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People don’t thrive from happy hours, ping pong tables, or perks. People thrive when they are supported by their team to do meaningful work, and find harmony between their career and personal lives.

Have questions about anything here? Let us know. We’re a team with opinions on what people-first means, but we’re not the authority. Feedback is welcome.

A team doesn’t have to support every item here, but we look for as many as possible. These are indicators of a healthier, people-centric approach to running a business.

Asynchronous communication

These companies create a culture where communication happens on your time, not everyone else’s. Asynchronous channels are the norm, and live chat and urgent requests are the exceptions.

Async Communication

Deep work

A strong team recognizes the value that uninterrupted work brings to their bottom line. They take every measure to ensure team members can get heads-down, tackling the problems that matter most to the company and its customers. A culture that emphasizes focus promotes meaningful work over busy work. (Based on the book by Cal Newport.)

Deep Work

Diverse and inclusive

Teams that put people first work hard to check their own biases and actively seek to support underrepresented people. This starts with how they hire, to cultivating a culture that gives all voices a chance to speak. And they’re transparent about their efforts, both with their team and the rest of the world.

Flexible schedules

Life happens during 9 to 5. Great companies support a healthy balance between work and family and the rest of life. Team members are free to choose the hours that suit them best, and are encouraged to put work away if they hit the wall or need a break.

Flexible Schedule


The best teams aren’t worried about how many hours team members are in a chair — they focus on whether the team’s efforts are getting results. They set goals with clear measurements, review results, and make necessary changes along the way.

Long-Term Planning Shared Goal Setting

Professional development

The best companies offer ways for team members to improve their skills and knowledge (book and conference allowance, online courses). Regular 1-on-1’s, career plans, and peer reviews ensure each individual is supported and encouraged.

Regular 1×1’s Personal Growth Plans Mentorship Process Professional Allowance

Remote work

The location of a team is not as important as how a company treats its people and enables them to do their best work: there is no one-size-fits-all approach. However, allowing team members to work remotely shows a company is willing to put the needs of their team first.

There are two criteria job seekers want to know about:

  • Is a company remote-first? This culture acts as if everyone is remote, and communication and decision-making happen in shared tools. You may have an office, but it's only there for when team members want to use it.
  • Is a company remote-friendly? This culture has an office, but team members are welcome to work from home whenever they want.
Remote First Remote Friendly Company Retreats Office Allowance

Sensible hours

Forty hours or less per week. Healthy companies understand that willpower and mental energy are limited resources. Rest is required for people to do their best work, so long hours and long weeks are counter-productive to team goals.

40 Hours or Less