How Citymapper uses Spill to keep its global hybrid team feeling supported

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Emma riding a bike in a city
Emma McEachan out and about on her bike. Emma is Head of Human Resources at Citymapper, a transport app.

The challenge

With 100 employees working from cities all around the world, Citymapper is a truly global tech company. “Our employees are from all walks of life and from a diverse range of backgrounds”, Emma explains. “We can appreciate that not everyone’s lives will be based in one place all of the time; during the pandemic we’ve been incredibly flexible and continue to be so.” Emma herself splits her time between London and France.

While having a globally-distributed team undoubtedly has helped the business successfully launch into new cities around the world — the Citymapper app now has over 50 million users — it can make it more of a challenge when it comes to building a strong culture and ensuring employees across different timezones feel equally supported and cared for.

Citymapper's approach

“Despite the pandemic separating us, and several new-hires having never physically met the team face-to-face, we’ve managed to build a close-knit team”, Emma says. “Knowing each other on a personal level helps in a professional sense too because it creates a strong sense of community — when things move fast, we know we can rely on each other.”
Part of building a close-knit team is about getting hiring right in the first place. “One of the things we always look for is to hire people who are genuinely passionate about making cities less complicated”, Emma explains. “Mission fit is important for us as we spend a lot of our time in the intricacies of transit data; we’re all about candidates who have a geeky passion for their local tube line or bus stop.”
Even those team members who haven't used Spill yet said they feel more supported by Citymapper
The other part is about prioritising and investing in the psychological safety and wellbeing of the team, to make sure there's a high level of interpersonal trust.
An image showing Citymapper locations across the world
A truly global company: Citymapper now operates in more than 100 cities around the world.

Where Spill comes in

“Protecting the mental health of our employees is something of great importance to us”, Emma explains. “As colleagues and managers, we’ve always made a point to check in with each other and have trained mental health first-aiders within the team. But the pandemic brought in new challenges which crossed work and personal lives, and it felt like the right time to up our commitment to wellbeing and get a third party in to provide professional mental health support.”

“I was a frontline Samaritans volunteer for twelve years, and a trained counsellor, so when one of our team members told me about Spill I was really interested at the prospect of making therapy available to the team.”

Using Spill, Citymapper has now made therapy accessible to employees in timezones from New York to Mumbai, and all accessible through the company's most-used communications tool: Slack. “We’ve had great feedback from team members who have booked in to therapy via Spill”, reports Emma, “and even those who aren’t using the therapy feature regularly have said they feel more supported by Citymapper as we’re helping to provide another avenue for help should they need it.”

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