Remote Work - The Impact on Teams Globally
Remote Work - The Impact on Teams Globally
Sharing experiences from Twitter and Shopify our panellists will discuss how remote is working for their team and company from an office, team and productivity perspective. Find out how it has impacted these companies for long-term change.
Catherine Madden, Founder, UXDX,UXDX
Cynthia Savard Saucier, Directrice UX,Shopify
Jessie Link, Sr Director of Engineering,Twitter
Catherine Madden: We took the opportunity. Kevin Lee, who's the head of product for eBay Korea is going to be joining us for the APAC event in March next year. We will be sending you his session, but we took the opportunity to fill that spot with a critical topic. One that we thought back in March when we were pivoting might actually not be very topical, but remote working is the new norm for all of us. And we are all navigating together. I say from us personally, from UXDX, we've faced pivoting from being in HR to all of a sudden needing a dev team and its different skill sets for all of our team trying to navigate this. So, it's been amazing and challenging, but every single team, every single company on office globally has their issues. And we have Cynthia and Jesse here today to discuss that. For context, Cynthia is the head of UX for Shopify globally and she is going to be discussing what Shopify are doing at present with their offices and with their teams. And Jesse is the same we're all keen to hear what Twitter are doing globally, but they've got an office in Dublin. They're two different perspectives, but some you might relate to, some you might be maybe relieved and what they're going to share. But either way it'll make for a thrilling panel. Please ask your questions. I'll be stopping intermittently to take your questions. So, please do ask them and I will kick it off. If it's okay with you, Cynthia? If you can give a minute introduction for yourself that'd be wonderful. And then I'll ask you the first question.
Cynthia Savard Saucier: Absolutely. So, how's it sounds?
Catherine Madden: Perfect.
Cynthia Savard Saucier: Good. So, I'm Cynthia Savard Saucier, you can guess I have a French accent. I'm in Montreal, Canada. So, French Canadian, and I work for Shopify. I have been working for Shopify for the past six years, and I'm now head of UX. So, I'm accountable for the discipline health and the quality of the product that we ship. And I'm also the co-author of the book Tragic Design that has been published by O'Reilly in which we discuss the importance of good design and how bad design can actually have deadly consequences. So, that's another topic of discussion.
Catherine Madden: Absolutely. I think the more I talk to your entire team, the more I want to create multiple panels. But when we discussed our panel or this panel together, we talked in particular about Shopify is huge and beautiful and modern offices that you are. Are you essentially walking away from those now or how is that what's happening there with these offices?
Cynthia Savard Saucier: So, Shopify had a bunch of different offices around the world, but like the big HQ amazing offices we had. Four of them two in Ottawa, one in Toronto and one in Montreal. And these offices were like the pinnacle of office design. They were really, really, really nice. So, we have in house architects that were working on them, we have a team of people that really like put their all of their energy, making sure that the experience is amazing to work in the office. But with the pandemic, when it started fairly quickly, even before it was asked by any government, our leadership team asked us to work remotely. So, we were all in for the challenge and thought it was a good idea. And then after a month they announced that due to the situation, but also understanding that this is going to be the future of work to work remotely. We don't want to be just following the trend. We want to lead the trend and we want to be part of the designing team of the digital experience. So, right from the get go, we knew that we were actually not going to go back to the office and that was announced. I think in May or June. So, it was fairly early. And now the offices are still going to exist, but more as a hub, as a place where people go to meet other people or to do certain tasks that cannot be done remotely. So, we have, for example, the team that does hardware design, well, you can imagine that hardware industrial design is hard to do remotely because you have to share an actual object and you'll have like 3D printers and like a lot of equipment. So, you still need a space to do that type of those type of activities. So, this is what the hub is going to be like now. So, it's going to be a place where you can go and potentially meet other people, but we're still very much designing what that will look like. And if we need to do any changes, but also to not only to change the usage of the space and how are you going to, were going to use it, but also to make sure that it's sanitary and following the best rules to allow for social distancing and reducing gathering and stuff like that.
Catherine Madden: Yeah. And so, how are you rethinking the design of that office? Can you talk a bit more of that in that?
Cynthia Savard Saucier: For sure. So, right now we have we have squads. So, basically like the team organized a bunch of teams that would look into specific needs for the company. So, we have a squad that looks into like what's the IT requirement for the team members are working remotely. We have a team that looks how we will change the actual life physical environment. So, the architecture in interior design, but we also have a team that has to look into what do we do with the space that we have for kitchens, for example, because we used to have many large tech companies, we used to have a food offering. So, a fully-fledged kitchen that was brand new. So, what do we do with those spaces now that this won't be their main usage anymore? So, all of these things are trying to make a lot of decisions at the same time, which is hard because we don't know how the situation will evolve but also, it's like building the plane as we fly up type of situation. So, I don't know exactly what we will do specifically with the offices. But that's the process that we're going through right now.
Catherine Madden: Yeah. Which is fascinating. We'll talk maybe more about your founder and your philosophies at a later point. But I want to move on to Jesse. We are up for jumping in. In our conversations you talked about this blended or hybrid model that Twitter is now going to evolve too. Can you talk us through the process of that and what that is essentially?
Jessie Link: Sure. Absolutely. Can you hear me okay?
Catherine Madden: Perfect.
Jessie Link: Yeah. Okay, good. You already know, like this is the joy of digital work. Isn't it though? Can you hear me conversations? So, we've gotten that out all the way. Fantastic.
Catherine Madden: Absolutely. And for context, I actually ask you to talk a little bit about what you do at Twitter.
Jessie Link: Okay.
Catherine Madden: So, you're managing the engineering teams and not head of engineering as you've corrected me. So, you're managing the head of the engineering teams globally.
Jessie Link: I just haven't in general Twitter. So, previous to this, I was leading a good chunk of consumer engineering at Twitter. I've now taken an edge wide role. So, I'm a VP of engineering for a group we're calling team development. So, it's a brand-new group and unit and concept that we've stood up at Twitter. And so, functionally, what team development is really focused on is helping Twitter build teams with huge potential. And then providing the training framework and coaching to unlock that potential. So, it's a pretty broad, ambitious sort of idea. So, it's really about how do we make, how do we hire diverse talent, bring them in and set them up for success. How do we make sure that diversity and inclusion are baked into all of our processes? We're going to look at things across the board, from how we hire, what promotions, how we grow our talent in house. And then it's something that's actually near and dear to my heart. Because as you can guess from my accent, I'm full time in London. So, I have actually lived here almost five years. So, I actually am one of my side jobs. I am currently the engineering site lead for our London based office. So, I look after all of the engineering and experience tweeps based on our UK office. And so, we had actually been on this journey going into COBIT anyway, like what does it mean to leverage talent across the globe? Right? What does it mean for us to be more decentralized? So, actually going into this year, we had already had a companywide goal around being more decentralized and distributing our workforce. So, we actually already had targets around having more people working remotely, having more people move out to some of our non-headquarters offices. Because obviously Twitter is headquartered in San Francisco. So, that's kind of team development that falls under that umbrella as well as helping us sort of make sure engineering is represented in our decentralization strategy. So, moving on to your question though, what is flexible work or what does this hybrid model we're looking at? Obviously, a lot of companies have had these sorts of choices to make, right? So, I think Google and Facebook had been fairly transparent that they still want to be an office-based culture when this all ends. And that is their intention. I know other companies have gone full remote. Right? As just sort of like their operating model. So, really early on, we started doing what we call our pulse surveys, which is our in-house survey on how teams are feeling, which hopefully it's a model that many of you are familiar with it, your companies. And we sort of asked folks how they were feeling about their productivity, how they were feeling about remote work and what their intentions were? So, we did that in March when COVID started, our March April timeframe. And then we recently did another survey late summer to sort of see how our troops are feeling. And what we found is uniformly across the board. I'd say around 80% of our tweeps actually expressed an interest in doing flexible work or part time remote. And so, we saw that most people expressed a preference to be in the office one to four days a week. And that they wanted to have a blend of remote working options and in office options, now we did see the number of people who wanted to be fully remote increased, which we expected. So, that's good. So, we do expect that, but we did see a good portion. We know over 10% who do want to be in the office five days a week for a variety of reasons. And so, that's the model we're moving forward with is, what does work look like at Twitter? If 80% of the workforce is going to be in this sort of flexible or hybrid model. So, I think we had a few principles we're looking at, right? So, the idea that we don't want to just go back to the old way of working when we assumed everybody was in the office five days a week. So, our first principle was you have to assume someone in this team is going to be remote one to perhaps five working days a week. So, all of the team practices, tooling and things we provide them have to accommodate that sort of working model. We've looked at what can we do to enable more locations. So, even though people want to be flexibly worked a few days in an office, a few days not. they may want to do it from a variety of locations. So, we're actually expanding still in terms of the office space we think are going to have, and the countries that we're able to support workers in. So, that's part of our strategy.
Catherine Madden: What has been the barrier (inaudible). Sorry, Jesse. I'm sorry. What was the biggest challenge of the decentralized teams that you talked about? Is it tools providing them with laptops or what's the biggest aspects for you?
Jessie Link: I mean, yeah, there's definitely the logistical challenges of moving everybody to like, what does security look like right in this world where people are going to be moved much more mobile, moving around, working things like that. Part of it is just how we make decisions, how we communicate with one another. So, one of the things we've been exploring at Twitter is, how can we make a synchronous communication much more of a norm, right? So, that when we do spend synchronous time, the amount of required synchronous time is lessened. And then how you spend that synchronous time is fundamentally different than the way you used to work. If everybody was assumed to be in an office located in the same time zone. So, that's been, the interesting challenge is to really question, like how do decisions get made? How do they get documented? How do we communicate with one another? So, there's a huge cultural shift that happens around that. And then all of the tooling and logistics to make that vision happen sort of fast follow on that. Right? But the principles in that concept come first, if that makes sense.
Catherine Madden: Yeah, that's excellent. Cynthia, what has it been like for you in terms of the biggest challenges for the Shopify team? You have been, you have a lot of people that do work remotely, but what has been the biggest issues, or even the benefits?
Cynthia Savard Saucier: There are a lot of benefits, frankly, and now the more we're into it, the more we find about these benefits. So, that's pretty amazing. But the biggest challenge and the one we also have a pulse survey. So, the one that keeps coming up is the lack of socialization. So, of course, when it comes to belonging to a team it's very important and some people belong to their immediate team. So, there are project teams. Some people feel like they belong to the discipline and some other people feel like they belong to a product group. So, a larger one. When you don't see people around you, that belonging is harder to get specifically for new employees, like there's employees that used to see each other every day, all day. So, the trust is really high, but then a bunch of new employees are starting and a half started since, and they joined this new world where everyone seems to know each other and they don't get the same experience. So, it's about forcing people have to be very intentional when they organize social time for it to be inclusive for it to be synchronic, like not async. I guess being synchronous is like a spectrum. So, not async entirely because you want some sort of conversation, but at the same time on your team, there will be people around the world, like literally across the globe with different time zones. So, you also have to be cognizant of not organizing dinner if it's breakfast time for someone else. So, these are still challenges that we're facing. It's also because people come to work and they don't necessarily allow themselves to take an hour to just socialize with someone else. When you're in the office, you just take that time naturally by having coffee and just like chatting with someone. So, there are some innate breaks that just happen. But when you're working by yourself, you don't have those destructions, which is both a positive and negative. For some people it's really relaxing not to have all of those distractions, but for other people, they starved at distraction. They starved that social interaction. So, I guess another piece of the puzzle is that right now we're comparing the most amazing experience of working in an office with probably the worst experience ever. We're working from home without the proper tooling and hardware and set up in your house, but in the middle of a pandemic where you don't get to go around and socialize with your friends and you can't even call a meeting with people that are around you. In Montreal right now, we're confined, so it's like, literally cannot see anyone else outside of your home. So, of course, like it's difficult because you're comparing with what it used to be just six months ago, which was like amazing. And now it's like not amazing. So, you have to think about the future of working from home, but not basing your understanding of the future on what you're seeing today, because it is not representative of what it can be and how freeing it can be.
Catherine Madden: Yeah. Now that's a very interesting point. And I'm going to take us a minute pause to just say to our attendees and audience listening, use the Slack channel. Our team are collating all the questions for our audiences, and I'm going to take another break in a few minutes to ask those questions. So, if you've got anything from how to stay productive, what Shopify and Twitter are doing? What companies that they've looked at or admired or (inaudible) their model off. Ask the question that you'd like and this is the time to answer. So, Cynthia, I want to ask you first, if that's okay. Jessie, we'll ask you the same question. Productivity within the teams from a management perspective. I will go on to the employees’ health as well, but from a productivity perspective, has it dipped within Shopify?
Cynthia Savard Saucier: It has not. We have not seen a dip in productivity. Of course, we're looking at work in an environment where people are definitely not settled for success. Whereas sometimes like they have family duties and to have like kids, they have to take care of or parents that have to take care of. So, of course, like it's hard to really compare apples to apples because like it's not normal situation. Of course, but we have not seen productivity dip quite the opposite. Actually. We see people rallying around the cause, they all feel innate together. And the mission of Shopify, like we want to make commerce better for everyone. But like our merchants, our customers, they are really struggling right now. When it comes to retail operations, they have to change their perspective. They have to change their business model. They have to use our product in different ways. And what we see is that employees are really fired something inside of them. Like it's really beautiful to see people really rallying around these objectives and trying to ship things as fast as possible to make certain business models available to our merchants. So, no. We have not seen productivity issues, quite the opposite. And to an extent where I'm actually right when we started working from home, our company announced that they were going to give everyone their Fridays off without counting towards our vacations. We have unlimited vacations anyway, but like everyone got Fridays off just to spend some time with your family, spend some time resetting, just spend some time, like doing things that you enjoy, just because they acknowledged that the year has been completely crazy. And that working from home, actually, we see people doing more hours than previously. So, it was sort of like take it easy for the summer. And for eight weeks, I think we had a four-day week, which was really fun, but then now we're back to five days and it feels great because I feel like I had my summer vacation Jose (inaudible). So, that actually feels really good.
Catherine Madden: Yeah. I think Adobe is speaking to them. I think they're doing a similar model of once every three weeks. We will talk about people's mental health in a moment. Because I know you're both passionate about that. But I will talk about the company, piece on productivity with you, Jessie as well. How has that been? And is it a straightforward, it's perfect productivity because people are just nonstop working cause they can't leave their house.
Jessie Link: Yeah. I think it feels like their productivity hasn't necessarily dipped, but like the nature of how we're productive definitely has changed. Right. So, as Cynthia was sort of saying, I think we worry about, and it's something we monitor in our pulse results. I think at the individual level, people are stressed out. Right? So, people are staying productive, but it's under the most challenging circumstances. Because again, are you more productive, remote or not? Are you productive? And in a time of pandemic, right? Somebody said, look, we're not working from home. We're living at work. Right? And then, so when you get down to the individual level, we do see folks struggling with their personal productivity because they may only be able to give 50% of their time. So, we've really had to rethink like, what does productivity look like? So, we actually have moved to a system instead of doing yearly evaluations, which is way too slow of a cadence. We actually do monthly check ins with our tweeps. And it's really about sort of trying to understand what's going on with your life and what does productive even look like for you personally, given everything you're dealing with our project, the state of the project, you're on the state of your team. And then all of those outside life factors are sort of crashing it on your work environment right now. And we've had to be really flexible with some of the lead programs. I know we'll talk about mental health in a bit, but we've offered lead programs. So, folks who have childcare or other career duties, adult care duties because of COVID related things, we've had to enable that for a lot of our tweeps. We haven't done every Friday off, but one of the things we did find was that people weren't taking vacation. Right? And I think it was a weird blend of some people thought I'll save it for when this is over. Right? As if there's going to be this magical time in 2020, where it'll be just back to normal and we'll be all holidaying and taking cruises. Right? So, I think getting people into this mindset of there's nothing day this year, where you might be able to spend it, so don't let it go away. But again, because teams are stretched so thin, we saw people feeling guilty taking leave. Right. They felt like they didn't feel like they had that permission. So, we've actually moved to doing what we call a monthly day of rest, where the entire company takes a day off and we've gotten really great feedback from our teams. That's really helped. Be a relief valve for them. But, yeah. I don't think that productivity has necessarily dipped across the board. If anything like Cynthia says sort of worry about the opposite, which is team's putting too many hours. So, we're keeping an eye on that and trying to help folks structure their day. So, they have that really spell between the individual lead programs and even the company wide thing for practicing.
Cynthia Savard Saucier: Yeah, you're completely right. In my answer, I might not have conveyed that really well, but we totally didn't see it for productivity dip. However, we are very mindful about how sustainable that is because we know people are doing more. We know people have more responsibilities. We know that just grocery shopping takes you like a lot more time than it used to. It is not sustainable to also work same amount of time. So, we need to find ways to monitor mental health, to ask the right questions. But there's been also guidelines signed by our CEO to the whole company, saying, we're looking at productivity, but if someone has family duties, family comes first, like it is expected. If you have any family responsibilities that you will not be shamed into it, it will not affect your productivity at work or your rating when it comes to work stuff. So, there's sort of that general, like understanding, like we'll still talk about performance. We'll still talk about poor performer and good performer. But if it's for family duties, it's off the table, it's fine. You're sort of have like that free card, which is extremely useful. But like you said, Jessie, we don't see a lot of people taking vacations right now.
Jessie Link: Yeah. And I think it's interesting because, I think I always say what's interesting about remote work is it makes the implicit explicit. Right? Like everything has to be super intentional because remote doesn't let those implicit things hide. And I think what you really realize is that I don't think a lot of companies have a good definition of what productivity looks like. Right? It is very much like; do you show up to the office? Can I physically see you? Right? And we're trying to move to this model, which is more it's about output, not attendance. Right? Like I don't need you to be working 40 hours a week. What I really want to focus the conversation on is, what is the output you want to have? What are the goals you're trying to accomplish? And then really make sure that we train our managers and our teams to be focused on measuring that not just sort of defaulting to a lot of, well, this person shows up to the office every day. So, I know, and I see them looking busy. So, I know that they're working or they're being productive. So, I think it's really been a good wake up call for us to even like re-evaluate. Do we have a great system for managing productivity before? I'd argue, most companies probably did not.
Catherine Madden: Yeah, no. It's a very interesting one. We've got a few panelists or a few questions coming in from the audience and I'll address the first one from Victoria. In her company, she observes that the increase in productivity can offer results in burning people out. Having meeting and late in evenings or just because people don't have anything else to do. How do you think this will change after this crazy period and hopefully soon will remote work be still that productive? Now, I'll just pause here. Cynthia, I'll let you answer in a second, but Jessie we had an interesting conversation about the permission piece of productivity and burning out. If you could kind of elaborate on the time off piece. That we talked about in our conversation. And what your thoughts are on increased workload and extending the hours of the day to be endless meetings? And what your thoughts are on that?
Jessie Link: Right. So, the way I tried to think about the way remote work needs to work, particularly if you're going to be a global workforce is flexibility and control, so that the individual can tailor how they work to their unique needs and their unique life. Right? And then giving them the right tools to sort of say yes or say to the different demands on work. So, for example, like I mentioned, I'm an American living full time in London right now. And one of my passions is NFL football. So, I like to stay up very late on Sundays and watch the game until the late hours of the night. So, I actually work a flex schedule. That's tailored to my life and how I want to work. So, I will work 12:00 PM to 11:00 PM on Mondays. I will work 1:00 PM to 9:00 PM on Thursdays. So, those are the two days a week that I set aside for that. And then I work until around 7:00 PM on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and Fridays, the day where I draw a hard line, I say, Hey, I will not take meetings after 5:00 PM, unless it's an emergency. Obviously, there's an emergency. I'm always here to talk and to support the team and I publish those working hours. So, I have a shareable doc it's the whole company can see it. And I'm pretty relentless about like practicing those hours all the time. So, I have a predictable cadence, so that helps me anticipate for myself like how to set up my life to work around that it lets my coworkers now how they want to work with me. So, that's a practice that I try to share with other folks and I try to encourage for other teams. So, again, that idea of tailor it to the life that you want to live. Right? Not everybody wants to be a knight. All our work, those late hours. On the flip side, I used to work with a guy in Seattle who would wake up at 5:00 AM because he had a newborn, he would actually schedule meetings that early. And I was like, are you sure you want to be up? And he goes, Kathryn's going to wake me up no matter what. So, I might as well be up and have a chat with you. Right? And so, for his life, that schedule work, terrific. So, I think there's like a real power and a real unlock actually with remote work that I would hate to see us lose when we go back and I think the smart companies are going to take these findings, these things that are actually interesting positives and leverage that. So, when I talk about permission, I think about these things and I think that's where I was going in our conversation. But if there's something else you want me to talk about?
Catherine Madden: [00:25:54] No. That's exactly it. It's allowing, the individual to (inaudible) you were talking about him, not letting the team down at the other sense. So, they feel like they have, I really thought that was great that you and the Twitter empowered the team to just go. The work will get done you need to take a break and that's what we're going on rotation for. I thought that was really great. Cynthia, I'm going to direct a very similar and the same topic, a similar question to you and it's from Chris on Slack. Been in (inaudible)
Cynthia Savard Saucier: Sorry, you're breaking.
Catherine Madden: [00:26:40] Yeah. So, with me working full time and my partner working or their problem (inaudible) What are your thoughts on that? For me, it's about giving. It's as you said, Jessie. It's about giving people flexibility, but for me it highlights something that people have had to juggle with. Anyhow, it's just product to the spotlight. Cynthia, what are your thoughts on that and how teen coping?
Cynthia Savard Saucier: So, I'm going to rephrase the question because the sound broke a little bit. So, what are my thoughts of work being at home and working like the double duty of parenting and working?
Catherine Madden: Yes, basically. Yeah. It's the flexibility. They're just highlighting the fact that they need a day, because with both of them, which is for the many of the case partners are both working from home. Their kids often now they're back to school. It's having that one day to have office, it's usually valuable.
Cynthia Savard Saucier: I keep saying, like, my partner also works for Shopify. So, we both had our Fridays off for like eight weeks and we keep saying that this is a priceless gift. Because we would have never done it. We would have never said, like, we're just going to schedule one day off for eight weeks in a row without our kids, because our kids are going to daycare. So, we had that time as like adult to just take a break from and also like physically feel more autonomous because anyone that has kids understands that they're like attached to you physically. And we have two young kids. So, just like having that space to breathe, having that space to do what we really like and enjoy. Just like tinkering around the house was really, really, really special. We saw the same thing with Jessie, that Jessie was explaining, that people need permission to take time off because they don't feel like.
Catherine Madden: Yeah, no.
Cynthia Savard Saucier: Usually they would use like vacation or traveling as a reason to take time off. So, Oh, I have this trouble coming so I have to take time off, with people not traveling right now, they don't have any reasons to take time off. So, they don't, and this is something we have to push people and especially in a company where there's unlimited vacations. We see a massive dip in people taking days off. Because they're not losing it. It doesn't like add in the end like if you don't take it, it's fine. Like you just have more than next year, so it's not like you're missing out on anything. So, that's definitely something we have to, address intentionally and have these very open conversations with our team members and ask them how they can support their partner as well, because not every person at Shopify has a partner that works in a company that'll also give some time off. So, we know that we have that responsibility to help them maintain a household and. They have to be happy and their partner has to be happy in their household if we want them to be productive at work. Like it doesn't work in isolation to just think about a single individual when it's a family situation, of course. But we're talking about family, but like, we've seen other situations like couples, for example, we're just so isolated as well that they needed some time to go out of the house and like, see other stuff like have other inputs. So, it's not specific to families, but it's definitely a visible with families. But working from home enables a lot of other things. I spent way more time with my kids because we just dropped them in the morning. We go pick them up. Daycare is just next to our house. So, we don't have like the traveling to the office and back. We spend a lot more time with them, which is amazing. And I get to cook while I work, which is also very fun. Like I literally have bread cooking right now, so I'm going to have like delicious homemade bread for lunch for me. So, all of these things, I think that were not possible before. So, you really have to find what works for you and try to integrate it into your day to day. Because if not, it's just going to be boring.
Catherine Madden: Absolutely. And I really like just pulled out a comment from Adam R. here and I thought it was very topical. It says really enjoying listening to the live sessions on remote work, the impact of teams globally, as he says, we are not working from home. We are living at work. Definitely a bumper sticker there. And I think that's a good point and it leads me on to the topical thing that we want to talk about really important thing just before we finish up, which is mental health. And Jessie, I'll let you start because I know you do a lot separately on the side, and it's how you got into your role on diversity inclusion and mental health in the workplace. Talk to me about what Twitter are doing, but more so from just a general team to team. How are you actually trying to help people?
Jessie Link: Sure, absolutely. So, obviously I think we should take a layered approach to it, right? There's not just like one solution. So, we actually try to offer again, we go back to that team again of choice and flexibility based on that individual's needs. So, we try to offer a wide range of things for our tweeps. So, again, we have the monthly check in, which is half you know about just a saying like, hey, where are you at mentally? Like, can I help you? We have a variety of tools that we offer within Twitter in terms of getting mental health professionals covered by the company. And so, obviously that used to be an in-person service. So, we pivoted pretty quickly to offer things like modern health and other apps that let you do virtual check-ins with a licensed therapist, and that's all covered by the company and so our tweeps can take advantage of that. We also have a full-time psychiatrist on staff who is part of our people team. And she's actually leading, we have what we call it in-house affinity groups. So, people who are passionate about whatever way, accessibility, different topics like that. And the newest one we've launched is what's called Twitter Owls, which is a team of tweeps who take certifying classes with Candice who leads that group. And we take training to learn about how to talk about mental health in the workplace with your teams and so it's actually mental health month for us at Twitter. So, we have a variety of activities we're doing this month. So, we have one day where we're encouraging everybody to pause work and take advantage of a variety of sessions at the west and other folks that Dr. Kansas are going to set up for or tweeps to take advantage of throughout the day. Our Owls are volunteers, so they volunteer to have office hours. So, if anybody just wants to come and have some real talk and have someone listen to them, they can be a resource. So, again, we're trying to offer these scaled options. So, if you want to talk to a peer, we have that through Owls, if you'd want to talk. In-house professionals are people team has trained for that. And if you need external help, we try to accommodate that as well. And again, things like the day of rest have done huge amounts of things to help our tweeps out. But it's always a learning process. Right? And it really is about jam, part of that inclusion is considering the unique needs of each population. So, the people team really prioritize listening to our Twitter parents’ group. That's another in house group that had some pretty specific stressors and pretty specific requests. Right? And so, we had a whole bunch of things we actually needed to what's called Twitter Camper. We had a week of virtual activities for people's children that Twitter actually hosted and sponsored throughout the week. So, we've done different activities like that and we've also just announced our team budget for the quarter. So, we're going to equip our managers with a bunch of different tools to have, virtual social hours and different activities that are intended to sort of help lift the spirits of their teams. So, it's a holistic approach to sort of looking at mental health for our tweeps.
Catherine Madden: Right. Yeah. Then that's a really interesting point. Cynthia, I will ask you. I will ask you both though to METI (inaudible) talk about. So, you talk about psychiatrists on the team and really big supports. There are a lot of people out there that don't have the team size and therefore the resources to have that help. What would you recommend for them in terms of reaching out?
Cynthia Savard Saucier: Absolutely. I completely understand we come at it from a very privileged point of view, where we have access to these resources. However, we see a lot of people that are very creative about bringing help to the team. So, for example, instead of having a psychiatrist on staff, like at Shopify, we don't have one on staff, but we have access to a team of a mental health professional as well. And we have coaches internally, which are licensed therapist, but not a psychiatrist. But what we see for example, is for whenever lead us some questions about mental health or someone on the team burns out and they want to be more quick to discuss that with their team members. They will invite someone to make a session and they will like a workshop and invite other leads to join that workshop. So, it's a good way of sharing learnings internally, sharing the video of that workshop so that other leads whenever they are available and whenever they have time, they can join in and learn about that topic as well. So, we've seen a lot of people, pioneering new workshop styles to discuss mental health and same with social activities as well. We need people to be very creative about those social activities and what I keep telling my team, is we want to leave no one behind. We want to make sure we have a check in with everyone on the team every now and then. Let me me see how they're doing that, they have like face to face conversation, no matter how junior, senior, remote, remote or not they are, it's super important. So, we've put in place a lot of check-ins or whenever someone joins the team, I send them like a little video. So, we're testing new tools to send videos and have video replies. It's all very creative and fun, because it's new and you get to test a bunch of new things, but it's important that you do it intentionally that you do it. That you really do spend some time and add some time in your calendar to do those reach outs. As a leader, it's extremely important because your team is looking up to you. They want to see, they want to talk to you, but they feel bad sometimes just reaching out to you and say like, Oh, can we grab a coffee? And they feel you're busy, so they don't want to do it. So, it's about like creating those coffee chats and putting it in the calendar, making sure you attend them and you prioritize that time, where sometimes you probably would not have. So, mental health, like Jessie said is not just one thing. It's not just talking to a psychiatrist when you have like a breakdown. It's daily, it's sustainability, it's talking about your performance, feeling secured, having the tools in place to not feel like you cannot do your best work, that you can all be fulfilled at work, feeling accurate, like you're fairly rated by your manager. Like all of these pieces go into like the big, like loud mental. I don't know how to call it, but it's a layered approach for sure. And that's what I would recommend someone, not that doesn't have all the tools accessible in-house. Be creative and be scrappy about like inviting the right people and having the largest amount of people attending these meetings and workshops.
Jessie Link: Yeah. I a hundred percent agree with that. And I think it really is about like, you have the resources you have. Right? And it's going to be like how you want to use those though. I mean, the first step you do have control over, which is, be proactive and make it a first-class topic, first citizen, or first-class topic. Amongst you and your leadership team. Right? So, I think just being intentional about it, like you said, and bringing that conversation up at the leadership level. So, if you're leading a small company, say, hey, we care about mental health, what options do we have base on the resources we have access to? And I think to your point, like you can get real scrappy and you can get very creative and sort of see what's out there in the industry. But like I said, even just it doesn't cost you anything to have that conversation or create that space with your team and your folks. You can do a lot more than you think with free or cheap resources. I think that's but you have to make it a priority.
Catherine Madden: Yeah, I'm just reading some of the comments here. There's a private message from somebody saying, this time has been incredibly stressful for them and their family. And they've never experienced, I guess, the volume of stress that they have during this time. And they contemplate quitting their work. It is an incredibly important piece to try and talk to somebody, and to talk to a colleague or talk to your boss. The one thing that I can lend for, I guess, for this audience in this industry is that the tech industry are very open to helping and it's probably better than any other industry that I'm in could possibly work in which we're all incredibly lucky to work in. But is there any advice that you'd give this person, that's struggling with how to cope or where, who to talk to, how can they be managed there that the stressors beyond just COVID and beyond working from home. There's a lot of other things going on in the world. What would you be your advice to them?
Cynthia Savard Saucier: First of all, I feel so much for them. This time has been incredibly difficult. Like, I look how happy talking about it today, but I was on maternity leave up until like a few months ago. So, I, yeah, it was depressing at times. Reach out. Like I make it an invitation to you, send me a DM on Twitter and I'll be happy to have a discussion with you. And sometimes just reaching out and having someone you can talk to can make a big difference. I'd say that's the best advice I can give you. But aside from that, there are a lot of tools are a lot of resources reach out. It's really important that you do, and you'll be surprised sometimes having that discussion with your lead, they might be able to give you some space. They might be able to give you some time where you can have that 20 minutes a day that you need to just refuel to just read or spend some time like not being stressed can make a huge difference. So, reach out to me, reach out to someone, reach out to your lead. I think it can make a world of difference.
Catherine Madden: All right. And is there any we have to wrap up now, but is there any closing short piece that you want to leave people with? Otherwise, I can ask you what's the future for your offices? In a piece, will it stay remote? Will it grow even further into your hybrid models? For example, is Twitter, Dublin stating that we're all keen to know about?
Jessie Link: Yeah. So, we have no plans to close our existing Twitter offices. We think that's a core part of the work experiences is, that in office culture and that letting folks take advantage of that when they want to. So, we anticipate actually growing this year, we actually have very aggressive hiring plan. So, if you're considering different places to work, Twitter is an amazing place to work. I'm happy to chat with you offline about that. My DMs are open. But yeah. Now we consider, we fully plan to continue to invest in our existing offices. And like I said, we are actively exploring what it would look like to be an even more locations to, again, offer that flexibility to folks.
Catherine Madden: Fantastic. Cynthia and Jesse, thank you so much for your time. You both are phenomenal library, valued meeting you, both and chatting with you both now and before. I want to summarize briefly our flexibility and control. So, adapting to your personal way of life and making sure that your company does that, I think was a really key message there. I loved the positivity of spending more time with family and baking. I know it's a cliche in a way, but I really love that positivity and I think people should embrace it. And then your Twitter Owls and older, both of you are doing mental health awareness. I think that's important. Yeah. To finalize and what Cynthia said, refuel take charge and take a step back. Attend more pieces like UXDX, not just events like this, but just in general, do different activities, yoga online, whatever it needs to, to take that mental break.