Donuts and Shoutouts: JumpCloud’s Best Advice for Newly Remote Teams
Thanks to a nimble IT team and the nature of our work in SaaS, our company made a smooth transition to remote operations back in March.
Still, if the first few months of this “new normal” have taught us anything, it’s that thriving right now requires new levels of intentionality throughout an organization. It’s never been more important to check in and make sure people have the resources they need—not just to do their jobs, but for mental health and a sense of the social connection that once grew organically in the office.
I’d like to share five actions we’re taking to strengthen our newly remote community, in the hope that they might be helpful to organizations facing similar challenges.
Daily standups for all teams
Without spontaneous interaction in an office environment, we realized that individual teams need to be more direct about communicating objectives and synchronizing projects.
So we decided to borrow the daily standup meeting format from our engineers’ workflow, asking everyone across the company to adopt it. The concept is simple: Teams meet on a brief video call each morning, and each member talks through their goals and priorities for the day.
It’s an opportunity for leaders to make sure everyone’s on the right track and offer support as needed, and it helps foster a sense of camaraderie around a shared objective.
This is one change we think we’ll keep in some form, even when we eventually get back to the office.
New informal meetings, check-ins and virtual happy hours
Along with the boost in project coordination, we’re making space for less-formal community interaction.
Our CEO hosts optional company-wide check-ins at the end of the day on Fridays—these meetings are a place to share good news, shout out individual accomplishments across departments and celebrate the week’s wins before we all sign off for some R&R.
Related: 5 Tips for Better Remote One-on-Ones
We also use the Donut app within Slack, which randomly pairs participants with a new acquaintance from around the company every few weeks. Each Donut pair meets for virtual coffee to chat and get to know each other, creating bonds between people who wouldn’t necessarily find themselves working together on a project.
Plus, we’re excited to see virtual happy hour gatherings springing up on various individual teams. One pro tip to help everyone in a crowded video chat feel included: Add some structure by having someone lead the virtual happy hour. The leader kicks things off by asking a fun or funny question, and participants take turns answering. Try these questions with your team:
- What was your first concert?
- If you could instantly pick up a new skill, what would it be?
- If you could only bring one thing to a deserted island, what would it be?
- Have you ever met anyone famous?
- What was your first job?
Reinforcing our mission, vision and values
Without the ability to bounce questions and ideas off each other in person, it’s important to make sure everyone can look to the same compass for high-level guidance.
Our people team focuses on making sure everyone understands how their roles fit into the bigger picture and how our company’s long-term vision translates into day-to-day actions and decisions. We’re especially proud of our three core values—Build Connections, Think Big and 1% Better Every Day—as philosophical guidelines that help inform practical decisions.
For organizations finding that their values don’t translate to a changing environment as well as they’d like, revisiting and reworking those values is a great way to bring people together around a creative endeavor.
Realigning with customer priorities
Most companies are reaching out to their customers to offer some form of support during this time. Our number-one goal in this area is to make sure we deeply understand the evolving needs and priorities of the IT admins who use our product to secure and manage their environments.
In practice, this means not just increased customer outreach from our support team, but increased flexibility on the engineering side to adapt short-term objectives and goals based on customer feedback.
We know we need to maintain a balance where the development work we’re prioritizing right now gives customers the best possible value for their immediate needs while also setting them up for long-term success. And internally, this gives people a stronger sense of the purpose behind their work.
Open office hours for customers and IT pros
In the spirit of offering more support to the IT community without trying to sell anything, we’ve also launched a new program called JumpCloud Office Hours. We know that many IT professionals work solo or on small teams, and they may only have time to use formal support channels when absolutely necessary. We want to provide a low-pressure space where practitioners gather with peers, decompress a bit, and talk through questions and challenges directly with a panel of technical experts.
The live sessions meet Fridays at 11:30am ET, and they’re open to IT pros of all experience levels, regardless of whether they’re JumpCloud customers. We hope to see you there.
Editor’s note: We’re proud to say that JumpCloud is one of our portfolio companies.
More on remote leadership
We’ve combed through the interwebs to find the most worthwhile events in 2021. We’ll continue adding to this list as organizers announce more conferences.
What’s your biggest weakness? For many folks in leadership positions, the answer might be… asking job candidates good questions.
It was acceptable to ad-lib a remote strategy at the beginning of the pandemic, but companies that want to transform that initial emergency response into a sustainable model need to put in the effort to make it so.