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Culture / The Birdie Way
The Birdie Way : How we are building the best place to work one day at a time
November 27, 2020
Max - Birdie CEO
In the first year of Birdie, we sat down with the entire team for a full day to define what were our vision and mission but more importantly what were the values that truly inspired us to work every day and that would form our culture. These values are important to us: they inform our decisions every day, individually and as a company. They define who we hire and who we promote. They are a statement of the kind of company we want and will build and we live by them daily. They dictate our behaviours.
To support these values, we have gathered many times and reflected upon the principles, behaviours and initiatives that shape the way we work and guide us towards our ambition. We call it the 🐦 Birdie Way.
Our vision, mission and ambition
OUR VISION is a world in which we can all age vibrantly and with confidence.
OUR MISSION is to reinvent care so that older generations can age safely in their own homes, surrounded by their families and their communities, and with the independence to live healthier, happier lives.
OUR AMBITION is, within 5 years (December 2023), to have radically improved the lives of 1 MILLION older adults and have the financial means to sustain our growth independently.
Our Values and the Birdie Way
It is a work in progress
Building values and a culture that we're proud of is a continuous process which we're improving every day. This is not easy, it requires time and effort. We keep these values and the Birdie Way open for change - we're all in charge of shaping this culture.
Early on we decided it wasn't just about setting internal goals but also measuring ourselves against the global leaders. That's why we became a B Corp certified business and why we create a strategy and set of objectives which allow us to improve year on year.
We Care 😍
We care about our society, the people we work with and for, the planet and the ways in which we can impact positively on millions of other lives. That’s why we’re committed to building a fantastic service for our partners and our industry.
We care deeply about our customers. We will do anything we can to deliver the best experience for them.
We care about changing the way we age by significantly improving the lives of older adults supported by the Birdie Platform.
We are passionate about developing a high quality product and we are committed to change how society ages, worldwide.
We treat people with respect and compassion.
We care for our planet and society as a whole and always have this front of mind when making decisions within our team or our product.
The Birdie Way 🐦
Partner-first 💪🏽- we call our customers (the users of our softwares and organisations that employ them) our Partners. We are obsessed with bringing them value. We deeply believe that their work is critical to support millions of older adults across the world and we want to help them do just that. So we listen to them: we continuously collect feedback and insights. The question that we challenge ourselves on at all times is: "Am I adding value to our partners right now?". We aim at going beyond their expectations, because better is not enough, we want to be there with them so that they can care extraordinarily.
Serving our community 👨👨👧👦 - we believe that any company should not only support their clients but also their community. Birdie Giving was created shortly after our 1st mountain retreat, where - amongst other things - we committed to help our community as we grow. The key objective of this program is to support everyone at Birdie to seek and participate in volunteering initiatives of their choice. We've spent afternoons restoring the garden at a day centre, took Christmas care packages to the residents of a local care home and set up regular slots to give blood. We also celebrate Christmas not only within our team, but by giving back to our community during this month.
Activist for the environment 🌱 - we understand that it is down to us to make significant changes in the way we care for the environment. So we have nominated two Environment Champions, who will calculate our carbon footprint, offset it and broadcast environmentally-friendly practices among the staff. We also want to share these initiatives with other startup/companies to create a new movement of environmentally-conscious organisations.
Truly caring for our colleagues ❤️ - We know that the mission we're after is difficult and ambitious, so we understand the importance of building an incredibly resilient and close-knit team and a highly supportive environment where people are cared for and know how to care for themselves and others. We do this in many ways. From designating a Birdie Buddy to every new joiner, organising weekly doughnut chats with randomly allocated groups, to an appreciation card sent to a team member each week, and a dedicated slack channel. As a health tech company, we're passionate about improving the health outcomes of not only the elderly, but our team as well. This is why we provide the option of full private healthcare coverage with Vitality to all our employees, and a quarterly wellbeing budget. Monitoring how we're doing on team health and wellbeing is key for us. We send team surveys fortnightly and use those to gauge our team barometer to assess together, quantitatively and qualitatively, what we're doing well and where we can do better. It's a collective effort: all results are shared with the team and we source ideas and allocate owners together. We aim at an eNPS (employer Net Promoter Score) of 65, and are currently reaching or exceeding this, placing us in the top 10 percentile of tech companies in the UK.
Building a fairer world 🤝 - We want to continuously work on diversity and equality in our people, policies and way we work. We know there is still a lot of work to do. We decided to put in place discussion groups, committees and policies to address some of these topics. We always call in to question what are current practices and ask ourselves how to be more progressive to pave the way for a fairer world. For instance, we have established a very progressive parental leave policy and will offer 12 weeks of paid parental leave - that is maternity or paternity leave - to be taken as the Birdee wants over the period she or he wants, beginning from January 2021.
B-Corp certified 🌻 - we want to embody and role model what a highly progressive company is. We want our way of working and our values to shine through other organisations so that a new generation of startups can pave the way. That's why we're extremely proud to be certified by B-Corp. Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
We succeed together 🙌🏽
We want to bring everyone on our journey with us, going far beyond what is expected of us and our industry standard. Because we have a reliable team of amazing individuals working to elevate each other, we foster a real culture of trust, transparency and strive to give continuous feedback
We have a common mission and vision that we pursue together.
We build open and honest relationships based on transparent and proactive communication.
We make time to support our colleagues.
We are quietly confident and openly humble, which means we put our egos aside.
We embrace mistakes openly and freely, learn from them and move on.
We give and seek continuous feedback and are open to receiving it from anyone.
The Birdie Way 🐦
A sports team 🥇 - At Birdie, we see ourselves as a pro sports team. We know that if we made it into Birdie, that means we're excellent and that everyone trusts us. Working in a trustful environment gives us the confidence to grow continuously and take risk. Trust also means that we challenge each other to be better, every day. The mission we have is incredibly ambitious. It requires excellence and continuous improvement in everything that we do.
It also means we have strategies, objectives and processes to work well together. The vision and strategy is frequently shared during our meetings and online. We live and breathe by our Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) and KPIs, our North Star, and by the roadmap that we set ourselves.
We're all CEOs 👩🏽🏫 - at Birdie, we're non-hierarchical and have distributed ownership.
We operate by chapter and squads. Chapters are a group or team members working within a special area with similar skillsets and functions. So a chapter could be "software engineers’, where engineers get together and exchange ideas, get help on challenges and discuss new technologies. There is a role of Chapter Lead who is the line manager for chapter members, they are responsible for developing people, but they remain part of a squad and still do day-to-day work.
A Squad is similar to a Scrum team, and is designed to feel like a mini-startup that is in charge of a project or a task. They will have all the skills and tools needed to deliver. These are self-organising teams and decide their own way of working.We have many squads and seven chapters at Birdie : Engineering, Product, Design, Sales, Marketing, Customer Success, Support (People, BI, Corporate).We believe that, to be successful, everyone needs to be an entrepreneur with freedom, autonomy and accountability. We call it collective, distributed ownership.
Radical Transparency 🔎 - succeeding together relies on being transparent and candid among ourselves. At Birdie, we have implemented a concept of radical transparency: which means everything is transparent (unless truly impossible or illegally). Salaries are transparent. All company decisions are shared openly (you can read most of them in our weekly snippets), Board documents and investors' conversations are shared with the wider team, meetings are open to anyone and most communications are available to anyone to read on slack or other tools.
Radical candour 🗣 - We function according to a philosophy of radical candour, which is critical to us. We apply it everywhere and all the time. Watch Kim Scott's video here. It relies on the principles that we provide feedback quickly, directly and in a caring way. We never wait too long to say what we believe does or doesn't work well. We avoid the “why did you never tell me” because it's always too late by the time it gets to this stage. No backstabbing, no passive-aggression, just humble, honest, continuous feedback to give guidance, not criticism. Radical Candour at Birdie is not a nice-to-have. It is an obligation to which everyone is accountable. It is hard because it requires trust, courage and care. But it is the key to a team working well together.
Diversity and Inclusion 🌈 - We believe that everyone at Birdie should have the tools for success, and the opportunity to completely be themselves, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexuality or other characteristics that are important to them. We strive to create an environment where psychological safety is fostered, where we feel our differences are respected and understood. We have a group of people who have come forward to lead on Diversity & Inclusion, who meet fortnightly to drive this topic forward within the company. The main topics we're working on are bringing different minority voices and experiences to the forefront through demos, lunch and learns and visibility on Slack, as well as through researching and improving ways we recruit a diverse talented team.
We're distributed-first 💻 - The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated our journey to becoming a world-class distributed-first workplace. ****Distributed-first refers to a workplace where culture, productivity and collaboration are felt equally, no matter where the Birdiee is working from. Surveys undertaken throughout the course of 2020 showed that 100% of our team wanted to work remotely at least part of the time. We've retained our London office so we have a space available for those who want to work from here, but have the option of working from home or another location if that is preferred.
Building bonds among ourselves is also key : we hold regular socials within chapters, squads and the whole team, if we can in person, or fully remote. We also hold quarterly whole-company 'retreat' days instead of All Hands meeting where the team come together. Finally, we're putting together fun activities such as yoga classes or online gym sessions for Birdees to join.
We're asynchronous in communicating ⏰- Remote-first is the first step towards a new kind of company model where colleagues should be free to organise their time as they wish, where they wish. Some of us want to work early morning to spend time with their family in the afternoon and evening. Others wish to work in another continent with a different time zone.
All communications and decisions are crystallised, structured and synthesised in our relevant tools, e.g., Slack for message exchanges, Notion for knowledge consolidation and temporary conversations or discussions (what we call "Issues") that will be closed and archived once finalised.
We don't meet by default: meetings are a time-killer by essence and hamper our aim to accommodate everyone's working schedule regardless of location and time-zone. Of course, sometimes meetings are key: to brainstorm and feed each other with ideas, to share feedback during one-to-one or to make a final decision that could not be solved online. But the vast majority of the discussions can happen asynchronously.
We grow individually and strive for excellence 🌟
We’re obsessed with growth. In ourselves, our product, our teams and in our society. We recognise our strengths, share our work, take initiative, ask for help, improve ourselves and always reach higher than the day before. Also, as a care company, we believe it is our responsibility to care for ourselves so we can better care for others.
We demonstrate consistently strong performance, move forward independently and seek help when we need it.
We are all leaders in our field and are recognised as such inside and outside of the company.
We recognise our strengths, share our knowledge proactively and always try to assist outside of our own work.
We identify our areas of improvements, set concrete actions to grow, ask others how to improve and request resources and training to get there.
We are conscious of how we feel, how happy and productive we are, and we share it openly.
The Birdie Way 🐦
A-players hired 💥 - Our philosophy is clear: we hire only the best. We have put in place one of the most demanding recruitment processes in the startup scene to make sure that every new Birdee is an A-player whom we can trust day one and who embodies the same values as us.
Excellence🎖- We expect everyone to keep excellence as their aspiration. Excellence is seen in the discipline we have in everything we do, from starting exactly on time at our meeting such as the retro to ensuring the highest quality of any deliverable or output we produce. We shall not compromise on the quality of the work output, ever. This means we set very high standards for ourselves and stick to them, but also that we hold others accountable - we have the absolute duty to share immediate feedback if we think our colleague's output could have been better. We know that this is how we'll beat competition and achieve the ambitious mission we have set for ourselves.
Never stop growing 🤓 - All of us relentlessly seek opportunities to learn and grow, whether through our development path, through trainings and reading, through coaching and mentorship. We have put together a clear path for development for each Birdee to aspire to develop fast and be recognised for that. Birdees are encouraged to grow in any way they want. We try to support training costs. We pay for coaches to bring us to the next level. What Birdees set as necessary resources to grow, we strive to providing them.
Personal objectives 🎯 - We set ourselves weekly objectives. If possible they are aligned with our chapter OKRs, roadmap and our personal development goals as part of our outcome plan. This quick weekly exercise forces us to remain focus and disciplined on planning our week and prioritising. Avoiding doing too much half way through is key. What is even more key is asking ourselves "Am I adding value to the company with this task right now". Every week, we also have chapter snippets that we review during the retro.
Data as our catalyst for growth 📈 - Without data we can't understand the impact we're having or what we need to do to improve it. Data is the compass keeping us all moving together towards our shared goal of a better life for older adults. We are data-obsessed: we respect data, we care for it, we refine it and we use it as much as we possibly can. Internally, it informs everything we do - from optimising our acquisition funnel to designing and building new features. Externally, without data our care partners can't get the full story of an older adult's care.
We are smart, brave and ambitious 💪
We continuously challenge the status quo, open our arms to change, adapting quickly and learning even quicker. We make tough decisions and tackle problems headfirst. We are courageous enough to step outside our comfort zones because nothing is too big for us.
We dare to challenge the status quo, question everything and everyone and create space for debate.
We welcome change, adapt to it quickly and excel outside our comfort zone.
We embrace and look for different perspectives to make better decisions and look far beyond the standards in our industry.
We make tough and quick decisions with the right level of information and iterate along the way.
We believe that nothing is too big and every problem has a solution.
We make the complicated simple and believe in quality not quantity.
The Birdie Way 🐦
We stick to our vision ☄️ - since day 1, many pundits have told us that we would never succeed. That our vision was idealistic and vain. That we were naive. Over the last years, we have proven the contrary. Many of the early non-believers have looked at us surprised. That's what is keeping us energised: going beyond what the remits of the current world is, envisioning a truly disruptive new way and building the pathway to get there. We reject the status quo by calling into question any assumption made. When we hear that something is impossible or that it's not going to work, we ask ourselves why. Unless there is evidence, we reject that statement.
We crack A-problems 🦹🏽♀️. A-problems are issues with large impact on the company, which are difficult. We don't have the answers yet on A-problems, and there is no solution available off-the-shelf. Cracking these problems is what will set us apart and make us succeed. They should be prioritised above any other problem.
To solve A-problems, we break them down into sub-pieces and go down to the deepest level necessary to make them simple to crack. We call it an issue tree. We work by hypotheses to crack the issue, and we leverage data and examples to confirm or kill them.
We are positive and resilient ✊🏾- Birdees embody the most important traits of entrepreneurs: we're resilient and positive. Positivity is core to who we are. Because human beings are biaised towards risk-aversion, we counterbalance that with optimism, supported with evidence. Because our mission is challenging, we exhibit continuous resilience no matter what.
Geared towards action 🥊- At Birdie, we have set a mission that is incredibly ambitious. While we know where we want to be, we don't know yet the exact path to get there. There is no playbook. This requires to build an organisation that grows, learns and adapts incredibly quickly. Speed is the essence and any Birdiee can be the one finding our path towards our mission.
Innovating throughHackathon ⚡️ - At least once a year we organise a hackathon. More than ever you're in the driving seat. It’s an opportunity for anyone to work on an idea that could completely transform Birdie and the industry we work in! Since the beginning, numerous features or processes have been created during the hackathon.
We nurture fun and a little quirkiness 🤪
We believe in fun and hard work, giving us the tools to succeed and grow, while also creating an environment that celebrates humour, community-spirit and idiosyncratic talents. We love what we do and are quite unique in our way of doing it.
We are building a unique group of amazing people, together.
We enjoy what we do, have a good time doing it and are proud of our achievements.
We are special and other teams know us for our uniqueness.
We are optimistic, uplifting and serene especially in good and difficult times.
We have a strong sense of community, give a family vibe to the office and people feel welcome when they interact with us.
The Birdie Way 🐦
Annual retreat ❄️ - We work hard and we play hard. For the past two years, the company has gone away together as a full team to the French alps on a Mountain Retreat. This has been an amazing opportunity to participate in workshops, mountain walks, ski-sports, team building and more, and is an event we very much look forward to. It is an excellent opportunity to forge closer bonds as a team, and solidify our commitment to the Birdie mission and vision.
Regular socials 🤩 - We have a social committee at Birdie dedicated to planning regular activities which are very genuine and shaped with our 'made by us, for us' nature in mind. The calendar was disrupted during the Covid-19 pandemic and we had to pivot quickly to design fully or partially remote socials that catered to our diverse team as much as possible. We have had breakfasts, magicians, comedy shows, karaokes, fully remote talent shows, and a few pub crawls thrown in for good measure.
Chapter bonding 😛 - As well as our full-company social events, chapters or squads of Birdees hold regular social touch-points. From 10 minute morning coffees, games or quizzes, to fortnightly 'Come Dine With Me' style lunches, we like to have fun and bring joy into our day to day work.
Be yourself and share your interests 🧚🏿♀️ - We reframe life at the office (online office) as a place to express character, personality, and discover new things. We love a club here at Birdie, and we encourage anyone with an interest they'd like to share to kick these off. These range from football to Spanish classes and our most successful on so far, board games club. We also love to laugh and a good (or bad) joke.
What makes Birdie unique, is the way different people with vastly different abilities and characteristics feel comfortable to lead and participate in any of these activities. No one is made to feel excluded or unwelcome, and we're extremely proud of this.