October 20, 2021

How Loopio is building a remote company culture that’s people-first

Loopio and Wavy have grown alongside each other to rethink what company culture looks like in today’s digital world of work.

At Loopio, making the switch to remote-first didn't mean sacrificing the culture of the company. We want everybody to have fun, make connections, and build meaningful relationships at work. Partnering with Wavy has been a game changer for that
- Amanda Power, Remote Engagement & Events Manager at Loopio

Toronto-grown tech company, Loopio, places employee engagement and well-being at the forefront of its operations. In fact, they’re winning awards for it - including being named one of Canada’s Top Small & Medium Employers in 2021. And they’re doing it all after quickly pivoting to become a remote-first organization in March 2020.

Known for their industry-leading RFP response software, Loopio’s exceptional customer service and easy-to-use platform have made them one of Canada’s fastest growing tech companies.In April 2021, the company landed a $250M+ strategic investment from Sumeru Equity Partners to take their company to new heights. Since March 2020, they’ve grown substantially, expanding their team from 140 Loopers to nearly 200. As they continue to welcome new employees to their remote-first team, it’s well worth looking at how they’re fostering meaningful company culture and connections.

In conversation with Amanda Power, Remote Engagement & Events Manager at Loopio

“There are a lot of opportunities to have fun at Loopio. It was a big part of why I joined the team and why many others did, too. Our culture has always been so important - it’s ingrained in our team and work environment,” said Power. For example, “[the] office is full of collaborative spaces, like a rooftop patio and lunchroom, complete with a pool table and a kitchen stocked with snacks and beverages. It has always been such a great space for Loopers to interact casually and have those ‘water-cooler moments’.”

When it became clear that working from home was the new norm, Loopio got to work on sustaining their magnetic culture in a remote setting. Amanda Power, formerly Loopio’s Office Operations Manager, got the ball rolling by planning online team building initiatives and redesigned her own role to become Loopio’s Remote Engagement & Events Manager.

Going digital: the early days

In the Fall of 2020, Loopio made the decision to become a remote-first company. They plan to open the office again as an option for Loopers (what they call employees), with the intention that Loopers can decide where they work best – whether that’s at home or in the office.

With the commitment to being remote and distributed long-term, Power had the opportunity to experiment with all kinds of new ways to engage team members. One of the earliest initiatives was called “Loopio Hosts at Home” where Loopers would take turns sharing something about themselves - what they love, what they’re good at - and host a virtual event around that. The result was an array of events from cooking nights to magic shows and minimalist apartment tours. In fact, Loopio’s CEO & Co-founder Zak Hemraj hosted the very first event to showcase his skills in the kitchen!

Beyond this event series, Loopio hosted bake-off challenges, sent out gift boxes, provided games, and more.

“Remote events are a trial-and-error thing. We’re trying to see what people like and what gets a good turnout. Having an open bar or a buffet makes it easy - you can get anybody to show up for that. But when you're getting people to log on to their 10th video call of the day, it can be more difficult, so you need to get creative.”

The turning point

“Our business was able to function as usual when we started working from home. But I don’t think that would have been enough for Loopio to commit to being a remote-first company. We needed to see that the culture was still able to exist and flourish as a cornerstone of the Looper experience,” said Power.

“Culture and employee experience have always been paramount for Loopio. With our transition to a remote-first workplace, this is more true than ever. We have to be extremely intentional in our communication, initiatives, and support for all Loopers."
- Zak Hemraj, CEO at Loopio

As the summer of 2020 crept in, Loopio began to find its rhythm. With a new role and budget for company culture initiatives, Amanda Power and her team started researching and attending events to discover what options were out there for remote team building.

“I discovered Wavy at the Digital by Default Summit and we connected right away over our shared enthusiasm for the possibilities that exist within this new world of work - from a remote culture perspective,” said Power. “There can be limitations to virtual events, but there are also so many other things that we would never have been able to do before. It really breaks down all of these barriers that existed before and opens things up to a whole new world - if you choose to think about it that way.”

Loopio & Wavy work together to host virtual experiences that are actually fun.

Working with Wavy exposed Power and her team to a new world of ideas around remote employee engagement. By the Fall of 2020, Loopio’s virtual events were in full swing. Through Wavy’s marketplace and events platform, they’ve hosted a variety of experiences, including:

  • DE&I Indigenous Fall Harvest Cooking Class and Storytelling with chef Alexandria Bipatnath
  • Comedy Show with Liz Johnston and comedians from Bad Dog Theatre and Second City
  • Holiday Party complete with Cocktails/Mocktails and Gingerbread Making
  • Earth Day Painting & Planting with Stefanie Furgiule

The response from employees has been positive, with 75% of Loopers feeling more connected to their team after Wavy experiences and a satisfaction rating of 93%.

"Our partnership with Wavy has been a game changer. Not only do we really enjoy their experiences, but being able to work with them on strategy and bounce creative ideas off one another has added a lot of value for us. Working with the Wavy team on our culture calendar, event bookings, and logistics has been amazing and is always enjoyable, Not only does it make life easier, but it's always something to look forward to in my role!"
- Amanda Power, Remote Engagement & Events Manager at Loopio

From an experience standpoint, the hosts that Wavy works with have been a huge highlight. The Fall Harvest Cooking Class was one of the most unique and well received events for Loopers. “Alexandria was such a warm and friendly host. The way she incorporated storytelling when she introduced the ingredients and explained their cultural significance was very seamless and enjoyable. She has an infectious personality and it showed me that Wavy is very thoughtful about choosing great people to host these events. It really makes a difference for attendees. That’s been consistent feedback from our team about Wavy experiences.”

It also got Loopio’s People Team thinking about how they could start weaving in team building events that have more substance, sparking ideas around DE&I, wellness, and social good.

As Wavy’s Co-Founder & CEO Shawn Hewat explained, “these experiences are becoming so much more impactful and longer-lasting. If they can spark meaningful conversation and a sense of community, then they’ll help shape company culture over time. At Wavy, we’re no longer thinking about events as a one-off, but rather something that teams can continue to connect on over time, with additional programming and content after the event is over.”

The way forward

Loopio’s 2021 employee engagement strategy looks completely different than it did in 2020. It’s become a program of its own - and it’s thriving.

At this point, 60% of Loopers have never met their coworkers in person. That’s quite different from what they were collectively used to in 2020. That’s why the People Team built a program with the goal of making employees feel comfortable with each other early on, so Loopers don’t feel like they’re amongst strangers when entering a busy Zoom call with different team members.

"We've leaned into a remote-first environment because we believe that is the future of work. So, we spent the last year optimizing our candidate experience and our employee experience for remote work. This certainly extends to how we connect and have fun. We are so grateful to Wavy for helping to elevate our employee experience and help build connections in our remote workplace."
- Alexis MacDonald, VP People at Loopio.

“We wanted to get away from the kind of experience where you’re with your coworkers for one event and then you might not see those people again for months. It was becoming very apparent that creating deeper connections was something we needed to figure out how to do,” said Power. “We’re striving to create that sense of familiarity across the organization and provide space for people to build real relationships and friendships across teams.”

To that end, Loopio has created an initiative called House Teams, inspiring some healthy competition which incentivizes employees to get involved and engage where they can, when they can. Here’s how it works: Loopers are placed into cross-functional, classroom size teams for the duration of the fiscal year. Teams compete against each other in a series of activities, earning points along the way that are tallied at the end of each quarter.

The goal of Loopio’s House Teams initiative is to get Loopers engaged with colleagues they wouldn’t connect with on a day-to-day basis. Staying on the same team throughout the year helps to build that familiarity and allows meaningful bonds to form.

Working with Wavy, Loopio has created a culture calendar to identify days they want to recognize in one way or another – whether it’s through live or asynchronous experiences, gifting, competitions, and more. The key is that for Loopio in 2021, remote employee engagement is no longer experimental - it’s proactive and intentional.

“We’ve built out a framework around the House Teams initiative that allows Loopers to earn points for engaging with their colleagues in a variety of fun ways, big and small. We’re really trying to recreate those watercooler moments in a genuine and natural way,” said Power.

That’s what culture is at the heart of it - it’s supposed to feel natural and easy. It’s nice to see that all the thought that has gone into doing that is paying off and it’s working. Who knew? At the end of the day, this is just a giant social experiment, but it’s going really well!