When the global pandemic made its debut in early March of 2020, no one could have predicted what kind of profound impact it would have on the workplace. What started as a two-week initiative to “slow the curve” turned into a prolonged experiment in working remotely and somehow still attempting to balance the metaphorical work/life scales. Many businesses couldn’t adapt to this change and closed up shop soon after the lockdown was initiated, while others seemed to thrive.
I’m not going to paint the lockdown in a positive light. It was brutal for all of us. Especially for BizStream, where we pride ourselves on our unique and “Nationally recognized” culture that includes many social gatherings, team outings, and even the occasional trip to the Bartesian (think Keurig but for alcoholic cocktails). But if I were to look at this large glass of COVID milk as half full, I recognize that we did pick up some decent habits along the way.
In hindsight, the COVID lockdown was one big forced social experiment. It took us all well out of our comfort zones. I remember gripping and grasping for a sense of normalcy as one week of lockdown turned into one month, one quarter, and eventually one full year. We weren’t really given a choice. You either adapt, or you wallow in self-pity. When you are forced into change, a lot of good can come out of it.
We began to realize that work can still happen remotely. That a company is not defined by a brick-and-mortar building but by an amalgamation of people working together through trust building teams. We found new platforms for social engagement. New ways of approaching workloads and even better creative ways of praising each other for the work we are so humbly proud of. But above all, it taught us the importance of challenging societal norms both inside and outside of the workplace.
Okay, enough pandemic talk. It’s now 2022, and we are back in the office with our newfound knowledge, which extends far beyond using hand sanitizer ten times a day. Even before the pandemic, our leadership at BizStream would often remind us to question everything. Question our processes. Our tech stacks. Question why we work five day work weeks.. As a collaborative unit, we are encouraged to ask questions, challenge “standards,” and bring new ideas to the table. Don’t complain just to complain. That hinders progress, and you will be put into the cone of shame..
This is not a new thing for us, but quite honestly, we weren’t very good at it up until recently. Shortly after our teams began funneling back into the office, we carried with us a new sense of urgency to challenge the status quo and embrace change. We learned through 2020 and 2021 that life is too damn short not to try new things.
We used to host a monthly event called “Lab Day.” On the last Friday of every month, our team would work on non-client work and focus on either learning something new or building a “Shippable” product by the end of the day. It was a good idea in theory, and the event had been around since I started at BizStream back in 2016, so naturally, it was here to stay… Right?
I had started to notice a trend where many developers were choosing to utilize this day to catch up on client work. But why? What had happened to this “coveted” monthly perk? We tried other ways to rejuvenate this “historical artifact” of an event, but it just wasn’t working. I decided to send out a Google Poll to the entire team to get a sense of how people felt about it, and the results were pretty conclusive. Just as Harrison Ford desperately grasped for the holy grail as it teetered on the edge of oblivion, Sean Connery looked lovingly into our eyes and smiled down from heaven as he said, “Let it Go.”
So that’s what we did. A little self-examination goes a long way, folks. We put the pause on lab day, which forced our collective group to think about how we could repurpose this perk into something a little more useful.
Over the last year, we had been hearing a lot of reports on companies experimenting with the four-day workweek. In hindsight, it seemed to be fate that BizStream was primed for this specific experiment. We had just determined that lab days were on their way out, AND we knew from our COVID experience that we had ironed out a lot of the inefficiencies and quirks associated with remote work. The foundation was set.
It seemed very doable. It would not be met without some challenges, of course, but that wasn’t the point. We wanted to try something new. We challenged not only ourselves but societal norms about the “American five-day workweek.”
For the first time in BizStream history, we closed up shop every Friday for the months of June, July, and August in 2022. Now I won’t sugarcoat the end results. The perks were easy to observe right out the gate, but we also discovered many unique challenges that tested our management team in new ways, but that’s not really the point of this post. We examined an issue, questioned the status quo, and put forth a new experiment that would challenge the norm. We were successful in that, and we learned so much along the way.
Life is too short to go through the motions. What makes working with and for BizStream is that it’s full of like-minded individuals who love to try new things. Some of our experiments fail. Most succeed. We push ourselves with exciting new tech stacks, agile methodologies, four-day work weeks, and cocktails that we make up on the spot. Just another day in the life of a BizStreamer.
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