Woman working remote sitting on her couch on a call

In 2020, Hologram experienced a rollercoaster of change (like much of the world) as we were rocked by COVID. Thankfully we came out the other side in an incredibly healthy position and poised for exponential growth in 2021.

On March 9, 2020, our CEO created a new Slack channel called #coronavirus and launched our COVID response plan. We closely followed COVID updates from the state and quickly made plans to cancel all non-essential travel and strongly suggested that everyone begin working from home. Soon after that, we officially hit pause on our Chicago office and everyone began working 2020-style — via Zoom, Slack, and good old fashioned phone calls. This leveled the playing field for the team and allowed us to start thinking about what it could look like to hire and to work with a wider location lens.

In the latter half of 2020, our team doubled and we began to prepare for the next big thing for the company. As the team grew, we soon became a Chicago-based company that was actually a lot more dispersed. We now have employees working from home offices, coffee shops, and apartment patios, spread out across 16 states (and counting). As of May 1, 58% of the team is in Chicagoland and the other 42% are located elsewhere.

Our culture has changed and is still changing as we continue to grow, and we are reshaping our language, benefits, and work to better fit our expanding employee base. There have been a few key adjustments made here:

Benefits

We leveled our perks and benefits so that everyone receives the same experience. We rolled out a major update to our remote work perks last spring so that working from home is no longer just possible, but hopefully comfortable and enjoyable, too. You don't have to be in Chicago to have a functional and fun workspace. Hologram provides the following work from home perks and benefits:

  1. $1500 one-time benefit to outfit your home office (amazing desk, ergonomic chair, even a big fiddle leaf fig!) + $500 annually for any upgrades you need
  2. Home internet reimbursement of up to $200 monthly
  3. $100 monthly reimbursement for "coffee shop co-working" purchases (Caffeinated employees = happy employees!)

Accommodating for different locations and working styles

We want our team to feel a sense of belonging and ownership, no matter their location. One simple change we made here was to create a Slack channel for Chicago folks to connect on all-things-Chicago so that no one outside that area feels like they're out of the loop. We've also created more opportunities for socialization by using Donut, building out an onboarding buddies program, and by hosting monthly virtual lunches.

We really underlined our asynchronous work style. In many ways, working from home can be logistically more difficult than working from an office. Is your partner on a call at the same time as you? Are the kids running wild in the background? Is your pup expecting a walk? Hologram has built in a lot of flexibility here. We encourage asynchronous work and collaboration because we don't all have to be in the same place or on the same schedule to be productive. Async work at Hologram can look like: Freedom to shape your week with blocks of focus time or "no meetings" days; flexibility to join calls with or without your camera on; focus Fridays — we block Friday afternoons for no meetings focus time, so that you enter the weekend ready to relax; and leaning into asynchronous check-ins and workflows, reducing time spent in meetings and allowing us to more easily work across multiple timezones.

We are mindful of our growing team and all the new perspectives and experiences that each new person brings. Expanding our candidate pool outside of Chicagoland has been a game-changer for our growth and for our culture. It is a privilege to learn from a diverse, dispersed team!

Over the last six months, we've intentionally become a distributed, remote team. Though the Chicago office has reopened, it functions now as more of a coffee shop or library space — designed for quieter, socially distanced work as we move into a hybrid season of remote teammates + Chicago office crew. In anticipation of our growth, we're already brainstorming how we can even better accommodate remote workers and where we may be able to plant new offices in hub locations for Hologrammers outside Illinois.

The more we continue to lean into each other and into the tools that allow us to work remotely, the stronger we become in our growth. We'll always have a soft spot for deep dish, but we can't wait to see what this new chapter will bring.

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