in public but prefer to give constructive feedback in a 1-on-1 personal conversation. Use common sense when giving constructive feedback: make sure it is written in a constructive manner. When in doubt: first give feedback in person to the one you are addressing, and share your feedback together afterwards with the team if you both deem it necessary.
Video conference calls are preferred when giving feedback, try to avoid chat tools that limit giving context.
Be receptive to feedback. Avoid putting your ego before common sense. Receiving feedback helps you grow as a person.
Assume good intentions of the person giving you feedback.
Don't let unfinished business linger. Escalate possible discussions to the team so we can deal with them straight away and resolve them.
We take a lot of things in our own lives for granted or deem them to be universal standards everyone should abide by. We are aware that our view on the world might differ greatly from others and we empathize with their situation so we are to understand where people are coming from.
There is a really great piece of writing better explaining these principles called "This is water" by the late David Foster Wallace. If you find some time, you can check it out here.