How does a global, fully distributed organization do successful business?
Pleasant connections, such as discovering a common interest with someone in line at a coffee shop, look a little different in distributed organizations. This year, using open source values, Automattic shared the planning and hosting of a company-wide 24-hour online event to create a space for seamless connections.
Energy, diversity and creativity galore followed.
The purpose: intentionally random connections
As we welcome 2023, this event was an invitation to connect across departments, time zones and geographies in 90+ countries;
- DeliberatelyWe’ve scheduled a date a month in advance so people can create a space to join at a time that’s convenient for them and their team.
- RandomWe have invited all wonderful ideas to the agenda. We believe great ideas can come from anywhere and anyone.
- ConnectionsCommunication is the oxygen of a distributed company, and our goal was to create a space for connections to form.
Invitation: Agenda open sources
Instead of deciding the agenda in advance, we entrusted the agenda to the entire company. We invited people to contribute whatever they wanted and then join any session that interested them. (This structure is built on values Open space by Harrison Owen).
Hosting the session was simple. all we had to do was choose a topic and add it directly to the shared Google Calendar we created for the day. From there, all they had to do was arrive at their chosen time of day to have their session with the people who chose to join.
Movement between sessions was welcome and everything was optional.
The results: abundant creativity.
In total, we had 38 sessions conducted over a 24-hour period (both synchronous and asynchronous). The creativity, energy and variety generated far exceeded anything anyone could have planned on their own.
We had cat parties, dog walks, asynchronous virtual walks, joint poetry writing, role plays, Lego classes, language classes, art parties, parenting discussions, cupcake baking, company trivia, children’s book readings, open mics, music parties, outings. the earth, and a lot of games! See the bottom of this post for a full list of sessions.
While many companies report that they struggle to engage with online company events, survey responses to this event revealed that:
- 100% of participants would recommend such events in the future
- 95% of participants met someone they had never met before
- 100% of hosts will hold a session again
For a company of 2,000 people, these are pretty impressive results. The value of distributed ownership and co-creation speaks for itself.
We hope these results will convince you to try it in your own organization.
A look into some of the sessions
Full list of sessions
- Hidden Identity Games x2
- Automatic Trifle
- Mandarin Chat: 中文电视網聚
- Tabletop RPGs 101
- Cat’s Party
- Dungeons & Dragons for Newbies
- Children’s book reading and conversation
- Bavarder en Français. french conversation
- LEGO AFOLs Unite!
- Play Pokemon
- Cyberpunk 2077 Roleplaying Session
- Make Banana Muffins with Greg!
- Secure bomb x2
- Draw game
- A virtual dog park
- Charla en Español
- Art Party:
- Teen parenting conversation
- Brazilian Portuguese conversation. Papo Farofa
- Open the microphone
- Power Yoga:
- Play Gartic Phone
- Car music connection
- Cat Party:
- Let’s talk Italian!
- Tales from the table
- Open Screenshare
- Animal Crossing Parade of Homes
- Silly games and snacks
- Casual Hangout
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