MedStack: a Remote Company from Day One
March of 2020 saw a steep rise in both COVID-19 cases, and the number of companies that had switched to remote work for the first time in order to protect their employees. While life certainly changed in many ways for the MedStack team, one aspect didn’t- we had already been working remotely from the outset of the company.
How we Stay Connected
Working remotely has countless benefits, but one significant challenge is bonding with your colleagues. To counteract this, MedStack has a number of strategies that help us stay connected.
Every Monday, we report a pulse check on a dedicated Slack channel.
Red: What are you worried about or need help with?
Yellow: What are you focused on?
Green: What do you want to celebrate?
While these updates can be related to work, our team often uses them to catch up on what we did over the weekend and any life events we want to share.
MedStack uses a Slack application called Donut. Every two weeks, the application randomly matches two to three employees, who then book a 30-minute meeting to catch up and socialize.
Wednesdays at MedStack are a designated no-meeting day. This uninterrupted time boosts productivity and creates space for our team to work on tasks that require deep focus, or large chunks of time that would otherwise be punctuated with meetings.
Every other Thursday, the MedStack team gathers for a company-wide virtual lunch, paid for by the company. We order food, chat, and occasionally play virtual games. This lunch alternates between 12pm EST and 12pm PST to accommodate those in different time zones, as our team is spread across the country.
Every Friday afternoon we gather to wrap up our week and celebrate our accomplishments. We kick the meeting off with a minute of silent meditation to center ourselves and reflect. After the meditation is over, anyone in the company can opt in to share something they’ve been working on, a completed project, or an accomplishment. We love these meetings as they improve visibility between different teams and departments, and give us an opportunity to celebrate the work our team has done.
MedStack has a Slack channel dedicated to shoutouts. We use it as a tool to celebrate one another’s achievements, thank each other for help with projects, and generally boost morale.
How Our Team Works
A few of our team members volunteered to share their work setups, and some strategies they use to stay productive.
Business Development Representative based in Vancouver, BC
There are a number of ways Ruairi approaches working remotely. One aspect of our company culture he enjoys are the occasional “work-together days” where team members based in the same region meet up to break up the routine and keep things fresh and interesting.
He also believes in setting boundaries and setting working hours, including scheduling out-of-office blocks before and after each day, and pre-scheduling lunch hours so he doesn’t forget to take breaks to avoid burnout. He also starts each day by making a to-do list, and occasionally making the next day’s list at the end of the day. He also loosely schedules time for each task to ensure everything gets done.
Application Support Engineer based in Abbotsford, BC
Jot approaches his work by allocating monitors to different tasks. His vertical monitor usually has three windows on it, Terminal on the top, YouTube for playing music in the middle, and his calendar on the bottom. He dedicates his laptop screen to Slack to stay connected with the team, and the monitor above his laptop is where he keeps everything that is crucial for work, such as Zendesk, the MedStack Dashboard, and documentation. His leftmost monitor is reserved for research and metrics.
Customer Success Manager based in Peachland, BC
Harleen has a number of strategies she uses for her workdays. When she has to get through a lot of emails or requests, she listens to music to help keep her in the zone. Scheduling breaks is also important for Harleen, as when you’re in an office you naturally talk to people and move around, but at home it can be isolating/siloed work, so it is important to get out of your head and debrief once in a while.
Customer Success Manager based in Vancouver, BC
Madeleine starts each morning by writing out her to-do’s for the day so she has a rough outline of how her day will go. With that understanding, she is able to set up a daily schedule for herself where she creates “focus” blocks and “break” blocks. This not only keeps her accountable, but ensures she has a healthy day!
Account Executive based in Calgary, AB
Laura’s strategies for staying focused involve changes of scenery! If she’s having trouble concentrating, she goes outside or to a different room, or even to a nearby coffee shop to reset and refocus. If she feels she needs a break, she likes to spend some time outside by taking a walk. Laura also ensures she has healthy work-life boundaries by closing Slack outside of work hours, instead of just muting her notifications. This helps her approach each day refreshed and ready to go!
Learn Why We’re a Great Place to Work
In May, MedStack was officially certified as a Great Place to Work® after a thorough, independent analysis conducted by Great Place to Work Institute® Canada. To learn more, check out the Great Place to Work® announcement!