Office perks helped companies. Remote benefits help people.
We are rethinking everything it means to build a company this time around—in a digital-first way. We are asking questions, challenging assumptions, and focusing on flexibility and equity above all else. Here's why we think perks & benefits could use a fresh look.
I’ll never forget how excited I was to have a keg in the office. I told all of my friends about it: “We have beer at work! They even have a ping pong table. Free lunch, bean bag chairs, nap rooms, the list went on and on. Nobody had an office; everybody was just hanging out in the open.
I thought it was the coolest thing in the world… I was 22 and this was my first job.
The thing is, every company was doing it back then. VCs would say things like “how are you going to hire the best talent if Twitter and Facebook have all these cool perks next door?”
Startup perks have to change, we ain’t in SF anymore and we can’t just be a bunch of young dudes blinded by our own biases. First, let’s start by never calling them perks, we will only use benefits from here forward.
It wasn’t until shit got really hard that I realized none of this stuff mattered. When things get hard and when your cool new idea isn’t really working yet, no one gives a f*** about free lunch. These days, I respect the leader who reminds people to shut their computer and spend time with their family. One who acknowledges that more time does not equal more deep work.
I’ve learned what people actually want is self awareness from leadership, flexibility in their life, and benefits that help them become the best version of themselves, however they see fit.
We want to go above and beyond for our team. We’d rather invest in our people, through things that meaningfully improve their lives, vs. lavish office perks that impress visitors.
Robert Stephens, my former co-founder, and founder of Geek Squad, once told me something that I’ll never forget:
“You can’t make everyone happy, but you can help them be more productive and in control. That’s the best way I’ve found to help others be happy.”
While benefits like gym memberships and such may work for some, they won’t work for everyone. And they don’t necessarily unlock what people may need most in their lives beyond a salary. To give people flexibility is to give people choice.
We’ve decided to re-think every benefit for XMTP through the lens of this question:
What can we offer our team to help them feel more productive, become the best version of themselves at both work and home, and ensure the offerings are equitable for everyone?
In a remote world, we have a chance to rethink this and make everyone’s lives better. Here’s how we are thinking about a remote-first benefits stack that feels equitable and gives people their time back:
Benefits for a digital first world look nothing like the office first world of the past
It wasn’t obvious at first, but we eventually realized it’s not about what we give people, but about what we give back: time and an opportunity to focus on well-being.
Everyone gets an assistant
Executives always get an assistant to help with stuff, why doesn’t the team get one too? So we’ve partnered with Squared Away to offer assistants to all of our full-time team members. This goes for both professional AND personal tasks. So whether it’s booking a trip for work, or coordinating a doctor’s visit for a family member, we’ll be here to help.
Startup jobs, and especially those in the crypto world, carry some unique qualities that make financial matters more difficult to understand and plan for. This can include how to deal with equity, how to take best advantage of benefits, and more. It can often be overwhelming to deal with much of this, so we’re partnering with Northstar to bring a financial advisor to each and every team member.
Professional development coach
The best athletes in the world all have great coaches. In professional sports, everyone on the team gets a coach. Which got us to ask ourselves a question:
Why can’t everyone at XMTP have access to a great coach?
The short answer is: they can. Everyone at XMTP will have the opportunity to work with a coach for their own professional and leadership development.
It was this Tweet that helped inspire this idea. We just took it a step further and thought “If this happened because exec got coaches, imagine what could happen if everyone got a coach?”
Home office budget
Every XMTP team member gets set up with a standard set of equipment, as well as a budget for their home office.
Upon starting team members will receive an allowance of $1,000 to purchase things for their home office. This can be flexible but could include things like an adjustable height desk, chairs, speakers, plants, etc.
Each work anniversary team members will receive an additional $250 which can be “banked” to spend at a later date. This entire budget can also be used for a co-working membership.
- Mac of choice
- Large screen monitor
- Elgato Wave:3 Microphone, Bose QuietComfort 35 II Gaming Headset, or Jabra Evolve2 65 (for high quality audio chat)
- Elgato Key Light Air (for video calls)
Stipend for well-being
While others reimburse for “health and fitness” we’re broadening that to be all about your general well-being. We’ll be offering a stipend of $150/mo intended to support whatever you feel could make your life better. This goes for therapy, fitness memberships, coffee subscriptions, child-care, or anything else that you feel like contributes to your well-being.
Full health coverage in the U.S.
We believe that the company is better when each and every one of us has everything we need to be a better individual. That starts with taking care of our mental health, physical health, families and having someone help us out whenever we need it.
In the U.S. we think it’s dumb that people have to pay for their health care, and particuarly confusing to have to choose between different plans. We’d like to eliminate all stress around that so we’re covering 100% of coverage for excellent plans here in the U.S.
That’s what we are here to do, we hope you’ll join us.
Becoming a parent, especially for the first time, is as amazing and fun as it is overwhelming and stressful. We at XMTP want to do what we can to provide the support needed to help our working parents have the time they deserve to bond with their new child, as well as transition back to work.
We offer a competitive supplemental parental leave for all parents and flexible schedules for new parents transitioning back to work.
Here’s what is most important to hear from us about parental leave: Flexibility. Here’s some guidelines about how we see parental leave at XMTP: (these are just guidelines, everything is flexible)
- Our flexible parental leave is 3 months, which can be taken at any time within the first year of birth.
- Equal bonding time for all new parents (birth parents, spouses & partners, adoptive & foster parents)
- We provide additional disability leave for birth parents with flexible return to work plans that are agreed to by all stakeholders.
New parents don't know what to expect or how to plan for life with a new human. We want to provide just enough structure while ensuring flexibility.
We know we don’t know everything and we are still questioning what it means to offer a world class remote benefits program. We are open to feedback and would love to hear from you if you’re interested in working with us. Check out our careers page or say hi on Twitter to myself or my co-founder Matt.
Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash
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