IT companies worldwide compete to be the most creative in offering employee benefits to win the battle for top talent. The pandemic has played its role in forcing businesses to rethink existing employee value propositions and adapt them to the new reality – and this affects more than just office-based enterprises.
Railsware started in 2007 as a remote-friendly company, and when the pandemic first hit in March 2020, we were sure we had a well-established infrastructure to wait out the COVID-19 storm. Later on, we realized that things that worked for a 40% remote team do not necessarily work for 90% remote. We revised all of our perks and benefits, which resulted in a new smart expenses strategy, providing a bureaucracy-free approach to use company support.
Flexibility and Trust
Railsware consists of about 100+ professionals spread over 8 countries. We live in different time zones, and have distinct mentalities and rhythms of life. In such a case, we believe that flexibility is a critical feature of our work.
Railsware is a team of mature experts with a high level of responsibility who are committed to delivering quality results. This is what enables a company to give people as much flexibility and freedom as they need – whether for a project, working hours, or benefits packages. We trust Railswarians and act transparently in return.
The smart expenses strategy enables us to focus on our work to create great products, instead of dealing with formalities and routines.
In addition to a monthly salary, we have allocated an extra budget for each Railswarian that is flexible and managed by its owner. To eliminate bureaucracy, there is no need to approve expenses, provide and submit receipts. You get funding of $6000+ a year to spend at your leisure. It is up to you – to buy a new chair, a gym pass, or to have a beer party. Self-discipline! ;-) We believe our mature team is able to manage these funds wisely.
The benefits at Railsware are a nice bonus for me, showing that the company cares about my comfort, health and development. From the very first day, you are equipped with all necessary hardware and software. Instead of several limited budgets, we have one consolidated budget for medical services, health, sports and development activities. You spend it the way you want. It is great to be trusted by the company and have confidence in smart expenses for personal needs.
At the same time, Railsware shares recommendations on how this budget can be allocated. We’ve identified crucial directions to support Railswarians in:
Remote workspace benefits
This area required more precise attention in 2020. It was not something new for us, but since 90% of Railswarians shifted to work remotely, some things had to be revised.
We help Railswarians set up their workspaces outside the office. The company covers expenses for anything one may need to feel comfortable and be productive at home: an ergonomic chair, a lifting table, internet access, a lamp, humidifier, or even a carpet to protect the floor from a rolling chair.
To define a budget that is comfortable for everyone, we conducted a number of interviews with teammates who already experienced home-office arrangements. We asked what items they needed to feel comfortable and productive at home.
With a list of required items, we analyzed local markets and defined an average budget that fits all the needs to equip a cozy workspace, considering different Railsware locations: Poland, Germany, Ukraine, Russia, Brazil, Argentina, and others.
If there is nothing you need to purchase for your home and like to be sociable, this budget is also available to rent a coworking space in your city.
Our offices in Kyiv and Krakow are considered hubs for all Railswarians to come any time, collaborate in teams, and meet each other in person. In case your location is somewhere other than Kyiv or Krakow, the company covers travel expenses to the office. Or you can simply choose to have a fixed spot in the office to work from every day.
We provide a budget if someone decides to relocate to Poland. It may cover the realtor’s fee, moving costs, visas, or any other services and things a person may need to move and settle down. A few Railswarians do not miss the chance to travel and work from totally new countries.
Considering the variety of Railswarians’ options for workspace, we’ve designed remote collaboration workflows to keep the team engaged, regardless of their location.
Life-work balance benefits
The “always-on” environment we all experience today is pretty exhausting and often leads to burnout. When working flexible hours, we can sometimes lose track of the time spent on a laptop. At Railsware, we respect the life-work balance and are eager to make sure that all teammates have enough time for themselves, their families, and their hobbies.
Managing a distributed team, we soon discovered that different countries have different national holidays on different dates. To address this challenge, we added ten extra days to the standard 24-day vacation allowance. This also means that if you don’t have plans for the next Labour Day and are eager to work, you can use this day off when you need it. Here you go – 24 + 10 days at your disposal!
It is worth mentioning that there are also extra vacation days for special occasions such as marriage, childbirth, and funerals.
I really like the approach used for the benefits strategy. Sometime before we used to claim our expenses back. It seemed easy, but took some time – you had to request the receipt, scan it, and upload it to the system. I often forgot to claim for my dance classes. Now all this routine is in the past, and I use allocated budget the way I want to with no bureaucracy.
Every year, Railswarians take a pause for a week and travel together with families to some lovely places. We have already been to Austria, Greece, Italy, and Croatia. This get-together time is not just for fun, but also for social engagement and work. Due to the highly remote environment, some of us don’t meet the team for quite a while, and Railsware Summits are a great way to get to know each other.
We also allocate some time for sharing company updates and generating business solutions during the trip. Such an event is a good chance for newcomers to meet everyone in person and integrate more quickly.
Hardware & software benefits
There is a specific budget that covers every device needed for work. Railswarians are free to choose any equipment they need for daily tasks. Besides primary stuff, such as laptop, monitor, mouse, or headset, this may include additional devices like cameras, microphones, gadgets for designers, or anything that will make the team more productive and happy. The only condition is to stay within budget limits.
When a newbie joins Railsware, we ensure that all necessary hardware and software are available on the very first day. For this reason, we discuss all their preferences in advance and start the process of purchasing. If there are custom items that need more time for delivery, there is always backup hardware for temporary use. If a Railswarian doesn’t have a clear idea of what hardware to choose, the Operations team can advise them. In addition to the primary software required by the business, Railsware covers costs for personal productivity software. There is no need to ask permission to buy a specific tool, as long as it stays within the budget.
Health & sports benefits
Our physical wellbeing is the starting point for anything we do. Each Railswarian is free to allocate their health budget as they see fit. Some choose to spend more on medical treatment, others invest in sports. If something is not covered by the company insurance program, the health budget is a great backup.
Another important factor to consider in the modern world is mental health. Choosing to visit a psychotherapist or meditation classes is something to think about when planning your health support budget.
Health matters are quite a private topic. There are many factors that should be considered when developing a corporate health policy in a global company, e.g. different opinions regarding types of treatment, attitude to personal health, local market specifics, insurance programs, etc. Railsware aims to provide you with all needed support (including 3 + 24 paid sick days a year) while you are free to choose the best options yourself.
We used to have a conference budget to cover tickets so that Railswarians could share knowledge and learn from the community, gain new experience, and expand their professional network during world events.
Since communication and education focus has shifted online, we have introduced education support. This is a customized budget to cover all kinds of educational activities and stay on track with what is going on in the industry. This includes courses, training, online conferences, webinars, subscriptions, and other kinds of educational materials.
There are some more things that Railsware provides to support and care about our remote and international team: competitive remuneration, yearly bonus based on team reviews, additional financial services (microcredit), and birthday expenses.
Our benefits are designed to make Railswarians feel comfortable and supported by the company. We encourage our talents to develop and strive to keep Railswarians excited to start each new day at work.
With the new policy, I have more flexibility and feel more trusted by the company. Now the employee decides what they need to be more productive. There are no cases when you have to leave the whole budget for conferences untouched (which is very likely in 2020-2021, isn’t it?) and can’t spend part of it to pay for a book or online course.