Adii Pienaar

Founder of Cogsy

The Interview

  • Tell us about what you do and where your team is located.
    Cogsy empowers modern retail brands to take smarter actions more proactively with holistic insights based on all of their operational data.

    I'm located in Cape Town and Stefano, my co-founder, is in Zurich. We have team members from Latvia, Sri Lanka, India, United States, Hungary, Nicaragua, Belgium and South Africa.
  • What's a modern benefit you offer your team that isn't mainstream yet?
    I want to say that our unlimited and minimum PTO policy is very progressive... Team members can take as much time off as they'd like, but when it's only unlimited, everyone feels guilty about taking time off. So we encourage everyone to take at least 28 days off (of which you take 7 consecutive days off at least once) in any 12 month period.

    We also have a monthly allowance for personal development and wellness, where we encourage everyone to spend it on whatever would be an investment in themselves. No questions asked. And the only "criteria" is that they should be able to look their team mates in the eye and say "I spend my allowance on X".

  • Tell us about your approach to meetings vs async communication?
    We default to async and effectively use a combination of Slack, Basecamp and Notion for different kinds of discussions / conversations / decisions.

    We do a weekly sync with the whole team that is part about alignment on current projects and part just connection. For the rest of it, we defer to the individuals involved to decide whether a quick call would be better than async.

  • What's your favourite tool for remote collaboration?
    I don't think specific tools are as important for remote collaboration. What is more important is the values, culture and discipline about how a remote team collaborates and communicates. Specific tools are highly subjective and based on preferences in the end. The other things matter much more.

    An example for me would be considering Slack vs Twist. Whether either is better for async or calmer communication is moot. What is important is the clarity that the team has around communication expectations. If everyone on my team knows that Adii sometimes likes to do a bit of work on a Saturday, might sent someone on the team a message and does not expect them to even look at it until Monday, then the tool (or notification settings of the tool) is not important.

    Finally, maybe not a tool in the sense of the question here, but regular team off-sites or retreats is an important part of our remote and distributed culture. Every 6 months or so, we'll get the team together for a week somewhere in the world. That week is much less about work and much more about just living, cooking, eating and having fun together. It's about building relationships. And every time after a retreat, the dynamism, energy and collaboration is off the charts.

  • Can you give us one prediction for the future of work?
    I think more teams will ultimately remix their own version of "how we work", because the focus will shift from the team to the individual. The pandemic has accelerated remote work, which means most individuals have significantly more options of whose team they would like to join. The best individuals will want to join teams that empower them to bring their whole, unique selves to work. Similarly I believe the teams that can do that, will get the best and most out of the humans that join them.

    In the past, teams were either in office or remote. The future will be a remix based on the unique preferences of the individuals of every team. The teams that can nurture that individuality, diversity and do so in an inclusive manner will win.  

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