How to build human connections in an async workplace
Also 2023 winners of underwater photographer of the year
I didn’t have much time for writing this week, so it’s a bit of a shorter one. Mainly because I completely broke my blog on Saturday because I thought it would be a good idea to upgrade from PHP 7.x to 8.x real quick. Bad, bad idea. Thank you to Dreamhost Support for fixing my mistake over a weekend! Anyway, I hope you still enjoy and find something good to read in this week’s issue.
This is a great post by Chase Warrington for the Twist Async newsletter on How to build human connections in an async workplace. They make this really important point about what human connection is actually about on a remote team:
I’ve come to realize that team culture and human connection is primarily built by how you work together—not how you socialize together. […]
The work we do is what actually brings us together. That’s ok (and frankly healthy) to admit. One of the biggest benefits of remote work is that it provides you the opportunity to spend more on the people and things you care about outside of work. Let’s not sabotage that with a bunch of forced and awkward social events for teammates to attend on top of their work duties.
I think we forget this too often. Doing a fun online social activity together doesn’t improve team culture if we haven’t also made sure that actually working together is safe, healthy, and enjoyable.
Here’s an interesting article by Will Larson with advice on how to move past incident response to reliability in our products. Among other things it reminded me to watch out for “incident legalism”:
Incident legalism is when an incident response and analysis program—trying to better drive reliability improvements—becomes focused on compliance and loses empathy for the engineers and teams operating within the program’s processes.
He goes on to propose a more holistic, expanded model for reliability to help teams diagnose their systemic problems—and how to solve them:
Finally, you study the mitigated incidents, determining how to prevent them from recurring, and they become remediated incidents.
Mehul Kar says he’s not super excited about the “fediverse” in the context of social media. However, he sees a huge need for The Fediverse At Work. The issue? The lack of integration across all the tools we use at work has become incredibly tedious and hard to keep track of:
Sometimes there are Figma design specs, with their own set of comments. And Loom walkthroughs, also with comments and likes. And any number of other things over time. The combinatorial complexity of these tools across these platforms (not to mention emails) can be quite messy to track. It’s really hard to remember where a conversation took place. Coworkers often repeat the same text in multiple places, prefixing with phrases like “Shared this in Notion comment also, but…” or “Just left a review, but high level: …”.
He believes that a decentralized platform for all these tools to effectively talk to each other would be hugely beneficial:
Maybe the protocols that make up the Fediverse can help. What if, instead of sharing a Github Pull Request URL in Slack, your Slack team channel could instead be subscribed to the Github repository. Maybe new Pull Requests are broadcasted to followers, and replies from Slack users to those posts are sent as comments to the Pull Request in addition to being threaded in Slack. Maybe the Notion document is treated the same way. Maybe the Loom walk through is a reply to a Slack thread, and comments on the video appear in Slack. Maybe the Slack thread is a series of comments displayed on a Figma design.
There are more examples in his post. I really hope we can get to this type of philosophy for our work tools. It does sound a little bit like the problem that Luro is trying to solve.
Every product, every feature even, serves a function in your business. It has one of three jobs: (1) Acquire new users or customers, (2) Retain those users or customers, (3) Expand engagement or revenue per user or customer.
— Frank Tisellano, The Cynical PM Framework, a business-first approach to product.
Some Stray Links
Underwater Photographer of the Year—2023 Winners. These are so great.
Impostered. Great post from Mandy Brown about the need to reframe how we think about imposter syndrome. “I’ve started to think less about imposter syndrome (a description of a person’s experience with it) and more about being impostered (a framing that draws attention to the systems and structures that lead people to believe they are imposters). While the former framing remains useful in many contexts, the latter creates space to consider not only the symptoms but the root cause of the phenomena.” [everythingchanges.us]
What’s So Funny? Very good essay about the current state of stand-up comedy, and what makes something funny. “The audience whooping and applauding Roseanne’s ‘anti-woke’ comedy is not reacting with laughter at a previously un-acknowledged truth, but instead expressing approval for the point of view that they already knew they agreed with. This is not the same thing as laughter in response to a joke.” [biblioracle.substack.com]
Why Are You Seeing So Many Bad Digital Ads Now? “Social media advertising, once a niche art practiced by specialist agencies, is now easily available to anyone. Many of them are eschewing targeted ads — placements intended to reach specific audiences, usually at a higher cost — in favor of a cheaper spray-and-pray approach online, hoping to catch the attention of gullible or bored shoppers.” [NYT gift link]
Traffic Lights Need a Fourth Color, Study Says: Here’s Why. Yeah what could possibly go wrong. “For the dawning age of the self-driving car, transportation engineers from North Carolina State University are proposing the addition of a fourth ‘white light’ whose function would be to alert humans to simply ‘follow the car in front of them.’”[popularmechanics.com]
The people who live inside airplanes. Ok I kind of like this idea. “By the end, she had a fully functional home, with over 1,500 square feet of living space, three bedrooms, two bathrooms and even a hot tub — where the cockpit used to be. All for less than $30,000, or about $60,000 in today’s money.” [cnn.com]