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Introducing The Reef: Oyster’s Open-Source Employee Guide

Learn all about how we work at Oyster.
June 15, 2022
Oyster Team
Introducing The Reef: Oyster's open-source employee guide

As a global employment platform, Oyster’s mission is to help companies hire the best talent anywhere in the world, build globally distributed teams, and thrive in the new world of work. We’re a distributed company ourselves, with 600 people working from over 70 countries around the world.

We consider our diversity a source of strength, but we’ve had to think carefully about designing how we work in a way that enables our global team to collaborate successfully across borders and time zones.

After all, there’s no playbook for how to work effectively as a globally distributed company. How can teams communicate and collaborate across far-flung time zones? How do you manage projects and ensure seamless operations? How do you manage teams, build culture, and facilitate social interaction and engagement?

We’ve put a lot of thought into how we work, designing work norms and practices to enable and empower our distributed teams to be successful. We’ve experimented and innovated, and we’re proud of what we’ve designed and built. Now we want to help other companies by sharing what we’ve learned.

That’s why we created The Reef: Oyster’s Open-Source Employee Guide, which we’re delighted to share with the world. Whether you’re in People Ops at a distributed company, or a manager of distributed teams, or a remote worker, or simply curious about the future of work, we hope this guide will inspire and empower you.

What is The Reef: Oyster’s Open-Source Employee Guide?

The Reef: Oyster’s Open-Source Employee Guide is a set of public Notion pages that explain how we work at Oyster as a global, distributed, asynchronous organization. It codifies our workplace design, which has been purposefully designed by our People and Workplace Design teams over the past two years.

The Reef offers a window into Oyster’s culture and inner workings—who we are as a company, why we’re distributed, and how we work together. It explains how we operate as a distributed and asynchronous workplace—how we communicate and collaborate, how we handle meetings, how we hand off work, how we look after our well-being, how we socialize, and so on.

You can think of The Reef as a simplified version of Oyster’s internal operating system. It’s our source of truth for internal processes and practices that enable us to be a high-functioning, high-performing distributed company—not in spite of, but because we’ve brought together the best people from around the world. 

Why open-source our Employee Guide?

At Oyster, we believe in transparency as a way to build trust, so we’re big fans of building in public and sharing what we learn.

For instance, in our Building in Public content series, our Workplace Design team (previously known as the Remote Operations team) has been sharing their insights, experiments, challenges, and lessons learned from building and managing a globally distributed workforce at Oyster. In addition, through the Oyster Academy, we’ve distilled our knowledge of distributed work strategies and best practices (for both employees and managers) into free online courses to help people and teams acquire the skills they need for the new era of work.

The Reef: Oyster’s Open-Source Employee Guide is part of our continued efforts to publicly share our approach and philosophy as a successful distributed company. We want to be transparent about how we work—our processes, tools, rituals, and more—and make that information public so that other companies can learn and be inspired.

As a global employment platform, Oyster’s mission is to help companies thrive by building globally distributed teams. To support that mission, it’s crucial that we enable and empower companies to successfully adopt a distributed model of the workplace. Our Open-Source Employee Guide is a source of practical strategies, tools, frameworks, and best practices based on what we’ve learned from operating in this way for the last 2.5 years, maintaining a high-performing team even while growing our headcount 18x in 2021 alone.

A quick overview of The Reef: Oyster’s Open-Source Employee Guide 

Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll find in The Reef:

  • What distributed work means, why Oyster operates as a distributed company, and the advantages of working in this way.
  • Key principles of distributed and asynchronous work, such as the importance of documentation, over-communicating, focusing on outputs over inputs, and having clear systems and processes.
  • How to organize your workday regardless of your time zone by ‘following the sun’ and its four pillars: effective project management, handing off work, being flexible with meetings, and socializing within and across time zones.

Designing the workplace of the future is both exciting and never complete. It’s an ongoing process of learning and discovery, iteration and improvement. So our Open-Source Employee Guide is a living document that’ll continue to evolve over time. In the meantime, we hope you’ll enjoy exploring The Reef.

Ready to learn more? Head on over to The Reef: Oyster’s Open-Source Employee Guide.

About Oyster

Oyster is a global employment platform that empowers visionary People Ops leaders to manage and care for a thriving global workforce. Through its compliant hiring process, streamlined payroll, and localized benefits offerings, companies can bring talent aboard no matter where they're located

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