It is surprising to think that the simple fact of where we live and work can have such a major influence on our success. However, it has shaped how we work so much that I felt we needed to give credit where credit was due. Here are 7 ways geography has driven us and helped to make us a better company.
1. Deliberate Alignment
We were born as a geographically diverse company. Our founders don’t live in the same place, and we started with key individuals who happened to live all over the country, as well as in the other countries. So the idea of “distributed decision making” was part of our DNA from the beginning. We made sure that if our locations were dispersed, our views were not. We worked deliberately to have a tightly aligned strategy—something we may not have done initially had we all been sitting across a desk from each other with our noses in the day-to-day.
2. Agility, Talent, and Innovation
Because we “grew up” this way, it’s natural for us to continue to work as a company with employees in countries all over the world and it has become a key strength. We now have systems and protocols in place to bring on the best people and bring out their brightest ideas no matter where they are, allowing us to tap top talent. Additionally, we can adapt quickly to new ideas and know how to nurture talent in an environment that values and cultivates innovation.
When your leadership team and staff are dispersed you have to be hyper-vigilant when it comes to organization. We focus on open and consistent communication, smart financing, and empowerment and accountability from each person. Everyone needs to be self-directed, and self-motivated and they are empowered to do so. Trust is also a big factor—we have a lot of trust in our people, having had to lead and manage from afar.
You would think not having a central location for all employees would be inefficient. We found the opposite to be true. It forced us to look at any inefficiencies and address them early on. Not surprisingly, this focus on efficiency is apparent in our “on-demand” products and services. It’s our promise to our customers that we make insurance not only fair but also fast, with efficient pricing, and products that fit how you live/work. Homeshare hosts can be up and running with a policy in 2 minutes. Same thing for SMBs with our cyber insurance product. ICS customers spend just one day with us for a hackathon to get to solutions quickly. To us, time has more value than money. We are smart with our time—and our customers’ and partners’ time.
5. Better Culture
Our flat and equal structure allows for all to be heard, welcomed, and appreciated. We believe ideas can come from anywhere, because we’ve seen it happen over and over again. Because being agile and innovative are core to who we are, having fewer constraints works in our favor. Everyone is accessible, we have no titles on business cards, and we have a thriving culture because of it. As you can imagine, there’s no gossiping in the hallways, ladder-climbing, or time wasted on office politics. We are free from all of that!
6. Seamless Scalability
Our geographic diversity allows us to scale seamlessly without the growing pains and bumps typically associated with growing too fast. We utilize spaces such as WeWork offices which have been pivotal to our successful and rapid growth! We adjust and adapt our working spaces as needed, never have down time with a move, and never have out-of-balance overhead.
7. A Stronger Brand
We’ve been forced to prioritize and re-evaluate what’s important to us over and over again. This has resulted in a strong and well-articulated brand. If you’re all over the globe, what unites you? It’s been paramount for us to be able to communicate what matters most so we can all “live the brand” every day, consistently. Even if we’re not physically together, we are ideologically together as a brand. We all know without a doubt who we are, what we stand for, what we offer, how we operate, and what we believe in. Customer service is a priority. Culture is a priority. Innovation is a priority. A strong brand allows us to share and show these qualities so we all know it, live it, work it, inside and out.
Today, and looking ahead, we wouldn’t change how we work for a second. We’ve maintained a strong culture and haven’t lost site of our vision. In fact, our geography has only reinforced these things. No matter what we do or where we are, we will always be curious, always pushing for what else we can do and preparing for what’s next. Change and adaptability is inherently a part of who we are and what we do. Thanks, in large part, to our humble, all-over-the-map beginnings.