Office Free Friday update
Posted by Lindsey Bowshier on Jul 2, 2021 8:00:00 AM
More than five years ago, Tribute Media announced an experiment called "Office Free Fridays." We shared far and wide on social media and sent an email to all our clients, letting them know what to expect. We wanted to help our employees with work-life balance, but frankly, we were a little concerned our clients would be upset with us.
The response was overwhelmingly positive. Our clients—because we only do business with rad people—were extraordinarily supportive of this initiative. So Office Free Friday went from an experiment to a permanent part of our culture. For the next four years, our employees would enjoy the flexibility of working remotely from home, their favorite coffee shop, or another city while they got a jump start on the weekend. And of course, some people still liked to come into the office for some good focus time when there were no meetings or phone calls taking place, and a few of us have been known to listen to '90s hip hop (the unedited kind) very, very loudly.
What Does Office Free Friday Look Like?
Office Free Friday, or OFF, was meant to be more than just a remote workday. The phones go to voicemail, and, from the beginning, we did our best to set the expectation that we would not be answering emails (but of course, we often do). We wanted this to be a day that we could focus on big, creative projects, both for our clients and for Tribute Media, or to improve ourselves by doing some continuing education. Sometimes we decide to meet as a team on Fridays to collaborate on one of these big projects.
Here are some examples of how we've used OFF over the years:
- Taking HubSpot Certifications
- Brushing up on Google algorithm changes
- Building new website features
- Working on documentation for our clients and ourselves
- Building an entire small website together
- Reviewing our entire client list and seeing who we needed to connect with if it's been awhile
- Designing fun Tribute Media and Wally the Narwhal swag
Office Free 2020
In 2020, when covid came along, things got a little weird. All of the sudden, every day was a WFH day. Luckily we were all well-equipped to adapt to this fully remote world—we are already Zoom pros and Slack aficionados with an entire color-coded system for communicating our levels of availability. We (THANKFULLY) stayed busy—and got even busier as we supported so many clients whose web presence was now their only presence in the wake of the shutdown. As a result of this new work environment, Fridays began to feel like every other day, and when we could return to the office, many of us wanted to spend more time there after feeling a bit disconnected from each other. Before we knew it we had all kind of become Office Free Friday Failures.
I got to thinking about how dang efficient we'd become over the years. We have all this technology and all these tools to increase our productivity and speed up communication. Virtual meetings (which already accounted for all our engagements with clients outside the Boise area) cut out the need for travel time or buffers between meetings, which means we're able to take more meetings each day. We were getting more and more work done in less and less time.
Meeting virtually isn't all that makes us more efficient in our work; think about all the things that used to take us away from the office, like going to the bank to deposit our paycheck (thanks, direct and mobile deposit). We pay our bills online instead of running to the post office. Telemedicine means taking back some commute time to and from appointments. While everyone is welcome to leave for lunch, around here, you're more likely to see Door Dashers coming and going than our employees. We are spending more time at our desks and accomplishing more in that time. So who reaps the benefit of this efficiency? When we do all the work required of us and have time left, who reclaims this time? I believe we deserve to take some of this for ourselves.
From Office Free Friday to a Four-Day Workweek
At our annual kick-off meeting in January, I announced my intention of getting Tribute Media to a four-day workweek by 2022. And no, not four 10-hour days. That's the point. The 8-hour workday is the new 10-hour workday because what we now do in 8 hours would have easily taken 10 hours or more just a few years ago.
Every "rock" (Traction EOS, anyone?) we've worked on this year has been with that goal in mind. All new Drupal websites we build come with self-serve support documentation and videos so our clients can do more on their own when we aren't available for questions. We've documented our processes meticulously and are currently building a knowledge base on our website. We've been slowly adjusting expectations with clients, so they know to reach out earlier in the week if they need something done before the weekend.
Now you may be wondering if we go from "OFF" to off-off on Fridays, does that mean we're just going to stop improving our skills and continuing our education? Of course not. One of our company values is "Always be learning," and the thing with our values is that our people don't just live them when they're at their desks. Everyone at Tribute Media is passionate about their work, and they continue to learn and improve in their roles because they want to, not because they have to. I know our art director will peruse the internet in the evening looking for design inspiration and learning about the latest user experience data, and our SEO specialist will still scroll subreddits dedicated to Google algorithms while she has her morning coffee.
Next Steps for Office Free Friday
We still have some work to do before we get to our four-day workweek. We already have a process for notifying our support team if a support ticket comes in for a website that has gone down outside of business hours, so of course, that will work the same on Fridays. However, did you know that out of the dozens and dozens of times we’ve received a report of a down website (at any hour), all but maybe twice it was because a client forgot to pay for their domain, and all they had to do was pay GoDaddy? So here's my hot tip: keep a credit card on file and turn on auto-renew with your domain registrar! If your website goes down, make sure you paid for your domain before dragging our developers out of bed. They really appreciate it.
Of course, we know we still have work to do before we can fully embrace the 4-day workweek, including:
- A knowledge base on our website
- Ensuring we do not have to lengthen the turnaround window for support tickets from where it is today
- A little more preparation for our clients to adjust to our availability
Going into the second half of 2021, at the very least, we are recommitting to Office Free Friday and moving one step closer to the four-day workweek by encouraging employees to take at least some of the day off. Starting today (July 2, 2021) and going into the long weekend (we seriously doubt anyone will miss us), we are cutting out early to take some time for ourselves.
Happy Independence Day!
Written by Lindsey Bowshier
Lindsey is the President of Tribute Media. Her degree is in English and Communication with an emphasis in Journalism, her background is in copywriting and content marketing, and she's had pretty much every job at Tribute Media since she joined the agency in 2014. Outside of work, Lindsey participates in a "super-cool-not-at-all-nerdy" writing group. Her favorite writer is Dorothy Parker.