In 2020 when many companies began navigating remote work for the first time, GitLab, the highly successful DevOps company, was already a seasoned veteran in this domain. GitLab was founded as a fully remote company in 2011 and now has over 1,300 employees working out of 65 countries.
GitLab’s investment in remote work led to pioneering a Head of Remote role, hiring Darren Murph to lead the effort in 2019. Darren emphasizes how documentation and a strong writing culture can support the employee embodiment of company values.
“[A single source of truth for information] can't be just this reference thing. It has to be the heartbeat of where work happens.”
Darren says the most important factor for a company to operate effectively is having a single source of truth of information. What the company does—and how it does it—must be written down and available to its employees. For this information to be effective, it should motivate employees to actively contribute to it and improve it. "It can't be just this reference thing," Darren says. "It has to be the heartbeat of where work happens."
For GitLab, their single source of truth takes the form of a company handbook, which is over 10,000 pages long. The handbook contains countless resources for how GitLab employees do work—all tied to underlying values that inspire that work. GitLab’s six core values form the memorable acronym, CREDIT: Collaboration, Results, Efficiency, Diversity & inclusion, Iteration, and Transparency. Each of these values drives the company's approach to documentation and ensures that every employee is empowered to do their best work.
Creating and maintaining a document of this magnitude requires constant attention and commitment. But Darren and team feel strongly that it pays off: "The work has to end up in the handbook…if you tie the work to the handbook, it becomes easy. You don't have to force people to do anything. It is where your work happens."