Today is a big day for us at Outer— we’re beyond excited to announce that we’ve just been named one of Inc.’s 2021 Best Workplaces, and a winner in Inc.’s “On The Rise” category, for businesses less than four years old.
This has been a challenging year for all businesses. The term “best workplace” meant something very different just a year ago. At Outer, we believe that successful entrepreneurs embrace change. We’ve thought a lot about how to make our workplace better even in remote times, by focusing on enriching our company culture, redefining the workplace, and fostering growth for our entire community.
That word—community— is a huge pillar for us. It shows in our products, which are designed specifically to encourage people to spend more time outside with their loved ones. It’s clear in our revolutionary Neighborhood Showroom model, which eliminates the need for expensive showrooms by offering potential customers the chance to experience our furniture in real life, in the backyards of their neighbors who have already purchased a set. And it shows in the way we operate as a business, inside and out.
When Terry and Jiake founded Outer, it was largely on the belief that a company is but a collective of individuals working toward a common goal, and the ideal platform to do good. We reflect the spirit of our mission— to inspire happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives— in everything we do as a team.
We know that diversity unlocks innovation. Founded by two people of color, Outer has made a commitment from day one to prioritize diversity and inclusion, and create an environment where outside-the-box ideas are heard and valued. Over 30% of the Outer team is minority, and 37% is female. The company as a whole is encouraged to take unconventional approaches to problem solving, by collaborating cross-functionally, sharing ideas early and often, and calling on each other to allow for equal share of voice in all discussions and brainstorms.
We like to think that we bring the best of the outside in, even as we aim to get more people outside. The outdoor furniture industry can feel staid, but our MO is forward-thinking, optimistic, and fun— and we bring that attitude to work every day. We loan every team member an Outer Sofa and encourage everyone to enjoy outdoor living. We reimburse every team member on self-improvement purchases like books and online courses. We grant everyone an annual credit to visit national parks and connect with the natural world.
Since we are all working remotely, we think outside of the box when it comes to team building. For example, we host an internal podcast called Outer Inner, where our VP of Engineering, Jimi, interviews every member of the team and our investors about their life story, reasons for joining Outer, hobbies outside of work, etc., so that we can learn about each other asynchronously in this remote work environment. Every week we have an all-hands Zoom meeting, in which everyone takes turns talking about their win of the week, their challenges, and most importantly, highlights a fellow teammate that they want to recognize. We have a monthly Council meeting where our Community Manager, Shae, leads a mindfulness exercise with a small group of teammates.
And it’s not all talk—we put our words into action, by matching any employee donation to social justice causes, and donating to environmental charities such as the 5 Gyres Institute and One Tree Planted through our membership with 1% For The Planet. We’ve even gotten our hands dirty with group volunteering opportunities, like when we helped our nonprofit partner One Tree Planted replant live oak trees in our home state of California, where wildfires have ravaged much of the landscape.
We tripled the size of our team in 2020, with no employee churn, and nearly half of our new hires referred by existing team members. As we just closed our Series A led by Sequoia Capital China, we are focused on ways to best support our team during a phase of exponential growth, without diluting our culture and employee happiness.
We know our business will continue to evolve over time, and we are committed to making our company not just a workplace, but a true community. We’re honored to receive this award, and look forward to all the future holds.
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