Joanie Wang

Director of Marketing and Brand at Expensify

The Interview

• Tell us a little bit about your company and mission.
Expensify is a payments superapp that helps individuals and businesses around the world simplify the way they manage money. Today, as one of the highest revenue-per-employee companies in the world, we have more than 10 million people using Expensify across the globe. We're the fastest-growing preaccounting platform in the world, with more customers than the rest of the industry combined. We reimburse millions of dollars every day, process billions every year, and serve customers in more than 200 countries and territories. We hope that our unique approach to solving a real-world problem allows people to spend less time managing expenses and more time pursuing their real goals. You can read more about our company here.

Internally, our mission is to live rich, have fun, and save the world.

• Where is your team located? Are you all remote or do you maintain an office?
We are a remote-first company that has lounges in San Francisco and Portland, OR; employees in those cities can choose to WFH or come into the office in any cadence they prefer - there's no requirement to come in or be there. We have employees all over the world, including Melbourne, Taipei, Toronto, London, Ouagadougou, Baltimore, Maui, Dubai, Mumbai, Nashville, NYC, Sao Paulo, Cairo, and more.

• What is your approach to async communication vs. synchronous meetings?
With a truly global team, we prioritize and prefer as much as possible to do asynchronous meetings so we can be as inclusive as possible. We've almost completely eliminated non-1:1 video calls (fistbumps pairing up random employees to get to know one another, mentor meetings, etc are the exceptions) by teaching and encouraging employees to conduct all their meetings via Slack and the Threads feature. Not only that, but doing slack meetings has made us better written communicators. We are better at providing context and summary in slack or in documents so that anyone can jump into a project, catch up, and get involved. Video calls are a last resort if we're unable to reach a conclusion on a decision, but it's rarely used. We have a super transparent culture that prioritizes #writingitdown so that anyone can learn how to do anything (StackOverflow Teams is a great Q&A tool we've used to help accelerate this learning) and helps strengthen our asynchronous culture. We've always prioritize #flatness rather than management tiers when possible and give employees the freedom to choose their hours for what works for them. All of these elements of our culture really helped us make asynchronous communication the default.

• Do you maintain set working hours or do you let employees manage their own schedules?
Employees manage their own schedules -we have a tool called Chronos to help employees manage their time. Employees pick the target number of hours they'd like to work for the week, which also asks them to account for time not working (vacation, holidays, sick days), and that tool helps them manage their time. This flexibility and self-management means if someone needs to take a last-minute time off for something unexpected or taking time off to rest, they can do so without feeling like they need to check in periodically.

• What are the top two perks you offer your team?
I think people prioritize perks differently depending on what they're looking for, but as an organization, we always try to think beyond the "thing" that is offered by also thinking about how each and every single perk we offer can improve employees' lives continuously and build on our team culture/values. I'd say one of my favorite perks is our social budget - we have a chat channel called #social, and with the social budget, anyone can propose an activity (or even lunch in the office) and as long as they tag the entire team/relevant location, each employee is covered up to $75. There's no limit to the number of activities, and you're encouraged to bring a partner, spouse, and sometimes even your kids. It really helps us build a sense of community here, which makes it that much more collaborative and understanding when we are working on solving hard problems through Slack. Examples of what the social budget has been used for include art classes, happy hours, winery days, boat excursions, museum trips, comedy nights, live shows, weekly dinners, remote secret santa, and more. Our offshore trips are another example of another perk I love that is not just a fun WFtrip, but a way to bring the team together.

I also think our healthcare benefits are no joke - seeing the conversations happening around the country, I’m reminded and grateful of how great our coverage is when a medical professional looks at my insurance and is surprised by the coverage that’s offered. That said, I think our equity program is incredibly generous, and probably my second favorite perk. Everyone owns a piece of the company they build, with generous equity compensation in the form of an Employee Stock Purchase Plan (ESPP) and Long Term Incentive Plan (LTIP), as well as matching to our 401(k) retirement plan.

• What's your favourite tool for remote collaboration?
Having a chat-based communication system using Slack + New Expensify makes asynchronous discussion and collaboration incredibly easy and inclusive. It's easy to catch up on slack, and as we do this more and more, we've all gotten better at written communication as well. We spend less time in meetings because we're not afraid to cancel them. Given that, it means that when we do have face time with our colleagues, it's extra special. I also love our Chronos tool because it helps us reach our goals by helping us figure out how much time we want to put into work and thus how we can achieve our personal goals via work, while also giving us the freedom and reprieve during time off to take completely unplugged vacations.

• Can you share one prediction for the future of work?
With remote work, there is no such thing as a separation of work and life in the classic sense and we are seeing a convergence on work/life balance insofar as these two concepts can no longer be considered as separate things. It is now possible to travel the world and still work a 9-5 - people no longer have to put off what used to seem like plans for retirement, but can live their best lives now. We're already seeing countries creating incentives to help revitalize their smaller cities, which has infinite, exciting potential in terms of solving issues like aging towns and creating affordable living conditions for all by decentralizing where people live and work. The future of work is movement - the ability to give employees the chance to physically be where they and their families would like to be. As a result, that means employers have to be more creative in creating the community at work that used to exist by default through shared physical space and proximity. Perks like the social policy or offshore will become more of the norm than an exception.

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