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How can we make working environments more inclusive through non-ritual-based practices?

Edited

We often talk about the rituals (like standups, retros, health monitors, icebreakers, etc) put in place to improve collaboration.

We don’t (as often) discuss practices that don’t require recurring activities and accomplish the same goal.

Question: what are good examples of the non-rituals you’ve seen work, improving our team environments?

10 comments

At Atlassian, we have an ever-updating list of “not okay / is okay” words/terms to improve the language we use when communicating with each other. 

I like this because…

  • Not everyone is aware of terms that can be offensive that they be using.
  • Language evolves. The meaning of terms can change based on cultural or historical events.
  • Conversations can begin for those who want to learn about why words appear. This is the real goal. Understanding, empathy, and adjusted behavior as a result.
Like # people like this
Jack Brickey Community Leader Jan 07, 2022

This is interesting and something that can be quite challenging in and out of the workplace. Finding good educational opportunities for cultural differences in our workplaces is often quite rare unfortunately. Certainly I have been involved in training in many companies but rarely is this in our day-to-day activities. 

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

I’ve seen companies explicitly give examples of appropriate dress code. One basically called out all kinds of clothes as appropriate—from formal suits to fitness-wear to hair styles to tattoos to jewelry and accessories.

I like this more than saying “wear what makes you comfortable” because by calling out all kinds of clothing, it was basically saying “we see you, you who have all kinds of style, and welcome you.”

Like # people like this
Andy Gladstone Community Leader Jan 06, 2022

Spontaneous snack days.

We have a ritual of monthly company lunches - where we bring in a different variety lunch each month and employees from across each of our worksites can enjoy a lunch together. No team boundaries, no time boundaries. 

Every once in a while we'll provide a spontaneous snack. Pre-pandemic, I used to run Ice Cream Fridays during the summer months at our HQ. Fridays were a tough day to be in the office when a lot of colleagues may be taking PTO for longer weekends in the summer, and this would brighten the day of those that remained behind. It always came along with an email announcement that was intended to be fun, engaging, informative and relevant. People looked forward to the email more than the ice cream!

Post onset of the pandemic, we have replaced this with spontaneously opening our snacks pantry up for free snacks, or bringing in an assortment of chocolate bars and handing them out. These short breaks from 'our jobs' generally lead to high quality conversations and interactions - that sometimes launch new initiatives or product ideas!

Like # people like this
Kelly Drozd Atlassian Team Jan 06, 2022

@Christine P_ Dela Rosa our team leads across marketing (me), product, design, and eng did the "manual of me" play as a team a few months ago. It was a really great way to get to know each other at a much deeper level. I have done this play a few times now with different teams and there is something about the vulnerability that goes into putting your manual together & sharing it that helps set the stage for really great conversations & a establishes level of empathy for each other that you don't often get with something like a roles & responsibilities play. I learned a ton about my team and how I can work better with them :) 

Like # people like this

Breaks from the job, whether featuring snacks or other "off-work" activities" are a nice way to bring people together, @Andy Gladstone I wish it wasn't such a controversial idea for some companies!

The "manual of me" aka "User Manual" Play is defo one of my favs. I'd love to see a world, @Kelly Drozd (also to @Andy Gladstone's example) where learning about each other and prioritizing time just for that is a given.

I'm not sure if this really counts or not but in my team we are all working remote and we have daily standups except on Friday.  During the standup or towards the end we veer off topic and have some more personal chit chats.  Normally I know that this frustrates many people because it takes up time and is not work related but I love it because it shows that we are all human and have more in common than just working in the same team. We always know when to get back on track or when to end the meeting.

Like # people like this

It for sure counts, @Kristin Lyons! My takeaway is that there isn't a topic limit to what's discussed sometimes, so that the team can feel freer to raise whatever they think is important and relevant. And within that, I think topics come up that provide more understanding of each other. 

Andy Gladstone Community Leader Jan 06, 2022

@Kristin Lyons we experienced a similar issue when we went fully remote early in the pandemic. We needed the social interaction, but for some it was too much. We instituted a soft rule of short banter to start meetings and general banter and socializing at the end. We also let everyone know that the moment the content portion of any Zoom call was over they were free to leave - without judgement or prejudice. This allowed everyone to feel comfortable with their decision to log off rather than be dragged into conversation they didn't have the time for or where not ready for. We addressed the elephant in the room and it helped clear the air.

Like # people like this

I like that! Sounds like some good rules to impose

Like Andy Gladstone likes this

My team’s goofy. We share a lot of things from the internet. In one slack channel we drop all that mess—jokes, inspiration—and in another we only share big updates. This invites more kinds of messages.

Like # people like this

Ah yes, a space inclusive of all shenanegans. I appreciate that, @Jenny Kim!

Like Andy Gladstone likes this

I have some colleagues who prefer not to have their camera turned on during the calls. I let them choose whatever works for them - have it on or off, because I believe it doesn't influence your performance. If anybody ever feels bother by it, it seems to be only managers, not other co-workers.

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

Ah, the ol' unspoken "on or off is fine!" I fully agree, @Anita Kalmane. I also think it's silly for managers to not be okay with it, because seeing someone's face isn't necessarily an indicator of productivity.

Vero Rivas Community Leader Jan 07, 2022

I have created a channel in the teams called "Coffee shop" so that there everyone does what they want to share a song, a video, a joke and many times it helps more than a formal work channel

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

Perfect channel name!

Like Vero Rivas likes this
Pramodh M Community Leader Jan 08, 2022

The most important thing is to focus on how we react, plan when the priority work comes in and what will happen to the activities that have been planned already!!

I know we talk about this in Agile practices, I have seen these scenarios even in other areas of work like Accounts, Pre-sales, etc.

I would just focus on Priority work first and then focus on the work that was supposed to be completed over time!!

Let me know how you guys handle this situation if this planned activity was supposed to completed within a day or two!!

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

I think this applies to work, relationships with other people, and even ourselves. How we respond in times where we have to make tough decisions or when we are faced with something hard says a lot about culture or who people really are.

As for your prompt, I often see planned activities take a backseat when a higher priority item appears. The planned activity takes longer but we're not down on ourselves for it.

Like Pramodh M likes this

Interesting Thread @Christine P_ Dela Rosa , thanks for initiating.

I think the mindset of 'One-Team' is pretty important and it should reflect from each member of the team. I know face to face working in office have a classic advantage but in post pandemic world multiple remote fun activities can be done to maintain the positive vibes. These fun activities can happen once a fortnight or month with entire team getting involved. We have done these on multiple occasions on last two years and proved quite effective.  

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

Anything to bring a group closer together, especially now, has got to help improve team health. And to your point, @Suvradip Paul, I agree that having the right mindset is key to making that happen. Stating "values" and reinforcing the idea of one team are certainly ways to reinforce that mindset.

Not to do a shameless plug but normalizing saying no. 

https://community.atlassian.com/t5/Teamwork-Lab-discussions/Tips-amp-Lessons-for-2022-Normalize-saying-quot-No-quot/m-p/1906764#M1281

I think it's very important that we work to reduce the stigma around saying no in the workplace. We need to be comfortable expressing when we are reaching our limit, tapped out, or just otherwise committed to something else at the moment. Communication is so fast now but responses don't need to be. 

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

A culture of radical candor where a "no" is prioritizing a "yes" for other things. Mmhmm.

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