How Cockroach Labs supports work-from-home during COVID-19

Last edited on August 12, 2020

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    As a startup, our policies and processes constantly evolve. All content in this post is true at the time of publication. For the most up-to-date information, please visit our careers page or reach out to

    Adjusting to a completely remote lifestyle to weather a pandemic has been no easy feat. For many of us, maintaining productivity has been even harder. Cockroach Labs is working hard to ensure that our people have what they need to take care of themselves and work effectively, no matter where they are.

    Our company was founded with a belief in establishing balance and flexibility at the core of our organizational philosophy. We say so proudly on our careers website: “We care about productivity, not face time.” This principle has driven how we put best practices in place surrounding remote work, asynchronous communication, and relocating throughout your career with us. We’re particularly proud of how this commitment has smoothed the quick transition to company-wide remote work at the height of COVID-19’s spread. Our foremost goal at the start of the pandemic was (and remains) to make sure that our team is safe and practicing vital social distancing measures.

    From our founding in 2015, most of our early team was based in New York City. Over time, as we began to hire Roachers in metro regions throughout the US, we spun up co-working spaces in those new cities. Later, we did the same in Toronto to bring our past interns from Canada on board! Opening these offices meant welcoming more talent from more parts of the world and we’re happy to do so. As we’ve expanded our sales team, we’ve started hiring for revenue roles in the UK, too. We will continue to evaluate new regions as we grow, but we’ve confirmed an important hypothesis: a scaling workforce can still build the world’s best distributed database.

    How Do We Support a Scaling Workforce?Copy Icon

    Thankfully, the commonness of remote work here or teams living across time-zones at our company means we’ve built out a ton of resources to make Roachers effective from home. Here are some of the ways we do it:

    • Workshops and Lunch and Learns: We’re big believers that you can never stop learning. That’s why we regularly facilitate workshops on subjects such as asynchronous (or non-instant) communication, effectively leading remote meetings, and more.

    • Individual Coaching: One of the best ways to learn is from each other. Our staff is welcome to schedule time with a member of the People team, their manager, or a remote teammate to discuss how to stay productive at home.

    • Remote Work Knowledge Share: We regularly ask our team to share what they’ve learned about how to best work remotely and communicate digitally. Here are some examples:

      • We ask our team to specify their usual working hours on their calendars

      • Conducted weekly Ask Me Anything sessions with members of the People team during the initial adjustment period

      • Building “How to Work With Me” guidelines to be shared on each teammate’s Slack profile

      • Following this checklist for optimal video call quality (courtesy of Raphael Poss):

        • Connecting your computer to a power source for full CPU performance

        • Using a wired internet connection

        • Closing all non-essential applications during your calls

        • Where possible, using separate audio and video equipment to enhance call quality

    • Technology: We see both hardware and software as an investment in making all of us better at what we do and better at collaboration. Not only can every Roacher request the tech with which they work best when they onboard, but we can help set up remote offices if you’re going to be working from home long-term! Here’s what we’re doing to support our team further during the COVID-19 pandemic:

      • Providing a stipend to all of our staff to purchase necessities for their home office (or NODES, as we’ve taken to calling them)

      • Reimbursing home internet costs per month while employees work from home

      • Onboarding all new hires virtually by sending materials and new technology directly to their homes

    • Culture and Engagement: We’ve moved all of our social hours and team-wide meetings online, including:

      • Netflix Party Watch Night

      • Virtual Trivia Night

      • Volunteer home office tours (yes, even if it’s a nook in your bedroom)

      • Slack channels: setting up a #watercooler slack channel and Google Hangout, a channel for parents to share their tips and tricks for working and keeping their children in a routine, and more!

    • Hiring: We’re moving forward on hiring with some key adjustments, including:

      • Fully remote interviewing, including virtual coffee chats in lieu of lunches

      • Gathering detailed feedback on remote interviewing experiences to quickly improve

      • Walking candidates through what remote onboarding looks like

    What’s Next?Copy Icon

    We’ve set up a structure to make working outside of our offices not only possible, but easy. Since we have been scaling this practice up since day one, we’re excited to say that when this pandemic ends, our infrastructure for flexible working arrangements will be stronger than ever. We know, nonetheless, that as our staff increases in size, that won’t be without its challenges.

    We know that flexible policies are only as good as the support you put behind them. That’s why continued learning, knowledge sharing, and investments in resources that make our team a better one will remain cornerstones of our collaboration strategy. We know that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for each employee and we will chart a path forward with that in mind.

    While the future of work and the workplace are in flux, our commitment to doing what’s best for our team remains. At Cockroach Labs, we make sure to deliver on the core values to which we’ve committed. That’s how you put people first.

    Want to work with the team building a better workplace? Check out our open roles!

    Remote Work