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Is this the best remote benefits package in existence?

Several months ago, we published the list of best remote startups to work for in 2021. We ranked the companies on a set of criteria, including things like the number of votes per team size (to not bias larger teams) and remote benefits offered. In an underdog victory, the top place slot went to Bunny Studios – a creative service platform that helps companies find the best people for their creative projects. Their remote benefits system was frankly the best we've ever seen. We sat down with Maika, their Head of Operations, to find out more about the benefits they offer to their team and how they structure their company.

What makes the Bunny Studio culture unique? 

We’re a fully remote company with a close-knit team that spans 20 countries and 5 continents. Behind the platform, we’re real people who celebrate diversity, individuality, and inclusion every day. 
Our recipe for success lies in adopting a communicative digital culture that thrives on transparency, inquisitive learning, and fun. With this in mind, we prioritize open and honest communication and horizontality; all of our information, data, and knowledge are fully democratized; our team has access to the entirety of our company metrics, meeting notes, financials, and salaries. In addition, each Thursday we host a Town Hall where anyone can ask questions to our CEO, Santiago Jaramillo. 
From the get-go, we’ve known that our values would be our compass in the world, and we’ve gone the extra mile to consciously swear by them. 

Our core values

Critical thinkers We are customer-centric problem solvers who are always up for a challenge. If the problem requires a standard solution, great, and if it requires outside-the-box thinking, we’re confident in our ability to make things happen.
Continuous learners As part of that process, we take ownership in learning from every failure, feedback, and victory.
Creative adaptation Others see risks; we see opportunities. Credibly accountable We are empowered by the trust and confidence our stakeholders place in us and take responsibility for every outcome. We don’t dodge responsibility, we embrace it wholeheartedly.
Collaborative assertiveness We communicate proactively. If we think our opinion is warranted, we always aim to contribute in a constructive manner. Commitment to excellence We are dedicated to raising the bar in making every user experience memorable. Others may say it, but we mean it, and back it up daily. 

Keeping it alive as we scale

Here are some tips we’ve used to survive—and thrive—as we grow.

Avoid communication breakdown

We always make sure our communication infrastructure is solid, meaning, knowledge is easily transferable, team members know and can easily communicate with each other by having channels structured by functional area, teams, purposes, and topics. Most importantly, emoticons and gifs are a way to convey written emotion. We don’t want meaning slipping through the cracks, or having people second-guess what was said. When in doubt, we always assume good intent and take efforts to clarify. 
Something that also helps is having a high bus factor. Therefore, we ensure that there’s good information management and teams have cycles of documentation. As a result, this allows for greater autonomy and ownership, thereby encouraging proactivity from our team members.

A strong onboarding process

Every little moment matters, and frequently companies miss the importance of proper onboarding. For the first 1.5-2 weeks our team members are following a company onboarding process where the expectation is to not work but rather learn about our company frameworks, values, introduce themselves to the team, familiarize themselves with the tools we use, etc. 
Included in this process is the expectation that in the first 2 months they meet everyone in the company. We’ve grouped our team members into 16 sessions where we get to know the new team members that have joined the company recently. If there are no new team members to meet, it’s a great opportunity to reconnect and keep things fresh. 
Additionally, every new hire gets a Bunny Buddy assigned to them who helps make their onboarding process less stressful.  
In terms of benefits, we also provide them with a laptop, keyboard, mouse, headset with a noise-canceling microphone, and a kindle loaded with our must-read books.

Building rapport, planning spaces to connect

In a remote work setting, building culture is an effort that is more intentional than if we were in an office setting. It requires more planning and allows for less spontaneous lunches, coffee breaks, after-work drinks and whatnot. Hence, the People Operations team - POPS as we refer to it in Bunny Studio - has bi-weekly team activities planned. In addition, we organize yearly off-site retreats. Due to the global pandemic, we organized our first remote retreat. We’ve also organized a hackathon and would love to do more of these in the near future! These events don't have to depend on the POPS team and we try to encourage team members to organize their own activities, but this still proves to be a challenge at hand.
Also, we use the Donut bot in Slack to randomly pair our team members to encourage them to meet one another for a minimum of 15 minutes to get to know each other and talk about anything but work. This keeps things light and helps people see beyond tags and designations, and concentrate on our shared empathy and humanity.

How our teams work together

First off, we organize ourselves into squads. These include a product designer, tech lead, several engineers, and a marketer (or several). We receive input from the UI designer, UX researcher, and members of the sales team.  
Each team has weekly and daily standups to help prioritization and resolve blockers. The squads work with bi-weekly design sprints. Thus, every two weeks the squad revises roadmaps. As previously mentioned, we host an all-hands-on Town Hall meeting every week where everyone can ask strategy-related questions to the CEO or Heads of functional areas. 
Once each team member passes their trial period, we sign a Tour of Duty. This is a symbolic contract where we commit to the growth of the team members and the company.
Weekly, we hold Engineering, Product, and Marketing Braintrusts. There, a team member will present a rough draft of what they are working on, and receive feedback from key stakeholders. 
Something we’re big on is keeping things light. Alongside our usual channels, we have a Giphy channel where people are only allowed to communicate in gifs - written communication is forbidden!
A co-i-dont-know-it-all channel in Slack acknowledges that we don’t know it all, and oftentimes, it’s best to ask for help. Thereby, we encourage a collaborative culture of humility and constant learning for everyone, regardless of their experience or position. 

Benefits and Value-Adds

Here are the benefits we offer to our team:

Being distributed aids flexibility

Our team is distributed all around the world which allows us to offer flexible work hours so they can perform their tasks and plan their days according to their schedule. For this to succeed, the communication structures that we have put in place allow for optimal asynchronous communication and decision-making through our tools such as Slack, Confluence, and Airtable.

Going above and beyond

From personal development and career mobility to lifelong learning, we encourage our team members to expand their skills and create their own career paths by building a professional development plan. Once that plan is built, our team members have access to our education budget, which is capped at $870 per request, which can be spent on books, courses, and conferences.

The importance of a healthy work/life balance

We believe and work towards optimal work-life integration. We focus on the outcomes and achievements of our team rather than their presence or perpetual connectivity. We support them to stay healthy and balanced, so they can spend more time doing what they love, while they knock it out of the park at work. 
Currently, we are experimenting with a 4-day workweek to analyze how we can optimize our collective productivity while allowing our team more time to themselves. 

Time off and benefits

Besides flexible work schedules, we have flexible paid time off. We encourage our team to take time off during the year and recharge! No set number of days, they can take as much time as they need and come back refreshed and in the right mindset. This includes flexible paid sick leave and the necessary paid mental health days.
In the unfortunate event that a team member is going through a serious health condition, we will pay 70% of their last earned salary for up to 78 weeks for them to recover as best as they can. 
New parent? We offer 4 months of gender-neutral parental leave, a policy that also applies to adoptive and foster parents.

Additional benefits 

Other benefits and perks for our team members: 
  • Stock options
  • Paid health and life insurance 
  • An ergonomic home office set-up or a co-working space office 
  • Annually, we have in-person company retreats where we fly everyone to the same location to work and have fun together.

Thinking about the future 

We’re forward thinkers and have a few ideas to implement in the near future. The first is a more flexible program—a pick-and-choose type of program where team members are given a certain budget and they can personalize it as they want. 
Also, we understand team members have different needs depending on the life stage that they’re at; when we asked them what benefits they would like us to implement, they responded with:
  • Internet bills being fully paid
  • Motorized standing desk
  • Gym contribution or sponsoring of physical activity
  • Pension contribution
  • Access to a financial advisor
  • Access to a psychologist
  • Contribution to childcare
This is what we'll be working on for our team next, and I imagine other remote workers would appreciate similar benefits. We discovered that internal surveys are great for discovering areas to improve on with our team. Needless to say, we’re on the case —we take our commitment to both our team and our clients seriously. Resting on our laurels just isn’t for us, so we’ll do what we do best: continue building a company that’s a joy to work at, and to work with. 

About the author

Maika Karina Hoekman

Head of Operations
Bunny Studio
As the Head of People Operations at Bunny Studio, Maika is solving tactical hiring needs, finding remote-first ways to build a fulfilling culture, and is there to help flesh out the company strategy and structure. After growing up in Honduras, remote work allowed her to travel and live in Latin America after studying in the UK and US.