Our journey to flexible working
When we started in 2013, we were a co-located team here in Oslo. Then life evolved for some team members, requiring them to move. Not wanting to lose a valued team member, we decided to make it work and started playing with ways to work together over distance. We quickly identified the different challenges that collaborating remotely can bring. Turns out this was a great way to empathize with our customers and identify the challenges of remote collaboration that our product needed to solve.
Today, we are 25 people spread across 10 locations. Some live in big cities, others in small villages where their families are. If they need to move, their job moves with them. For our team members, and also for our customers, we know that the ability to decouple location from work can be life-changing. They can afford the house they want, can spend less time commuting, be closer to nature, and their children get to grow up seeing their grandparents every day. Everyone on our team enjoys the enormous benefits that a flexible work policy brings, and we truly believe the future of work will gravitate towards this direction.
Work life is changing
We believe people do their best work when they are happy and live a meaningful life. When it comes to creativity, there is no ‘on’ button you can press to make people their most productive. Their intrinsic motivation and drive is key to the quality of work. Different people need different surroundings to do their best work, and each and every one of us knows best what works for ourselves. With flexibility to collaborate from anywhere, team members can take back control of their work day and reduce the stress of balancing work and personal life.
2019 has really been the year when remote and flexible work has hit the mainstream market. Recent studies have shown that 63% of US companies now have remote workers. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that 29% of workers could work at home, and 25% (36 million) sometimes worked at home. 57% of workers had a flexible schedule in which they were able to vary the times they began and stopped working. When looking at changes in transportation, it's clear that the change is real: The fastest growing commute type is now no commute.
We believe that flexible working can fundamentally change our societies for the better, by putting human needs at the center. As the mom of a 1-year-old, I have experienced first hand the value of being able to adjust my working day and location as needed. Some days my partner and I have to take turns joining important meetings from home while taking care of a sick child. This kind of flexibility has the potential to make work life more inclusive, not just for working parents, but also for people with disabilities who struggle with travelling to an office.
Decoupling work from location, also enables geographic sustainability — that small, local communities can survive even if traditional jobs are disappearing. The US Census Bureau found remote working to be “most common in less-dense states with ample opportunities for outdoor recreation” (something we in Norway can relate to). The state of Utah has even rolled out a work-from-home program, after finding in trials that productivity of workers rose more than 20%.
We believe in bringing humanity back to work, as personal relationships are at the core of the knowledge economy. By making it possible to collaborate as well over video as you can in real life, we want to give you the choice to work from where your life happens. To allow you to be in a place where you can think and focus, but also allow a seamless and instant connection with others when you need to.
That is why our vision is to give people the freedom to work and live where they thrive.
When developing the new Whereby brand, this vision has been at the core.
Finding a new name
To come up with a new name, we worked with the naming agency A Hundred Monkeys in Berkeley, California. They have been in the business of naming things since 1990, and even wrote a book about how to name your company. Their team took us through a battle-tried process in order to explore names that aligned with our mission. The meaning of our new name Whereby is “the means or method by which something gets done”, which nicely aligns with our goal of helping users collaborating. It is also composed of the two words “Where”, indicating location, and “By”, indicating closeness, and was short and simple enough to work globally (we are used in literally every country and territory worldwide every month). It is a word that is not very common in everyday language anymore, and feels a bit formal/literary to most people. But that also means it is unique and available for us to fill it with our own meaning.
Our new brand identity
To develop the new brand identity, we got help from Oslo-based design agency Heydays. We want Whereby to be a tool that helps you stay focused and reduces your stress by letting you have the meetings you need to have, no matter where you are. The time we are living in now, requires exploration of new ways of working and more sustainable solutions for how to organize our society. All of this is reflected in the new colors and design. Our new visual profile is designed to spark imagination and curiosity, while giving a feeling of calmness. Being based here in Norway with a tradition of having team gatherings in the mountains, we also included elements of nature. When creating the new profile Heydays turned to the land of fantasy, fairy tales, dreams, and poetry.
The inspiration for our new fonts came from wonderful books of old times — one of the ways people then had to communicate and share knowledge. Even if the technology is new, the need for human communication is perhaps greater than ever. Our main font is a customized version of Roslindale, developed by font designer David Jonathan Ross.
Very in line with our vision, David has built up his own type foundry business while living in the hills of Western Massachusetts with his partner and their two dogs. David has previously designed the name plate for the Wall Street Journal, and has innovated by starting a font club where you can subscribe to get a new font every month. We were lucky enough to get David to adapt the font in a custom version with open type features for us, so that whenever we write Whereby in text it turns into the logo:
The illustrations are created by French illustrator duo Icinori, who travel all over the world to have exhibitions, workshops and work with clients (they have previously worked with Le Monde, New York Times, Wired and Forbes). We wanted an illustration style that was different from the “flat color, simple shape” style that has almost become the default for SaaS companies nowadays. Icinori has a unique artistic style, playing on surrealism and dreaming, which we found to fit well with our ambition of curiosity and exploring new ways for the future. We worked with them to come up with a universe of characters who collaborate on exploring their surroundings and building things. The colors used are inspired by nature, to give a feeling of humanity and calmness.
Like the illustrations above, our team has had quite the journey this year. In addition to changing our name, domain and brand identity, we have also done a complete rewrite of our web client with lots of new improvements, and launched our Business plan. We have collaborated over thousands of miles and half a dozen time zones to bring you a new look and feel that we hope will inspire and encourage you to keep exploring and work where you thrive. These kinds of experiences are shaping the future of work and we want to hear yours! Let us know in the comments below or shoot us an email.
Ingrid Odegaard, Co-founder of Whereby