The world of work is evolving fast, with companies of all stripes trying new things to help their people be happier and more productive. While some companies have chosen to leave their offices behind and go fully remote, others keep an office while offering flexible working arrangements.
For us at Piktochart, we’re a semi-distributed team of 54 people based mostly out of sunny Penang, an island in Malaysia.
While our product, engineering, operations, HR, and most of our design team is on-site, we also have our marketing and customer support teams working remotely from the Americas, Europe, and in Asia. We’re also currently working to expand our team by hiring talented folks from Kuala Lumpur and Ho Chi Minh City.
One thing we do at Piktochart is promote flexible working arrangements. Besides our ‘Work From Home Fridays,’ where everyone is welcome to stay at home or work from a cafe (or virtually any workspace of their choosing), we also allow our Pikto-peeps to work remotely for a month every year from another timezone.
We have an international team (15 nationalities and counting), with teammates living in Penang that hail from all around Malaysia, other parts of Asia, and also from Europe and North America. We’re like a family at Piktochart and are very family-oriented in the same way, so we get that our people might want to spend time with their families without having to take vacation days off.
We also understand that an occasional change of environment is like a breath of fresh air, a necessary ingredient to spark creativity and inspiration. Or it helps with focusing on a project may require a bit more peace and quiet – away from the collaborative buzz of the office.
So we wanted to share some stories from those of us who take advantage of flexible working arrangements, whether it’s to take time for their families or personal well-being. Here’s an inside look to what it’s like to work at Piktochart – straight from the roving workstations of our teammates.
“This was taken last spring when I worked from my dad’s home, which is an oasis of nature and peace. In that moment, he brought me breakfast to “my office,” and outside the window I could hear chirping birds and sounds of nature. What I cherish about my flexible working arrangement is that I can go visit my family in Poland and spend quality time with them while working, without having to sacrifice vacations days off.”
Marta, Head of Marketing
“I’m a graphic designer and having the flexibility to work out of the office gives me the chance to stay creative as I explore all the cool cafes around Penang. As a foodie and a coffee lover myself, I love cafe hopping as there are quite a number of cool cafes in Penang serving different types of main courses and desserts. I also find inspiration in the different themes of the cafes, which inspire me to create different themes for a new templates.
Besides the ambiance itself, the music and people watching helps the creative juices flow during brainstorming sessions. And thankfully, most of the cafes in Penang have pretty good WiFi so I can stay connected when I’m doing my design research.”
Natasya, Assets Designer
“As a web developer from another state, the flexibility of being able to work from my home in Johor Bahru, Malaysia is one of the best perks. I’m able to spend time with my family without taking leave and I’m able to find some work-life balance.
The desk in the picture is my workspace when I was at home. An external monitor for good posture, a mechanical keyboard for fast typing, a portable wireless mouse, and my ThinkPad laptop are all I need to be productive. From time to time, I will get up and to chat with my mom, pet my dog, and I get to hang out with my friends from my hometown after work.”
Likit, Web Developer
“Home is where the heart is, and my office is where my laptop is. While I’m usually full-time remote, during these past weeks, I had the pleasure of working from the company’s headquarters in Penang, Malaysia. And while going to the office can be very fun, “Work From Home Fridays” are also a good excuse to work from nice cafes alone or with colleagues, using this experience to bond and create memories with them. The picture is from one of those days – coffee mandatory, cake only optional!”
Romi, Social Media
“To be honest, I really like working in our office because it’s easier to have direct discussions with my teammates. But sometimes, I really need to take up my responsibilities as a wife, mom, or daughter-in-law at home. It was hard time for us when when my father-in-law became sick, and we needed to be there to monitor and keep an eye on his condition. The flexibility of working from home, as pictured above, makes this possible – I was able to take care of my family while still being active at work.”
May Syn, Finance & Operations
“As a remote graphic designer, I need a good WiFi connection and a huge space, not only for my laptop but also space for a mouse, a notepad and a tablet. I find very hard to work in coffee shops, mostly because of the space, but also because my job involves hours of design-thinking that I can only find in coworking spaces or in a home environment.
Since I’ve been traveling for the last two and a half years, my house is an Airbnb around the world. And one of the filters when I’m looking for homes is always WiFi and a laptop friendly workstation. I also always work with mate tea in the morning to wake me up.”
Maxi, Assets Designer
“Trust and flexibility are the two things that make me enjoy working with others the most, and that’s what Piktochart offers. Being a full-time programmer in Penang and also having a family in my hometown Jakarta, Indonesia, I need to go home around four times a year.
With the flexible working processes that our team uses, such as video calls, weekly scrum updates and good development workflow (git management, code review, slack channel), I can keep up with my work despite being miles away from HQ. And the best part? I can see my family and friends at the end of the day.”
Albert, Front-End Lead
“The main benefit of my work is that it is flexible. This means I get to work from wherever I feel most productive, as pictured here, a cafe in Porto, Portugal. My preference ever since I studied for exams in college is coffee shops. It takes an exploratory period to find the best ones, since they vary a lot in terms of comfort, WiFi connection and prices.
But overall the background noise in these kind of places hits the sweet spot to keep my productivity levels high without being, well, boring. I also appreciate the fact that I can easily order a cappuccino to keep the creative juices flowing!”
Bruno, Marketing Insights
“Lima, Peru is a bustling metropolis of over 10 million inhabitants and is quite loud, so finding a quiet space to work can be difficult. So when I’m not traveling, I work from my home office as seen here. I keep things simple in my work room, since having too much clutter can be a distraction.
One major advantage to working at home, though, is that I never have to go far for lunch; the kitchen is only a few steps away. I prefer to have natural light while working, and watching the Metro Train pass silently by every few minutes is like observing urban wildlife.”
John, Customer Support
“As much as I love interacting with colleagues in the office, I do enjoy having the flexibility to have alone time for focus and creativity. My team members are used to me taking a month away from office every year, although we still have our weekly scrums and sharing sessions by using Google Hangouts.
During this period, I usually get an Airbnb or hotel with big windows (hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia pictured above). Working with a view helps to boost my creativity and productivity. Plus, a touch of Vitamin D helps me be more positive and happy.”
See Mei, Head Of Design
“Prior to joining Piktochart, I had never heard of a thing called “Work-From-Home Friday” before. This is because there isn’t really a degree of trust quite like this given to employees in conventional companies. When I first started enjoying this perk, I was anxious and worried that people would think that I wasn’t working.
After some time, I learned that the more trust that is given to us, we’ll naturally become more accountable because we want to live up to those expectations. Working from home helps me to be more focused in my tasks and I’ve found that I usually work on tasks that need a bit more attention on Fridays for added productivity.”
Jun Rui, Human Resources
There’s no one way that works for any company, but this hybrid setup that combines the excitement of being together in the office and also allowing people to seek inspiration and productivity elsewhere, works for us.
It’s an approach that is consistently getting fine tuned according to the needs of the business and our people. And we really like it this way.
Do the above stories resonate and you’d like to know more? Explore our careers page for open roles in Malaysia and Vietnam – we hope to hear from you.