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The power of remote-working

Working remotely offers employees the freedom to act on their curiosity and choose where they want to be. Location-independence is not only good for people, but also for the business.


Table of contents

The power of remote-working

Unitary is a remote-first company, which from day one has been committed to creating a global and distributed team, akin to a web of individuals spread across the globe. Although we are distributed across different regions, we are all united by a drive to solve challenging problems that can have a meaningful societal impact. Given how ambitious this mission is, limiting ourselves to one geographical location and cultural background would be impractical. To dig deeper into why building a remote-first team is important and what it means in terms of management, I turn to Linnea, our People & Culture Manager and Amanda, our Head of Operations.

Why remote-first

Currently, Unitary represents over twelve nationalities spread across six countries. Adopting a remote-first framework is also about location-independence and the possibility to choose the environment you are in. In terms of personal fulfilment, this offers employees the freedom to act on their curiosity and choose where they want to be. Location-independence is not only good for people, but also for the business. As Linnea puts it, “at Unitary, people come from different cultures with unique experiences, mindsets and solutions. As a result, we get so many new interesting ideas and skills which we never would have gotten otherwise.”

A globe with location pins in all the continents where Unitary employees are based.
Our talent spread across the world. Image by Unitary.

This framework allows us to hire truly talented individuals, regardless of location, “imagine a borderless world where anyone can work from anywhere” (Linnea, People & Culture Manager)

Of course, having such a diverse team can be challenging, which is why Linnea believes it is essential to “establish a true sense of belonging” from the outset.

Putting an active effort into connecting a team is critical because “culture is not something that you can manage or decide, it’s something that’s constantly moving and evolving. Every person you take on board will add to it and make it change slightly, and every behaviour and decision will contribute to what we name ‘our culture’” (Linnea). In the workplace, this spirit of multiculturalism is important. Problems can be viewed from multiple perspectives, and narrow-mindedness is avoided — in a sense you are always testing your conclusions against different views, until you are somewhat closer to the ‘truth.’

We asked our employees to take a picture of where they were located and then grouped all the images into a collage.
A collection of all the locations where our team is based. Image by Unitary.

How do you manage a remote team?

It is common to weigh up the pros and cons of remote work versus going to the office. What is better? What makes employees happier? In which scenario is the company more successful? On many levels, remote work is not that different from office work, “the needs are the same, but the solutions are much more complex” (Linnea).

From a People & Culture perspective, it’s about the ‘symbols’, ‘rituals’ and ‘processes’ that we have used traditionally. “For instance, in the office we use symbols like our logo printed on the wall, rituals like chatting by the coffee maker in the morning and processes like having synchronised, physical meetings for decision making. In the remote work environment, we use symbols like our logo printed on hoodies, rituals like morning check-ins on Slack and async forums online for decision making” (Linnea).

In fact, when I first joined Unitary, it was fascinating to see how the company leverages the power of technology and automation to harness connection at a human-level. We use a myriad of tools ranging from fortnightly Donuts, to gaming activities and virtual company parties.

A screenshot of different online game tools that Unitary uses to play games and connect.
Different online tools we use to stay connected. Image by Unitary.

It goes without saying that regardless of how many remote-tools you deploy, the feeling of being physically present with someone cannot be replaced. To compensate for this, we recently went on our first company offsite in Madeira, Portugal, where most of us met in-person for the very first time. The off-site was a unique experience not only because Madeira is beautiful, but also because the planned activities were designed to nudge us out of our comfort zone and connect on a deeper level.

During Unitary's company offsite some people went Canyoning and others Hiking.
Offsite group activities. Image by Unitary.

As our CEO, Sasha, reminds us: “It goes without saying that a more diverse company is a stronger company, and it’s also true to say that the most brilliant people are unlikely to all live in the same location, or want to work the same way and according to the same schedule. It’s fantastic that over the last year, with a combination of remote working practices and visa sponsorship, we’ve grown a stellar team from a variety of nationalities, working across 6 countries, 14 cities and 4 time zones”.

Remote-first, diversity and online safety

A diverse and inclusive team is important in all industries, however we believe that when it comes to online safety it is more essential than ever. There are two reasons for this:

  1. When moderating content, context is crucial, however contexts change from culture to culture. By having an international team, we are one step closer towards a more generalised (and contextualised) understanding of all online content.
  2. From an AI perspective, having engineers from all backgrounds helps ensure we are coding consciously, aiming to create fairer and more effective AI models, and being aware of potential bias in our datasets.

Finally, as Amanda explains, “sourcing people from diverse perspectives to build a globally-impactful product was one of the key drivers for us deciding early on to recruit and build Unitary as an international team. Harmful content exists in many different forms and contexts and it’s a very difficult technical challenge that we’re trying to solve, therefore it’s really important that we have a diverse set of people doing that building” (Amanda, Head of Operations).

To learn more about Unitary's company culture, check out our story.