How Binance Runs a Remote Organization
In this follow-up piece on our previous article “How Binance Works From Home,” we share the things we learned about running a remote organization, and how your company can also make remote work a viable business model.
Most of the world can’t go out right now because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has forced many companies to convert their mainly office-based operations into work-from-home arrangements. With all the major organizational adjustments that happened across companies, the prospect of being remote work-ready on the fly as a company seems daunting.
However, with the recent technological advances and the constant improvement of global Internet speeds, remote work has been more feasible than ever. And with the natural experiments brought along by forced work-from-home setups due to quarantines across the world, it is interesting to see how companies can adapt to this curveball of a challenge that turned remote work from novelty topic to possibly our new reality.
The truth is, remote work has been Binance’s reality for most of its journey from fast-rising new crypto exchange to the far-reaching blockchain ecosystem it is today. Early on, we faced some unique challenges, wherein our survival depended on being flexible and adaptable beyond what’s asked of a typical company. And now that we’ve grown into a global brand in blockchain, remote work is the norm for 800+ team members in 50+ countries and regions.
We are now sharing some of the best practices we learned while running a remote organization. We hope to be able to share enough substantial tips to allow your company to thrive as a remotely-run team.
1. Invest in tools, software, and equipment that allow for efficient remote work.
As with any action that serves to improve a company’s prospects, being prepared for remote work will require you to spend money on adequate hardware and software, as well as the time to learn how to use them. Whether your company intends to shift significant parts of your operation to a work-from-home setup or just to plan for emergencies like the widespread quarantines of today, it’s a worthwhile investment to have, especially if it results in staying resilient and productive as a team.
We are long predisposed to training everyone for remote work. We promptly equip people with the right tools, given the massive responsibility of keeping our services and platforms secure and running smoothly at all times. In many ways, remote preparedness is an investment that has delivered 10x returns for us.
2. Set company values that are conducive to remote work.
With that said, even the most sophisticated remote work equipment in the world won’t be enough if you have a team that’s less than optimized for it. Preparing for an organizational shift to remote work means assessing the team you have, especially regarding how independent, reliable, and trustworthy they can be. Some of it comes down to prudent hiring, while others will involve a sensible understanding of your team’s strengths and weaknesses.
At Binance, we are upfront about what we expect from everyone in the team because we know that the right set of habits and attitudes is crucial in having a successful remote organization. We gravitate towards people who get work done even in isolation while being driven enough to pursue team goals on their own. But we also expect people to be able to proactively share enough of their work with others, to encourage collaboration among teammates.
3. Instill a culture of constant communication every step of the way.
Speaking of sharing, a significant factor for success in a remote organization setting is the willingness of everyone to communicate where they are at in terms of the work they are doing. Because everyone isn’t in the same place, transmitting information can be slower, so clear and frequent communication is at least twice as important in this setting.
We are known as one of the most communicative crypto companies, with regular daily, weekly, and monthly updates across the ecosystem. Our CEO Changpeng (CZ) Zhao makes it a point to regularly address questions directly from the crypto community. This is just a manifestation of what’s happening within the team. As much as possible, CZ reaches out to new hires. We’ve instilled several habits within our teams where we get a chance to share what we’re working on, as well as what we want to achieve.
We’re doing all this to be able to more than compensate for the inherent disadvantages that a remote organization has.
4. Recreate virtual versions of usual office comforts.
Another small but probably noticeable quirk of a remote work environment is the absence of common areas where people can take a break in the workplace. Some studies link quick breaks in the workplace to higher productivity. Too bad, the remote organization doesn’t have a physical watercooler, so to speak. This is where virtual equivalents can play an important role in ensuring the well being of your remote organization.
While our team is accustomed to the mundane realities of working from home, we still make it a point to have virtual versions of these office comforts. It can be as simple as making room for jokes, memes, and light activities or games within our group chats. CZ would recommend books to read now and then, while many people within teams share their passions. (The marketing team is fond of pets, for instance.)
5. Create a reward system that’s tangible and aspirational enough for your team. (A little personal touch can help a lot.)
Ultimately, we all work to gain rewards, whether monetary or aspirational. Admittedly, dishing out recognition and making employees feel valued can be quite tricky in the work-from-home setup. The dynamics of determining what constitutes good work can be different between conventional office settings and remote ones, so a well-communicated reward system can work wonders in a remote organization.
At Binance, we can’t exactly hold big events for recognizing the star players within the team, like a traditional team would during a year-end party. But we still make it a point to make our employees feel that they are valued. We are more vocal in our praise and appreciation of a job well done. We send bonus gifts to our top achievers, on top of significant performance bonuses. A lot of our rewards are also on the aspirational side of things. For instance, we provide top achievers with lots of growth opportunities, like being trusted with lead roles in any project they’d like to take on, or being given the latitude to work on creating or growing business units and determining their directions.
And even for our colleagues who are facing hardships, like personal tragedies or calamities where they live, we make it a point to send care packages, words of support from teammates, and more. It’s the little things such as personal touch that matter when it comes to valuing our teammates, even if we’re all around the world. And when our teammates feel valued, we all help each other to increase the value of the organization we’re with.