Prominent Edge was founded in 2014 as a remote-first company, so we’ve had to find ways to stay connected as a team to maintain a healthy and influential culture in the same way a co-located team can. COVID-19 caused many companies to work remotely and adopt the concept of remote as a necessary approach to attract and maintain employees. Here, we discuss our approach to staying connected in a remote environment with the hope that we can help your team succeed in remote environments.
As practitioners of Agile, we started holding company-wide daily scrum meetings over video since the inception of the company. This was a no-brainer when we only had one major effort and we were fewer than seven product development staff. As we grew and took on more efforts, each project did its own daily scrum in addition to its other Agile ceremonies such as sprint planning, sprint demo/review, and retrospectives. We continued our company-wide daily meetings with a fun twist up to the point where it became impractical for most to chime in on the call. At that point, we had to come up with a solution.
We looked at various approaches to maintain our great culture and develop interpersonal connections with team members. Most days, it was no longer practical to engage everyone on the call. Instead, we went for a round-robin approach to have each team member host The Daily. We defined the goal of The Daily as:
- From Lunch-and-Learn to helpful tips and tricks
- We are an amazing group, connect, say hi, share passion, fun, and knowledge
- Short & Fun
- A strict 10-minute length especially for larger groups.
- Lunch and Learns may go a bit longer.
- Guardrails for Success
- Attending The Daily is not mandatory if you are “heads-down” on a project or in another meeting. However, we like everyone to join if at all possible.
- The topic is announced on the team’s Slack earlier in the day.
- We utilize a kanban board to identify, and prioritize upcoming lunch-and-learn presentations.
- We use a calendar to promote scheduled topics and give team members the opportunity to not miss a topic they are interested in.
In order to minimize the burden of hosting, the host has the option to choose any of the following topic categories:
The host is more of a facilitator/coordinator than a presenter. Present the topic, and get the conversation started. No single source of information.
Show and Tell
A topic is presented by the host. A presentation is optional, this format will likely need some prep time to get ready. The presenter can share their screen and talk through anything they want to present. The topic can be technical, discuss the strengths or weaknesses of a project, or even simply a talent or hobby. Questions and conversations are encouraged, and any major questions or comments can be addressed in the following Daily if additional time is needed.
Ask Me Anything
This gives the team time to learn more about the host. It is a great way for the team to learn about a new employee, or for the host to potentially reintroduce themselves in more depth to the rest of the team. Similarly, this allows the team to ask anything from the leads, managers, and execs. We do schedule an AMA for the leadership once a month but encourage it on a more frequent basis.
Wrapping It Up
We have had fantastic conversations during these calls that have gone beyond anything I’ve learned or discussed at other companies. Having said that, even simply seeing each other regularly via video and having the opportunity for “watercooler” conversations is super important for company culture. When you have to reach out to a team member for help or provide feedback, having the human connection makes a world of difference. This is particularly important with new team members because in a few short weeks they learn what would otherwise take months and years if the projects are not completely siloed.
We would love to hear what you do to stay connected to maintain or improve your company’s culture.