Work-Life Balance at KNP

Published on

Dec 11, 2013


KNP Meetup

I - Eve, People Manager at KNP - am on my way to our KNP MeetUp – Initially, it was an utopian idea to meet once our world-wide spread co-workers,… but no! We will meet in Switzerland for one week-end – everybody… from the States, France, Germany, Ukraine, Serbia, Estonia, Switzerland…


How did this came up? By a simple brainstorming session we call “Utopia”. The question was: What would you like KNP to do for you, if there were no boundaries on time, money and resources? I organized hangouts with three to five (random) participants with a shared Trello board. I explained the idea of our session, we discussed a little bit the upcoming questions and then, everybody was free to post his and her ideas! No limits!

We had crazy ideas like: I want a river from my office to the sea. Or I want a cat… or have a swimming-pool, barbecue, mini soccer, poolroom… and every time we had: I want to meet my colleagues IRL!

From a simple post-it board was born a great idea and the wish was fulfilled by Matt and Laet.

Secure Freelancing

We are a Team of developers spread worldwide; it’s like being a freelancer with job stability. That’s great, because we are independent and we work because we love our job. That was fine for several years, and we thought nothing would change.

In Utopia several ideas came up like “We want also a physical co-working place. Would be great to work IRL with my dev mates…” So Matt and Laet proposed to those who live in bigger cities, like Nantes, Lyon, Leipzig or Kiev to start searching for co-working places and actively posted job offers for these cities. Nantes has already a team of seven members, Lyon will have three, Kiev four!

Sharing our experience

Another reason why we wanted to group our teams in physical offices: a will to share our experience! Everybody here wanted to train Padawans! Young passionate dev mates, new to Sf2 and with a great ambition to learn - and a great taste for open source (and cats meme)…

Home-office and co-working

The mix of home-office and co-working is great! Sometimes, you need your quiet room to concentrate on a task and sometimes, it’s great to exchange experience, opinions and jokes! With home-office you have no rush hour and no traffic jams. Co-working gives you the opportunity to meet other people, not only from the Sf2 world :)

As a young mother I do home-office and I can just say: It’s great! I have much more time for my children when they come back from the Nanny’s, I can adjust my working hours. KNP was a bunch of young, genius, awesome developers when I joined them. They still are, but some of them (like me) have now children and so their needs are changing. To me timeshift and home-office are the best option for a happy family life.

Open-Source projects

Very often, when someone joins us we hear: I am so proud to join KNP! That makes my heart bump every time :) Yes, have a very good image in the Sf2 community because we are active on OS projects (even if we still want to improve this a lot) and try to share our experience with the community with projects like

I recently read an article which said mainly that “Hiring based on OS projects is bad” and “Do not make your devs work on OS projects”. It was about exploiting your employees by abusing their passion and making them work day and night, like modern slaves… We are a family of passionate OS  devs, our Bundles are free, our experience is shared. Our hiring process is democratic, everybody can – if he wants – give his opinion, and yes, it starts almost every time with having a look at the GitHub profile… but not only.

As a project manager, I am against overtime. It’s against my idea of a good, balanced working atmosphere and when it comes to that, I feel like I failed. I protect my Team from ASAPs and ReallyUrgents and I assure you, even on web projects it’s possible to do without. Sometimes, it comes to overtime, but then I make it up by awarding free time later. And working on OS projects? Yes it’s possible during our bi-monthly GeekTime Friday. No obligation to work on them after your working hours.

Self-organization – Holacracy

Agility became a buzz-word, now everybody speaks about Holacracy and self-organized Teams, flat hierarchy structure. At KNP we need no Holacracy trainings… we are already living what other companies need to change, in order to be more competitive on a steady changing market. On Jurgen Appelos delegation poker I think we are between 6 and 7. Our management holds the long term vision, does administrative stuff, manages the client and presales. We manage our projects, we manage the work we love to do. Matt and Laet are always open for suggestions and our needs. Problems are taken seriously, ideas are taken in consideration. I do not have to tell you that this kind of management is the base for intrinsic motivation.


This will be also the buzz word in 2014. Make your employees happy and your company will have a great success. I fully agree. I work at KNP to find ways to make everybody happy. We do not want Care bears world, we do not want everybody to smile all the time, stand up and dance once a day or constantly make jokes on our internal chat and post cute cats. Profound satisfaction is a long term feeling, which is only possible if you can also freely talk about problems and criticize, without fearing retaliation.

I proposed the Happiness Index, inspired by Henrik Kniberg. It was not easy to introduce it to everybody. Choose your happiness in a scale from 1 to 5? Tell others what you feel on the project and on your working place??? What for? What if I offend someone? This is not an objective metric! Everybody can see my comments? We had a lot of discussions and due to some feedback, I changed and improved some questions. And I made sure that everybody is aware, that at KNP, we are open to critics, that it’s never to hurt someone, but to improve a situation! Embrace error to make it better next time!

Since July we have a shared Happiness Index and it seems to be working for everybody. We have ones and fives. The ones gives us immediately feedback that something is going wrong on the project. We discuss it and try to find solutions! We do not have to wait the end of the project to hear: The project is late because of a communication problem with the client we had one month ago. With six month of experience I can say: The subjective feeling of a motivated team member reflects the objective health of a project.

I will soon arrive in Geneva, snow is already falling and I can’t wait to join my colleagues on the train station. I have my Legos in my luggages for a Lego4Scrum session, this will be really fun. And I hear some KNPeers will bring their music instruments for the KNP Big Band…

I am really Happy to join the Team IRL!

Written by

Eve Vinclair-Berkemeier
Eve Vinclair-Berkemeier

People Manager @ KNPLabs

Scrum Mistress - AFOL at home and at work :D Helping hand for client projects and internal organization of our teams at KNP.