A positive workplace culture has always been one of my top priorities when job searching. But it’s hard to get a sense of company culture in interviews. Companies often tout free snacks, ping pong tables, and unlimited coffee. But I think the real culture of a company is something you feel once you’re in the day to day, interacting with colleagues.
I was hesitant to start the interview process for a marketing manager position at Enigma: the company was based in New York City and I would be working remotely from Arizona. Was it possible for Enigma to keep an energized and engaging culture in a fully remote world?
One month into my new job, I can tell you: I’m a believer.
Work from Anywhere
Forced to shut their office doors in March 2020, like many companies Enigma took the pandemic as an opportunity to rethink what their future of work looks like.
Enigma released a new “work from anywhere” policy. The company would retain office space in New York for those who want to work there, but it was no longer required. “It was important to me to lead by example and make sure our team knows we mean what we say,” said Hicham Oudghiri, Enigma’s CEO. “So my family and I permanently moved out to Los Angeles.”
Enigma remains dedicated to maintaining culture with a remote workforce. They found one creative way to do that, once it was safe to resume travel: “Enigma Haus.”
The Enigma Haus
The concept for Enigma Haus started on a call, when Hicham and a few other Enigmites shared they wished they could be back together in person. The office building was still closed, so options were limited. Hicham decided to book an Airbnb in Los Angeles and a few vaccinated team members flew out to join him. “We had such a great time and accomplished a lot face to face, so we decided to roll out the concept more broadly,” Hicham told me.
With a growing team increasingly spread out across the country, Enigma leaders decided to further test the concept. They invited the full company to gather in a central location for a few days to brainstorm in person, build relationships, and have fun.
Inside Enigma Haus NYC
I arrived in the Big Apple on a cloudy, 70-degree Tuesday afternoon day. I hadn’t been to New York since high school. It was exciting to see the tall buildings again and hear the hustle and bustle of big city life. The streets felt so alive, and you could tell people were excited to start returning to their everyday commutes to work, shopping, and hugging old friends.
When I arrived at the townhouse that would be the company’s home base, I was greeted by VP of People, Stephanie Spiegel, who coordinated all of the thoughtful details throughout the week. She described the Enigma Haus experience as “a homecoming of sorts, seeing colleagues I hadn't seen in person in over a year and meeting new ones for the first time. It was going from a 2D screen to a real person standing in front of me.”
Each day consisted of working hours where team members could drop in and work from the Haus. Every evening there was an event: a magician, a jazz trio, and, of course, dinners. My schedule was filled with in-person meetings with my team, great food, and a lot of fun.
I got to meet countless coworkers who I had only ever met, Brady Bunch style, through the small squares of a Zoom call. While video calls certainly help to get to know your teammates, spending time together in person just can’t be matched.
So often, video calls get right down to business and end with people having to cut things short to jump to their next call. You miss out on the small opportunities for connection that happen more naturally in person. Hearing what people did over the weekend, learning about peoples’ families, or just enjoying a lunch together goes a long way in creating meaningful connections. The Haus allowed people to come and go as they pleased and truly created an atmosphere of collaboration and energy. I headed back to Arizona feeling more connected to my teammates and Enigma's mission.
The recent rise of COVID-19 variants has meant postponing or changing locations for our upcoming gatherings. But when it’s safe again, I can’t wait to reconvene Enigma Haus in person.
The Future of Work at Enigma
Enigma is setting a precedent for the future of work by investing in our people and creating a culture that energizes and excites people. That means things like a monthly wellness stipend, small team and company retreats, and opportunities to come together at Enigma Haus locations across the country.
If this sounds like your kind of culture, check out our job openings. We’re always looking for talented engineers, data scientists, and more.