Cape: The smarter way to control your cash flow

About: Cape is building a new finance automation platform, focussed on helping Australian businesses cut wasteful spending and the time taken on financial administration tasks.

Location: Sydney, Australia

Responses by: Andrea McDowell, VP of People, Culture, and Impact at Cape

Cape’s company culture: Always striving to push the limits

Our company culture is flexible, psychologically safe, and always striving to push the limits. People feel safe to take risks, speak up, and ask questions without fearing repercussions or looking silly. Beyond that, we also ensure there is room for fun, having a laugh, and a bit of banter. It’s a come-as-you-are team, and everyone adds so much value through their varied experiences, stories, and quirky ways! 

Flexibility is massive and ultimately comes down to where, when, and how we work. There is an understanding and acceptance that everyone works quite differently across the many time zones and four countries Cape operates across.

What we’re doing at Cape is something that hasn’t been done before, especially within Australia. We’ve got an amazing team behind us who’s here to do that. We’re always looking at how we can improve and do things differently. Doing this means we need to remove our egos and realise that we won’t always get it right and must be open to being challenged! This mentality empowers the team and drives innovation. It’s a key part of our culture.

Flexibility is a non-negotiable: Work-life balance at Cape

Our team is all about work-life balance. Although our HQ is based in Manly, each individual essentially runs their own HQ too. Whether that means working from home, a cafe, remotely, or from the beach, we believe in empowering everyone to decide where they do their best work. 

We also allow our team to work abroad for up to 12 weeks a year. We’ve had team members visit family in South Africa, take a working holiday to Fiji, and head over to work remotely in all parts of Europe. 

We understand that flexibility is a non-negotiable for so many people in 2022. With team members spread across multiple countries and time zones, we work asynchronously and allow our team to integrate work into their lifestyles.

Working at Cape

The team at Cape works asynchronously, given that we’re across four different countries and about six different time zones. That means intentional communication is very important. 

We’re big on utilising various channels, whether that’s Slack, updating our office hours, or making sure our calendars are up to date.

But ultimately, everyone must be transparent about their feelings and provide feedback on how the wider team is progressing. We just launched our first company engagement survey, and one of the key questions is about how we can improve asynchronous ways of working.

The feedback from this question was incredibly insightful and showed that we still have work to do in this space; as a team (and the wider world) navigate this new way of working. Communication, inclusive language, and social interaction across asynchronous teams are key action points. 

Company values

We believe that company values are the foundation for a more cohesive and aligned way of working.

In our experience, the best company values are built collaboratively with strong leadership sponsorship and support. Involving the whole team creates a sense of buy-in and empowers your people to embody these values daily. 

In developing our values, we ran a series of workshops with leaders and teams to find out what they value in the workplace and what kind of culture they wanted to foster at Cape. Following these workshops, the team went through over seven iterations of Cape’s company values. 

The team developed four values: simpler is smarter, actions need ownership, visible for all, and empathy, not ego. These values also form a great acronym aligned with our wider mission; SAVE. 

People often get stuck with values because they can be vague and high-level. So we have deliberately planned to embed these values in everyday work at Cape.

Here are a few ways we’re bringing our values to life:

  • Daily ways of working: Tying values to communication, feedback, and even creating emojis in Slack to embed them in everything we do. It seems small, but these things ensure that the values are visible, usable, and front of mind.
  • Cape Values Awards: We’re excited to launch our values awards and give people the opportunity to celebrate their teammates who have gone above and beyond living the values each quarter. 
  • Cape Values Matrix: A ranking system that shows what it means to live out each value from novice to mastery. This guidance translates our values into specific and tangible examples, so there is no room for confusion. 
  • Quarterly OKRs: Aligning performance reviews with 360-degree feedback to ensure everyone is living the Cape values.
  • Talent and growth: We work to use our values in job listings and hiring conversations to find the right talent. This removes the bias with looking for ‘culture fit’ and moves us towards growing our team to ensure ‘value add.’