How We Build a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility

Katerina Gabova
The illustrative image for Slido's blog about Freedom and Responsibility culture showing a paper cut out of a hand with a little heart on it

At Slido, one of our core values is “we care”, which reflects how we approach our customers, our work, and ultimately, each other.

One of the most important demonstrations of this value is our culture – inspired by Netflix’s concept of Freedom and Responsibility.

In this article, we’ll share what ‘Freedom and Responsibility’ means to us and the five main pillars with which we support it.

Why is Freedom & Responsibility so vital to us?

We spend a third of our time at work. Yet, for many of us, work represents only a means to an end – simply a way to make money for things that we actually want to do.

Many people don’t see themselves making an impact or developing their skills. One of the reasons is that their workplace is not an environment where their creativity could flourish.

Ever since the very beginning, we at Slido wanted to subvert this tendency and find a different way of working.

After all, you can’t change meeting culture around the world without doing things differently.

That’s why we built the Freedom & Responsibility culture into our DNA: we trust our employees enough to give them (almost absolute) freedom and autonomy, which empowers them to take responsibility for their own choices and decisions.

There’s always been a lot of flexibility at the core. Even before the pandemic, we operated in a hybrid setup with some of us working remotely and some of us working from the office.

slido blog virtual meetings zoom

Our flexible approach is held together by integrity and mutual trust.

Being a remote-first, international company (we currently have 240+ employees in 23 countries), mutual trust between our leaders and employees is key to maintaining and nurturing our culture.

But above all, the cornerstone of our Freedom and Responsibility culture is our people.

a photo of the slido team during a all company offsite meeting

It’s the role of all of us in the company to always balance the freedom and the responsibility part – we keep each other accountable, provide feedback, discuss issues openly, and try to help each other.

Now, let’s take some time to unpack how Freedom & Responsibility translates into our everyday work.

1. Freedom to choose a fully remote setup

At Slido, we strive towards creating a collaborative environment where people can do their very best, no matter their location.

Some prefer working remotely, some want to come to the office two days a week, others enjoy working from the office every day. We create a workplace where people can achieve their potential and collaborate smoothly, no matter their location.

2. Freedom to take on new challenges and initiatives

Whether you are a junior or a pioneer in your field, everyone is encouraged to drive improvements, projects, and initiatives.

Besides “we care”, one of our core values is “don’t stop”. It’s not that we’re all workaholics – we simply wish for our employees to never stop pushing boundaries of their own personal and career development.

photo from a slido hackathon depicting three colleagues sitting around a table working on a new project together
Our all-company hackathons are one of the most beautiful demonstrations of our Freedom and Responsibility culture.

Our leaders are available to everyone for guidance and mentorship, but if anyone wants to lead a project themselves – they’re highly encouraged.

We support and promote every person’s Learning and Development initiatives, financially or otherwise, but we don’t do any check-ups or reviews – everyone is responsible for their own growth and learning.

3. Freedom to make decisions and take ownership

We thrive on taking ownership of the impact we make. We trust all our employees to make even bigger decisions independently, without micromanaging or endless feedback rounds.

Our employees have autonomy over their respective areas, tasks, and projects. In return, they’re ready to take on full responsibility for the outcomes, whether successful or not.

4. Freedom to fail

In Slido, all of us have the freedom to fail – no matter whether we work in Engineering, People team, or Customer Care. No one is judged, laughed at or scolded, because we’ve all been there!

Our CEO himself, Peter, does not hesitate to share his own stories of failures and learnings, and will be the first one to underscore how failure can be a source of important lessons:

“Even if someone failed at a project that they took initiative in, we don’t perceive it as a failure. It was an honest mistake and the person has learned from it. You can rarely excel if you’ve never failed. And Slido gives our people the freedom to fail and learn.”

a photo of Slido teammates sitting around a table chatting and having fun
Meeting together in our HQ always results in many lively discussions.

Freedom to fail is one of the core things that drive innovation and progress in Slido.

And at the same time, it’s one of the most challenging things to learn – to be prepared to fail and to accept it, without feeling the immediate urge to feel bad about it or blame yourself for it.

5. Freedom to work at one’s own schedule

At Slido, we believe that we all have different work paces and everyone is the best judge of theirs. Hence, we give our employees the freedom to manage their work/life balance based on their individual needs.

Sure, we have a standard 8-hour workday, but when that happens is entirely up to us.

As one of our summer interns Filip said in his blog post, “You don’t have to work 9 to 5 — as long as you do your share of the work, nobody will question your working practices. This relies on mutual trust and individual responsibility.”

Our people have different work patterns, preferences, and commitments and we fully respect and support this. We care deeply about our employees’ mental health. If you love your morning run or your afternoon walk, Slido will never be a blocker.

a picture from Slido's birthday party showing three of our colleagues dancing together and having fun
Having fun together is one of our unofficial company values!

It’s all about the team

We do realize that fostering such a strong culture of freedom & responsibility might be perceived as risky. Isn’t this level of trust easy to abuse?

Well, certainly, unless you have a team of wonderful, responsible, and independent people who value those same principles, and that in turn allows them to thrive and make a much larger impact.

Is this something that resonates with you? Join us – we’re hiring!

Check out the open positions here: https://www.sli.do/careers

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