TradeLink News

How TradeLink Uses a Virtual Office to Create a Unique Remote-First Culture

When most people think about 'remote-first', people tend to have this idea of someone sitting alone in a dark room, checking their Slack and Microsoft Teams every hour, with little to no social interaction and connection. With TradeLink, this couldn't be more wrong. We are challenging this stereotype.

For us, remote-first is building a new kind of global society - sharing similar experiences and connectedness as common office-only companies, while offering more flexibility and trust to its people.

Choosing to turn completely remote early on implies many positive opportunities: We have the option to hire the best talents in the world and without limits in market depth, we are creating an extremely efficient and fast-moving organization where our TradeLinkers have personal flexibility on where they live, and we are creating an environment where only impact counts. And then it came down to one crucial question - DOES or CAN culture have the ability to scale digitally? Our biggest learning - YES it can!

Over the past 2 years, we've tried our fair share of communication video tools to enable us to create a socially engaging working environment, ranging from Mattermost to 8x8, and Spatial. However, we found that none of these tools really empowered our people to be digitally involved. And then we found Gather, a platform solution promising a virtual office.

So what exactly is Gather? Gather helps remote teams build digital spaces that make virtual interactions more human. From collaborating in meetings to stopping by someone's digital desk to say "hi," Gather brings authenticity, spontaneity, and human-first collaboration to distributed teams.

Implementing a Virtual Office from 0-100

We believe the best thing to have is a radical decision-making process when implementing a company-wide communication tool, so we tested Gather with our TradeLinkers over 3 full days. The verdict? Our TradeLinkers were 110% sure this was the tool we wanted to work with!

"Gather was a complete game-changer for us " - Frederic Krahforst, CEO & Co-Founder

If you're thinking about changing your internal communication internally, don't do it with a trial period and transition phase. Do it straight away! People love and can adapt easily and faster! We were able to take this approach as part of our radical implementation plan and decided to replace every internal meeting we had to be in Gather from one day to another.

We started off with just 1 administrator, who helped to build and manage the workspace. As we scaled quickly, we sought more administrators and 'builders' to personalize our office space. Each team received their own 'office space' and took responsibility for designing this space.

Individual designed spaces by the teams in our office

In addition to team spaces, we introduced shared spaces for socializing and coming together, such as our TradeLink Restaurant and sofas for our weekly 'coffee connection' catch-ups', our TradeLink Lounge Bar, which we use for hosting our weekly company-wide meetings, a co-working space where everyone can sit in regardless of what team they're in, and our 'call islands', where we can sit on a deck chair or towel and take a call!  

Gather not only enabled us to build and develop these different company and team spaces, but also helped to establish shared common guidelines and boundaries with one another at work. For example, we use our 'call islands' to take calls with external clients. When on an island, all other TradeLinkers know not to disturb you, which is our version of 'do not disturb mode', which Gather also allows us to implement. Another space we built in our Gather town is our 'stage' area, where TradeLinkers can speak on a megaphone and broadcast to the whole company at once. Such simple established town rules we have helped us to work proactively, productively, and collaboratively.

How we use Gather

Gather is our home and our way to feel connected. We believe that communication is key to the success of our remote-first company. We consistently work on clear and regular communication enabled by Gather to ensure everyone is on the same page, understands their roles, and has a path for further growth and development.  

Company meetings at the bar

We use Gather for:

  • Our company Monday All-Hands and Friday Check-Out, where we all gather in our TradeLink Lounge and Bar!
  • Team meetings and events - We organize virtual cooking nights on Gather, poker nights, game nights, and happy hours. Just last week our P&C team organized their own game night and used Gather to play Codenames!
  • 1:1 meetings between TradeLinkers
  • Interviewing potential candidates - We want to show candidates how we work and organize ourselves. We've built up our own office and our candidates can visualize themselves being part of our TradeLink community.
  • Onboarding our new TradeLinkers, by hosting all Onboarding sessions on the Gather platform, and giving new joiners an 'office tour'.
  • Lunch & Learn sessions, where we give TradeLinkers more space to shine by presenting what they have been working on or what they have achieved!
  • Generally keeping our community feel alive! - We love our virtual office because it lets us keep the spontaneity of an in-person office alive, and it's a lot of fun walking (or driving!) around our Gather office with our own personalized avatar.

1:1 meetings are as easy as walking over to your colleague

Lunch & learn sessions

How Gather aligns with our TradeLink Values

We're creating a world of frictionless collaboration and that starts in our team. One of the most important reasons why we chose Gather, was that it enabled us to implement and see our values demonstrated live in action! With our TradeLink value of 'Trusted Team', Gather supports us to deliver timely feedback, reviews decisions together, shares information, and ensures everybody feels heard.

"Gather is perfect for all of us as it enables us to onboard a new joiner quickly. They quickly learn who is working in which team and can build these connections within a matter of a few days! Easy and efficient onboarding processes. It's uncomplicated" - Mareike Knappe, Head of People & Culture

All our communication, tools, processes, and events are deliberately designed and chosen to make work enjoyable and effective, no matter where our TradeLinkers are in the world. Embracing our value of 'A Borderless World', Gather helps us to connect with our international TradeLinkers, sharing a single remote-first work environment and sense of belonging with a close collaborative culture driven by impact. Today we are proud to have 60 TradeLinkers, 9 nationalities, spread over 3 continents!

How our Virtual Office has changed our working experience

Gather has changed and enhanced the way that we break borders and empower an entirely international company. We have felt the positive impact of Gather on the way we work from Day 1.  

Start the day at your personal desk

What our TradeLinkers say about Gather

  • Gather has been a gamechanger for our remote work. Jumping on a call has never been easier. In fact its nothing like a video call, its actually the closest you can get to the feeling of sitting in one room. - Tobias Nendel, CTO & Co-Founder
  • "So much of my work is to align people, and being able to "just pop in for a quick chat", usually in offices, has always been a huge success driver for me. With Gather, I can do that from home! There is very little difference to how it feels in-person - something I never even got close to using Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or Slack " - Dennis Drees, Product Manager
  • "Every morning I wake up, go for a run, grab my coffee, and sign into Gather. It really feels like I am opening my office door with my keys and there is no difference between whether I was at a corporate office or at home. Gather is helping drive the future of work!" - Lou Bingham, Junior People Experience & Office Manager
  • "Gather is a complete game-changer when it comes to remote work - having everyone around in our digital office really helped us to take remote collaboration to the next level!" - Frederik Mann, Product Success Manager
  • "Using Map Maker to design our virtual office is like building yourself a home" - Uwe Pfeiffer, Sales Development Representative
  • "Where it be seeing other people sitting in their offices working to celebrate our team and company wins altogether, Gather helps me to stay focused and supported in my daily work" - Zoē Floyd, Intern

Design the office space with hundreds of objects you never thought of

How about you?

Are you interested in experiencing what a strong remote-first culture feels like? Head over to our career page Jobs at TradeLink and check out our open roles today!

Do you want to know even more about our collaboration with Gather? Check out their blog article as well.

About TradeLink :

TradeLink was founded in 2020 by Frederic Krahforst and Tobias Nendel in Munich and works remote-first with 60 employees from 7 countries. The team pursues the goal of frictionless supply chains by developing the easiest way to collaborate within B2B logistics. 

Already more than 1,000 companies successfully use TradeLink for delivery coordination. With its platform, TradeLink radically simplifies supply chain collaboration between all involved supply partners for efficient and predictive logistics. TradeLink connects all parties with a few clicks within one platform, delivers automation around the warehouse, and enables detailed KPI and performance insights for optimization. 

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