Business in Focus: Buffer

A closer look at companies executing leadership excellence


bufferIf your job includes posting updates on social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, you’re probably familiar with Buffer. Why? Buffer lets you automatically post across multiple social media platforms according to when you want your target audience to see those posts. Tools to optimize social media may not be in your job description, but if you’re a leader who values culture, Buffer is worth learning more about. In the eight years since its inception, Buffer has grown to more than 4.5 million users and over $16 million in annual revenue. Its users are supported by a team of over 70 employees around the globe all of who work remotely with no brick and mortar offices.

In a recent Globoforce study about the effect of work relationships on culture and commitment, 93% of respondents said that it is important to have colleagues think highly of them. Face-to-face relationshipsin particular, directly impact collaboration, which improves productivity, efficiency, and innovation. 

Getting culture right for companies like Buffer means taking bold measures to make up for the lack of daily opportunities to build relationships face-to-face. For Buffer, going bold means not only codifying and clarifying its culture, but intentionally acting on its stated values.  Here are two of the biggest culture successes and one big mistake that Buffer correlates to trying to make business decisions based on its values:

Success #1:  Transparency and Open Salaries
Candidates for open positions at Buffer can use a
Transparent Salary Calculator to find out the salary range for the position before ever applying.  Pay transparency contributes to a sense of fairness, as evidenced in David Burkus’ book Under New Management, How Leading Organizations are Upending Business as Usual. Burkus found that in a transparent culture, people “have a higher sense of the organization being fair. You tend to see increases in collaboration and other positive effects.”

Buffer’s Transparent Salary Calculator:



Success #2:  Working Remotely
Buffer reports that “One of our values is ‘Live smarter, not harder,’ and within that value, we encourage people to live and work from the place they are the happiest and feel most fulfilled.

We fundamentally believe that it’s a good idea to travel, explore the world and live where you’re happiest. And when we wrote that down, we also decided that we want to extend that to everyone who joins Buffer.”



Mistake #1:  Working With No Managers
In 2014, the company fell in love with the
holacracy organizational model famously demonstrated by companies like Zappos.  Here are a few valuable lessons learned from its experiment with a manager-less organizational structure:

People really crave and want mentorship. One of our best product designers on the team left largely because he felt he wasn’t getting the mentorship anymore that helped him grow so fast as an individual contributor at the start of joining Buffer.

New people that were hired felt lost. We said to them, “just go look for yourself and find something to work on.”

People could never get a general sense of purpose and direction. The value of setting down a mission and vision, with input from the team — but still coming from the founders or leaders of a company — is just so crucial.

Buffer No Managers


Kudos to Buffer for going bold with its remote culture and being transparent about its successes and missteps along the way!




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