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GitLab: DevOps Lifecycle Platform

About: GitLab is an open core company which develops software for the software development lifecycle used by more than 100,000 organizations and has an active community of more than 2200 contributors.

Location: Fully-remote, 1288 team members across 67 countries.

As GitLab’s Head of Remote, Darren Murph leads the intersection of culture, process, transparency, collaboration, efficiency, inclusivity, onboarding, hiring, employer branding, and communication.

Intentional company culture based on 6 core values

GitLab’s culture is intentional, and is derived from the extensive list of sub-values that provide clear examples of how to live out our six core values on a day-to-day basis. 

Culture is an assurance that each employee respects, admires, and feels invested in a company’s values, and that leadership works to ensure values are not violated. Every decision a business makes should align with their values. Otherwise, values will be seen as “merely words,” and culture will disintegrate.

In an all-remote setting, there are no daily in-person interactions where cues are absorbed. Hence, it is vital to over-communicate not just in daily work, but in explaining and detailing values that company culture is built upon.

Work-life balance at GitLab

The traditional view of work-life balance insinuates that work and life are on opposite ends of a scale, with an individual responsible for ensuring that neither side teeters too far in one direction. This creates a climate where work and life are naturally at odds with one another, ever at war for the hours in your day.

A healthier approach, enabled by all-remote, is work-life harmony. When your work and your life are in harmony, there’s less friction. You’re free to approach your day not as a competition between two factions, but as one experience with two forces that more naturally give and take as needed.

GitLab maintains a sub-value of “family and friends first, work second.” We have a “no ask, must tell” vacation policy that encourages team members to take the time they need whenever they need it to ensure overall wellness. 

We also have a monthly Slack reminder to consider taking time away from work to recharge, and recently celebrated a company-wide Family and Friends Day

Asynchronous, efficient, and inclusive: Working the GitLab way

We take initiative to operate asynchronously whenever possible. This shows care and consideration for those who may not be in the same time zone, are traveling outside of their usual time zone, or are structuring their day around pressing commitments at home or in their community.

This is demonstrated by communicating recordings of meetings, using GitLab Issues and Merge Requests rather than texts, calls, or Slack messages, and being sensitive to local holidays and vacation statuses. We encourage others to default to documentation — working handbook-first — rather than pressuring others to be online outside of their working hours.

Company values

Collaboration

Results

Efficiency

Diversity & Inclusion

Iteration

Transparency

GitLab’s six company values

To be effective, and to impact culture in an ongoing, meaningful, sustainable way, values must be more than words written on a page. Values must be lived, with each day representing a new opportunity to refamiliarize oneself with said values and strive to implement them in every professional interaction.

This is particularly meaningful in an all-remote setting. With less physical interaction, there’s less buffer to compensate for indifference towards company values. Team morale is closely linked to the overall respect given to values.

Two, an overarching belief in a company’s values contributes to less ambiguity in decision making. Respected values serve as a universal north star, aligning team members on how to address any challenge or disagreement, even when there’s debate related to approach or outcome.

A big thank you to Darren Murph, Gitlab’s Head of Remote, and the GitLab team for their collaboration on this piece. To find out more about GitLab, check out their website.

Every company approaches culture and work-life balance in their own unique way. Company Cultures is a project by Balance the Grind to showcase different workplaces and cultures from around the world.