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At Gordian, we are a hybrid company: 7 weeks flexible, 1 week onsite in Bellevue, Washington.
During those 7 weeks, people work from wherever makes most sense for them. Some stay in Bellevue, some go to work in other places temporarily and many are permanently based elsewhere. We’re very flexible about this. The only restriction is that we ask our product and engineering teams to stay in the Americas time zones and within a 10 hour flight.
This works because of our core value of Freedom and the extremely responsible and conscientious people on the team.
During the 1 week onsite, everyone travels to our Bellevue HQ. We time these trips with the Long Plan (our monthly all-hands and goal setting meeting, read more in this post on The Plan), so it is a high intensity week of strategy and collaborative work. The office is buzzing with new people, new ideas and new energy.
I’ll let the team share from their perspective first:
I always leave the onsite more connected, energized and excited about what we are doing.
I love the relationship building part of the onsite. Getting dinner, meeting in person, etc. Personally, I miss the social aspects of being in the office, so I really value the chance to build chemistry with my colleagues
We always have interesting discussions that we couldn’t replicate over Zoom. Big fan of the onsite!
Personally, I see three big benefits from the onsite.
First, it provides big jumps in team cohesion and trusted relationships because of the onsite.
Second, it allows us to set the tone culturally on our pace, flexibility and speed (this is why we do a working week rather than “work vacation” style offsite).
Third, it provides a jolt of creativity to inform the more individual work we’ll be doing over the next few weeks.
We started this out of necessity in 2020 when COVID struck, but have found that long periods of flexible work plus intense bursts of in-person fit our culture perfectly. We have always focused intensely on doing what matters and what makes us most productive (see our belief in Maximum Sustained Impact), so we kept doing it.
The only issue was that early on we found these very time-intensive to plan. Our first onsite took around 70 hours of various admin work. Huge waste of time from some extremely capable people.
So we built our own system called Sprout. It’s a “travel as a service” for distributed teams that takes input like “get our team together sometime in Q3 at Gordian HQ” and just makes it happen. Way better.
As we grow to 100, 500 and 1000 people, we may have to change the “all hands” nature, but this rhythm of extended flexible periods followed by intense bursts of in-person work is something we’ll keep.