This article explores why "enthusiasm" is a core organizational value within a fully remote company like Axelerant.
Sometimes, what seems like the most profitable and logical thing to do, could be the exact opposite of what an organization should be doing—like breaching people's privacy to turn profits.
The larger the company, the greater the impact of its decisions on people.
And values help as guiding principles so that the impact of their actions improves people's lives.
But how many organizations live up to their values?
And does it really ever manage to touch people's busy, minutely planned, deadlines-laden lives?
What Does Enthusiasm Mean?
At the core of it, enthusiasm can be boiled down to one's interest and habit of spending time and energy on something—naturally, without coercion.
On a personal level, though, everyone has their version of what it means to be enthusiastic about something, tinged with their experiences and self-expectations.
For Axelerant DXP Consultant Gaurav Kapoor, enthusiasm means "showing up to your work with a happy face, to add value in others' lives."
Axelerant Drupal Engineer Shani Maurya feels enthusiasm should always come naturally. "When I work on something I care about, it automatically gives me a sense of peace and happiness," he said.
While Senior Marketing Program Lead, Sharayu Thakare, believes it is all about the motivation that comes from deep within to get things done.
"If you are willing to take up something you have not done before— strive for it, sweat through it, ask uncomfortable questions, disagree with people, and still get things done, that to me is enthusiasm," she said.
What Does Enthusiasm Mean For An Organization?
For any organization, following a core value would mean that everyone working in the company adheres to it in daily life.
The core value(s) would have to be the guiding principle in everything the company does, from making tough decisions to charting new strategies and implementing them.
For a core value like enthusiasm to come alive, the people who make Axelerant would have to live the traits that demonstrate enthusiasm.
It Means A Preference Towards Self-Management
We don't like micromanagement. If a person loves their work, micromanaging them would only kill their creative spirit.
Plus, it stifles curiosity and the scope for making mistakes. And without errors, how would anyone truly learn what to avoid?
In Axelerant, being enthusiastic means making decisions independently, taking action, and initiating change. Help is always a message away.
Always Putting Quality As The North Star
We place an unyielding focus on quality. We create software and systems that work, are maintainable, and are enjoyable to use.
But this emphasis on quality isn't limited to our products only.
We place an equal focus on the quality of the working experience of our people—both internal and external.
That's one of the primary reasons we invest in our benefits for all team members, available from day one. "When people are happy, that happiness reflects in their work and communication with our clients," explained Axelerant CEO Ankur Gupta.
And Having The Guts To Choose Continuous Improvement
We strongly believe in improving everything we do: our work, the policies we create, the systems we build and follow, the way we communicate, and more.
This way of functioning allows teams to focus on a product's or system's long-term viability over shortcuts.
Why Did We Choose Enthusiasm As A Core Value?
We once discussed changing our core value from "enthusiasm" to "excellence." But we put that thought to rest once Ankur revisited the real reason behind our three core values: Openness, Kindness, and Enthusiasm.
"I don't believe I shared this before. Our values originate from a space of inclusivity," Ankur said.
Excellence is a destination that few can reach—even though their work quality might be excellent.
Here's the deal: much of what's considered "excellent" about something is cripplingly subjective.
Think of a child discovering a new musical instrument or a toy, or learning to ride a bicycle for the first time.
Once they find it to their liking, there's hardly anything else the child would want to do. They will make the time to engage with it.
That is the purest form of enthusiasm.
If a child enjoys doing something that ignites their curiosity, they will do it—whether anybody considers them "excellent" or not.
"Even a ten-year-old child can display our core values," Ankur explained.
"If someone has these values in them, we can work together. We can give them technical training if needed, irrespective of their identity or location," he explained.
How Are We Helping People Be More Enthusiastic?
It's not enough for a company to declare: we want you to be more enthusiastic about your work and contributions.
As an organization, we realize that we must create an environment where people feel empowered to chase their passions, explore new horizons, and just be who they are.
We want our team members to work with passion and joy. And feel proud about the impact they create through their contributions.
By Creating A Sense Of Belonging
When Ankur decided to go fully remote more than a decade ago, he took on the challenge of running the company without a single physical office—something most firms struggle with, even in 2023.
Going against the stereotypical notion that work is only possible in an office took guts and bucketsful of enthusiasm.
"People would always assume that I wasn't working. A lot of that stigma went away after the covid-19 pandemic," he shared.
Communication and engagement were the biggest challenges to creating a sense of community.
"We had to make a makeshift Slack by integrating Skype with bots," he recalled with a hearty laugh.
But that same intention guided us to develop benefits designed to build a sense of community, like, departmental off-sites, happy hours, monthly meet-up allowances, annual retreats, etc.
By Enabling People To Be Close To Their Loved Ones
"I never believed that one needs to work from an office to get things done," Ankur shared.
Moving to a different city, away from everything and everybody you've ever known for work, is heart-wrenching.
The economic costs of resettling and the emotional strain make it difficult for most people to feel secure; feeling empowered is a tall ask.
"Since Axelerant is a permanently remote organization, people have the choice of working from a place of safety and love, like their home," Ankur said.
After joining Axelerant two years back, Shani could return to his village in Varanasi and take up farming.
"I work in the fields from early morning till 10 AM and then start office. In the evening, I take a break to catch up with friends, play cricket, and resume office afterward," Shani said.
Removing Health And Wellness Barriers To A Fruitful Life
Numerous studies have shown a direct link between people's fitness and productivity.
It's counterintuitive to assume that working more hours, with little effort to keep fit, is a good idea for productivity.
Having Their Back At All Times
In the last five months, Sharayu helped conduct eight off-sites across five locations in India. Three of them were held consecutively for different teams.
Planning one event for a remote team spread across the world requires her to get multiple details in line, like the location's reachability, budget feasibility, room bookings, food menu selection, transport arrangements for each team member, and more.
"It all boils down to people care. I can do what I do because I genuinely care about our people's experience in these events," she said.
In January 2023, when her pet Coco had to be taken to the vet, she applied for a caregiver leave, which allows team members to take time off for family emergencies—on top of 35 days of consolidated leave.
Team member benefits like family medical insurance, monthly child care stipend, free doctors and health professionals consultation, discounted medicines, work-life flexibility, etc., are our way of saying—we are here for you.
Empowering People To Share Their Knowledge With The World
Our team members use the annual continuing education benefit to update themselves about the bleeding-edge developments in their fields.
Axelerant Senior Project Manager Jaspreet Singh recently got promoted by utilizing this benefit and getting certified as an Advanced Certified ScrumMaster (A-CSM).
We strongly believe in sharing our knowledge and experience with the world.
Every leader actively encourages team members to submit their sessions in international events like DrupalCon, WordCamp, etc.
If a session is accepted, we fully sponsor the in-person trip or the costs required for the virtual event.
"More people are presenting their sessions, in person, in these international events than ever before from Axelerant," said Gaurav, who presented a session on open-source contributions at DrupalCon Prague, in 2022.
Three months ago at @DrupalConEur, our Drupal expert @gkapoor121212—an active contributor who maintains 60+ modules—gave his first-ever #DrupalCon session. 🏅— Axelerant (@axelerant) January 2, 2023
Here're the techniques he shared that can help other teams in #OpenSource contributions: https://t.co/yCgEadMFnX
And Does It Have Any Real Impact For The Organization And Its People?
This question is the main litmus test to determine whether the company's core values are alive and functioning or dead.
Can company values be called effective if they don't reflect in people's behavior and have some tangible impact on their lives?
Axelerant Director of Coaching, Mridula Ujjwal, has been a life and performance coach to the team members for over eight years.
As the company grew, she built a team of coaches with a similar passion for people support—who now help team members become better versions of themselves.
Here's what she has to say.
It Lets People Grow In Ways That Matter To Them
Our systems are geared to match people with the type of work they would find most rewarding, like (the most obvious) asking them about their interests and doing everything possible to make it happen.
We want our people to find and chase their ikigai right here at Axelerant—doing work that sets their hearts afire.
"Everyone, like your team members, coaches, Ankur, and other leaders, are always there to help you align your goals and interests with the company's interests," said Shani Maurya.
Farming is a labor-intensive occupation. I wanted to know how Shani maintained his energy levels and enthusiasm to be able to continue farming—as a full-time engineer.
"Farming recharges my spirit. And that energy helps in my work, too. That's the secret to my enthusiasm," he said.
For Sharayu, the meaning of enthusiasm has evolved.
"Earlier, I would simply jump on a project with all my energy to get things done. But now I've started asking why behind every task that comes my way," she said.
This shift has helped her channel her energy more efficiently to make a greater impact.
And Embrace Their Awesomeness Wholeheartedly
Gaurav has taken over a new role as a DXP Consultant this year.
"But I continue to contribute to Drupal and help people in the community get unstuck with their problems whenever possible," he shared.
Team members can also explore and make lateral career moves within Axelerant, which is quite common.
It gives people the flexibility to chase their interests without changing their workplace.
Rahul Shinde recently made such a shift by switching from being a Drupal to a Mautic engineer.
On the other hand, Shani feels content in his current position.
"I'm a farmer first and an engineer second. My forefathers were farmers, too. I want to encourage people to be proud of their heritage," Shani shared.
Creating An Impact That Resonates Worldwide
At the beginning of our remote work journey, we wanted to align with good clients and do fine work.
Our continued efforts to do our best in product quality and people experience helped evolve the type of projects we got.
"During an off-site in Jaipur, I saw Axelerant leaders discussing certain pain points of our people. The dedication I saw in them to develop solutions proved that we are on the right track," Ankur shared.
When I asked Ankur how he felt seeing team members take to the core values so earnestly, he replied:
"It gives me goosebumps—every time. I feel incredibly proud."
Rohit Ganguly, Content Marketer
Rohit is a content marketer first and a YouTuber second. He loves to interact with animals, feed them, clean his apartment, and spend time with friends and family. Curious by nature, he also enjoys literature, movies, meditation, and calligraphy.