My alarm starts buzzing at 6:00am each morning and I kick off the day with a cup of coffee, make breakfast for my daughters, and get them off to school. Then I take a stroll down the hall, past my kitchen, and log on to my work computer. I have the easiest commute and I love it. 

In March 2020, Happy Money made the transition from our stunning Tustin, California, headquarters to a work-from-anywhere environment. As we navigated the uncertainties of a global pandemic, one thing I could count on every day was the routine of my workday—although with more flexibility than I’d ever experienced before. In this new distributed work world,I had the flexibility to work from my home in California or from an Airbnb in Utah during my kids’ Spring break. Throughout the last year, I’ve frequently found myself thankful for the flexibility and greater work-life harmony that I’ve experienced with Happy Money’s new work-from-anywhere model.

Do I miss impromptu hallway conversations with co-workers or trying out the newest happy hour spot closest to the office? Absolutely. But I’m especially proud of the way our teams have been able to connect across the organization through very intentional strategies. As our teams transitioned from a physical office to Zoom calls, we saw higher engagement in meetings, quicker response times to emails, and increased job satisfaction across all levels. How is this even possible when our teams weren’t getting an in-office experience? The answer is simple: we paid attention to what our employees value most and developed a virtual experience tailored to exceed their expectations. 


Here’s how we rolled out the new experience—and how you too can intentionally build culture in a work-from-anywhere world.

Create a growth mindset. The only constant is change, and helping our teams flex and adapt to these changes is key. Rather than having a fixed mindset, we model a growth mindset from the top down that’s open to evolving and embraces possibilities. New ideas are always welcome, and we even have a Slack channel available for all team members to ask questions and share insights with executive leadership.

Allow team members to choose their own path. Embrace employees with different personalities and natural tendencies. While some team members will thrive in Zoom breakout rooms brainstorming new ideas, you may have others who shine in a 1:1 Slack call. At Happy Money, we spend time learning about and understanding our own and others’ core motivations, strengths, and values. This helps us understand each other better—and know what matters to us most. Get a feel for where your team members are and encourage them to play to their strengths. 

Lead with your values. Allow your values to shape your culture. For us at Happy Money, those values are Love (to care for), Trust (to believe in), and Hustle (to push forward). In our distributed environment, we’ve intentionally leaned into them in new ways: Love through carefully-curated events for our employees; Trust by way of transparent communications; and Hustle through new digital tools that keep us on track with our OKRs.

Create structure for people to connect. As an entirely distributed workforce, we’ve developed guidelines for IRL gatherings (we still believe these are integral for developing relationships and culture) as well as virtual events to facilitate conversation, celebration, and connection around the things that are valued by our employees. The framework we’ve provided still allows enough flexibility for individuals and teams to choose their own adventure, as noted above.


Culture is a 360-experience at Happy Money. Across all levels and types of roles, we want our team members to have shared experiences similar to (or better than) what they would encounter if they were sitting next to one another. And that experience starts from day one for new hires. Each new employee kicks off their first day with a personalized welcome including a party in a box, welcome videos, and a team lunch. 

We believe in exposing team members to as many people as possible and craft our onboarding process in a way that allows the new hires to learn first-hand from individuals across all levels of the business. We’ve also started to explore new kinds of benefits available for remote workers and are in the process of exploring a choose-your-own-adventure style customized benefits package. 


This year, we also leaned into the incredibly diverse culture of our team members. At Happy Money, we believe in embracing and showcasing the uniqueness of our teams through a weeklong celebration called REVEL. Each employee received a package with a leather passport and had the opportunity to participate in a week of programming where employees brought us into their homes through sessions on things like how to make Turkish coffee or chilaquiles rojos. We had nearly 20 sessions where team members on all levels let their voices be heard as they shared unique moments of more than 30 different cultures. 

Rather than a typical Q&A format that would have probably happened if we were still working together in person, this in-home experience paired with the digital component somehow felt more intimate. It allowed us to learn about one another on a deeper level. There’s something so powerful when you’re watching the love poured into the finishing touches of chilaquiles rojos or perfecting the perfectly bold cup of Turkish coffee. Being vulnerable and sharing a special family recipe or having the opportunity to watch a fellow team member share stories about their grandmother—those are shared experiences that I don’t believe would have ever happened in a breakroom. 


We’ve also taken steps to focus on individual wellness. It can become too easy for your work to bleed into all parts of your day, and that’s not sustainable for anyone. At Happy Money, we evaluate how employees are doing across four primary areas of wellness: physical, mental, financial, and family. 

Taking care of yourself in all of these areas is vitally important, so we created a week dedicated to creating healthy habits. Our RESET Wellness Week encourages all of our team members to take a step back and reflect on the things that matter most to them. It includes meditation breakouts, wellness challenges and panel discussions. The panel on family wellness and work-life harmony was one of the most highly attended last year, solidifying for me how important this is to our employees.

Thinking about wellness isn’t reserved for one week out of the year, though. In addition to unlimited PTO, our employees are given a free subscription to Headspace (which more than 60% of our employees take advantage of) and also have the opportunity to reserve one day every month for health and wellness days. Modeled from the top down, employees are encouraged to block the day off on their calendar and set an away message on Slack so they can have a day to recharge without the distraction of work. These are no-questions-asked days and it’s expected for employees to take them. It’s important everyone feels their best and this has been one of the most well-received perks over the last year.


The human-centric approach we model at every level embodies everything we do at Happy Money. And it’s an approach I encourage all leaders and companies to consider. As a leadership team, we model an empathetic tone—it’s not just about the people. It’s about humanizing leadership and being there for people when the world is an insane place to be. We allow all the things to be blended. 

With increased communication company wide including weekly notes from our CEO, ongoing conversations on Slack, and an established virtual headquarters, we are giving every employee equal opportunities to grow professionally and excel in their career. Leveraging Slack to foster connectivity has been an integral component of building and fostering an inclusive culture. We’ve created channels where we celebrate success, milestones, and birthdays. 

Other Slack channels are focused on personal interests such as wellness, community, and more, it’s been incredibly rewarding to watch our employees find and celebrate common interests. They’re sharing the books they’re reading or about a new hike they discovered at their local park. In a virtual world where watercooler talk doesn’t exist, we’ve found a way to connect and engage our employees on deeper levels. 

How about you? What keeps you engaged in a remote environment, and how have you helped shaped culture in and outside of the office walls?