What Our Weeks Look Like

Always adapting, and always a work in-progress.

What Our Weeks Look Like

Thoughts
Mckenzie Urquhart
a small studio
By 
April 29, 2022

Always adapting, and always a work in-progress.

We used to have a lot of meetings. I think it may have been the growing pains of moving to a remote studio and the pressure of trying to maintain a collaborative and social atmosphere while virtual.

Time tracking helped us realized that each person on the team was on a minimum of around 8-10 hours of meetings a week. As much as we love seeing each other and hanging out, this amount of meetings was disruptive for everyone, increased screen time and generally just cut down on precious creative flow opportunity.

You can see below roughly what our standing meetings looked like before we made some changes.

Major Changes

  1. The first thing to go was the morning stand-up. This was kind of like a scrum but without a scrum master, so a bit chaotic and honestly it felt like we were just repeating and confirming information that could be found in each client slack channel. We’d run through each project, what everyone was working on and went yup yup. It felt like we were doing it because we read that that’s what you should do. It did not fit for us at all and when we removed it, everyone got their mornings back.
  2. The second major change was the Internal review. This was an opportunity for John to give the thumbs up on all client work before the client critique came around on Thursday. At first, the internal review was on Wednesday, which didn’t leave enough time for revisions and iterations and was unfair for the designer. We thought that was the issue so we moved it to Tuesday so the designer would have all day Wednesday for iterating. Except once revision were made, there was no additional time to give it that final pass, so a lot of the time there ended up being an impromptu review before the critique that took more of everyone's time. Whatever the problem was, it wasn’t working and we think in hindsight it was too rigid of a process. It felt like the designers were not only presenting to the clients but they also had to have a formal presentation ready for someone internally. Our time can be better spent collaborating when together, not presenting in this one sided way.
  3. So enter Office Hours! The solution with about 1 year under its belt. Now we have 1hr on Tuesday, Wednesday that's an all-team meant for progress sharing, asking feedback, providing feedback, problem solving, group inspo pulling and even sometimes.... some live design, eek. Because each office hours holds discussion on all ongoing projects instead of compartmentalizing them we save a lot of time and as a lovely byproduct; everyone is included.
  4. We introduced the Loom alternating weeks so we could not only embrace asynchronous communication, but so our clients could also have some flexibility with feedback. It’s really great because we set up our meeting cadence so that 2 projects have the opposite on/off weeks as our other 2 projects; making max 2 in person critiques each Thursday. Before we used to have sometimes 4 x 1hr client critiques all on Thursday and it was a stressful bottleneck, let alone the scheduling chaos of it all.
  5. 1:1 meetings turned to an optional meeting that can be done digitally. We have a SBI report that we fill out before our 1:1 meetings and now, there is no pressure to meet on zoom if you’re having a chaotic week or just aren’t in the mood to chat that day. We want it to be there if you need it, but it’s entirely up to that individual.
  6. Moving to an async Friday was one of the most recent steps we took to eventually move to a 4 day work week. The goal here is to have a standing Friday morning Office hours there for people that wake up on a mission and want to get a lot done (let’s say they didn’t have a great Wednesday, you might decide to make up for that on Friday, or not). So Friday you are not responsible for being online or in contact with anyone unless you agree to attend a meeting - then we obviously expect you to be here. But as of now, we don’t book any meetings on Friday so everyone can have that day of flexibility back.

Below you can view the current standing meetings we have each week. Not only are we accommodating EST, PST and AEST, but we’re now down to about a max of 6.5 hours of recurring meetings a week (sometimes less depending on client workload). All the other time is yours to plan and use however works best for you and your work style.

Our goal is to get down to <5 hours/ week and become as asynchronous of a studio as we can be so that we can live and work, but mostly live.

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