Unacast

Unacast

New York, NY 

www.unacast.com

Grade: A

SummaryTransparent culture, work/life balance brought from Norway, offices styled like apartments and the ability to “Be your own CEO.” Unlimited budget for buying books you think will advance the company and your career is just one example of their commitment to employee development. Medical benefits and unlimited vacation with 5 weeks’ minimum also modeled after Norway. Company founders founded Tidal – so music is an important part of the culture.

Intro: The first piece of feedback we receive from new hires is how refreshing our core value of transparency is. As a company we value independence, collaboration and transparency. We consider the Unacast team a growing family and make sure everyone’s voice is heard and their strengths are amplified. Our Norwegian origins also promote a respect for work/life balance that has become essential to our company culture.

Impact statements:

  • As a company we value independence, collaboration and transparency. We consider the Unacast team a growing family and make sure everyone’s voice is heard and their strengths are amplified.
  • Modeled after our benefits coverage in Norway, we’ve enacted full medical benefit coverage across the entire organization. This include dental and vision benefits, so all of our employees (and their families can have one ease of mind when it comes to their health care.
  • We want our employees to feel at home at work so our offices are styled like apartments with cozy common areas, full kitchens and break out rooms for collaboration.
  • We provide unlimited vacation days and encourage each employee to take a minimum of 5 weeks vacation, as is the policy in Norway. We do not track when or where people are working, we are flexible about working from home.
  • Every team member has the opportunity and is expected to contribute with ideas that can change the company. Team members can contribute on everything ranging from strategy to product to culture. We value transparency and are daily working on being more open and inclusive in all decisions. One of our values is “Be your own CEO”.
  • We are strong proponents of supporting charitable causes and nonprofit organizations. This year instead of holiday gifts, the company united and agreed to donate the equivalent amount to charity
  • Employees in Unacast can work when they want and from where they want. We trust each employee will be accountable for their time and make the best choices for the company as a whole.

Advancement Opportunities:

All employees can aspire to and achieve any role in the company as long as they have the skill set to deliver on it. This blog post is a good example of how we deal with this in practice: https://unacast.com/post/why-being-an-intern-at-a-startup-is-the-best-investment-you-will-ever-make.

Medical benefits:

Modeled after our benefits coverage in Norway, we’ve enacted full medical benefit coverage across the entire organization. This includes dental and vision benefits, so all of our employees (and their families can have one ease of mind when it comes to their health care. We like to think of this as bringing Scandinavian values to the US.

Community service/charitable causes:

We are strong proponents of supporting charitable causes and nonprofit organizations. This year instead of holiday gifts, the company united and agreed to donate the equivalent amount to charity This is the start of a continued focus, and important for our company’s future as we are passionate about paying it forward to the next generation. The first donation was through http://www.givewell.org/, an organization that vets the most effective charities to give to at any given time. A data driven approach that fits us well.

Measuring satisfaction:

After big events/projects we distribute anonymous surveys to receive feedback. Whether it be after an official all hands, a hackathon or simply a company outing. We are always eager to find ways to improve our processes.

In addition we have monthly 1:1’s where all employees can speak with the founders directly to vent any topic in a safe environment. We see this as a core task for the founders – to speak with and know the employees.

We want our employees to feel at home at work so our offices are styled like apartments with cozy common areas, full kitchens and break out rooms for collaboration.

Creative meeting places:

Monthly events planned by employees alternate between interesting venues and even the homes of employees if volunteered.

Hiking in scenic Oslo for team building

Museums across US and European offices

Activities at the Hudson river in NYC

An Island in the Oslo bay

Perks:

We provide mobile phones and cover the cost of the phone plan for all employees. Those that wish to keep their own phones are reimbursed for their phone bills.

We encourage travel between our European and US offices, and have even made it possible for multiple employees to have extended residencies in each office to get to know their teammates – and some have even moved over permanently.

Fun:

Our founders hail from the music industry (they were on the founding team at TIDAL) so we are all very passionate about music. We have wireless speakers in every office and it is encouraged that employees express themselves throughout the day via their playlists.

Sharing a meal together is vital to getting to know your teammates, we encourage lunches and after work drinks as a team to talk about something other than work and get to know each other.

We also hold monthly events planned by employees that vary from hiking, to yoga classes and even dinner at an employee's home if volunteered.

How corporate vision is communicated:

We have weekly status meetings to keep everyone informed on the status of the company and what the plans are moving forward. We also employ company all hands meetings, or “roundtables”, in each office where we fly the entire company out and alternate offices to make sure everyone has a

chance to communicate with leadership.

Empowering employees:

Every team member has the opportunity and is expected to contribute with ideas that can change the company. Team members can contribute on everything ranging from strategy to product to culture. We value transparency and are daily working on being more open and inclusive in all decisions. One of our values is “Be your own CEO”.

Team members are expected to do what is right for the company. Every decision affecting the company goes through an “Advisor Process” (asking others for their perspective to better inform the decisions each individual is ultimately responsible to make).

If an engineer sees a market potential for a product, she is expected to formalize the product and ask her peers for advice, e.g. sales and/or product. If it still seems like a good idea she can then decide to start developing the product or to course correct. Ultimately, every member of the Unacast team is trusted to make decisions in the company’s best interest.

Ensuring well-being:

We encourage work life balance and trust our employees to put their best foot forward for the good of the company. We do not regulate employee schedules and find this to yield great results. We have unlimited vacation but require everyone to take more than 5 weeks, as per Norwegian standards.

In an open company like ours, praise is as common as saying when something is not ok. We don't have monthly employee reviews or similar, but rather focus on openness and honesty every day. Therefore, each and every day people are praised and given constructive feedback to promote individual growth as the company evolves.

We provide standing desks for all employees that request it along with any other office amenities they require. We understand how much time is spent at the office so we also encourage periodic stretching and having lunch away from employee desks. As part of our monthly team activity we often partake in active or outdoor activities as well as cultured activities like museum tours etc.

We have yearly first aid training courses so that all employees know how to take care of their colleagues. We had a near scare on one of our NYC trips that really woke us up.

Longevity:

All employees that have ever worked at Unacast are still at Unacast.

Closing company statements: Respect for your teammates and the work you are doing. No one is exempt from this. We want everyone to feel comfortable and confident on our team. Everyone should have their voice heard and candidates we move on to join the company have plenty to contribute. Being proactive, opinionated, and humble are key. We all have big personalities but at the end of the day we all put our egos aside to make sure we are giving our best to the company.

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