Company Culture Transformation: Lessons From Imran Syed and Postclick

Coffee with Gable is a webinar series hosting People, Workplace, and Operations experts who share their experiences with distributed workforces.

In episode 15, our guest was Imran Syed, COO of Postclick. He’s a culture-driven executive who appreciates the connection between employee experience and performance and strives to help his team feel connected.

Imran shared his experience, workplace strategy, and best practices for transforming company culture and measuring your success.

Implementing culture change: from office-based to remote-first

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Postclick had an office-based culture. Like so many other startups, they believed in the magic of working in the same space and shaping the company culture through colocation.

In 2020, as they were forced to work from home, they started rethinking how and where their teams work and gradually shifted to a hub-and-spoke model. They opened another hub in Austin, TX, and started hiring remotely.

Eventually, they realized a culture change is due, as remote-first culture works best for all their employees - those in big hub cities and those migrating back to their hometowns. Additionally, Postclick always had hubs in Europe, so they chose to unify all their employees under one remote-first company culture.

Empowering employees to set boundaries when working remotely

One of the main challenges Postclick faced in the early days of its cultural shift was the lack of work-life balance for employees. Everyone was so focused on productivity that they forgot to take breaks from work. Additionally, tools like Slack made things worse by making it easy for people to always be online.

Imran and the Postclick team talked to employees to get down to the cause of the problem. What they learned is that not every employee knows how to work remotely – it’s a skillset most of them had yet to develop. People like Imran, who has previous experience with remote work, know how to set boundaries between work and home life, but not everyone does.

The company realized it is its job to give employees the knowledge, tools, and incentives they need to focus not only on productivity but their wellbeing and work-life balance, too.

Rethinking how we experience connection in a remote world

A remote-only environment can be lonely. Employees can feel disconnected from their teams and lose that essential sense of belonging to the company as a whole. The Postclick team, led by Imran and their senior management, started redefining what connection meant for them and how they can achieve it.

For their team members, connection was not sitting side by side in the same space for 8 hours every day, barely interacting. It is more about meaningful encounters and organic conversations at a cadence of once or twice a week. For the Postclick team, this means keeping the heads-down and focused time everyone gets by working from home combined with the human connection we get when we meet in person.

Those in-person days don’t necessarily have to be structured. It’s good for people to meet just to get to know each other better and work together for a day. It helps employees connect with their teams better and solidify their engagement – thus helping them do their jobs better as a team.

Increasing employee retention and attracting talent with a remote culture

As an employer, Postclick is seeing its attractiveness with candidates go up because of a remote-first culture. They are seeing large numbers of job applicants coming to Postclick because their previous employers requested them to go back to the office full-time. For many of these professionals, flexibility as a benefit has become unnegotiable, and they’re willing to switch jobs over it. For companies across the globe, their workplace culture can become a competitive advantage in the war for talent.

The team at Postclick isn’t just focused on attracting candidates but also on giving the new hires a solid onboarding experience that ensures high retention. And they see their employees appreciate this strategy and stay with the company because they have properly onboarded not just into their roles but their teams, work environment, and corporate culture.

Welcoming diversity in global remote teams

Companies who hire independently of location soon find themselves with a broader, much more diverse workforce. And for Postclick, that’s a good thing. Since going remote-first, they have established a large workforce in Latin America, which they didn’t have before. So now their team spans three continents.

The Operations and People teams at Postclick embrace diversity in backgrounds, as it brings differences in perspective, problem-solving, and ways of working together to achieve business goals. Imran spoke about the difference between preaching diversity and actually believing in it. For his team, it’s a core value of the company, something they deeply believe in and implement – and they get to do it thanks to a strong work culture.

Creating a strategy around organizational culture

Imran spoke about the importance of being strategic when it comes to the desired culture, belonging, and connection. Most companies are only strategic in their business goals, but much can be achieved by strategizing values and culture.

For example, at Postclick, coming together in person is of strategic importance for teamwork. So they made getting together a company-wide initiative. By making it important and making time for connections, executives and team managers are able to lead by example and implement a critical company value as an everyday aspect of working at Postclick.

Another essential element of Postclick’s workplace strategy is meeting people where they are. For Imran, this means being open to continuous evolution and change management, especially when it comes to the linear 8-hour workday. He thinks this will be the next frontier of evolution in the workplace, and his team is ready to disrupt the status quo and listen to the changing needs of their employees.

In Imran’s opinion, having a strategy doesn’t mean setting anything in stone. It means listening to your people, having two-way conversations, and being ready to change, implement new behaviors, and evolve to meet their needs and help them do their best work.

Measuring success

For Imran and Postclick’s leadership team, being data-driven comes naturally due to the industry they work in. Building high-performing teams is part of their business strategy, but they don’t focus only on the productivity side. They use data and metrics to measure the success of their workplace and culture, and they regularly do employee surveys, NPSs, and check-ins.

They also measure how successful their approach of getting together in person is. Postclick’s employees use Gable to meet and connect in workspaces nearby. The People and Operations teams access Gable’s usage data, employee satisfaction, and budget. What they do is correlate the usage of Gable and their engagement metrics.

What they are seeing confirms a successful cultural transformation: the Sales team at Postclick uses Gable the most, and they regularly meet in person on a cadence they set themselves. Their team also has the highest employee engagement score of the entire company, showing that experiencing human connection does impact how we work together - but only if it’s not mandated by the company.

Advice from Imran on transforming company culture

Imran recommends taking three essential steps before beginning to evolve your company culture:

  1. Think about what a new culture means for your company. How does it apply to you, and why is it important for your people? Tap into what your employees need and make that a priority for the organization.
  2. Make culture and values important. Things will not happen unless you make them important and set aside time to make them happen. Take the values and culture you are aiming at, make them part of the everyday decision-making process, and stick to doing it.
  3. Embrace diversity and live by it. Diversity will help you build better products, have more resilient teams, expand your talent pool, and service customers a lot better. Don’t just talk about being diverse - practice what you preach.

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Andrea Rajic