How Does It Work is our version of a Proust Questionnaire, created to reveal the inner workings of interesting companies and their people programs. Feeld is a dating app for open-minded singles, non-monogamists, and couples who want to explore their sexuality. The New Yorker called it a "hook-up app for the emotionally mature." Feeld was started in London in 2014 by real-life couple Dimo Trifonov and Ana Kirova, and is now available in more than 100 countries.

Location: Fully remote, distributed across 15 countries. 

Size: 60+ people.

1. What do you as an organization value? If you have defined values, you can share them.

Erin Shoji, VP People, Feeld: We pride ourselves in being a values-led organization. I've worked at a lot of scale-ups, but I've never seen the values actually adopted and applied to making business decisions in the way that I've seen it at Feeld. It's really, really unique. 

Our values are Human, Fluid, Safe, Transparent, and Progressive. We have an initiative called Policies That Are Progressive, including what we call our Post-Breakup Makeover Policy. If you leave the company for whatever reason we give you a budget of £7,000 to apply to things like career coaching, reviewing your CV or resume, headshots, courses. Because for us, it's really important that even if it didn't work out at Feeld, for whatever reason, you gave us a chance and we want you to have fulfilling employment regardless of whether you're with us or not. Another policy we rolled out is our Parental Leave Policy, which of course every company has, but what we made different is that there's no waiting period in order to receive the policy. So meaning, to be more explicit, somebody who's pregnant could get hired at Feeld and then immediately receive all of the same benefits that they might have not immediately received at another company given their situation.

2. If Feeld were a person who would they be?

Erin: If Feeld were a person, I think it would be somebody who's in the midst of transformation, curious and drawn to the fullness and variety of life’s experiences.

3. What's your internal tool stack?

Erin: Kind of embarrassing, but it’s just a Notion. I know there's a lot of HR systems out there, I've implemented them at other companies, but the difference here at Feeld is that all of our tools are open. I mean, of course, within reason. I wouldn't share any confidential or personal identifying information. But, for example, everyone’s salaries are just in an open Google doc.

4. How are you structured? What's your management culture like?

Erin: Feeld for the first seven years was a holacracy, so a completely flat organization. No one had a manager. We still organize in circles and do a lot of work cross-functionally, and we're constantly changing and mixing up the teams as well so that people can get exposed to different work experiences. 

In 2020, we introduced what we call a steering team. The point of that was to have more ambitious growth goals as a company and as a business. So the steering team was formed to make quick decisions related to just the growth of the company, but outside of that, we try to keep everything as flat as possible. From surveys we received the feedback that people wanted more career progression at the company and beyond, so we introduced people coaches, who are not quite managers but are there to really guide people through that growth.

5. What do you not care about as an organization?

Erin: In recruiting, the idea of a culture fit is not interesting to us. Cognitive diversity and bringing diverse experiences, whether in work or life into the organization, is prioritized. I talk to a lot of recruiters, as you can imagine. And they're like, "What companies do you want me to look, talk to candidates from?" And we don't have that. We don't want a cookie cutter person from another dating app. We're interested in drawing progressive people from a variety of industries and work experiences.

Another thing that we don't do is vanity job titles. I've worked at big organizations early in my career where it's like, "I got promoted to senior director or to executive", whatever it is. And that's not what we're interested in. This is in order to keep the flatness. It doesn’t mean people can’t grow though. The open salary document I mentioned, it not only has names and salaries, but also levels and steps, and pay ladders. So anyone can go in at any time and see, "Okay, I can earn up to this amount of money in the role that I'm currently in. And then let me look at the descriptions of the levels and steps and let me see how I can talk to my people coach about progressing through those levels and steps to earn more."

6. What do you look for in a new hire?

Erin: In an effort to be inclusive we write performance profiles in addition to a job description and those profiles are based on outcomes. So when we interview and look at candidate CVs, we're really looking at “has this person, or can this person achieve the outcomes that we need them to achieve in their first 3, 6, 9 months at the company?” We actually craft our interview questions based on that performance profile and the outcomes.

7. Do you have any interesting benefits or perks that you offer your team?

Erin: It’s not really a benefit, but we have what we call a Baseline Freedom Salary of $80k USD. No one at Feeld makes less than $80k. 

We also provide therapy with Spill, so people can have a one-off session, email a question in, or meet with the same therapist for up to 10 sessions. We have a very generous training budget. We also give everyone what we call a human expense budget. So at other companies this budget might be for travel or fitness, and it's really contained to that. Here at Feeld, we let you use it as you wish. There's no written policy that says, "You can do this, you can't use it for that." We trust people to use the money for whatever they feel helps them do their best work. For example, some of our staff are digital nomads, they move around. And somebody just moved to Sweden and they wanted to use their human budget for language courses. So that was approved.

8. What's your hiring process like?

Erin: So I think the only thing different at Feeld from anyone else’s hiring process is that there's a lot more team involvement. You meet with the hiring owner, then a group of peers. And then for many roles, we actually do a candidate challenge. And then that challenge is presented to another panel, which would include a member of the steering team.

We recently decided to post all of the steps of our interview process in our job descriptions for inclusion purposes, so people would know how much time they should invest in this process and evaluate if it is worth it to them.  Also, we compensate them for the challenge. We estimate the amount of time that it's going to take a candidate and we tell them upfront, "If it takes you more time than we think, then please send us an invoice and we'll compensate you for the extra time."

9. What's been the most important move in your diversity and inclusion strategy or journey?

Erin: I'm really proud of the parental leave policy I mentioned before. And we also have recently made a concerted effort to only work with recruiting firms that are diversity certified and also to work with people of color being the recruiters who reach out to candidates. It's one thing to just say that you're going to reach out to a different candidate base, it's another thing to actually have people of similar communities having those initial conversations.

Also, we have started ERGs, like Women at Feeld, and one for the LGBTQA+ community. I think a lot of what you read about diversity is focused on the recruiting side and that's just getting people into the organization. But what happens with people when they get in? We do a lot of surveying and feedback. And we've recently hired a third-party organizational design specialist to do pulse interviews with everyone. We were doing pulse surveys for a while and we felt like we got feedback, but not things that were actually actionable. So then we hired the third-party interviewer to come in, so we could dive deeper and actually make meaningful changes.

10. What's a people decision that you made that you regretted or had to walk back?

Erin: When I first joined Feeld, we were still in lockdown for COVID. And Dimo, the founder, said, "Hey, let's do something to help people because people are getting burnt out." So we started what we called Fluid Fridays, where you weren't allowed to do business-as-usual work. You had to either spend time with your family, or do something like take a course, or go hiking, or go to yoga. And we weren't allowed to message each other about work. That lasted for 12 weeks. 

We decided to walk it back after a lot of feedback. We got very mixed feedback on it, actually, because some people really benefited from it and some people didn't. Because we're in different time zones, it's really hard to get people together to have those quick discussions that are important to move work forward. It was hard to walk back, but the we had a lot of Slack conversations and open Notion documents with comments, questions being answered. We really demonstrated to everyone why we were walking it back and how we wanted to iterate and improve on the idea. From there, we started Focus Thursdays which are meeting-free.

11. What are you bad at as a company?

Erin: We sometimes take a long time to make decisions and I really think that's rooted in the holacracy. Ana, our CEO, she absolutely really cares about what people think and wants input before we actually make a big decision.

12. What's an unexpected thing that you splurge on as a company?

Erin: So being all remote, we do have an in-person retreat once a year. This year, we had it at this mansion in Devon, England. Otherwise we try to splurge on benefits like the Human Budget, Post-Breakup Makeover Policy and Parental Leave, that are actually impactful in people’s lives.

13. What is a company practice or ritual you have that other people might find strange?

Erin: Something from holacracy that we've carried over is what we call the proposal process. Anyone at any time can put a proposal into Notion, any kind of idea, big or small. Recently we did a Shark Tank style proposal process, where you pitch live to the steering team and we are able to approve it in the moment by grading it. So like, "I give it a 10, I give it an 8." It’s a lot more engaging and fun, and we get to see people from all areas of the company come forward and pitch.

We had a pitch about doing a campaign at Pride in New York, which doesn't sound that weird for Feeld. But what's interesting is that the pitch was done by a team member that wasn't an executive or in marketing. And everyone gave the proposal a 10, and we got it done in two weeks.

14. What type of person doesn't work out well at Feeld?

Erin: We are autonomous, so if you need a lot of constant direction, I think it would be a hard place to work. And especially because we're all in different time zones, it can be hard. But I think we’re a good fit for somebody who really wants to design their own work day. Somebody who has that desire and that kind of mindset to be like, "Okay, I'm going to work when I can do my best work." And not necessarily think, "I'm going to set up my computer for eight hours and in my own time zone”. Honestly, it's more about knowing yourself, knowing when you've reached your limits, knowing how to prevent burnout. But you have to also be your own coach in that. 

15. What do you never want to become as a company or what's one trait you hope you never have?

Erin: We definitely don't want to be top down. We fight that at every single moment we can. There are some decisions that have to be that way, but we try to limit that to the ones that are absolutely necessary to grow the business. We really want to make sure we’re always listening to our team.