As we look to close the book on 2020, we’re reflecting on trends that happened (and didn’t), what will be hot in AI in 2021, and the year we had internally at Dataiku. Back on March 12, our CEO Florian Douetteau said, “We are privileged. We work in tech, in a booming and strategic sector, in a fast-growing company … This privilege comes with some benefits and duties. One of our duties is to be at the forefront of keeping the world around us safe.”
These words truly encapsulate the approach we took when navigating the early days of the global health crisis. Here, we will highlight some of the ways Dataiku adjusted to becoming a globally remote workforce, helped us maintain relationships with our colleagues, and supported us during a tumultuous time.
1. Led with a people-first approach: Doing so is part of our culture at Dataiku, so this unexpected situation was no different. From the beginning of the health crisis, our executive team put the employees first. As a company, we began working from home before all countries were under lockdown and we slowed down on hiring to make sure current employees were safe and comfortable before adding new people to the team. While we grew less than expected in 2020, we did expand to more than 500 Dataikers! This approach is, and will remain, a foundation for our hiring efforts in 2021 (of which there will be a lot of!).
2. Shifted to online events and gatherings: Dataiku’s culture is based on in-person gatherings — being together as a company at our annual kickoff and in our offices play a big part in who we are. As a result, we shifted to make sure people could still feel like they were together at virtual happy hours, team days, workouts, trivia nights, and special events like caricature drawings and a magic show.
Sailing 101 happy hour in the U.S. in June
APAC Fancy Dress Friday during Team Days in April
Some teams also set aside quick, 15-minute coffee chats (with no work discussions allowed) to help maintain that element of office banter. Dataiku onboarding, where employees typically travel to the France office for a week of company immersion, also became fully remote. We even held a global yoga challenge and proceeds were donated across Unicef France, 3DCrowdUK (these funds were used for Personal Protective Equipment), The Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund, and Giant Steps.
Red Shirt Day during virtual onboarding in March
Members of September onboarding playing Skribbl, a drawing and guessing game
3. Made communication even more regular: Florian and the greater executive team were very thoughtful in the approach to increase the frequency of communications and ensure transparency from the top down. Each geographic region also launched an optional weekly meeting (still active today) where they can submit questions and receive an answer directly from a representative of the executive team.
These informal meetings are open forum style where employees can speak freely about things they have heard and ask questions about the business (i.e., new internal job postings, the Series D funding round, and so on). We also launched Slack channels such as workouts that are easy to do at home and fun things people were cooking, as well as a Zoom “kitchen” room where people were able to connect any time.
4. Gathered feedback for improvements: We launched our Pulse interview program, where members of our People team interviewed a representative panel of over 100 Dataikers in April and May via 1:1 Zoom meetings. This helped the People team to get a sense of how people were coping with the situation, see what they could improve, make sure everyone felt safe and engaged at work, and give everyone a forum to talk and share thoughts.
They took a personal approach rather than sending an engagement survey because they wanted to ensure there was a human element to their work and make it feel like they’re with us like any other day! One Dataiker said, “The way this was handled really aligns with the leadership team’s objective of maintaining culture and taking care of the people.” Another commented, “I feel just as secure as before. Our value of being kind is maintained.”
Several Dataiku employees were working remotely prior to the pandemic, and many who went into the office were accustomed to having some virtual meetings across regions — our remote-friendly approach made the practical shift to working from home quite smooth. The combination of elements outlined above helped recreate a sense of normalcy for Dataikers in a time when everything seemed unfamiliar, uncertain, and uncomfortable. Together, we were (and still are!) keeping employee morale high and our culture — which thrives on being together — alive.