An inside look at Pinterest’s creative culture

The following post is based on an interview with Pinterest’s Workplace Operations Specialist, Leslie Kincaid. Her stories about the company’s unique culture were so insightful that we wanted to share a few more in addition to our short film, “Inside Pinterest’s Creative Culture,” which originally appeared on our Resources page.

Every day, tens of millions of people around the world log in to Pinterest to find inspiration. They explore everything from office design ideas to fondue recipes. Since its launch in 2010, Pinterest has quickly become one of the most popular sources of creative ideas in the world. But building a team to design, engineer and support a community of that scale has its growing pains.

Pinterest Workplace Operations Specialist, Leslie Kincaid, joined Pinterest in 2010, when the company was at just 11 employees. Many of those employees had been hired in the last nine months. The company needed someone to help the culture stay tightly knit and collaborative as it grew beyond its small startup phase.

According to Kincaid, “Culture can organically happen and develop itself, but you need people actively thinking about it and talking about it on a regular basis.”

Since Kincaid joined three years ago, Pinterest has hired over 400 employees and built offices in eight cities around the world. Pinterest employees, or Pinployees as they call themselves, can be found working remotely in London, Tokyo, Paris, Berlin, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Portland.

As many founders will attest, one of the biggest challenges of hyper-growth is shaping the company’s culture amidst rapid change. It’s a task that requires creativity — something Pinterest understands. Leslie is part of the company’s Culture Club, where a group of employees from across Pinterest meet twice monthly to discuss ways to improve and maintain the culture.

A few months ago, a group of engineers within the Culture Club decided to do an analysis of all the things Pinterest employees were pinning in order to identify common interests. The result was 20 new groups and clubs at the company. The culture club helped organize lunches among the groups. Many of the employees didn’t know one another. But they were told that they had to come together and decipher what their common interest was. Since that time, a number of groups have started within the company including a wine club.

Another challenge that comes with growing at the rate that Pinterest has over the last four years is keeping remote offices connected. The Culture Club felt this pain when they invited remote workers to join their monthly meetings. The group realized they needed to host the meetings in the morning so that remote employees on the East Coast of the United States and in Europe could participate.

As the Culture Club has grown, Kincaid and her team have begun creating subgroups with different goals and discussion topics. Stemming from their own pain, they recently created a group focused on keeping remote workers and offices connected to the culture at headquarters.

“It’s really helpful to hear their perspective on the ways we could improve communication or what are the day-to-day issues that they see and that they deal with, and how can we attempt to make those better,” Leslie told me.

Like any young company, Pinterest has a culture that is constantly evolving. With each new employee, and each new office, the culture must expand and grow. But all of this happens under the guidance of a team obsessed with making Pinterest the best place to work in tech.