podcast • 40MIN READ
Rethinking Teamwork with Range
"Where is the future of work" is almost as important a question as, "What is the future of work?"
That's why the minds behind Range are on a mission to keep teams connected, focused and productive no matter where they're working.
Dan Pupius, CEO and co-founder of Range, joins us this week to discuss the need for better, more collaborative tools as work becomes increasingly team and project based. Dan believes software development was the vanguard to the 21st century work model: when a distinction between 'normal' work and hybrid work will no longer exist because all work will be hybrid work.
Episode Highlights Include:
- Why current management models are designed around factories
- What is hybrid work and is it the future?
- Hybrid work best practices
- How a sense of belonging helps teams move faster
- The reasons work has become increasingly team-based
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Dan Lines: Host
Dan Pupius: CEO and co-founder of Range
[Intro music plays]
Pupius: [0:00] Work is becoming much more complex. And as the impacts of mobile, the internet, AI, all those trends, we're changing the nature of work. And we're coming out this industrial area where management was designed around factories, and we have a lot of hangovers from that industrial area to this much more complex, organic type of work and we just don’t have the tools to support that. Traditional management practices are still very tied to scientific management and Taylorism. And really, what we need in the 21st century with these agile teams is a very different way of approaching work.
Producer: [0:27] This episode is sponsored by Linear B. Accelerate your development pipeline with data driven engineering metrics, continuous improvement automation, and project visibility while cutting your software development cycle time in half. Sign up for your free demo at LinearB.io and mention the Dev Interrupted podcast discount for one month free when you sign up for an annual pro membership.
Lines: [0:47] Hey, everyone, welcome to Dev Interrupted. I'm your host, Dan Lines and today I'm joined by the CEO and co-founder of Range, Dan Pupius. Dan, thanks so much for joining the show today.
Pupius: [1:00] Happy to be here. Thanks for having me.
Lines: [1:02] Yeah, absolutely. Now, we're gonna dive into Range a bit. But before we do so, I want to dive a little bit into your career path, and maybe some things about your leadership style. I know you spent about six years as a staff software engineer at Google, which seems really interesting and cool. You're also the former head of engineering, VP of engineering, I think, for Medium. Could you walk us through your career journey, Before you founded Range?
Pupius: [1:33] Yeah, absolutely. Yeah so, I guess it all started as a teenager, we didn't have-my dad wouldn't buy us consoles, so we had a real computer. That meant that I was just like-was playing around with games, and I was-started coding in Cubase, just hacking around making things visual, and then got really into Quake and made Quake mods, and that was really like the first foray into real programming. And then I got this opportunity to work with a local design company making websites and screensavers as a teenager, which paid way better than a paper round, and that was really like the beginning of the end. So, after that I went on to University of Manchester did a degree in artificial intelligence, then following that degree in industrial design from Sheffield Hallam, and at that time, I was working part time in eLearning. So, building web-based learning material for GCSE, which is the high school diploma in the UK. Also, one funny project was the guidance-training for guidance system on a-military frigates, or navy frigates, that was a fun project. But then, I don’t know the UK was very different, so I was pretty much all set to give it up. I had a Canadian visa, I was gonna go be a snowboard photographer, and then got called by Google. And that was in April, and then in October, I moved out to California, and blue skies, H1B, worked Google for a long time, that was amazing. Just like working on Gmail, UI code, front-end infrastructure, it's just a completely different world. And then yeah-and then after Google, went on to Medium to run engineering with Ev Williams, and that's really where the idea for Range was incubated. And met “Jenn” my co-founder at Medium, and then, you know, after Medium setup-started Range, so.
Lines: [3:05] Did you say you were going to be a snowboard photographer?
Pupius: [3:08] Yeah so, I was working in London, and it was really dreary, and commuting across from Putney to Shepherds Bush and Putney to Kings Cross, and I was kind of done. So I had a Canadian visa, was going to go out work up in BC and just take snowboard photography. The Google offer came along, and it was way better.
Lines: [3:25] That's amazing! What's it like to work at Google?
Pupius: [3:28] In 2005 it was-it was just like so different. I remember I was doing a contract in London and showing the manager Google Maps, and I was like, “Look at this. It's amazing. This is all in the browser of his web base. Look, there's a map of the entire world, you can scroll it and everything.” it was life changing. And then in 2005, 2006, at Google, it was just-it felt like there were just no limits and we were just, like, pushing the boundaries. And we had a lot of freedom and there’s lots of users, and it was just, like, it wasn't like work. It was like being at university almost. But then we're building these things that millions of people were using. Obviously, things changed over the course of my time there, and the company grew really big and things got complicated. But overall, it was just like a really amazing experience, especially for someone coming from the UK where expectations about careers are a little bit different at that time.
Lines: [4:10] Yeah, for sure. I mean, when you got on with them, was it “Hey, you're gonna be tasked to work on a specific project.” or was it more like “Go innovate and figure something out.”? Like, how did they approach you or, you know, what was the role?
Lines: [4:59] One of the things, I've talked to a few other people that had an experience at Google or got to work there. And they kind of mentioned, and I don't know if you have this mindset, but “Hey, if I build something, and it's successful, it's gonna be used by millions and millions of people.”
Pupius: [5:14] Yeah.
Dan: [5:15] Did you learn anything, like, was that the experience for you? Is there anything that you learned about scale or something technical or a challenge there?
Pupius: [5:24] Yeah, I think Google- Yeah, Google scale, it's crazy. And-and then there's also these other things like you build a service, they called it like the Gmail death-ray. So, Gmail, at the time, had so many machines that if we integrated with another service, all these machines would talk to the service and the Gmail servers would DDOS, the internal service. Yeah, there's lots of things about internal scale, and also external scale, you end up kind of taking it for granted, because it was-everything was Google scale. It wasn't all clear sailing as well, there was this joke around, I just need to surf five terabytes of data, and I think there's a YouTube video on this, about someone, like, heaps five terabytes of data and then all the hoops you have to jump through in order to get that shipped and how difficult it was as well. So, you can do these most insane things. But also, there was like a lot of difficult steps
Lines: [6:09] And I think your title, was it staff engineer?
Pupius: [6:12] When I left? Yeah so.
Lines: [6:14] What does it mean to be a staff-? It's a pretty high rank.
Pupius: [6:17] Yeah, it's one level above senior. Now, there's probably like, tens of thousands of us, yeah thank goodness. [Laughing] But at time I think there was like, it was like a few thousands. And so, I don’t know, it's like a, I guess it's like mid-senior, IC rank, reasonably proud of the accomplishment.
Lines: [6:34] Yeah, that's really great. I think a lot of our listeners are wondering, like, how do I evolve my own career? How do you get a job at Google? And then you became the VP of engineering at Medium!
Pupius: [6:44] I didn't have technically have the V title, but it was head of engineering
Lines: [6:47] Or head of engineering.
Pupius: [6:48] We worked on a team, yeah.
Lines: [6:49] How did that opportunity come about for you, going from Google to Medium?
Pupius: [6:54] Yeah, so I-so I left Google in 2012. And I was looking around what to do next. And there's a few different opportunities. And I met at a cafe, near Yerba Buena Park and he was in a suit and he was like, I didn't normally wear a suit, but I was just meeting Obama. And I was like, “Okay!” but I didn't know he was working on something, obviously, post Twitter. And-and I just thought he was going to help me network. And it turned out he had started this company, Obvious Corporation, which is doing incubation investment and product development, which just seemed like a really interesting opportunity. So, I joined, Medium was a word on a whiteboard that I think Liz had sketched up there. And that was what I started working on. And within six months, the whole company pivoted around just focusing on Medium. So I started as an IC. But then, as the company was growing, it just became clear that we needed more structure, we needed more support systems for more junior people, we needed the processes and practices, and it was a natural evolution into me taking over the leadership role.
Lines: [7:50] What would you say is your leadership style? Or, how did you go from an individual contributor to say, “Oh, I can be a leader now”?
Pupius: [7:58] Yeah, I think it was probably a bit of a backwards journey, because I never wanted to be a manager, and I was pretty uncomfortable with authority. So, I tend to just show rather than tell as a “this is what's possible. This is what's capable. This is how you do it.” and really settled into more of a mentorship like servant leader, like, leading from within versus leading from the front. And the culture of the team that I grew at Medium really stemmed from that. But I by realized that it's almost like I accidentally [Laughing] ended up in the position honestly. And then-but then that gave me an opportunity to rethink it, and restructure and redefine what it meant. So, I see myself more as a gardener than an architect. So, I'm going to create an environment where my people can be successful, and people can do the good work. And people have what they need. Instead of being like, I'm going to be the person that directs everyone how to do their work, and that that felt much more natural to me. So, some people would call that servant leadership, some people call it authentic leadership, but basically trying to be the type of leader that I wished I'd had other times in my career,
Lines: [8:57] I guess the scale that you were dealing with at Google, did that help out at all at Medium? I think you wrote on LinkedIn or somewhere, it's just like millions of views a month.
Pupius: [9:08] I think, yeah, at Google, the scale was massive, and yet it was new to have that kind of scale. By the time we were doing Medium, it was pretty normal to be serving tens of millions of views, so the technology had been proven out. So really, the challenge at Medium was like, from an organizational point of view, how do you structure the teams to do both rapid iteration on product development while supporting the growth? And then how do you plan for a hundred X, without slowing down day to day development? You have to manage the traffic today, manage traffic tomorrow, maybe manage the traffic at ten X, but you don't probably need to do things down the line. But then you need to have the systems structured such that you can evolve them to handle that hundred X load when necessary. But yeah, definitely saw lots of things at Google, but I think the main takeaway from Google was the focus on developer productivity and developer tooling. And that's something that I've really tried to keep both through Medium and also at Range, just having developer cycles hyper-optimized. So, if people ship code multiple times before date of production, that's just how you ship really quickly and at Range yet, we just did a-like a whole feature from idea to launch in sixteen days, and people are shipping code three or four times a day, in order to get to that point, I think that just helps improve velocity.
Lines: [10:19] And we see the over and over again at LinearB, what you do to help each individual, in this case, developers-each individual developer improve their efficiency, it's going to have hundred X return on the business. I think more and more people are realizing that-you're-you realized it maybe earlier on than most, but it’s a great lesson. And I do want to switch over and talk about Range, but how did you go from head of engineering at Medium to the Range, I know you're your founder there, but let's just call it an opportunity or make the leap, I mean, I did the same thing. I'm a founder of LinearB. And for me, I had to make a decision. I'm going to go and do this, or I remember the time that I said, “I'm going for it like” I made-I made a switch, how was it for you?
Pupius: [11:07] Yeah, so Medium, my co-founder, Jen and I have been working on these basically principles and processes for how to collaborate at scale. And we wanted to make sure that teams felt engaged and empowered and autonomous, and we'd actually built some tools to support that. And so then, when there was an opportunity, you know, the timing is right, and I decided that it was time to move on to Medium and I was looking around, and I kept looking at these big VP jobs or jobs at other companies. And I kept feeling I don't want to do that job without like new tooling, or like, without new infrastructure. Like it's just too hard to read a-an organization and I need an operating system that actually serves me as a leader and helps me run the type of organization I wanted. And that's what gave me the confidence to at least start talking about-about Range and reconnected with Jen. And we'd actually had a conversation six months previous about whether what we were doing at Medium would be applicable on a broader scale. And she was like, “Yeah, hell yeah, let’s do it”, and the rest is history.
Lines: [11:58] What's Jen's role? Does she complement your skill set? And the other thing about founding a company is you have to choose who you're going, typically, unless you do it on your own, who's going to be your partner? How does that work between the two of you?
Pupius: [12:10] Yeah, so she-she has an organization development background. So, she comes from like consultancy and coaching, and at Medium she's on the people ops team. So, it felt like a really good-especially given the space that Range is in, a really good complement of skills in terms of company building, but then also in terms of marketing understanding. So she-she’s head of company operations, there’s a lot of our customers work and that brings unique insights to-to help us shape the product.
Lines: [12:32] That's awesome. We do have a lot of technical leaders or developers that are listening to the pod, and I think for some of them want to be in your position someday. You are, what I would consider, you’re a technical founder in the sense that you came from a very technical background, like we talked about your experience at Google, your development jobs. Is there any advice that you have, or something that you've learned to inspire someone that is really technical, and wants to be in your position someday leading a company as a CEO.
Pupius: [13:05] I think maybe it’s “Be careful what you wish for” [Laughing] and I think there's a difference between-I think one thing, as a founder, you fill in all the gaps, I manage agencies and vendors, I do the bounty program for security, I've been working on plumbing work for marketing analytics, all the fun, like glamorous feature development gets done by the product development team. I'm filling all the gaps across the board, like both organizationally and technically. So, I think that's the thing you have to get used to is that your goal is to support the team and support the company and guide it to-towards its vision, and often, that means wearing half a dozen hats, like I’ve been doing a ton of marketing work this year and optimizing the website and learning all about ads and things like that. So, I think as a technical founder, just be sure that's what you want to do. I think it can be different if you're like a founding CTO, then you can-sometimes you can focus on the technology. But then you need to pair with a CEO that is product minded and can-can do all those other business-the business functions.
Lines: [14:01] That was actually going to be my next question. Have you had the, you know, I guess acquire those kind of more business skills you have, you know, SAS metrics and renewal and all these different things that when you're in an engineer, you're not usually thinking of, are you taking that on? Or like how did you gain the knowledge?
Pupius: [14:20] It’s-I had to-definitely had to take it all on, and that's been one of the biggest learning curves for sure. And I think especially coming from Google, where you don't worry about any of those things, and then, to some extent, at Medium we also didn't have to worry about those things. But yeah, that's been the biggest growth curve. And I think the best thing there has just been to humbly read as much as possible and then surround yourself by advisors who can be very both tactical and strategic. I think there's a problem when you're not versed in the function of being an advisor to strategic because then they don't help you do the day-to-day execution. They can tell you like the strategy but then you still need to know what good is. So having someone that can help you figure out the tactics and the day to day and actually develop a sense of taste for what is good is critical. So yeah, marketing sales and operations lead the whole gamut.
Lines: [15:04] And that's something I've found as well. Now sometimes you'll be able to get an advisor that can be strategic and tactical, it doesn't always happen. You surround yourself with a multitude of skill sets. I can talk to one advisor about vision of the company, strategy, how do we go a hundred X, things like that I can talk to another person about, hey, this is what's going on in my day-to-day life and our day-to-day responsibility, so that diversity is, you know-really helped me. I want to switch gears a little bit and talk about Range. Can you give us a little bit of a background? What is Range? What are you all about? And then of course, what's the mission? What are you doing?
Pupius: [15:42] Yeah, essentially, our goal is to enable better teamwork. And this came out of my experiences at Google and Medium, I just feel like there's a lot of best practices that are hard learned, and a lot of wasted energy and talent that goes from poor teamwork. So, we want to basically build the tools that support the behaviors of effective teams, essentially. And that sounds like, lofty, but it's pretty simple, and so we look at these common practices, common habits to support effective teamwork, and then think about how do we build infrastructure or architecture to support those behaviors. So, the initial wedge was around async check-ins, which is like a virtual stand-up, some people place their stand-up with-with Range, some people supplement stand-ups with Range. Essentially, it helps everyone know what's happening on a day-to-day basis, through this asynchronous check in that's connected with all your tools. And then, with that core habit, we layer in a ton of team building features. So, any good manager knows that how the team works is more than just what they're working on, it's the relationships and the culture. So, we have some features that are designed to basically cultivate belonging, which is especially important in remote teams where belonging is hard to cultivate, and-because you don’t have these informal interactions minimal, then we started to build up a suite of tools around that, like objectives, meeting facilitation and team planning.
Dan: [16:51] When did you found Range in relation to the global pandemic? Was it before, after, during?
Pupius: [16:58] It was before so we've actually been around for a while now, I think we're probably early-so we founded it in 2017, we-really what we saw were these multiple trends. So, there's a trend towards a more mobile, more distributed workforce. There is the sort of change that it’s brought in-or the change that's been-being brought in by the value systems of the millennial generation, like their approach to work is very different. And what they want in an organization is very different, much more about purpose and mastery of meaning. And then there's the impacts of just like the mobile, the internet, AI on work, and work is becoming much more complex. It's all those trends, we're changing this nature of work, and teams, and we're coming out this industrial area where management was designed around factories, and we have a lot of hangovers, from that industrial area to this much more complex organic type of work. And we just don't have the tools to support that. Visual management practices are still very tied to scientific management and Taylorism, and really, what we need in the 21st century with these agile teams is a very different way of approaching work.
Lines: [17:53] Yeah, I mean, it seemed like possibly you're a little ahead of the curve. Making an assumption here, but more teams are remote now, more teams are likely either valuing or want to value async-style communication work practices, how did the-the world changes affect range and or your customer base?
Pupius: [18:17] Yeah, totally. I think it said essentially, accelerated trends and accelerated appreciation of the challenges and the difficulties, and what we see now is remote work is here to stay, it's gonna be required. If you want-if you want a team of a certain size, you're going to have to support some people being remote. And there'll be more and more fully remote teams. And that has big implications on how you run and operate teams. So, managers and leaders are now understanding the challenges. And some of those challenges are people feel more disconnected from the mission, they feel disconnect from each other. And then that leads to turnover and retention issues. So, as you’re building up these organizations, people are looking for tools and practices to keep teams feeling more connected. And yeah, Range is now like one of the things that you’d look to do that.
Dan: [18:56] That's awesome. Who is using Range? So obviously, I would think engineering teams. We're doing stand-ups, we're doing retros, we have ceremonies that we go through. Engineering culture, typically, even when I was a developer, appreciated a more async model, don't bug me.
Pupius: [19:13] Yeah, yeah.
Lines: [19:14] Is it the engineering communities, or is it like other ones as well, who's using it?
Pupius: [19:18] Early market has definitely been, software development teams. So, not just engineering, but engineering, product, design. And that's partly just through our network and who we know best and who we market to. So, they're the dominant users of Range today. But we do have customers who are content teams, or support teams, or marketing teams, and the principles of this work do really apply to any non-routine labor. So, any knowledge work, any team-based work, and more and more work is becoming team based and project based across disciplines. And I think software development work was just at the vanguard of that change the team-based project-based work.
Lines: [19:51] What do you think are like the bottlenecks of teams or inefficiencies? Are you all measuring anything, or do you have any insights on what’s the opposite? What slow was us all down?
Pupius: [20:01] Yeah, actually my wife showed me a quote earlier, let me-it was actually funny, “Change moves at the speed of trust” a Stephen Covey quote. And I think that is like, super right, which is that-so, we're not dealing with factories where you're optimizing a production line. And if there's a second factor and it's slower, you can parallelize it or just optimize it or whatever. Like, the thing that slows us down is it's a complex system, and its decision making and context. So how do you manage that? And how do you make that more efficient? And I think it does come down to trust. And after project Aristotle at Google, lots of people have been talking about psychological safety as being like a prerequisite for effective teams, but they don’t really talk about how you get there. So, building trust through vulnerability is key, and then cultivating a sense of belonging. And I think belonging, I much prefer I've mentioned this already, but belonging is much more tangible to me, it's like you can feel it, where psychological safety is more, like, abstract. So having a team who has a sense of belonging means that you can then make decisions quicker, you can take risks, you can move faster, and that that's really the key.
Lines: [20:59] You mentioned a few interesting things. So, let's start with this, you mentioned project Aristotle, what is project Aristotle?
Pupius: [21:06] Okay, so psychological safety has been a concept in the org development industry since the 60’s, and Amy Edmondson, coined the term, but it really didn't make it into at least popular vernacular in tech until Google published a big study about how effective teams work, and they call it project Aristotle. And they did this big study of teams at Google and what makes them productive, and it wasn't, their GPA, it wasn't where they came from, it was like-it was essentially the psychological safety of the team. And what that means is your ability to take risks and your feel of retribution should you fail. So, if you can't take risks that might be speaking up about a decision or giving someone feedback or trying something at the edge of your ability, psychological safety undermines our ability to do that, and then that undermines a team to be effective.
Lines: [21:46] You can go and read about this. I think I’ve read about it, but it's been around for a while now.
Pupius: [21:50] Yes, it's been a while. And it-so, I think it's like psychological safety is pretty well understood now in terms of an abstract concept. But still, we struggle to think about like, how do we actually create psychological safety. And it's not about doing team offsites or having a beer keg in the kitchen, it's really about how you change, how you collaborate with each other, and how you work together.
Lines: [22:09] The other thing that you mentioned was, from your quote, I think it was something like “Change can move at the speed of trust”, and you mentioned context. So, you know, what I see happens that LinearB a lot, like our customer base, we're raising visibility, observability, context for developers, context for decision makers. And what we've seen is there's the correlation between contexts and speed. So Smead, they like time to value, and probably really, its context, trust, and speed. What are you doing at-at Range around the contact side of things? I think you mentioned things about stand-ups and a few other things.
Pupius: [22:48] Yeah, so the core functionality at Range is this async check in, which is where you share what you're planning to do and what you've worked on. And that includes deep links through to all the tools you're working with. So, like the docs you've written, the code you've committed, the meetings are attended. And that's, like, really rich context for your team, because they can get a pretty much three-dimensional view of what you're doing. And trust-what's interesting with trust is it has a half-life with the case. So, you have to keep renewing the trust. And by helping people understand what you're doing, and also how you're doing, you basically-you can keep that trust stable. Because I think you can imagine this, if you and I are working together, and I'm depending on you to-like some code I'm depending on and then-but you go completely AWOL, and I don't hear anything for you for five days, after two days, I'm like, “Okay, he's probably fine it's just, it's okay”, three days, I'm starting to get a bit anxious four days. I'm like, “Alright, God, what's he doing like Jesus Christ”, and then by five days, I'm probably like, nagging you, “Hey, what's the status on this thing?” whereas if I have some ambient awareness of, you're making progress or you got distracted by this other thing or you got pulled into this disaster, that trust won't degrade. So really Range is around surfacing that information. So remote teams have access to the context of what's going on with their colleagues, and then that maintains trust,
Lines: [23:57] You know, lately, because it-just because I'm working on a project right now to help developers get their code merge faster, a lot of that's around the PR process. And it reminded me when you're saying, hey, I got one day, I'm waiting on you for a review. Two days, okay, maybe I'm okay, I'm wondering what's going on. Three days, I'm like, what the fuck? Is he dead? Or does he not like me? Or does he-is he prioritizing other stuff. And we're-when we're able to show a notification to a developer that says, “Hey, Dan's actually started your review”, now, that would give me some context. If I know that you've started the review, but it's taking a long time, I could ping you and say, “Hey, you struggling with something? Is there something you don't understand?” I now have context. I think that's what you're saying, [crosstalk] [24:33] if I can get context into what's going on with you, maybe you have a blocker.
Pupius: [24:33] Yeah. For sure. Yeah.
Dan: [24:49] But I could say, “Oh, you're stuck on that. I actually-hey, that thing's not that important” or “I have a workaround for that. Don't get stuck on that.”
Pupius: [24:57] Yeah, or maybe there's a disaster in some other part of the company that you got pulled in on, which is why you're not doing your review, or maybe you're sick or so it-Range even has mood sharing, so you can check in are you red, yellow, green, and then an emoji. So, if I check in like red and I'm sick, then-and I didn't get to your review, you’re probably okay, “I'm gonna get-I'm gonna give it a day or I’m going to someone else”, so it kind of repairs some of these interpersonal issues. But if you're in the office, a lot of this happens naturally. So, say you come up the elevator, and you're looking really stressed. And I make eye contact with you, I will then use that as information when interacting later on, but in the remote world, we lose a lot of that context around how people are showing up to work.
Lines: [25:35] That’s true. Thinking back to-I haven't been in an office in a while now, but thinking back and you can even see that you're relying on the another developer, and no one wants to be doing this today. But you could see if someone's sick, too, oh, this person is getting sick. They're telling you like “Dude, I'm not feeling well” like, I’m-and then you don't see them tomorrow, you know that they're sick. They didn't come into the office, you already knew the day before.
Pupius: [25:57] Right? Or maybe you see that they’re not at their desk all day because they’re in meetings.
Dan: [26:00] Yeah.
Pupius: [26:01] Like, maybe there's they're doing like back-to-back interview panels.
Lines: [26:03] Yeah, and you would know that probably because “Oh, I was just in the interviews all day, it drained me out.”
Pupius: [26:09] Right. So, all that information gets lost, so Range is a way of surfacing that and in an easy and simple way.
Lines: [26:15] Do you think the stand-up use case is like the number one right now for you all, in terms of the meetings? Is that the one that you can optimize the most?
Pupius: [26:23] It’s the one that we've been working on the longest. So, it's definitely the core use case, and in August, we've launched the meeting facilitation tool, which is designed for reoccurring team meetings. So that's a new entryway where people use Range as a way of making their recurring meetings more efficient and effective. And what we hear is that, by layering in this relatively simple facilitation, they can avoid their meetings over running, and it makes just the meetings more engaging.
Lines: [26:45] We were talking before we started recording here about hybrid teams, or the word hybrid, maybe some nuances around that. You also have maybe hybrid stand-up, some people are remote, some people are together, what's going on in the world of hybrid?
Pupius: [27:01] I think all of this is interesting, and the press are spinning it one way or another. And I think ultimately, it's-it's where were we before the pandemic and where do we want to be in the future. And in my-in my definition, hybrid basically means any work configuration where there's a mix, or blend of people working in a distributed way, and people working in an office. And that could be what we call synchronized hybrid, which is people that work certain days in the office and certain days at home. Or it could be that you have a more dynamic hybrid where people can just like work wherever they want, or you have some people who always in the office, and some people always remote. Anyway, there's got to be a broad spectrum of configurations. But I think broadly speaking, it doesn't really matter, and the ultimate goal should be that work is location agnostic. And we can collaborate with each other independently of where we are. And that's the ultimate goal. So, all work will be hybrid eventually, and hybrid won't be-even be a word that we-we talk about.
Lines: [27:51] I feel like that's how it is now, to be honest, like most of the people that I'm talking with, I don't know, engineering leaders, multiple times a week, and I always ask them, “Hey, what's the work setup?” And it's never-the answer so far is never we're all in the office at the same time, all the time. It's always some blend, right? So that's, to me, that's normal. That's the normal.
Pupius: [28:14] I think, I think in your world, not my world, that was already normal before the pandemic, and it just-it's just more amplified now. I think-just thinking back to Medium, we were-for a while we were all in the San Francisco office, but even then, people might be a coffee shops or at home or traveling. And you didn't even know who was in the office until you did a full lap around the office. So-so I think what the-the benefit is that we're now being more intentional about it and talking about it and creating a language, so we can talk about the challenges. And if you do have a team, who are three people sitting next to each other in the office and two people in a different location, we have a language for the-the challenges that arise from that configuration and so I think that's the benefit.
Lines: [28:51] Totally true. I guess what we've established here is maybe everybody is mostly hybrid, maybe that's just normal now. And I would consider you an expert, or really close to an expert of what does maybe a healthy hybrid team look like? I've heard you mention three best practices, name them here. So, adopt a one remote, all remote mentality. Make play time a priority. Take advantage of async. Can you walk us through each one of those?
Pupius: [29:22] So the-the one remote, all remote might sound a bit weird. But basically what this means is creating a level playing field. So, if you have-even going back to Google in the late 2000s, it would be pretty common for us to have a meeting room where eight people were in the meeting room than one person will be on video chat. And the thing is that person is now engaging on a different level. Today, people are talking to each other-
Dan: [29:40] Or worse for that person, always.
Pupius: [29:42] Exactly, it’s worse. There's a bunch of like sub-verbal cues that people are picking up on, and that person just can't be involved. So, if you want to create a more equitable way of collaborating, what we recommend is as soon as one person's remote everyone should be going through video chat, ideally in separate rooms, but if you don’t have separate rooms, at least be through the same surface and that-that just makes it much easier, more easy for everyone to feel involved and included no matter where they are. So that's the one remote, all remote. The playtime one might sound funny and antithetical to a strong work ethic, but there's tons of research that shows that play improves job satisfaction and productivity, and then ultimately output. And again, this comes back to what we're talking about before, psychological safety. And play is basically an easy way to create vulnerability and connection, which is the, like I said, the precursor to psychological safety. So play is really about building the team connection, the team trust and the sense of belonging. And then the third one was async right?
Dan: [30:35] Yeah, it was take advantage of async.
Pupius: [30:38] Yeah, this is benefit-this will benefit any workforce, but it's even more important when people remote, in different time zones. And all that means is that I think especially coders are more likely to be async anyway, because we do email, we do code reviews are pretty async, Slack is quasi async. And I think Slack is a bit of a problem, because if everything goes through Slack it’s like, there's a lot of FOMO, and a lot of catching up to do. So, be intentional about how you go async. So, using Google Docs or Notion, like the async process through these systems of record. And what that means is it gives more time for focus time, because you're not always like having to be in meetings or be on Slack. And then it also allows people to stay in the loop even if they're not desiring the moment. So someone's out of the office or the remote, or they're in a different time zone, you have that written communication to fall back on.
Lines: [31:20] Actually, the-the Slack thing is, is interesting. And before we got on here, I was thinking about it, maybe compared to your company, if you think of them as a partner or a competitor, or maybe both, sometimes it's both-both in the same but like, I could run what I would perceive, maybe wrongly, to be an async stand-up over Slack. Everyone post your update at your own time or something like that, is that different than, I don't know, how you think about async are different, you know what I mean?
Pupius: [31:51] So it’s a pretty common onboarding path where people do that in Slack, and then they upgrade to Range. And some of the benefits are that the information in Range is structured, and so we can present the data in different ways we can show insights and trends. We have deep integrations with other systems of record that you use. So, Source Control, Knowledge Management, so we can make it-we can make writing the update easier. And then we have a history of record. So even though Slack technically has a history of record, it's an unstructured history of records, you can't go back and say, “What is everything Dan worked on in the last month?” or “What's all the work associated with the reporting projects?”, so you can't, like, go back and review that data, you could do it in slack on-in some other chat system, but generally, we facilitate the process and make it easier. So, a couple of other things we add in is obviously reminders, and then notifications. And then we have a feature called prompts. So as a lead, you might say on Monday, I want people to tell me what their big plan for the week is. On Wednesday, I want to tell-them to tell me if there's anything that's blocking them. On a Friday, what's one lesson you've learned, so you can nudge people through the week to show different types of topics, and their check-in.
Lines: [32:49] You know, what hit me there is like the system of record part. If I'm out for even a day, but let's just say I'm out like two days, I'm out for a week, my slack is crazy. So there's-
Pupius: [32:59] Right
Dan: [33:00] And I can catch up, because I can read everything. But if I want to then go “Okay, I just read a ton of stuff, now I actually don't dive into a particular project.”, it's really hard to do, right? Like I can't find how to catch up after I've read everything. It's just like a stream, right?
Pupius: [33:15] Yeah, exactly. And that's what we hear from-I feel like using our own product ourselves, but I also hear it from other customers where they come back from a two-week vacation and it's really quick to catch up, instead of spending a whole day reading through email and looking through all the commits, and all the document history, that you can get caught up pretty quickly, in like ten minutes, so I think that's like a really valuable thing. I also find it really the easiest way of just, like, offloading memory. So, I find myself going back to meeting notes regularly in Range because it's just like really easy to find the meeting notes, so I don't have to remember that thing, I have to remember where it is. Or the designer might have been working on a Figma file, and they can't find it in the Figma UI or in the Slack, go back to his check-in because I knew he shared it three days ago, then I can easily find the Fig-the Figma design. Whereas historically, I would have had to ping the channel and say, Hey, where's that design? So just-it just makes knowledge discovery much easier.
Lines: [34:01] I want to give you a little bit of an opportunity here, what type of team should come on to Range? Listening to this pod and think thinking about it, maybe it's for me, maybe it's not.
Pupius: [34:11] We’ve designed it specifically for distributed teams. So, teams that are in multiple locations. We are early market as engineering teams. So, if you work with GitHub or GitLab, that's like a great indicator. And then people who are intentional about culture, who want to work as a team together want to feel connected to the team want to know what's happening. If you're a group of lone wolves, probably not great. But if you want coding to be a team sport, Range is like a great foundational habit to build that team.
Lines: [34:35] Yeah, so Dan, thanks so much for coming on the pod. It's been an awesome conversation.
Pupius: [34:39] Yeah. Thanks for having me. It was fun.
Lines: [34:41] You know, I don't know, are you hiring at all at Range or if I wanted to use Range, how could I sign up?
Pupius: [34:48] Yeah, you can sign up self-serve, www.range.co, free for 20 users and we are hiring we have two open roles. So, if you're excited about helping other teams work better together, you're interested in doing either go backend or full stack work, definitely get in touch. You know, we're a small team, but we punch above our weight, and actually, one of our customers is like, I thought you're a team of a hundred for sure. And we’re like no, we’re like twelve people. So, like, we deliver code fast and quickly and very agile.
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Lines: [35:15] Awesome. So yeah, everyone if you're looking for your next opportunity, or you want to sign up, you can go to range.co. And also, a quick reminder for our listeners, if you haven't already rated and reviewed the show on your podcasting app of choice, particularly Apple Pods, please do so. Reviews are crucial for our show to get discovered. Also, be sure to join the Dev Interrupted Discord community where we keep this type of conversation going all week long. I also want to say thank you to the more than two thousand of you who are now subscribed to our weekly interruption newsletter, where we bring you articles from the community, inside information and weekly podcasts and the first look at interact 2.0 on April 7 2022. And Dan, thanks again so much for coming on. It was awesome having you.
Pupius: [36:03] Yeah, thanks, Dan.
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