Distributed Work Experience
Learn how we think about the distributed experience.
📘 First, let’s define some terms…
Workplace Strategy: Workplace strategy answers the question: “Where do we work that optimizes for effectiveness and efficiency?”. Possible answers include: fully distributed, hybrid, office-only.
Asynchronous Work: A way of working that does not require all team members to be online simultaneously. Asynchronous work is required for teams to function across multiple time zones. Often when we say “distributed work” we actually mean “distributed and asynchronous work” because our company is spread across many time zones globally. “Distributed” is commonly used as shorthand.
Employee Experience: The journey an employee takes with an organization. It includes every interaction that happens along the employee life cycle, including the experiences that involve an employee's role, workspace, manager and wellbeing.
Distributed Work Experience (simply, "Distributed Experience"): The employee experience specifically related to how work gets done in a distributed work environment. Communication, tools, processes and culture enable distributed work. The distributed experience could be liberating or constraining, agile or inflexible, fast or slow, equitable or inequitable. When you find yourself saying something like “I never know where to find information” you are making a comment about your personal distributed experience.
🌐 What is our workplace strategy?
Our workplace strategy is fully distributed. This does not mean we won’t gather in person, won’t have office space and won't have some in-office teams. Instead, it means that the primary mode of getting work done assumes employees are not physically in the same location. We believe this is better for both our company and its employees.
✨ What is our approach to support the distributed experience?
A great distributed experience doesn’t just happen on its own. Employees have been working in offices for a very long time and have evolved norms of behavior for how work gets done. Distributed work is far newer. As a result, we can’t rely on a shared understanding of how to work effectively in this context. We must be extremely intentional about how the distributed experience is constructed. When done successfully, we are confident the distributed experience is more effective, enjoyable, and equitable than traditional office-based work.
Intentionally designing a distributed experience includes:
- Defining cultural principles and norms of behavior that support distributed work
- Investing in tooling and processes that support distributed work
- Training everyone on how work gets done in a distributed work environment
🤔 Why does the distributed experience matter?
Having a great distributed experience helps both our company and our employees. It also helps us live our values.
- Benefits for dbt Labs
- Widens our talent pool: Without the limitations of a physical location, we can hire top talent across the globe.
- Productivity: Our team spends less time in meetings and has more time to focus.
- Scalability: Asynchronous communication helps us work more effectively and efficiently as we scale.
- Accessibility and inclusion: With an emphasis on async communication, our work environment creates a more equitable opportunity to voice one’s opinion. The loudest voice in the room is no longer the only one who gets heard.
- Engaged and happy employees: We believe that when our team members have the space to live fulfilling lives outside of work, they show up more engaged and productive.
- Benefits for employees
- Flexibility: Employees have the freedom of location and time, allowing them to live their life how they want.
- Focus: Defaulting to async communication means employees’ days aren't sliced into meetings. They have space to get into a flow state that produces efficient and satisfying work.
- No commute: Without office buildings and in-person meeting requirements, employees no longer face stressful and time consuming commutes. That time can be reallocated to best serve the employee as a person.
- Autonomy: We trust our employees to get work done when and where they want. This instills a sense of autonomy that is empowering and motivating for employees to be themselves inside work and live their best lives outside of it.
- It supports our values and culture.
- Transparency always wins: Honest and open communication allows us to collaborate across time zones.
- We value diversity: We equip our global team members to thrive regardless of location by focusing on asynchronous communication and equitable work practices.
- We optimize for the long term: Intentionally building cultural norms, tooling and processes helps set our growing team up for success.
- We work hard and go home: With more time to focus during work, employees can fully unplug in their personal time.
- We are human: Distributed work supports our employees’ fundamental human-ness. Without strict guidelines on when and where to work, employees experience a quality of life that aligns with their personal interests and values.
🎗️ How does dbt Labs support distributed work?
A distributed workforce doesn’t just mean working from home. We realize that different people and teams thrive in different settings. As a result, we offer benefits to support people in finding the right work setup for them and ensuring they are equipped for success:
- Office stipend: New employees receive $1,500 USD (or local equivalent) to spend in their first year to set up their home office and purchase equipment to comfortably work their preferred location. Each year after, employees receive $400 USD (or local equivalent) to support their remote work setup.
- Workspace rental: Working from home does not work for everyone, all the time. Employees receive a monthly benefit to rent office space and experience an optimal work environment.
- Regional offices: In regions with high employee count, dbt Labs has office space to support async-first collaboration and promote our culture and values when teams meet onsite. Designed with intention, these spaces support community development and foster connection with cross-functional teams during onsites.
We offer a transparent compensation philosophy and intentional benefits to support our global employees. All employees have access to stipends to support health and wellness, phone/internet, professional development and health related travel needs.
We set up distributed teams to ensure the locations and time zones are conducive to collaboration and connection. Depending on the level of synchronous collaboration needed, some teams are regionalized with overlapping in-office time and others aren’t. We are thoughtful about the time zone spread to ensure enough work day overlap between globally distributed teammates.
Tools and systems
Having the proper tools and systems to support remote work is key to effective communication. We rely heavily on Notion, Slack, and Zoom to keep people connected regardless of where they work. Open meetings and office hours are available for team members to foster cross-functional collaboration.
As a globally distributed company, DEI is critical to our success. DEI is not simply enacted in programs and initiatives, it is woven into the culture of our every day work.
Employee engagement We celebrate our unique human-ness and connect beyond business which makes for a welcoming work environment for all. We all get together in-person annually for a company kick-off and we leverage other tools for virtual connection throughout the year.
🌟 Guiding Principles
- Trust and transparency: We empower individuals and teams with openness and honesty while assuming positive intent.
- Intentional and explicit: Our organizational practices and systems are designed with intention to support our distributed workforce. In a remote environment, social cues and cultural norms aren’t obvious. We are explicit with our communication to provide clarity and context for all.
- Default to asynchronous: While async communication may not always be the ultimate way to get work done, it should be the default. Starting with async communication first allows for more effective synchronous communication when needed. It also helps your teammates retain their focus and flexibility by reducing interruptions and distractions.
- Progress > perfection: Immediate answers aren’t expected. With the proper communication and tools in play, employees are empowered to keep iterating and making progress, backed with trust and support.
⚙️ How We Work and Communicate
Learn about our work and communication methods in our internal guide. This guide will help you understand the rhythms of our business, our use of tools such as Slack and Notion, and our approach to meetings and asynchronous communication.
💓 Intentional Connection
In a globally distributed environment, fostering connections is crucial for building strong relationships, team alignment, collaboration, and overall job satisfaction. These connections can be felt to our company, your team (functional and cross-functional) and your peers.
💡Research shows that organizations with more connection were 5.4x more likely to be agile, 3.2x more likely to have satisfied customers and 2.3x more likely to have engaged employees. Connection doesn’t just feel good, it’s good for our business!
Connecting is a valuable investment of time
We must be intentional to form connections across the company and we do this through a blend of virtual and in-person opportunities offered at the company-wide and team level. These opportunities are led by people managers, the People team, and leadership.
- Virtually: We recommend spending on average at least 1-2 hours each week on building relationships virtually with your team members.
- In-Person: We strive for teammates to intentionally connect in person at least 2 times per year. This often takes place during our Company Kickoff (CKO) and at in-person team gatherings. In an ideal world, team members are connecting in-person on a quarterly basis.
How we support connection
- Company Connection: Company connection is driven by the People team, executive team, leadership team, and managers.
- Some examples of company connection include consistent company meetings, monthly newsletter, our physical workplace offices and our in-person company kickoff event.
- Team Connection (Functional & Cross-Functional): Team connection is driven by leaders and managers, leveraging support and resources provided by the People team.
- Some examples of team connection include quarterly virtual team building, celebrating accomplishments and expressing gratitude in #case-when, discussing your employee directory “about me” profile, and attending in-person team gatherings.
- Peer Connection: Peer connection is driven by the People team and individual team members of the company. The People team offers weekly opportunities for employees across the organization to connect.
- Some examples of peer connection include interest based #talk- channels in Slack, monthly #cross-functional-coffee-chats, monthly virtual events from the DEI Culture Club, Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), pop up in-person offices and virtual wellness classes.
Connection is shared responsibility
- In a distributed environment, no single person or team is solely responsible for connection across the company. We each share a responsibility to infuse connection into our daily work and make this a fun, welcoming and rewarding place to work.
- Some examples of what this might look like is starting team meetings with ice-breaker questions in chat, engaging thoughtfully in Slack with emoji reactions, talking a few minutes to ask about your teammates weekend before jumping into a transactional work question.
How to Connect at dbt Labs
- For detailed ways to connect here, check out How to: Connect at dbt Labs.
In regions with high employee count, dbt Labs has office space to support async-first collaboration and promote our culture and values when teams meet onsite. As outlined in our office strategy, these spaces are designed with intention. They are not used to incentivize local collaboration but instead support community development and foster connection with cross-functional teams during onsites.
Learn more about the offices, building access and offsite information here.
dbt Labs 915 Spring Garden St STE 500 Philadelphia, PA 19123
San Francisco, CA
dbt Labs 650 California Street Suite 1501 / 1502 San Francisco, CA 94108
New York, NY
dbt Labs 900 Broadway Suite 402 New York, NY 10003
dbt Labs 57-59 Sir John Rogerson's Quay Grand Canal Dock Dublin 2, D02 F242 Suite 101
Goals of our offices:
- Support Community Development: Establish an environment that embodies and amplifies dbt culture and values.
- Provide a space for teams to use for “on-sites”
- Support in-person customer interactions
- Drive Productivity: Provide a space for local employees to work outside the home in lieu of Liquidspace rentals
Our offices are NOT:
- A place for local team members to collaborate: meetings need to be inclusive of all team members. In our perfect world, everyone in a meeting is in a Zoom or everyone in the meeting is in a room (even if it requires hopping on a plane).
- A marketing effort: Many companies use real estate as a status symbol and to amplify their brand awareness. This is expensive and unrelated to our core workplace values (productivity, inclusivity, and community)
- An incentive to work in person vs at home: We believe the best talent can come from anywhere and support employees in choosing the home and office environment that best serves them. We will not spend money on excessive meal budgets and in-office perks to motivate employees to choose to come in the office vs work at home.
How & when we build offices?
How we choose where offices go:
- Proximity to team members
- Offices that are near existing concentrations of team members will get the highest utilization
- Generally when there are >30 employees within 30 miles of a location we will begin evaluating the efficacy of a permanent space in that region
- Offices near existing teams decreases travel spend, as a portion of the team will not need to travel for on-site events
- Offices that are near existing concentrations of team members will get the highest utilization
- Proximity to partners, customers and other external stakeholders
How we determine office size?
- Number of employees in the region and estimated growth - This number is used to determine the number of desks / call rooms we need in the office.
- Average lease term is 3-5 years, so we need to buy space to support the company for a minimum of the next 2 years of growth.
- Currently we are approaching 30 employees w/in 30 miles of San Francisco who would potentially go into the office. Total company headcount growth is expected to grow at 100%+ for the next 2 years, so we want the office to scale to when the bay area team is ~120 people
- If we assume that no more than 50% of employees are in the office on a given day, we would want an office that supports ~60 desks
- Scale of the organization as a whole, and the need for additional collaboration spaces - This number is used to determine number of conference rooms/scale of those spaces
- Total number of team on-sites being hosted in the office per year
- Average size of the team visiting the office
- Number of external / customer meetings being held in the office
*What is our target layout?
- Conference room strategy:
- Large rooms to support team on-sites- Optimize rooms to have Zoom Room with great remote collaboration technology so if an employee is unable to travel they can engage with the discussion on their screen
- Smaller call rooms so employees can take meetings in a quiet space as needed
- Few to zero offices / small breakout spaces to disincentivize in-person collaboration with partial teams
- Open floor plan with desks to support employees working outside their home as needed
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
dbt Labs is committed to building a diverse team, equitable practices, and a culture of inclusion and trust that enables us to work at our best in service of dbt Labs’ mission and goals. DEI impacts high-level company decisions and is woven into the culture of everyday work.
DEI work at dbt Labs centers around three pillars: Workforce and Career, Culture and Belonging, and Operational Alignment and Product Inclusion. Employees from across the company contribute to DEI efforts through the employee-driven DEI Committee, Employee Resource Groups, and their formal job functions.
Whether you’re joining the adventure, bidding us farewell, or taking a detour, we have an ultimate guide that outlines key elements of our processes. From onboarding, to leaves and bittersweet farewells, we’ve got you covered.
Check out this Employee Hub for additional instructions on how to navigate the different scenarios.
📌 All international relocation (Permanent or Semi-permanent) requests must be approved by the People team, Finance team and the team members' management. To initiate a request, please contact your People Business Partner.
📌 Relocation requests within one's existing country may need approval by the team member's management due to time zone or regional requirements. Please communicate with your manager if you plan a move to a different region in your country.
If a team member chooses to relocate within each country (ex. from London → Manchester or Boston → Chicago), their compensation will not change. However, if the relocation is to a different country, they will be re-aligned to the new country’s compensation bands. This applies both when moving to a lower and higher cost market.
Compensation bands for each country we have an entity in will be listed in our compensation database. As we grow, new data will be added to capture roles located in each country.
What to consider before moving?
⏳ Please initiate a move at least 3 months before your target move date. This allows us to process necessary approvals and make sure we’re able to execute the transfer.
- If the team member is moving to a new country, the move must have prior approval by their People Business Partner, the dbt Labs finance team, their manager and their team’s leadership.
- Please allow for one month for approvals.
- All moves should be to a country where we have a dbt Labs entity.
- Any international moves outside of countries we have a presence in, must be approved by the CFO and be to a location where there is a business case. We ask for a 6 month lead time to determine if this move is possible
- Team members must obtain their own work authorization to work in the country they are moving to. For moves initiated by the team member, dbt Labs will not cover expenses for work authorization.
- If a move is initiated by a team member, we will not cover any relocation or living expenses.
- We encourage team members to consult with a tax advisor to understand the implications of the move as it relates to tax and equity.
- Please remember that your compensation will be updated to reflect the local country-level market you are moving to.
Global Compensation & Benefits
ISO Options: If a team member chooses to relocate outside of the United States and holds ISO options, the number of options that are unvested will be converted to NSO options. If the team member has options that vested as ISOs, they will be able to retain the ISO status. When the team member relocates, the Equity team will cancel the existing ISO grant(s) and reissue NSO grant(s) for the unvested portion of the original grant within Carta. The grant will retain all of the other original terms (strike price, vesting period, etc.)
NSO options: If a team member chooses to relocate and holds NSO options, nothing will change.
🚧 There are different tax consequences for ISO and NSO options. Additionally, tax rules vary across jurisdictions. Employees are strongly encouraged to consult with a tax advisor before making any relocation decision.
‼️ If there is a lapse in providing services to the Company, this will qualify as a termination and all unvested options will be canceled. If a team member is rehired and resumes providing services to the Company, any grant associated with employment will need to go through the new hire process for equity. This means that a team member would receive a new strike price, vesting period, etc.
📅 Generally, team members may live or work outside their permanent residence for an aggregate amount of 183 days (6 months) per year. However, the amount does depend on the particular country (or state) and what it considers to be a "resident" for tax purposes, as well as what it considers the tax year.
Any work being done in a country where we do not have a current presence must be approved by security to ensure access to our systems remains secure. Please submit a ticket with IT prior to confirming your working arrangements in that country.
If a team member is considering spending more than one month in a location outside of your home country, please consult with your People Business Partner to ensure we are mitigating risks to the team member and the business.
Team members are expected to communicate with their manager and team to ensure they maintain agreed upon working hours.
Conscientious objection is the right of an individual to withhold their labor.
Individual employees have the ability to opt out of working on a project or with a client that violates a deeply-held conviction.
We each commit to bringing our whole self to work. Conscientious objection makes space for when a major part of our self conflicts with a major part of our work.
An example from Tristan’s writing on this:
“We ask an employee, who happens to be vegan, to work closely with Tyson Foods. This employee does the work and does it well, but it’s a major engagement that takes ~a third of their time for many months. After a month, this employee becomes frustrated and starts to look for other jobs.
The problem we’re trying to solve here is individual misery created by forcing someone to do work that violates a deeply-held conviction.”
Conscientious objection applies when a high percentage of your time is directed towards a single client or project for a prolonged period (weeks or months). This will mostly apply to the pro-serv team, some SA and SD relationships, and some implementation engineering.
🗣️ If your work conflicts with your deeply held beliefs, talk to your manager.
If you are assigned to a project or long-term relationship with a client that violates your deeply held beliefs, communicate to your manager that you want to be reassigned to a different project or client. Your manager must work in good faith to accommodate the request. If your work is going to make you miserable and hurt your soul, the whole team will suffer— it’s in everyone’s best interest to make a change. Again, from Tristan:
“This is not their direct report ‘not being a team player’—rather, it is their direct report optimizing for the long-term. Managers who fail to accommodate such requests risk having high-turnover teams, which will limit their own ability to be successful.”
If you need additional support working with your manager to figure out an accommodation, you can reach out to your People Business Partner.
🛠 We can help find other solutions when conscientious objection doesn’t solve the problem
If work that conflicts with your deeply held beliefs is a regular and predictable part of your role rather than an exception, and your right to conscientious objection is impeding the team’s overall success, the best long-term solution may be to look for a role that’s a better fit. You can work with your manager and your People Business Partner to move towards a different role within the company that is more aligned with your personal values.
💡 You can see some of the discussion that led to this policy in Working Document: Conscientious Objection.