The DreamHost Culture and the Freedom-Centered Workplace

One of the reasons people love working at DreamHost is the culture. Since DreamHost is a company built by friends, we hire people who really fit the culture – not only are they great people, but they’re also people who are genuinely interested in the hosting business.

That’s how we form a family, and an environment in which people enjoy hanging out with each other, just as much as they enjoy the various technologies. Of course as you grow, keeping the great parts of your culture is difficult. That’s why I try to manage our Technical Support Team with the following values in mind:

Honesty:

We’ve always been honest with our employees. If there are issues, don’t let them fester without employee notification. Feedback is vital; honest feedback is the only way we can improve. Even though honest feedback can at times be tough to hear, it’s the only way someone can grow to respect the company and ultimately become a better representative of its culture.

Caring:

I have always cared for my team. Employee satisfaction is just as important as customer satisfaction. One way to make your employees happy is to care for them. Sounds simple, but it’s a powerful principle. Care enough to give honest feedback. Care enough to understand how the work environment can cause strain. Care enough to listen, let people vent, and ultimately help them get through any obstacles they’re facing at work.

Helping:

Caring leads to helping each other. This can mean changes in policy, or allowing the team to help define new policies, or simply policy adjustments. We often us the term “DreamHost’y” when we think about our actions in the company. It is DreamHost’y to do what we can to help our team. This goes a long way toward creating a family atmosphere.

Working Together:

Clear goals and collaboration, even though support is largely a one-on-one task. Our leads and our technical support representatives all work together to help each other learn and grow. We have various avenues of communication and promote employees helping and teaching each other. Our ticketing system rewards employees for helping others with something we call an “assist counter.” It’s a great way to identify who our potential next support leads are.

Freedom-Centered Workplace:

We pride ourselves in being a “democratic,” or perhaps more aptly named, “Freedom-Centered” workplace. This doesn’t mean we have company-wide votes on every change we make, but it does mean we involve employees in helping shape the direction of the company. In support, for example, we have collectively chosen representatives for each of our sub-teams. These representatives are picked by their teammates and areinvolved with policy creation, such as our coaching and planned improvement policy, or it can also be called our Quality Assurance process.

We share any process changes with these representatives prior to launching the changes. This gives our team a chance to express concerns or suggest changes that they think may be better.. It’s great for getting buy-in. We also don’t set the processes in stone. Once launched, we meet monthly to improve the system.  Constant improvement and constant communication is one way we practice being Freedom-Centered in Technical Support.

Being Freedom-Centered has helped us maintain our culture as we grow. Overall, having a democratic, or freedom-centered workplace, allows employees to understand and actually see that we care, love helping each other and are committed to working together. We not only value honesty in our assessment of employees, but also in our assessment of ourselves as a department.