Are We There Yet? What We’ve Learned About Workplace Inclusion at ScreenCloud

We aspire to make ScreenCloud an awesome and inclusive place to work. Here are some of the things we’ve already put into place and what we think we could do better.

By
David Hart
on
Dec 17, 2019
Category:
Culture

An inclusive working environment means not being scared to be yourself irrespective of gender, race, sexuality, disability, age, socio economic background, political beliefs, or personality. It’s all about supporting each other’s differences and focusing on making sure everyone is respected and valued. When someone can be their true self, they are happy and better able to give their best to the organization they work for.

It all sounds idyllic, right? But how do you actually make this happen in a fast-growing business, where everyone needs to be pulling their weight and contributing to the company’s ambitious vision?

Mark, Luke, and I, the Founders of ScreenCloud, all have similar backgrounds and so it would have been incredibly easy for us to end up hiring a bunch of clones as we built out our company. But that’s not how it went down.

ScreenCloud Founders (left to right) Luke, David, and Mark.

At the time of writing, ScreenCloud consists of 74 employees across four locations — L.A., Belfast, London, and Bangkok. 33% of the team is female (room for improvement here), and we have 14 nationalities. These numbers are of course constantly changing as we’re actively hiring.

Living our company values

Before we had a Head of People, us Founders did all the hiring. We were simply guided by our own personal values as we hand-picked a bunch of people, and we ended up with quite a diverse group of individuals. Although this wasn’t a deliberate decision, as we started to grow, we could see the value in creating a collection of people with different stories and perspectives.

At 50 people, we brought in Kate to head up HR and she translated our values into ScreenCloud’s company values:

  • Trusting — We trust our team’s integrity at all times, which means no “clocking in and clocking out”. We support people who want to work from home. The only thing we care about is that everyone does a great job.
  • Transparent — Whether it’s sharing our numbers with our employees and investors, or giving open and transparent feedback, we find that people value being kept in the loop, even if the picture isn’t always rosy.
  • Unconventional — Just because this is how everyone else does something, it doesn’t mean it’s always best for us. We would have never started ScreenCloud if we’d accepted the status quo.
  • Brave — We take on new, uncomfortable challenges and have open and honest conversations with each other and our customers.
  • And we strive to do all of this with Integrity — We aim for honesty, consistency and fairness in everything we do. We often ask ourselves “does this feel like the right thing to do?” even if it’s not the easiest or most straightforward thing to do.

Our values act as a compass and I’d like to think inspires the every-day inclusive behavior that we see from the ScreenCloud team. People will do things like take new starters out for lunch, consider that some people are introverts during team projects and feedback, and be respectful of other people’s political views even if in disagreement (Brexit, anyone?).

We also try to ensure that any all-company meetings or presentations, like our monthly All Hands, happen at a time that works for most of the team. But, since we’re spread across so many time zones — from the West Coast of the US to Vietnam — we also record the sessions and make the recording available as soon as possible. I didn’t realise this was a big deal until I heard from employees that at many other companies, you’re expected to join company meetings regardless of whether that’s at a respectable hour for your timezone. Is that really inclusive?

Measuring the benefits of inclusion

I know from my own experience, that one of the most stressful parts of a job is managing upwards. As leaders we’re not push-overs and expect people to do a good job, but there is a big difference between being results-focused and running a dictatorship. If you feel that your needs are inconsequential or you’re not important enough to matter, it feels horrible. Why would you want to give something of yourself back to a company that treats you that way?

Inclusion in the workplace makes for more empowered employees because their opinions are being heard and they play an active part in decision-making. When people know it’s ok to challenge the status quo, they have permission to innovate. Creating a working environment like this will undoubtedly increase productivity. Do I have an exact ROI on it? No, but if we were to measure one thing: we have 70+ employees and have been in business for 4 years. In that time we’ve had 3 resignations. We’re definitely not perfect, but that number feels like we’re doing some things well.

Inclusive Employee Benefits at ScreenCloud

We’re a young, fast-growing company. In the future, as we reach growth milestones, we’ll look to unlock more benefits. But right now these are the ones we can offer that we hope make an impact on people’s happiness and sense of autonomy.

Flexible vacations

There’s plenty of controversy around unlimited holiday, which is what we currently offer at ScreenCloud. Some say it helps people maintain a good work-life balance, while others think it makes people take even less holiday for fear of coming across as uncommitted.

This is still a work-in-progress for us. Part of the problem is that, even though unlimited vacation is a benefit, the reality is that it also comes down to what feels culturally acceptable, which often comes from the top. As Founders we’re not brilliant at taking time off. So we need to try harder.

Nevertheless, on some levels it’s a good fit for us : we’ve got eight nationalities in London and three in Bangkok. There will be people living abroad who want to travel home from time to time to see family. A set number of holiday days shouldn’t restrict them.

I’m from Austria but spend most of the year in Southeast Asia and try to make the most of ScreenCloud’s flexible holiday policy. Since there are many amazing cities and countries just a short plane ride away, I sometimes take a day off at the end of the week and travel somewhere for a long weekend. I prefer to take many shorter trips rather than just one long vacation per year.
Oscar, Marketing Front End Developer

Flexible working patterns

Life doesn’t happen at set hours, so why should work? If you’re a parent, you’ll value quality time with your kids. If you get sick, or maybe have a chronic condition, you might need to attend hospital appointments. Maybe a friend is visiting from out of town just for one day, or your favourite exercise class instructor in the whole world only teaches at 2pm on Tuesdays.

I’ve had arthritis from a very young age, and I’m going to need a hip replacement in the coming months. I want to have it done back home in Slovakia because the doctor there has known me all my life, and my family is there to support me after the surgery. When I told people at work that I’d be away 2–3 months, being off and then working remotely, there was nothing but support. They were open to any solution that’ll help me make a swift recovery.
Verča, Performance Marketing Executive

At ScreenCloud we give people the flexibility to work around their other commitments. We’ve found it removes a huge amount of stress and allows employees to be more present when they are working, whenever they choose to do it.

I’m a morning person and naturally like to start my day around 6am when my husband leaves for work. As a content person, this works well since I get space to write and research without feeling pressure to respond to messages as no one else is awake yet. ScreenCloud’s flexible working policy means I can start my day early, then either finish up early or take a break during the day to work out or walk my dog. In previous companies this just wasn’t possible, and I’d be forced to wait until 9.30am when everyone was online just because someone a hundred years ago decided it was a good time to start work.
- Beth, Head of Content

Remote working

When your talent pool involves the whole planet, hiring the best people becomes a whole lot easier. Modern technology has helped us set up working processes that means people can do their job and communicate with colleagues as effectively from somewhere else as in the office.

When my wife received the offer of a great new job, we were both really pleased. The fact that it meant moving to another part of the country could have been an issue for me and my career. Luckily, ScreenCloud is fully supportive of remote workers. I’d even go as far as saying we work remotely by default. Not only that, but my manager made sure I had plenty of flexibility before and after moving day to ensure a smooth transition.
- Jay, Support Developer

Supporting personal development

We rarely object if someone needs to do a training course connected to their role, but we also try and be supportive of people who want to add to their development outside of their job. How do you show ROI on that? Well, you don’t. Not in numbers. But personal development doesn’t just happen during working hours, so why shouldn’t a business help an individual grow in every aspect of their life? Learning improves the brain’s plasticity, releases dopamine, and improves confidence. It’s not like those things aren’t going to filter into someone’s working life.

It’s extremely difficult to find an opportunity within a team that values the balance between education and a professional career. I was given the trust to focus on my graduate studies, an internship and still work on my career development. It certainly wasn’t always easy to juggle, but being able to work remotely and have the support of a team that nurtured my goals outside of the company speaks volumes. There is so much care taken by this team on pushing for a true work/life balance and personal growth.
- Santino, Customer Support Support Rep

Company socials

Our company socials tend to follow a similar pattern and, if we’re being honest with ourselves, they don’t always cater to everyone. They’re usually after work, usually involve alcohol and if an activity is involved, it’s usually aimed at fit and able bodied people. Luckily we’ve got “Culture Club Ambassadors”. Each office has one of these and they are responsible for keeping the social fire alight. They are working on coming up with more inclusive activities and also asking people to vote for what they’d like to do. Most recently, we started a book club and did an office “Bake-Off Challenge”, where people brought in homemade cakes across the different offices.

Dreaming big

Like I said, we’re definitely not 100% there yet. There’s a lot more we want to put into place. As we improve our own financial picture, so too will we add to the benefits we offer.

We want to hire more female software engineers and more women in senior roles, generally. We’re also aware that we need to truly understand how people are feeling by putting systems in place that enable people to talk, and us to truly listen. As we scale, it’ll become really important to make sure all our managers receive training to make inclusion a part of everything we do. We also want to make sure we keep the same ethos at the core so that, alongside the benefits, we’ll be ensuring our policies are inclusive too.

Our ambition is for ScreenCloud to become one of the best places in the world to work and as Founders, we’re willing to try everything in our power to achieve that.

If ScreenCloud sounds like your kind of company, we’re fast-growing and always interested to hear from new talent. Feel free to check out our open positions here: https://screen.cloud/careers

UK National Inclusion Week runs from 23 to 29 September and is an annual campaign run by Inclusive Employers to raise awareness of the importance of inclusion in the workplace and the many business benefits that come from having a diverse and included workforce.

David Hart

Co-Founder and COO of ScreenCloud. Interested in how tech will improve the way we work and play.