We like deep work and see meetings as ways to get people on the same page and remove blockers. Most of our communication is done over Slack and in Basecamp, where people have time to read, digest, and think about a response. We also do plenty of ad hoc video calls when that makes sense.
We currently don’t have any regularly scheduled meetings in engineering. As the team grows, we’ll likely add a bit more structure here. However, we will always prioritize deep work and will never meet just to meet.
Meetings are special and valuable times to discuss things as a group that would otherwise be impossible to do through 1-1s or asynchronous communication channels. More informally, we communicate with one another using our own product, Coast (dogfooding) so that we can respond to and digest information at our own pace. We’ll have ad hoc in person/video meetings if it helps us to get unblocked.
You can expect to attend ~2 hours of meetings each week. Our only regular meetings include:
In-person meetings can be distracting so we ensure that everyone in a meeting is prepared in advance. Whoever is holding the meeting is responsible beforehand to prep people and create a realistic agenda for decisions to be made.
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Everyone at Papercup can expect a monthly one-to-one and showcase, a weekly engineering team check-in, and a 10-minute daily stand-up to make sure everyone’s on the same page. That’s it!
We don’t believe in delaying decisions just because they’re difficult, nor do we want to spend too much time getting everyone up to speed at every meeting. So we ask everyone to show up to meetings well informed and prepared, in order to keep the meetings themselves short.
Aside from a weekly sprint-planning and all-hands meeting, we do our best to avoid regular, mandatory meetings. As a company, we have a short (<5-minute) stand-up every morning at 10am but the way we stay in tune with what everyone is working on is through our demos once every other week. Instead of meeting to tell everyone what we’re currently working on, we spend time showing up what we’ve built. Engineers demo their new features, ops showcase their new models, and our provider interaction team shares the new scripts they’ve written. (Show and tell is still exciting as it was when we were younger!) It’s natural to go into a meeting-heavy state, so we are constantly fighting against that and making sure that engineers have the schedules they need to work effectively.
We introduced this policy in order to protect the maker’s schedule (if you haven’t already, read Paul Graham’s influential essay on this). At Plastiq, any meeting with engineers must happen before noon time. This way, engineers have a large contiguous block of time to build software. As a result, engineers have all of there meetings between 10am and 12pm, starting with our 10am Daily Checkpoint meeting. Instead of scheduling ad hoc meetings, we use this daily forum to discuss specific items as a team.
Check out this blog post to learn more about our meeting culture at Plastiq.
Our all hands meeting takes place once every 2 weeks. All other meetings are intentionally done ad-hoc. In general, we prefer communicating in Slack and in person. We default to asynchronous communication in Slack or Github issue as a first step. When meetings need to happen we keep them small to the key decision makers and strive to make decisions in the room (not necessarily by consensus, but more often via disagree and commit).
In order to perform cognitively complex tasks, we believe you need a distraction-free environment. Our engineering and product managers carry the burden of extraneous or tangential meetings, so that you can focus on your craft. Meetings have a clear agenda, and result in clearly owned action items.
Engineering teams have the freedom to independently adopt their own practices. It's up to you and your teammates to decide the environment you want. If you enjoy pair programming, let us know. If you like having more structure - daily standups, retrospectives, sprints, etc., try it out with your team.
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We have 3 all-hands stand-up meetings every week, which usually take 20 minutes, but can last up to an hour if an interesting discussion arises. We have weekly sprint planning which take about an hour. Some teams have an additional short stand-up, but each team determines their own process. It’s a great place to work if you enjoy being productive.
Nearly all employees are remote. We have an office in SF, but only one employee is there every day. Our team is scattered across the continental US in SFO, SEA, SLC, NYC, PHL, etc. We communicate through our own messaging platform - Signal - and through video calls and Google hangouts.
We have one meeting a week that takes place on Monday at 9:30am. It lasts 30-45 minutes and is the only synchronous meeting we have. It’s an overview of everything that’s happening across the company: revenue, sales, state of recruiting, progress on engineering milestones, etc.
We also have a #mondaysync Slack channel for an asynchronous standup. We each post (1) what we plan to do in the upcoming week, (2) what we did last week (with emojis for what got punted and what ended up irrelevant.) That’s it.
To avoid silos or miscommunications, we make all channels on Slack open and give everyone access to all systems, from billing to support to infrastructure.
We also care a ton about folks’ emotional well-being and have weekly 1:1s for bigger-picture thoughts, feelings, and catch-ups.
We use RAPID decision making framework and do most of our communications on Quip. We never hold a meeting without a clear agenda. The only mandatory meetings you’re expected to attend are:
On Mondays, we have a company-wide 30-minute meeting in the morning where everyone lists one thing they hope to complete that week. We reconvene every Friday afternoon for another 30 minutes to report back on whether you’ve completed your one task. We also have people answer a random “Mary Question™” chosen by Mary, our operations manager. Some recent questions include “What movie would be better if it were made into a musical?”, “Describe yourself in high school in 3 words”, and “What is your favorite vacation memory?”.
Engineers will also have a 1:1 with Dom on Mondays to quickly catch up on current assigned tasks. The engineering team as a whole meets once every two weeks. Aside from this, engineers are shielded from calls with customers and support and we default to asynchronous communication via Slack – no one minds if you set yourself to Away for the afternoon, you can reply tomorrow! We recognize the cost of context switching and do what we can to reduce it. As big fans of Jason Fried's Rework, we keep meetings to their expected range and actually give everyone a copy of the book when they start.
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