The 'Pasta' of Remote Work: Ownership Elements as Equity, Vision, Mission, and Values‍

Casey Fenton


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In a captivating keynote speech at the "Running Remote Conference 2023" in Lisbon, Casey Fenton, renowned for founding Couchsurfing and, presented a unique analogy that struck a chord with startup founders in the region. He likened the concept of remote work to cooking a pasta dish - a simple idea that conceals layers of nuanced complexity.

Now, imagine your global team as this delectable dish of pasta. Each ingredient, from the pasta itself to the sauce, cheese, and spices, plays a crucial role in creating a perfect blend. Similarly, as an employer, you have numerous ingredients at your disposal to create a productive, cohesive, and motivated remote team. The elements of ownership—equity, vision, mission, and values—are the key ingredients. These elements, when adequately incorporated, can significantly enhance the flavor of your team's performance.

The Ownership Mindset: Nurturing Personal Investment

An ownership mindset is a cornerstone of high-performing remote teams. But what is an ownership mindset? Essentially, it's when your remote employees feel personally invested in your company's success. They believe that their efforts and decisions have a tangible impact on your company's trajectory. They don't just execute tasks; they proactively seek to improve, innovate, and solve problems.

Cultivating an ownership mindset in your remote team is akin to adding pasta, the heart of your dish. It's the base on which everything else builds.

Cultivating an Ownership Mindset with Equity

Like a master chef stirring in the secret ingredient to give the pasta its unique flavor, you, as an employer, can offer equity compensation to cultivate an ownership mindset within your remote team. Here's how equity plays a pivotal role:

1. Fostering Personal Investment

When your employees have a stake in the company, they have a vested interest in its success. They can see the direct link between their contributions and the company's performance. This palpable connection enhances their sense of responsibility and motivates them to strive for excellence.

2. Enhancing Motivation and Commitment

Equity compensation serves as a powerful incentive for your remote employees. Knowing they own a part of the company can significantly boost their motivation and commitment. It's no longer just a job; they are now part of a journey where their efforts directly influence the company's success and, by extension, their own.

3. Promoting an Equitable Workplace Culture

Equity compensation communicates to your employees that they are valued not just for their labor but for their ideas, input, and creativity. It underscores the fact that everyone's contribution matters and has a direct impact on the company's value. This approach helps to create a more equitable and inclusive culture, breaking down hierarchical barriers and fostering a sense of unity.

4. Encouraging Innovation and Problem-Solving

When employees feel a sense of ownership, they are more likely to think outside the box, take initiative, and come up with innovative solutions. They don't merely complete tasks; they actively seek ways to improve and optimize their work.

5. Boosting Long-Term Retention

Equity compensation can also enhance employee retention, especially critical in a remote work setup where employees have numerous job opportunities at their fingertips. When they have a stake in the company, they're more likely to stay for the long haul, contributing to stability and continuity within your team.

By providing equity compensation, you're not only offering a financial incentive but also nurturing an environment where each member feels personally invested, highly motivated, and deeply committed. It's about creating a workspace where every individual sees the bigger picture and actively contributes to its realization. In essence, equity is the secret ingredient that transforms your remote team from a group of individuals into a cohesive, powerful entity.

Setting a Clear Vision and Mission: Guiding the Way

Just as a recipe guides you in cooking, a clear vision and mission guide your remote employees in their work. It's as though you're painting a picture of the desired taste you want from your dish (vision), and the method you follow to achieve it (mission). Here's how a clear vision and mission serve as the guiding posts for your remote team:

  • Providing a Direction: Your company's vision gives your team a long-term goal to strive towards. It's the beacon guiding your team's decisions and efforts, ensuring they're working towards a common end goal. In the remote setup, where direct oversight isn't always possible, this direction is particularly crucial.

  • Inspiring Dedication: The vision serves to inspire your team, sparking their motivation to contribute towards achieving it. When they see how their work fits into the bigger picture, it's likely to stimulate higher levels of dedication and commitment.

  • Outlining the Path: Your mission delineates the unique path your company follows to reach the vision. It offers a roadmap of what your company does, who you serve, and how you differentiate from others. This clarity helps your remote employees align their daily tasks with the overall objectives.

  • Encouraging Cohesion: A well-articulated mission can foster a sense of unity within your remote team. Even as they work independently, they understand the collective objective they are working towards. This unity is vital in enhancing collaboration, increasing productivity, and maintaining team cohesion.

  • Shaping Strategic Decisions: Both the vision and mission influence the strategic decisions you make as a company. They help assess opportunities and challenges in the context of whether they align with the company's goals. As such, they enable your team to make coherent and coordinated decisions, furthering your company's growth.

By clearly communicating your vision and mission to your remote team, you provide them with a sense of purpose, inspire them to contribute their best, and ensure they're all rowing in the same direction. It's like having everyone in the kitchen working harmoniously towards that perfect pasta dish.

The Role of Company Values: Aligning Efforts

Your company values are the special seasonings that give your dish character. They define your company's ethos, the beliefs, and principles that guide your actions and decisions. Here's how these values play a pivotal role in aligning the efforts of your remote team:

  • Creating a Common Language: Company values serve as a shared language for your global remote team. No matter where they are or what cultural background they come from, these values create a common understanding that guides everyone's actions and decisions.

  • Guiding Behaviour and Decision-Making: Company values set the standard for how your employees behave, how they interact with each other, and how they make decisions. They provide a reference point for what's considered acceptable and what's not, thus promoting consistency across your team.

  • Unifying the Team: By instilling a shared set of values, you foster a sense of unity within your remote team. These values bind them together, ensuring that despite geographical distances, they are all part of one collective entity, working towards the same goals.

  • Enhancing Employee Engagement: When employees identify with your company values, they are likely to have higher engagement and feel satisfied in their roles. It gives them a sense of belonging, of being part of something bigger than just their job.

  • Attracting Like-Minded Talent: Your company values also serve to attract potential talent who align with your ethos. This alignment ensures that new members will naturally fit into your team and contribute to the harmony and productivity of your remote setup.

Communicating and embodying these values in your organization's day-to-day operations is vital in ensuring that your remote employees are not only working independently, but they're also moving in the same direction, adhering to the same principles, and contributing to the company's unique identity.

Techniques and Tools for Cultivating an Ownership Mindset

Equipping your kitchen with the right tools and techniques is essential in cooking that perfect pasta dish. Similarly, certain techniques and tools can help cultivate an ownership mindset within your remote team.

Clear Communication

Ensure all team members understand their roles, and responsibilities, and how they contribute to the company's success. This transparency is crucial in fostering a sense of ownership. Use tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams to keep communication lines open and clear.

Employee Recognition

Acknowledge and reward contributions and performance achievements. This validation reinforces the employees' sense of ownership and encourages them to continue performing at their best. Tools like Bonusly and Kudos provide platforms for peer-to-peer recognition, enhancing motivation.

Foster Autonomy

Empower your remote employees to make decisions in their roles. Autonomy fosters a sense of trust and responsibility, crucial elements of ownership. Project management tools like Asana or Trello can help manage tasks while still providing autonomy.

Professional Development Opportunities

Encourage growth and development within your team. Providing opportunities for learning and advancement shows your investment in your team’s future. Platforms like LinkedIn Learning or Coursera offer a wide range of courses that employees can take advantage of.

Open Feedback Culture

Encourage open, two-way feedback. It not only helps identify areas of improvement but also gives your employees a voice, reinforcing their sense of ownership. Feedback tools like 15Five or SurveyMonkey can facilitate this process.

Equity Participation

As discussed earlier, offering equity compensation is a tangible way to cultivate an ownership mindset. Tools like Carta can help manage equity plans, making the process more streamlined and transparent.

These techniques, when coupled with the right tools, can help foster a strong sense of ownership within your remote team. After all, the ultimate goal is to create an environment where every member feels personally invested in the company's success. Just like how every ingredient contributes to the overall flavor of the pasta, every team member contributes to the company's success.

Want to know more about “remote recipes” for aligning employees in global teams? Check out our blog on ownership mindset here.

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Casey Fenton

Founder, Upstock & Couchsurfing, AI and Equity Innovator

Casey Fenton, the founder of Upstock & Couchsurfing and an AI and equity innovator, has revolutionized how we perceive and implement equity in the workplace. His foresight in creating platforms that not only connect people but also align their interests towards communal and corporate prosperity has established him as a pivotal figure in technology and community building. Casey speaks worldwide on topics including ownership mindset, worker equity, With Upstock and Couchsurfing, he has demonstrated an unparalleled expertise in harnessing technology for the betterment of community interaction and organizational benefits.

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