What it takes to build one team
To get from Linz to Neumarkt, Mühlkreis, a little residential area outside of Linz, you go through a rather long tunnel. Tanja Weidinger, HR lead at Fretello, told me that you could be experiencing 2 types of weather at the beginning and end of the tunnel - that’s how long it was.
We were heading to Tanja’s house up in the hills to finish our day with a Diverse Workspace shoot.
Tanja, and CTO/co-founder Wolfgang Damm were Remoter Project’s Austrian participants. I couldn’t believe it happened because it had taken me a long time to get in contact with them. Turns out Tanja had just started at the company when I cold e-mailed them. I don’t think we actually spoke until 1.5 to 2 months since the message, but not long after, I found myself staring out the window of an ÖBB train to Linz.
On the day of our meeting, one of their engineers Markus gave me a lift to their coworking space, Neue Werft. Normally, I wouldn’t ask for help but Google Maps didn’t show me any transit options. Nada. It was, get a ride, or walk 45 minutes.
Fretello is an AI-based music education app empowering people to express themselves through music by learning to play guitar. They work with top-notch teachers and famous guitar players to develop their courses. But what’s more important to highlight is their commitment to creating a leveled playing field employee experience stemming from their remote foundation and ethos.
Commitment of togetherness
Fretello’s remote work journey consists of one key factor - the importance of togetherness, of one journey for all employees. They’re super cognizant of the difficulties that arise in companies that aren’t proactively improving their work culture.
For instance, when they were trying to host workshops for the entire company, there’d been employees who couldn’t attend in person. Fretello was determined to include everyone with virtual solutions. It wasn’t a straight shot, they definitely had to learn from trial and error.
“We do get together with the team from time to time for a UX workshop and the whole company can participate. We usually tackle either a tough challenge on the product or some new initiative that will result in a feature. Some team members are not able to train but we still wanted to include them remotely. And what we learned was, the first time we ran it, a bad audio experience distracted it for those attending remotely. So the next time we had a Savannah, 360-degree directional microphone in the room. Another thing we learned is that just having one camera capturing the room or capturing this person speaking isn’t inclusive because you can’t read the full room. So we usually use two machines and capture video for the whole room.”
- Wolfgang Damm
We jump into further discussions about how Fretello fosters good communications and relationships with their employees.
Tanja mentions that they are also working on improving their onboarding processes.
“We’re currently working on an onboarding experience. When you have a remote setup, as a new employee, it’s a little difficult to get how everything’s running. What the tradition and customs are within the team, how people are actually acting, what are the rules, whom to address with what... We sent out a survey to the entire team to really get everyone’s input.
Same for a team member who just started yesterday, actually, because his perspective, of course, is most valuable. He is in that situation where he wants to learn about the company, what his needs are, giving me an idea to then being able to design a proper journey together with the entire team to make it as memorable and as enjoyable as possible for the new employees starting within our team.”
- Tanja Weidinger
Tanja is also keen on breaking down stereotypes of human resources being just an ‘admin’ role, especially in remote teams as she explains in this video.
Parent hat on!
Maybe some readers out there can’t relate to me because of generational differences. But I hope you can relate to some of the guests that participate in the Remoter Project. This one’s for all the new families and parents out there. Tanja and Wolfgang both have young children, which became a game-changer and influenced their position about remote work. It’s played an important part in their relationships with their families, especially as they manage their availability.
Before leaving their space to go to Tanja’s, I remembered seeing a couple of people learning how to play the cup song. Markus and Wolfgang went into a separate room to start building their super AI computer. They had received a package in the mail that had them tinkering away. Fretello’s remote structure is a story of a company that’s leveling out the playing field for their team members.
But it’s not just about staff retention or larger talent pools, it ultimately is a forward-thinking solution that plays a part in scaling a company efficiently. But to achieve the best outcome, Fretello’s got the right idea of strengthening the collective journey for their employees to embark on, regardless of location.