How we work at Bird
A brief explanation of who we are and how we like to do things.
Bird (formerly MessageBird) first began in 2011 in a garage (yes, really), and back then “our way of working” was easier. The entire company sat within several feet of each other, and making announcements was as easy as standing up and saying a few words. As Bird has grown, times have changed — and while we no longer fit in a garage, we want to ensure our unique way of working evolves, survives, and thrives.
This document provides a clear and candid explanation of how we approach work at Bird today — it’s the essence of who we are and how we like to do things. Articulating this “culture” in words has been both exciting and challenging, and we admit that some parts made us feel uncomfortable expressing ourselves. We’ve included it all to provide an honest impression of our values, manage expectations through transparency, and emphasize how we collaborate with our most valued assets: our Birds.
Our Birds are diverse, smart, fast, and hungry — and our growth potential is limitless. We are excited to have you on board for the incredible journey that lies ahead!
Are you ready to build the future of communications with a quickly-scaling company that will never slow down?
#1. We are customer geeks
We’re all geeks about something. Whether it’s music, online gaming, sports, or history, we love talking about our passions and knowing more about them than just about anyone. At Bird, we “geek out” over our customers, both internal and external. Talking about them in great detail is our way of expressing our excitement and enthusiasm for them.
That means we aren’t just familiar with our customers and the products we sell — we also test-drive them every day. Our very own Inbox is used across the company, from customer service to finance to operations. We also have a voracious appetite to learn about our customers, to build the best possible solutions for them. Did you see that webinar? What do you think of that new pricing model? Did you read their latest blog post? Ultimately, we understand how customers use our products, why customers use them, and what business problems we help solve. (And we can’t stop talking about it!)
Are you curious about how the world communicates and hungry to learn new things every day?
#2. We move at 200 miles an hour and “get shit done”
In our business, speed matters. So, we move at 200 miles an hour in everything we do. Some people may think this speed is unreasonably high, but it’s a key contributor to our success.
For most Birds, once they get used to the pace, they never want to slow down!
Making decisions with speed means we sometimes make the wrong ones. Of course, that’s not our aim, but when it does happen, we take ownership, fix it, and move on. Decisions made to please everyone often end up accomplishing the exact opposite, so instead, we ask for input and keep the relevant parties informed. We’ll always go for the best version of an idea — and even if it’s not yours, you should still be able to commit.
The demands of our business and industry mean that traditional “9 to 6” mentalities don’t fly here. That’s not the corporate code for “we expect our Birds to work 12 hours a day” because that’s also not the case. However, we do put our customers first, which means we pay attention to Slack and email during off-peak hours, and we sometimes put in hours on evenings or weekends. But this flexibility works both ways!
As a rule, we have meetings with as few people as possible; not because we don’t want to be inclusive or build consensus (we do!), but because we want our Birds to be able to focus on their priorities. It’s easy to fall into the trap of accepting meeting invites, finding yourself with a full calendar, and feeling like you had a full day ... but we don’t believe that’s the best use of your time, and that’s not what we try to do at Bird.
Evolution is essential, and your priorities may shift as your needs and intel evolve. Sometimes that means we need to go slow to move fast. Sometimes that means we launch products faster than others, which may feel uncomfortable, but we do it because the market is dynamic and we need to keep up. We’ll gather the people with the right skills and experience — regardless of their job titles — or hire new senior leaders with diverse knowledge that can drive our business even further. No matter how challenging, we know that every decision we make is in the best interest of our company and our customers.
Can you adopt a flexible schedule to “get the job done” when needed, or do you prefer the routine of working 9 to 6, Monday to Friday?
To stay focused on your priorities, are you okay to not be in every meeting?*
#3. Roll up your sleeves and take a look under the hood
Successful Birds are well prepared. They’re inherently curious to “roll up their sleeves,” look under the hood, and get their hands dirty. Lazy thinking doesn’t fly here; we’re interested in the details and we’re skeptical when metrics and anecdotes differ. Instead of making assumptions, we develop solutions through a combination of reason, logic, and information.
We admire Birds who have an informed point of view before asking others; that doesn’t mean we can’t turn to our colleagues for answers or help (we absolutely can!) but we make a habit of trying things ourselves and stimulating others to do the same. You’ll probably also find that this curiosity is infectious! You’ll be surrounded by a flock of Birds who are equally as passionate and motivated to uncover out-of-the-box solutions.
Questions you’ll often hear us ask are, “What happens when you try it?” and “What happens when you build it yourself?” You can expect the status quo to be constantly challenged, which makes for an inspiring and innovative atmosphere. At the same time, we agree we don’t need to “know everything” before making a decision. While innovation is at the heart of our organization, we don’t have to shoot for the sky or reinvent the wheel.
Will you challenge yourself to think differently, find answers, build solutions, and test them yourself?
Do you only delegate, or will you dive in to get the job done yourself when needed?*
#4. We talk to each other like we talk to our friends
Bird’s mission is to make talking to a business as easy and as natural as talking to a friend. In our daily operations, we take the same approach: we collaborate and communicate with colleagues in the same way we interact with friends. Yes, really! We know that for an outsider this might seem like a false promise, but we mean it. We love to have fun and we don’t want it to “feel like work” — even though what we do is important (and we take that seriously!).
Great Birds set high standards to deliver quality work, continually raises the bar, and inspires others to do the same. They are competitive against themselves but not their colleagues, because we’re in it together. It’s “we” and “us” instead of “I” and “me”; we embrace a “team first” rather than a “me first” mentality.
This also means we care. We’re inclusive. We’re empathetic. We’re respectful. Different perspectives are invited to the table and that actively contributes to our collective success. Since we’re a remote company, we aim to over-communicate and keep Birds “in the loop” to avoid isolation or a lack of knowledge sharing. We assume positive intent and hear each other out. That means if a fellow Bird questions your idea, we don’t speculate that they have ulterior motives. Concerns often come from genuinely caring, so don’t rush to conclusions. You can calmly discuss feedback — and even if you disagree, you can listen and say thank you.
Do you want to make a name for yourself individually, or find the best solutions together with the best team?
Are you comfortable giving and receiving candid feedback?*
#5. We’re all owners
We are all owners so we do what’s best for the company, and we don’t need manager approval when we know the right thing to do. If things go wrong (and they sometimes do), we rally the troops, jump on a call, and firefight. There’s no blame game.
We want our Birds to be as comfortable talking about mistakes as they are talking about successes. We expect you to take ownership of your work and raise your hand if you’ve made an error. By admitting our faults we can learn, feel safer, and grow stronger.
Birds are empowered (and expected) to drive their development. We believe in performance management and feedback, but we’re not rigid in terms of career paths and box-checking. We pay for impact, so people who go above and beyond are rewarded.
Are you comfortable with taking risks, making decisions and sometimes failing?
Will you go above and beyond to create the company’s success?*
#6. Ignore the noise, stay laser-focused on the job
Truthfully, there will never be enough time in a day to accomplish everything on our “to-do” lists — that’s the nature of a fast-growing business and part of what makes it exciting! But we recognize that it can also be overwhelming. To ensure we stay on track to achieve our long-term vision, we focus on accomplishing the things that matter most while eliminating the background noise. There will always be a piece of tech to build, a customer who wants a new feature, or a market to address. Without focus, we could end up running in every direction at once … which means we’re not going anywhere at all.
If you’re fixated on job remit or you want to know exactly what you’ll be doing in six months, you’ll probably struggle working here. The complexity of our company is constantly changing, but that gives us room to design the future and push the company forward. Remember: with continuous change comes the endless possibility for growth!
Do you need daily structure? Are you comfortable in an ever-changing environment which might mean changing teams, new reporting lines, or editing what’s on your “to do” list?
In our first 10 years, we haven’t always followed a straight line, and our hunch is that in the next 10 years, we also won’t. Our culture will continue to evolve — just like the market, our customers, and our products — and that’s a good thing! It means that as the company grows, so do we. It also means things can change. What helps us successfully manage the process is being aligned in the way we work, so we can cross the finish line — together.
Are you a Bird who still loves making an impact at The Nest? (We hope your answer is "yes"!)