📝 Use this template to create your own handbook.
A company handbook is a systematic way of documenting how a company works. It is the most efficient way to transfer information and facilitates intentional communication.
Given that OCV companies are founded on open-source technology projects and the principle of transparency, our companies are expected to operate through a public handbook. Operating through a public handbook encourages accountability and supports hiring efforts.
🔗 Suggested reading: The importance of a handbook-first approach to documentation
This is a suggested timeline for starting a company handbook. Use the templates available on this page to start your public handbook.
Suggested root directories with explanations for each. Suggested reading: What goes in a company handbook?
Include an introduction on the handbook’s homepage explaining its function and how to use it. For example:
The [company name] handbook is the official repository for how we run the company. It’s a living document that is continually updated. It includes information about the company, product, teams, and workplace policies and practices. Search for keywords like “benefits” or “support process” to find the relevant entry.
As an open core company, we value transparency and learning in the open. We welcome feedback and encourage contributions. Please make a [pull/merge] request to suggest improvements or add clarifications. Feel free to adapt from this handbook.
Consider including more explanation if it makes sense for your company:
- What it means to work transparently
- Why it’s important to work in public
- The benefits of maintaining a public handbook
- Contribution guidelines
The company section of the handbook includes information that applies to the entire company. Suggestions for company sub-directories:
The about section of the handbook tells the world who you are. It answers why you do what you do. It may include a mission and vision statement and a brief history of the company's start. This is a good place to document company milestones and achievements over time. Consider creating a single “about” page on the company website and linking to it from the handbook. Shopify provides free templates.
The communication section of the handbook sets the standard for how the company communicates. It might include the standard date format, how and when meetings are held, approved communication channels, accessibility considerations, and general conduct expectations.
Check out these early-stage company examples for inspiration:
A company’s values define the company culture. They shape how individuals work with each other as colleagues and in the community. A company’s values direct how decisions get made, how quickly teams ship, and employees’ sense of belonging.
Introduce your values by defining their purpose. For example:
Our values shape how we interact with each other to achieve our goals collectively. They describe how we aim to create a culture of respect, transparency, and success. Everyone in the company is expected to live these values at work.
List your values, explain their meaning, and give a contextual example of what it means to “live” that value.
🔗 Recommended reading: Make Your Values Mean Something
Also known as the “day-to-day,” this section of the handbook details company-wide operational policies and procedures. Operating information important for all company employees goes here, even if a single department may be the directly responsible group. For example:
- Tools we use
- Spending company money
- Company goal setting
Each department (i.e. engineering, product, people, marketing, etc.) will have its own sub-directory where department-specific policies and procedures are detailed. Depending on the department's business, department-level handbooks may vary greatly in content and structure.
Common elements for department-level pages include:
- Roles and responsibilities
- Performance indicators
- Planning procedures
- Onboarding procedures