Our team values

The Ziggu Way

In this document you’ll find a set of rules and values we share as a team. It’s a living document, meaning that nothing is set in stone and everyone can make suggestions.

A. General Principles

1. Psychological Safety

○ In 2012, Google organized a study called ‘Project Aristotle’ with the aim of
finding out what makes a successful team. By far the most important aspect of what
defines a great team is what they named ‘Psychological Safety’. Psychological safety
is basically creating an environment where team members feel safe to take risks and
are able to be vulnerable in front of each other. They feel confident that no one on
the team will embarrass or punish anyone else for admitting a mistake, asking a
question, or offering a new idea.
At Ziggu, we fully promote the concept of psychological safety. Most of the following
values and guidelines help build this safety in our team.

 

2. Guidelines

○ Any guidelines, best practices or ‘rules’ listed on the following pages are
meant to clarify situations, share our learnings and to serve as a reference
framework. They are not in place to exercise control.

3. Accountability

○ Nobody is perfect. We are all continuously learning and improving. Although
we all put in our best effort daily, sometimes we slip up and break one of the
guidelines in this document. Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. We
count on each other to keep us accountable to these guidelines. If we see
someone deviating, kindly and constructively refer them to this document and
remember that next time it might be you who deviates.

○ Everyone can remind anyone in the company about our values. If there is a
disagreement about the interpretations, the discussion can be escalated to more
people within the company without repercussions.

4. Customer Centricity

○ We are obsessed with our customers. Not in a creepy stalker kind of way of
course 😉. But obsessed nonetheless. We deeply care about customer feedback
and take into account how they see the product evolving in the future. When making
decisions we will always put the customer first and make sure their voice is
somehow included into the discussion.

○ We expect everyone at Ziggu to get to know our customers one way or
another. Either by reading up on customer feedback reports, answering support
tickets on Intercom or by talking about our sector in general.
○ We always go above and beyond for our customers. In everything you do,
make sure to remember that our main reason for being is because our customers
are willing to make a considerable financial investment to use our solution. We have
the moral obligation to always respond in a respectful manner and to overdeliver
where possible. If you have any ideas to ‘go the extra mile’, you are encouraged to
suggest them and we will free up budget where possible. Examples could be small
gifts or cards whenever we by coincidence hear someone gets married or became a
parent or small improvements to the platform that bring joy to our users (perhaps we
should send out personalized birthday greetings on the platform in a special way…)

5. Work-Life Balance

○ Family first, work second. Having long lasting relationships with your loved
ones is the foundation of any good life. Having ‘ your house’ in order means you are
able to perform to your best abilities at work. If you ever experience personal issues,
someone passing away or any other challenging situations, please reach out to see
how we can help you deal with that situation.

○ Personal Health and Mental Health: One in four people will at some point in
their life experience mental health issues. This should not be taboo anymore. We
want to create an environment in which everyone is able to step forward if they
prefer to do so and reach out to us so we can help. Your personal health is one of
the most precious assets you have, if you need to undergo medical procedures or
need to work on improving your health, please do not feel hindered to communicate
this so we can help provide flexibility and assistance when necessary.

○ We all have our good and bad days, which is perfectly normal. We aren’t
robots destined to crank out +80 hours a week. We shouldn’t pretend otherwise. It is
futile to fight against the drag life can be sometimes . Embrace it. Accept it. If you are
having a bad day and you need to take a break, don’t hesitate to take one. If the last
couple of months have been difficult for whatever reason, don’t hesitate to reach out
to someone. In the end, we are all human and we should treat each other as one.

○ By default we do not have set working hours. We work on average 40 hours
per week and we expect common sense from everyone in how to distribute your time
during each day. Some functions (customer support for example) require attendance
during certain timeframes. Aim for the largest overlap possible with other team
members so planning meetings and calls is practical for everyone.

○ We do not expect anyone in the team to work during evenings or weekends.
These should be reserved for recharging your batteries and spending time with loved
ones. If you occasionally do need to or prefer to do some work during those times,
do not expect others to follow that example or to respond to your messages
immediately. Example: Some people in the team like to do some small tasks during
evenings or weekends such as answering emails. It is not expected from anyone
within Ziggu to send/receive answers to those emails straight away or during the
evenings or weekends.

○ Working remotely means we sometimes work from home. If the tenor of the
meeting allows, feel free to introduce your family or show us your pet!

6. Team Spirit

○ We strongly believe that our biggest asset is our team. That’s why we are very
picky in our hiring process. We don’t hire solely based on education or background,
but foremost on motivation, passion and team spirit. We’re proud to work everyday
alongside such interesting and passionate people. All of us share that same
eagerness and drive to push Ziggu forward.

○ Every Monday and Friday we host the “Ziggu Cyber Lunch”. We strongly
encourage everyone to attend as much as possible so we can all have lunch
together and talk about life in general. Show us your city, teach us something about
the country you live in or tell us how your weekend went!

○ Respect each other’s focus. Think twice before interrupting someone and
remember the standard workflow:

○ Do I really require an immediate answer to my question or can it wait
for a few hours/day?
■ If no: Send message asynchronously (Twist thread/ email)
■ If yes: send via direct message / call the other person

 

B. Productivity / How we work

1. Meetings

○ Keep meetings short and be well prepared. Internal meetings should have a
shared agenda that outlines what needs to be discussed during the meeting.
Everyone joining the meeting needs to have read these notes beforehand.
○ Set goals for each meeting and finish with clear actionable next steps. Avoid
‘leaving things in the air’.
○ Be respectful to other people’s time and effort. Give your full attention and do
not browse your phone or continue working on other stuff. If you don’t feel like you
belong in a certain meeting: raise this point and leave so you can focus agin and the
others can continue without distractions.
○ Be on time or if you can’t make it: inform others.

2. Ownership & short feedback loops

○ We expect team members to take ownership of the tasks they’ve been
assigned and to complete them diligently. Being given ownership of a task means
you are responsible for anticipating and solving problems. This of course does
not mean you are on your own. The entire Ziggu team, or even outside
knowledge is at your disposal. This however requires taking initiative and
pro-actively informing stakeholders when there is something you might not be
able to solve on your own.

○ We do not require you to report progress on a daily basis. We do however
encourage short feedback loops. We believe it’s better to (quickly) draft a first
version with some potential gaps or flaws rather than a detailed version that might
need to be reworked. The latter is a very wasteful process. If you are stuck on
something or could use a second pair of eyes, never hesitate to reach out. Ziggu is a
team effort.

○ Instead of daily check in reports we prefer weekly status updates per
department. This will be explained during onboarding.

 

3. Product knowledge

○ We feel it’s important for everyone at Ziggu to know how our solution works,
not only software engineers or product managers. We’re not property developers
ourselves so unfortunately we can’t dog food our own product. That doesn’t mean we
can’t do other things to get to learn what we do.

○ Everyone will be ‘formally’ invited at certain times during the year to help test
new features and give feedback on user experience and functionality. We encourage
everyone however to test out the platform as much as possible and give feedback to
our product team.

○ As our solution evolves, we require more help articles to document our
knowledge base. We encourage everyone to help write articles and provide insights
to our customers.

○ We document all our visits to and chats with customers. This provides an
invaluable amount of information that helps us understand our customers better.
Feel free to read up on them to better get to know the people we are building Ziggu
for.

○ During onboarding you will receive a presentation on the real estate industry
so you learn the ins and outs of our industry .

○ Never hesitate to ask someone to explain things you are uncertain about or
want to find out more on. Yannick used to be a property developer so he is also able
to share first hand experience (and we all know he likes to talk a lot).

4. Transparency

○ All information is available to anyone at Ziggu by default, except for sensitive
information that might potentially hurt the company or people within the company.
○ This means that by default, all files on Google Drive should be visible
to all team members and you should avoid using private files.

○ Always surface issues constructively: be transparent to the right people, at the
right time (when still actionable). If you make a mistake, don’t worry, we all make
mistakes. Correct it and proactively let the affected party and your team know how
you corrected it and how, if needed, you changed the process to prevent future
mistakes. In case of ‘major’ issues or when in doubt please also add Yannick in cc.
○ Anyone and anything can be questioned. Any past decisions and guidelines,
including this very document are open to questioning as long as you act in
accordance with them until they are changed.
○ When dealing with personal disagreements, enable everybody involved to
come to the same conclusion as you. Do your best to make the line of thinking
transparent to others even if they may disagree. Use an empirical, scientific method
to make your case and try to avoid potentially biased information.

5. Proactivity

○ We expect people at Ziggu to be proactive. Don’t wait until you are being told
something.

○ Taking initiative is something we value and encourage completely.

○ Don’t do something with two that you can do yourself.

6. Problem solving

○ Challenges and disagreements are part of every high functioning team. Ziggu
is no exception. Often these types of disagreements are the result of mistakes. It
goes without saying that we encourage everyone to work as diligently as possible in
order to avoid mistakes, but in the end, all of us make mistakes. It’s what makes us
human.

○ Investigate mistakes in a way that focuses on the situational aspects of a
failure’s mechanism and the decision-making process that led to the failure rather
than cast blame on a person or team. We hold blameless root cause analyses and
retrospectives for stakeholders to speak up without fear of punishment or retribution.

○ No one is helped with finger pointing, blaming or public shaming and we will
react to these types of behaviour very strictly.

 

7. Learning

○ If you watched Game of Thrones you will know this line: “You know nothing
Jon Snow” – Ygritte. It helps us remind the fact that there’s a bigger world of
knowledge out there that we know nothing about yet. We are all believers of lifelong
learning. We do not accept the status quo. We keep expanding our own personal
horizons. To the lands Westeros and beyond we go.

○ If you come across interesting books, online courses or resources that might
benefit your work or your team: feel free to suggest buying them and we will consider
them on a case by case basis in light of available budgets and practical use.

○ We have a separate channel called ‘Recommendations’ where we discuss
and share experiences that impacted us in some way: ranging from book reviews,
games, music, art, travel, food, etc… Feel free to read them and be inspired by them
and share your own experiences. This is no obligation, if you rather just read along:
fine as well!

8. Frugality

○ As you can read in our origin story, we bootstrapped our way forward for quite
a long time. It has taught us some very valuable life lessons. Vincent and Yannick,
the architecture nerds that they are, will refer to Mies van der Rohe’s famous saying:
Less is more. We believe we can accomplish more with less. Constraints breed
resourcefulness, self-sufficiency and invention. There are no extra points to be
gained for growing headcount for the sake of growing, inflating budget sizes or fixed
expenses.

C. Communication

1. General

○ Communication is key to building healthy relationships, both at home and at
work. Each and everyone of us has their own style of communication, often changing
depending on our mood, time of day or past experiences with certain people. It’s
unavoidable that misunderstandings, conflicts and disagreements pop up from time
to time. The following sections are lessons learned and guidelines how we make it
work at Ziggu.

2. Language

○ If you have read this far, it won’t be a surprise to you that our lingua franca is
English. This entails that for most of us our native language is not English. We
expect everyone to put in their best effort to speak and write proper English. We
prefer Oxford English spelling. Please help each other out if you see spelling
mistakes on official documents, our platform, websites, etc… We are all here to
improve.

○ Assume good intentions if you misunderstand something. Again,
English is for most of us not a native language, some things might get
lost in translation from time to time.

○ By default all communication and documents should be written in English.
Exceptions could be docs or feedback given by customers in their own native
language. Try to summarize these documents in English or provide Google Translate
translation links so people can easily read up on them.

○ If you still encounter any files that might be written in any other language than
English (Dutch or French likely): report them so we can translate them.

 

3. Put a face on it

○ We don’t see each other as much as people working in the same place. It’s
hard to get the nuances right if we don’t see each other. Written text often does not
hold the full scope of meaning and emotion that a verbal face to face conversation
has.

○ Always try to switch the camera on when you’re on a conference call with
someone.

○ Most services and apps we use allow for uploading an avatar: upload a profile
pic so we can make everything as personal as possible.

4. Write things down

○ We document as much as possible: in this manual, in meeting notes, in
issues. We do that because “the faintest pencil is better than the sharpest memory”.
It is far more efficient to read a document at your own convenience than to have to
ask and explain. Having information written down also helps for others to comment
and collaborate so we can improve.

5. Sharing is caring

○ We are big believers of sharing knowledge and the ‘paying it forward’
philosophy. We encourage everyone at Ziggu to have a similar mindset. If you found
something that might benefit others within Ziggu: share it. If you think we have
knowledge to offer a broader community of people outside of Ziggu: let it know so we
can contribute to open source projects or share that knowledge publicly.
○ Share problems that you run into, ask for help, be forthcoming with
information and above all: never fear to speak up. We believe in open dialogues.

6. Say thanks

○ This should go without saying but we find it so important we decided to
highlight it separately. Recognize the people that helped you publicly. Value people
for their effort.

7. Getting to know each other

○ Aside from our weekly lunches on Monday and Friday we realize it’s hard to
get to know other people at Ziggu, especially when working on different teams. We
don’t have the same coffee break small talk opportunities as traditional companies.
That doesn’t mean we should accept that as a given.

○ We periodically schedule 1-on-1’s between randomly matched people within
Ziggu for a chat so you can get to know each other a bit more. The main idea is not
to talk about work (but anything goes, so if you want to talk about Ziggu, feel free),
but to get to know the person behind the work.

○ Some conversation starters:
■ What’s the best thing you’ve got going on in your life at the
moment?
■ Is cereal soup? Why or why not?
■ What topic could you give a 20 minute presentation on without
any preparation
■ What’s the weirdest smell you have ever smelled?
■ What food do you love that a lot of people might find a bit odd?
■ What’s the most ridiculous fact you know?
■ What’s the biggest vehicle you have ever driven?
■ What do you find the most interesting period in history?

8. Short feedback loops

○ We prefer quick feedback loops instead of grinding away for hours or days on
trying to solve an issue.

○ We believe in (small) iterations, driven by data and informed decisions so we
can quickly test out assumptions.

○ Don’t expect your first version of something you are working on to be the final
version.

○ Where possible, break down large challenges or problem sets down into
smaller bite-size chunks.

 

9. No Ego

● Check your ego at the door.

● Don’t take yourself too seriously. Humour is one of the strongest emotions
that help us place things into perspective, helps bonding us together and lightens our
days.

● Accept you don’t know everything and that nobody expects you to know
everything. We are all here to learn.

● Don’t defend a point to win an argument just for the sake of winning or
doubling-down on a mistake. You are not your work; you don’t have to defend your
point. You do have a moral obligation to search for the right answer, with help
from others.

 

11. Speak freely

○ Speak freely without fear of repercussions, providing you do so in a respectful
manner.

○ Don’t be afraid to step on someone’s toes. We’re all grown-ups, we can take
constructive feedback and enter into dialogue with each other.

○ Speaking freely doesn’t mean saying whatever you want or think, always
speak with good intentions and with respect regarding other people’s views and
feelings.

○ Nothing is set in stone.

 

12. Ask questions

○ Don’t be afraid to ask a question. It’s never too late to ask a question either.

○ After your question has been answered and you believe it might benefit
others, document your questions so knowledge is shared.

○ There are no stupid questions.

 

13. Giving feedback

○ Be straightforward when giving feedback. There is no need to sugarcoat the
pill.

○ Be respectful and address the situation, not the person.

○ Assume people have good intentions.

○ Give praise in public but prefer to give negative feedback in a 1-on-1 personal
conversation. Use common sense when giving negative feedback: make sure it is
written in a constructive manner. When in doubt: first give feedback in person to the
one you are addressing, and share your feedback together afterwards with the team
if you both deem it necessary.

○ Video conference calls are preferred when giving feedback, try to avoid chat
tools that limit giving context.

 

14. Receiving feedback

○ Be receptive to feedback. Avoid putting your ego before common sense.
Receiving feedback helps you grow as a person.

○ Assume good intentions of the person giving you feedback.

○ Don’t let unfinished business linger. Escalate possible discussions to the team
so we can deal with them straight away and resolve them.

 

15. Show empathy and awareness

○ We take a lot of things in our own lives for granted or deem them to be
universal standards everyone should abide by. We are aware that our view on the
world might differ greatly from others and we empathize with their situation so we are
to understand where people are coming from.

○ There is a really great piece of writing better explaining these principles called
“This is water” by the late David Foster Wallace. If you find some time, you can
check it out here.

 

16. Twist guidelines

○ We use Twist because we favor the long-read style of writing instead of short
chat-like messages that might interrupt flow and don’t allow for nuance and
reflection.

○ Time-off: If you are taking time off (sick leave, holiday, parental leave, etc…)
please update your settings in your profile to reflect this.