A lot has changed since our last post in January of 2021 announcing our move to becoming a remote-first company in California. This year, Smartcar has made the decision to become remote across all 50 states!
Team members now have the flexibility to live anywhere in the United States, and work from the comfort of their own homes. This means that we’re also able to reach a much larger talent pool.
Many candidates have been asking us how our culture is maintained in a remote environment. Therefore, we decided to put together a quick overview of what our secret sauce looks like when it comes to protecting work-life balance and collaboration.
As long as you’re getting your work done, Smartcar does not limit the amount of PTO employees can take. In fact, the HR team pulls a report every few months to ensure that everyone is taking adequate time off. If someone has not taken PTO in a short while, HR will reach out to both the manager and employee to ensure that time off is scheduled. If you’d like to schedule your PTO a year in advance, go for it! If you want to be spontaneous, do it! Once PTO is scheduled through our HR tool, your Google calendar will automatically be updated as “OOO” so that everyone knows not to schedule any meetings during your time off.
Everyone has different schedules and priorities in life, and our flexible schedule policy allows room to balance all of these important things. Whether you need to drop off and pick up your kids from school, participate in volunteer work at a nonprofit of your choice, run errands, or make it to your pilates or kickball class; there’s flexibility to do it all.
Our rule of thumb is that if you need ~2 hours or less in a work day, you don’t have to log this time as PTO; we just ask that you block time off on your calendar and plan to make up the hours at a different time during the week. If you need more than 2 hours in a work day, then we ask that you kindly log this time.
There is a certain anxiety associated with taking sick time in the United States. A lot of people feel that it’s easier to power through work while they’re sick — because it takes more effort to reschedule all of the meetings that were already on the calendar!
Therefore, we’ve made it Smartcar’s practice that when you are sick, all you have to do is let your manager know and they will take care of rescheduling any meetings that were on your calendar, pushing out deadlines if applicable, and putting your sick time into our HR system.
This relieves pressure so that you can rest and focus on feeling better.
A common FAQ for remote-first companies is whether compensation and benefits will be location-based. Smartcar has decided to adopt a universal compensation philosophy using SF Bay Area data for organizations within a similar space, size, and funding amount.
Therefore, no matter what your city and state’s cost of living is, your salary will still be based on SF Bay Area data.
On your first day, we make sure that you schedule a recurring 1-hour lunch block on your calendar so that no one schedules any meetings during that time. The time you choose can always be moved around day-to-day, but we want to ensure that each employee has at least one recurring block.
Each employee sets their business hours in their Google Calendar on their first day so that everyone is aware of when to message them (and when to not).
Every Q1 we host a company-wide, in-person offsite. The location is chosen based on where the majority of our team members reside. Since the majority of the team is currently based in Northern California, this past January we held our offsite in San Francisco at the California Academy of Sciences. The day was packed with our all-hands activities, catered breakfast and lunch, a Smartcar-themed “Who Said It?” slideshow game based on our website blurbs, and a scavenger hunt facilitated by the Academy of Sciences.
If you are not an offsite person, no problem, they are optional!
Teams are also able to have two of their own offsites, either virtual or in person. This is a great opportunity for teams to work together, have lunch, and bond over an activity!
We host two different types of company-wide meetings to discuss milestones and updates. Our monthly all-hands covers high-level updates from our leadership team about new customers, runway, employee shoutouts, and KPI progress. Our weekly standup is a sign-up sheet-based meeting where anyone in the company can share an update. This ranges from webinar announcements, new tooling, team wins, and more.
Slack has been an integral part of maintaining day-to-day culture. Here are a few Slack channels that Smartcar has, that anyone can join based on their interests:
The first month of your journey at Smartcar is one of the most important times. There’s a firehose of information for you to absorb — and a team that’s ready to support you in the process.
Department Overviews are a great resource for new employees. Every month, each manager hosts an overview presentation of their department to our new group of team members. This presentation includes details about their team’s function, growth, and current or upcoming projects and goals.
Individual check-ins are important to get a pulse on how everyone is doing and what we could do better as a company to support our team. Therefore, managers perform regular check-ins during 1x1s, and HR will also check in every few months to see how everything is going.
Building and maintaining culture is not a one-and-done initiative — it’s an ongoing effort that needs to be continuously built upon. As we scale, we will frequently reflect on what new initiatives need to be added and what existing initiatives need to be swapped out.
If you’re interested in joining the Smartcar, team feel free to take a look at our openings here.
Smartcar is the easiest way to integrate mobility apps and services with cars.