Our New Async All Hands: The Float Remote Roadshow
We have traditionally held an all-hands town hall every quarter at Float. They are one of our team rituals for culture building and a unique opportunity to bring everyone together simultaneously.
Our mission is to help teams make the most of their time. It's why we work asynchronous remote, as it empowers us to choose our own hours and to have very few meetings—both of which are underpinned by a fundamental belief that our time is sacred.
Synchronous all-hands meets were not making the most of our time with each other
Until now, we've scheduled our town halls at a time when most of the team could attend. Our CEO Glenn would kick things off from the #float Slack channel, and then we'd all dial in over Zoom. When we were a team of less than 20 people, that format worked well. As a team of 30+ people across 15+ countries now, the old format was no longer sustainable or in line with our values.
As an asynchronous remote organization, we don't have one default location, so holding an all-people meet at a particular time didn't feel very inclusive. Some team members logged on after midnight to participate in past town halls, and by the time we’d reach the Q&A portion at the end, most folks were overdue to go to (or back to) bed. Also, with more departments across the business, it became increasingly challenging to fit more than three presentations into an hour in a way that was still meaningful and effective.
We needed a new and inspiring way to bring our team together
Our town hall has evolved into an async-first, inclusive experience—the Float Remote Roadshow—a 48-hour global lineup of presentations to inform, entertain, and energize the team, from wherever and for whenever they work!
Here's what it looked like.
Topical presentations that were part of one overarching theme
If we're asking folks to jump into a meet or watch a video, the content needs to be worth watching and fit clear criteria of being synchronous worthy:
- It must be exciting and engaging and ladder up to a uniting theme
- It should be aspirational enough that it triggers an emotion or creates inspiration
- The word update should be avoided because it signals that the information could be delivered async
For our inaugural Float Remote Roadshow, our overarching theme was introducing new company and department OKRs. All presentations related to this while ensuring that each speaker wasn't just rehashing the department OKRs verbatim (which the team could read on their own time).
Instead, every speaker curated their talk to hit the brief of informing, entertaining, and energizing the group—which they clearly delivered on based on the activity in the Q&As afterward!
A set agenda across global time zones
We wanted everyone to have the opportunity to join at least one live session and those watching async to feel like they were a part of the whole roadshow experience. The six sessions were spaced out across 48 hours, so our team could plan their time accordingly.
Each session was composed of a 15 to 20-minute presentation and then 10 to 15 minutes of live Q&A. Folks could also join the Q&A async via Slack afterward, with speakers responding when they were next online.
This spread-out agenda meant that everyone's workdays weren't interrupted and gave each presentation enough time in the spotlight for the team to digest and engage with what was shared.
The logistics as roadshow tour manager
I joined Float as our first operations manager in early 2020, to plan our annual in-person meetup. The subsequent pandemic (resulting in two years of canceled meets) and a team that has doubled in size since has led to my role evolving into finding new ways for our team to connect without ever having met in real life. This has required both creative and logistical thinking!
Our roadshow run sheet was mostly a this is our first time playlist. However, most operations folks🙋♀️ are attention to detail people, and I can assure you that considerable thought went into every agenda item.
When the lights went on, here's what happened:
1. One week out, we created a dedicated Slack channel #Q4Roadshow21 and added all Float team members. We set the channel description with what to expect, linked to more details in the topic, and shared the speaker agenda.
2. We sent optional invites for each session two days out that the team could choose to accept if they wanted to block their calendar and try to attend live.
3. A notification was triggered in the channel a few minutes before each session started. We used @here in Slack which notifies only members who are online.
4. Each speaker shared a Zoom link in the channel to kick off their session. Speaker slides were created and presented in Pitch, with Q&A questions posted in our Slack channel during and after each session.
5. After each presentation, the speaker posted the session recording into the channel and answered any late Q&As async during the 48-hour window.
Six presentations (some with multiple speakers) is a lot to cover, and like all good shows, timing and execution were critical. Our roadshow kicked off with a keynote from Glenn in Melbourne, who introduced our overarching OKRs theme at a company level. This set the tone for what we'd be working towards as a team in 2022 and made clear Float's leadership commitment to setting our team up for success.
Following this up with my presentation from the operations team was a natural progression, especially to share exciting details of changes coming to our company's Best Work Life perks and benefits. The next four department presentations flowed through customer success, engineering, product, and marketing.
Fans (and critics) will help us continually improve
Even though our first roadshow was a huge success, we learned firsthand what could be done better next time (true to our value of continuous improvement).
Here were some takeaways from my first remote roadshow:
1. Tech run-throughs are important. I partnered with another speaker before my session started to click through the slides and make sure everything was working. Even virtual meets need practice runs!
2. If there are tech issues, move on. The beauty of a 48-hour window for our roadshow was that if there were technical problems, you could reschedule your session and give everyone back their time.
3. Get the session times right. I spent a lot of time spacing out the sessions over the 48 window so that the roadshow was inclusive and didn't favor one region. It was a headache and a half but well worth the effort to get it right. Worldtime Buddy was my best friend.
4. Feedback! A post-event retro is essential. We shared a short survey straight after the roadshow finished to capture feedback from the team while it was fresh in their minds, and we are building it into our next roadshow.
5. Watch your own recording. I say umm a lot. No one has ever told me that!
My biggest takeaway? To continuously improve, even our longstanding remote rituals need to be challenged.
Today, our company and team are not who (or where) we were when I first joined Float. Our old format of synchronous all-hands town halls was no longer working. That pushed us to rethink how we did things and forced us to be bold and try something different. We've now created a new remote team ritual that aligns with how we work, is an effective and meaningful use of our time, and is true to our core values as a company.
The Float Remote Roadshow will be back next quarter!
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