I’ve been lucky that we have closed down for the final week of the yr for the final seven years that I’ve been at Buffer. We kicked off this on the finish of 2016 and have saved up yearly since then.
Closing down for the final week of the yr is a chance to pause and recharge. It’s like a reset, besides throughout the entire firm. I like telling individuals about this follow at Buffer as a result of they’ve so many questions on how we proceed to function whereas closing down for every week.
As we work with many small companies and creators who can generally battle with working over the vacations, it feels particularly essential to share how we’re going about this.
So on this put up, I’ll cowl what it means to shut down for every week as a enterprise whose clients are all the time utilizing it, why we do it, and particularly how our largest groups handle this time without work whereas nonetheless caring for our product and our clients.
Let’s dive in!
What does it imply to shut down for every week?
On the finish of yearly, we shut down for the yr’s ultimate week. The precise definition of “closed down” varies from firm to firm – some companies will fully shut down operations whereas others will solely shut explicit sections of their enterprise.
This offers everybody on the firm some additional time to relaxation, and it creates an setting the place nobody is anxious about lacking out on initiatives or updates whereas they’re offline as a result of we’re all offline. We’ve achieved this type of factor earlier than, closing down for an additional lengthy weekend in the summertime, and it’s all the time been refreshing for our group.
Once I say that we’re closed, that implies that a lot of the firm is off (I’ll elaborate within the subsequent part), we aren’t releasing new options or altering our product in any respect, we aren’t publishing new weblog posts, and it’s deliberately a time of relaxation.
In our enterprise, creating instruments for small companies and creators constructing a model on-line, this time of yr can be reliably sluggish. So in contrast to another industries that will decide up over the vacations, we are able to lean into relaxation by closing the corporate throughout a naturally slower interval.
What does this seem like in follow?
For many groups at Buffer, closing for the vacations means a full disconnect. Our two largest groups, Engineering and Buyer Advocacy must create programs the place we are able to nonetheless serve our clients and guarantee Buffer is operational whereas additionally making house for added relaxation. So right here’s how Engineering and Advocacy sort out the week off.
How our Advocacy group handles every week closed
Our Advocacy group is a bunch of absolute professionals who’re taking good care of our clients. This yr, they’ve helped resolve over 60,000 buyer help requests with a mean first response time of simply three hours.
Through the years that now we have been closing, they’ve discovered the suitable steadiness to make sure we are able to nonetheless assist clients whereas additionally giving our Advocates that additional relaxation.
To begin, we take steps to make this era seen to our clients. They put up a transparent message stating that we’re shut down for the vacations in all the primary channels the place we talk with clients. These embrace a banner for people who find themselves in Buffer, an auto-reply to buyer help e mail, a pinned tweet on our account, and several other different locations.
This yr, the message reads:
The Buffer group is observing an organization shut down between December 24 and January 1.
We’re nonetheless responding to buyer help emails and messages however will take longer than regular to answer. We’ll get again to you as shortly as we are able to. Comfortable Holidays!
For Advocates, we ask that every particular person on the group works one full day or two half days in that interval. We now have 21 individuals on the Advocacy group, and we’ll have two or extra individuals on-line most days. We don’t all the time have individuals on December twenty fourth or twenty fifth, or January 1st, and we’re okay with that.
The group has in place a transparent schedule, expectations when persons are on-line with how one can prioritize their work and get again to clients, and pointers for emergencies. (We now have these pointers in place on a regular basis, but it surely’s all the time good to assessment forward of the vacations.)
How our Engineering group handles every week closed
Just like Advocacy, for our engineers, we have to have some protection of engineers who’re on name in case one thing occurs.
For Engineering, their break appears completely different as a result of they’re on name, that means they’re accessible if one thing breaks, reasonably than totally on-line throughout this time. That implies that the load of being on name might be unfold amongst fewer individuals as a result of the chance of them needing to be on-line is decrease.
The way in which that the on-call schedule works is that there are a number of specialised or senior members of the group who’re instantly positioned in all the on-call spots. Then we ask for volunteers from the remainder of the engineering group to be on-call all through the week.
Along with having of us on name, we additionally do a code freeze earlier than the tip of the yr. This merely means we cease delivery new code and making modifications to Buffer. The aim of that is to extend our confidence that issues will go easily for the engineers on-call and our Advocacy group.
A couple of questions from our neighborhood about closing down for every week
We reached out on social media to see what questions individuals had about closing down for every week, and we obtained a couple of good questions. Right here’s our response:
Do purchasers discover this irritating or ever complain?
We haven’t heard main complaints or frustration about this previously, and if ever issues haven’t gone as deliberate, we’ve adjusted our plan for the next yr. We be sure that to be very clear that we’re taking this time without work throughout our communication channels. We nonetheless have our Advocacy group spending a while on-line and might reply to something pressing.
Did this influence your backside line in any respect?
No, we deliberately select a sluggish time for us to be closed. So it’s the suitable time to take a break with none main influence. As well as, for the reason that Advocacy group remains to be monitoring for pressing buyer requests and the Engineering group is on name, we are able to nonetheless leap on any points that pop up, and our clients nonetheless have help.
I’d like to learn about the advantages your organization has seen and the way it positively impacts workers!
The most important profit we’ve seen from closing down for the vacations is that our group is extra rested and refreshed. It’s a singular alternative for everybody at Buffer to take a break, reasonably than it taking place in spots all year long. It means the vitality ranges within the first few weeks of the yr are all the time actually excessive for us. Taking this week off for all of us without delay additionally provides us a larger alternative to chill out as a result of nobody wants to consider initiatives which can be shifting ahead with out them or lacking out on group communication. In any case, we’re all offline. That is nice for us as a group, which interprets into being nice for our product and our clients.