The Team Behind Gojek's Dynamic Culture

The inside story of building a People Team for a decacorn.

The Team Behind Gojek's Dynamic Culture

By Pamela Chan

It was the afternoon of January 23, 2018 when a 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck the city of Jakarta. The Dynamic Culture (DC) team, headed by Sam Diah, had never encountered such an emergency. To add fuel to the flames, Sam just landed in Singapore. “We had teams in DC, but no leaders yet,” she explains. After half an hour of spewing directions over the phone, Sam was able to evacuate everyone in the Jakarta office to safety.

This situation illustrates the fundamental function of the Dynamic Culture team: to guard our GoTroops' safety and well-being. Since then, the DC team has grown both in size and importance within Gojek; from establishing workplace policies to orchestrating over 40 company-wide events a year, the DC team’s responsibilities run far and wide. In this blog, we take a closer look at the inception and inner workings of one of Gojek’s most multifaceted teams.

An internal fire drill organised by the DC team in December 2020.

🤝 A team by the people, for the people

During Gojek’s first five years, Sam managed the company’s building maintenance, employee events, project & leasing agreements, travel documentations, and SOPs.

“Nadiem said that since the company was growing quickly, we needed to set up a strong People Team to manage and maintain our employees,” she explains. Nadiem suggested that since Sam enjoys taking care of people, she should take up this mantle. “This is how the DC team was born.”

Unlike a typical human resource group, the DC team’s overarching purpose is to promote an inclusive, progressive, and adaptable culture for our GoTroops — one that’s embedded within the fabric of Gojek’s values, history, operations, and trajectory. Though this team of around 42 members is based predominantly in Indonesia, they share a collective goal of safeguarding our GoTroops’ physical and psychological wellness; they're in charge of managing the activities we do, the environment we work in, and the policies we follow.

👊 As a People Team, you’ll have to roll with the punches

Ironically, despite the enormity of work the team oversees, one of their most incessant hurdles is fielding the misconception of their team being all fun and games. Sam explains: “We get questions about openings in the team every day because people don’t realise how much work actually goes into everything we do."

For instance, Julianty (Julie) Wijaya, our Head of Core Workplace Strategy & Policy, led her lean team of three to write, develop, polish and execute sixteen workplace policies and eleven SOPs from scratch in under a year.

In addition to inviting food vendors for the office’s GoCafe, the team thinks down to the minute factors of the every day lunch break — from waiting for the elevator to walking to the restaurant and back. More than merely providing an array of in-house food choices, the team constantly ensures our workplace routine is kept as efficient as possible.

Moreover, from inception to execution, a single calendar event can take up to five months to plan. The DC team’s average to-do list consists of managing vendors, securing the date and location, inviting entertainment and hosts, coordinating with the logistics and finance teams, providing ample food and beverage, and ensuring the safety of all attendees.

Jessy Rumamby, the team’s Manager of Events & Activities, explains how the initial brainstorming session can take up to a month to close: “We need time to finalise our event concept and speak to vendors and other stakeholders to see if our ideas are feasible.”

🂭 Work smart with the cards you’ve been dealt

Another recurring obstacle the team faces is a dearth of data, and the subsequent pressure about the necessity of their events and projects. The team finds it difficult to “keep up with the company” since they aren’t a data-centric team, per se.

While events and projects undoubtedly boost employee engagement and satisfaction, these factors aren’t as easily measurable as user adoption rates, for instance. One of the core necessities enshrined in Gojek’s value system is to think like a scientist and to always have data to back up our actions.

As the team builds an overarching solution to this matter, they gather numbers from employee attendance and registrations, surveys on employee satisfaction on their events and projects, and engagement rates on online chat forums.

Though some may think collaborations with Coca Cola and Starbucks or having a “Battle of the Divisions” contest is expendable, every one of DC team’s events have been attended by over 80% of GoTroops each time, with a constant 90% or above satisfaction rate.

Photos from a 2018 employee game day hosted at the Jakarta HQ.

Fun fact: The name “GoTroops” was voted by employees during one such event in 2016. “A collective name heightens our sense of community, and boosts employee synergy and morale,” Jessy explains.

Team bonding endeavors serve as a reminder that we aren't just colleagues who share a common professional goal, but fellow human beings who share the same personal needs of companionship, understanding, and fun. Taking time to work on the latter only bolsters the former. The DC team ensures this balance.

💪 Piloting Gojek through turbulent winds

Perhaps the greatest challenge the team has had to tackle has been the COVID-19 pandemic; it has brought with it unpredictable change and the need to be highly adaptable. As a team that draws energy from community engagement and face-to-face interactions, the DC team has been hit hard.

However, true to its “dynamic” title, the team has spearheaded the shift to a fully remote set up, adapting employee events and initiatives to an online format.

The crowd at the 2018 Gojek Cup — an event that will be converted into a virtual format this year.

Some of these online activities include weekly Zoom workouts — from Zumba, boxing, Barre to yoga, bi-monthly GoTalk Fridays where both internal and external guest speakers share their expertise on a variety of topics, and virtual concerts and milestone celebrations.

A screenshot of our GoTroops post-Zumba workout.

Contrary to popular belief, these online events haven’t been easier to plan than their offline counterparts. “People assume planning online events just means pressing enter since they don’t see any of the back work,” Sam reveals. Keeping the GoTroops engaged, educated, and entertained from afar has been no easy feat. A new field of technical issues like network connection, Slido set up, time zone differences, and audio and visual components are novel requisites the team has had to quickly familiarise themselves with.

A behind-the-scenes photo of the virtual 10th Anniversary taping.

The fruit of the DC team’s labor comes in how well received these online events have been amongst our GoTroops. The recent GoTalk Friday with Chief of GoPay Hans Patuwo was attended by over 300 participants — the highest attendance for the event yet. Our 10th Anniversary livestream saw a steady stream of thousands of live chat comments by over 3,500 GoTroops from start to end. Notably, the online medium has actually brought GoTroops from our various operating countries together more so than any in-person event has ever achieved.

⬅️➡️ Sometimes, to part is for the best

Reflective yet again of the “dynamic” part of their name, as of April 1, 2021, the DC team announced a split of their functions into Workplace Management (under Finance) and Community Experience (under People & Culture).

The split enables both sub-functions to have a more distinct purpose and direction. “Our Workplace Management function focuses on work environment and facilities, not events and experiences,” Julie clarifies, “We needed more governance relating to our third party vendors, AB&C policies, code of conduct, and various premises we manage. By breaking away from employee-related responsibilities, we can give our undivided attention to this vertical.”

Especially for a fast-scaling company like Gojek, a cohesive foundation for workplace management and community experience are vital for the years to come. This separation underscores the importance of constant inward reflection of a team’s structure and responsibilities, and the need to remain flexible to these changes over time.

🚀 Full speed ahead

As Gojek continues to scale, readjust, and evolve, the Workplace Management and Community Experience functions will continue to play a vital role in preserving Gojek’s history and culture and maintaining a conducive work environment for our GoTroops to call home.

There are a trove of new projects both teams are cooking up. The Community Experience team is switching ID cards to QR codes, launching a community engagement site called OneGojek, and are even in the works of creating an electronic coffee table book of the history of Gojek.

The Workplace Management team is busy laying the groundwork for the Future Gojek Workplace project — a plan for how our Gojek workplaces will look once COVID-19 becomes a non-issue, or when most GoTroops have been vaccinated. As of now, 68% of GoTroops prefer a hybrid system of working from home and working from the office. Julie admits, "Who knows though. Maybe by the time we finalise this plan, people will want to return to the office or work from home full time."

As Julie alluded to, we can’t tell what the future has in store. But, given the dynamism of life at Gojek, coupled with the changing landscapes of our globalized society, we’re sure glad to have this new evolution of the DC team to pilot the way for us all.

For more stories about GoTroops and our life at Gojek, click here. And to experience it yourself, check out open job positions:

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