Openness

EE Life Fri 22nd February, 2019

Paving the way to a more open, sharing network

At Equal Experts, we pride ourselves on being an open, flexible, grown-up and welcoming workplace (in fact, last year we ranked sixth in a Glassdoor survey for best work/life balance in the UK).

It’s easy to say such a thing of course – but how does this manifest itself in reality? Here are a just a few of the things we do to make Equal Experts that bit different:

1. We’ve opened up Slack

As it is for many tech organisations, the messaging tool Slack is the glue that sticks us all together. Recently we hit a milestone on it, as the number of people on our most popular Slack channel went above 1,000 (and since then it’s risen even further – to over 1,200).

Suffice to say, we’ve come a long way since we first started using Slack in 2016. At its launch, we had 363 people actively using the tool, so to arrive at a point just 2.5 years later where we’ve broken the 1,000 barrier on our main Slack channel shows you just how far we’ve come as a company in that time.

The reason our Slack numbers are higher than the number of people currently working for us (which is roughly 850) is that we recently decided to invite the whole network and not just those who are actively working with us to stay on our Slack.

We do this as we’ve believed from the very beginning that one of the things that makes Equal Experts different and binds us together is our sense of community. On top of that, we never know when our paths might cross again – many associates, once in the network, leave Equal Experts for a while before returning (in fact, over 100 associates returned to Equal Experts in 2018 alone).

2. We let employees make their own decisions

One of the other things that stands Equal Experts apart is our lack of hierarchical management structure. In fact, any employee can propose ideas and make decisions thanks to a system we call the Advice Process – even if the idea costs a lot of money or affects how the business works. Using the Advice Process our employees can ask for feedback on an idea, then when armed with all the information they need, they’re able to make the call themselves as to whether to proceed – or not.

3. Our executives are as transparent as they can be

Of course, just because our employees have the freedom to make decisions big or small, that doesn’t mean we don’t have any senior executives at Equal Experts. But, in keeping with the ethos of the company, any decisions made at senior level also go through the same Advice Process. Additionally, each week I write a round-up on what the exec team has been focusing on and how we as an exec team are progressing against our published objectives. Being as open, honest and approachable as possible is good for everyone involved.

4. Our delivery teams have the autonomy to get on with things

We are a disparate network in which most of our people are based on-site with clients. So not only would it be hard to breathe down the necks of our client-side delivery teams, it would also be counter-productive even if we could. Only highly-experienced and self-starting people join our network, and we trust them to get on with the job without interference. Armed with our values and with the backup of those in the network if they need it, we find that people work better when given the responsibility and accountability to do so.

5. We come together from far and wide

With offices in eight countries spanning five continents, and with teams embedded with clients, it’s not always easy to get to know people in the global network, or to come together as one. To bond the network, we came up with the idea of a global Walkathon in 2018; a month during which we teamed up to battle blisters, bad weather and one another to walk as far as we could. The result? We raised loads of money for charity and walked nearly 40 million steps.

6. We spread the knowledge

We held a grand total of 121 events in 2018, some for internal audiences but the large majority open to anyone. As well as hosting software clinics and our global ExpertTalks (in which our employees and Associates share stories of their successes and challenges), Equal Experts practitioners also present at conferences, and we sponsor a variety of other events too. Our ExpertTalks in particular are hugely popular: in fact, ExpertTalks Manchester now has almost 3,000 members.

7. We want to make our processes and policies public

Most companies’ processes and policies stay hidden within security of the company’s IT system – and up to now, so have ours. However, where documentation is not company or people sensitive, we think much of it can be made public. Not only is it easier for those within our network, or our alumni, to see, but it might be useful for others too. We’ve got a long way to go with this, but we’ll be starting the process with our InfoSec policy for Associates.

Find out more

If you’re interested to find out more about how Equal Experts has adapted and changed as it’s grown – especially in recent years – one of our Partners Mairead O’Connor will be presenting a talk called ‘People are more complex than computers’ at this year’s QCon. Come along, say hi, and Mairead will be happy to tell you more about what makes Equal Experts different!

We’re not perfect, and we’d never pretend we are. However, we are proud of what we’ve achieved as a business, and by being open and welcoming we believe we make the Equal Experts network the grown-up, forward-thinking and adaptable place it is.

Are you looking for a new challenge in 2019? Why not get in touch!