Pollen: A Culture of Freedom & Ownership

Guest Post | | 4 min read

We asked some of our exhibitors at #SMRnov19 to tell us about the interesting and exciting parts of their company. Here the team from Pollen tell us about a unique aspect of their culture.

Our whole culture at Pollen is based on Freedom and Ownership, so that everyone can design the life they want – this means that clear goals are set so everyone knows what results are expected, but how they go about delivering them is up to them. You choose when and where you work, the amount of holiday you need and the meetings you should be attending to perform at your best.

So what does that really look like? Here are some personal accounts from people working at Pollen, and how Freedom & Ownership works for them!

Sheila Htin-Kyaw, Apprentice Software Engineer

What I love about Freedom & Ownership is that, as long as you’re hitting your goals, it’s totally up to you to work in the way that suits you. For me, that mostly means working from home where I’m a lot more comfortable and can concentrate. In the evenings and weekends I’m constantly surrounded by family so I really relish the time on my own! This doesn’t mean I lose contact with my team though –- we have whole team standups everyday, we go out for drinks, and we’re constantly messaging on slack and jumping on zoom.

For me, the best thing is being there for my children. I like collecting my daughter from school every day. F&O means I can accommodate this – either by working from home, or leaving early if I go into the office. Also that short break in the afternoon does me a world of good, as it means I can clear my head – essential in the world of engineering! Meanwhile, my son has just got braces so I can use the morning to take him to the orthodontist and make up the time later. It’s these little things that really change your working life and also the way that you feel about working.

Luna Chen, Software Engineer II

One of the things I’ve learnt from different jobs is that having a good culture is really important. I feel much happier and better in myself when I’m being productive and getting lots done, and I tend to get really distracted in the office, so I much prefer working from home where I can stay focused on my tasks. In my previous job, I had to be in the office every day and I could barely get anything done – it took a real toll on me psychologically. Freedom & Ownership is exactly why I chose to join Pollen.

I live about an hour and a half away, which adds up to a three hour daily commute, so I work almost every day from home. I catch up with my team throughout the day, so we’re always in contact but I also come into the office once or twice a month. It’s usually when I have little on, so I can spend the day connecting with people, chatting to my team and meeting new faces – and it doesn’t matter to be distracted! And the three hours I would spend commuting, I now use to read everything I want to! But the other thing about F&O is the space for creativity. We have goals, but how we get there is up to us and if we spot something we want to improve along the way, we write a proposal and if it makes sense, we just do it – it’s amazing how quickly this can happen!

Peteris Bikis, Lead UK Developer

As a recent father, Freedom & Ownership has been huge. My partner and I had a baby earlier this year, and timing has become really important, so being able to choose when and where I work has been a game changer. It means I can spend much more time with him than most fathers, and it takes a lot of stress off my partner who’s still on maternity leave – she often leaves him with me so she can live her life too! Often I spend the mornings at home, then come into the office for a few hours and come home early to see him and help her out – and I also dodge the bad commute! Sometimes I end up working later to accommodate his timings, but that actually works well if I have meetings with the team in LA or Vegas.

The other thing is that my parents live in Latvia, and we obviously want to go and visit as much as possible. F&O makes that really easy as we can go out for an extended period of time, and I work from there instead – plus we can take advantage of the cheapest flights! I think the most important thing for me is that our culture of not being tied to specific times or locations means you don’t have to choose between family and your career.

Barney Loosemore, Apprentice Software Engineer

I graduated about a year ago – I studied philosophy at university, which was very low-contact time. I then decided I wanted to go into coding, so went on course that was really structured and based in an office in central London. Neither of these really suited how I want to work – so hearing that Pollen did things differently and gave everyone more control over the way they work really appealed to me.

When I first joined, I wasn’t really sure what was best for me but now I understand more about how I need to work and it’s all about having a balance between being around people and concentrating at home! I also have different mindsets day to day, and that often determines the way I work or where I want to be. But I usually have two days working from home at the beginning of the week when I want to really focus and be in my element, and then three days in the office when I have more meetings so I feel it’s worth being there in person. It’s also an hour to get into the office for me, so having an extra four hours a week is really helpful!

Find the team from Pollen at stand 100 at #SMRnov19. They’ll be waiting to chat to you about what it’s like to work there and how you could fit into their team – stop by and say hi! You can apply for your free ticket here.