I’ve been lucky that we have closed down for the final week of the 12 months 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 12 months is a chance to pause and recharge. It’s like a reset, besides throughout the entire firm. I like telling folks about this follow at Buffer as a result of they’ve so many questions on how we proceed to function whereas closing down for per week.
As we work with many small companies and creators who can generally battle with working over the vacations, it feels particularly vital to share how we’re going about this.
So on this publish, I’ll cowl what it means to shut down for per week as a enterprise whose clients are at all times utilizing it, why we do it, and particularly how our largest groups handle this day off whereas nonetheless caring for our product and our clients.
Let’s dive in!
What does it imply to shut down for per week?
On the finish of yearly, we shut down for the 12 months’s closing week. The precise definition of “closed down” varies from firm to firm – some companies will utterly shut down operations whereas others will solely shut specific sections of their enterprise.
This offers everybody on the firm some additional time to relaxation, and it creates an setting the place nobody is apprehensive about lacking out on tasks or updates whereas they’re offline as a result of we’re all offline. We’ve executed this type of factor earlier than, closing down for an additional lengthy weekend in the summertime, and it’s at all times been refreshing for our group.
Once I say that we’re closed, that implies that many 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 12 months can also be reliably gradual. So in contrast to another industries that will choose up over the vacations, we will lean into relaxation by closing the corporate throughout a naturally slower interval.
What does this appear to be in follow?
For many groups at Buffer, closing for the vacations means a full disconnect. Our two largest groups, Engineering and Buyer Advocacy need to create programs the place we will nonetheless serve our clients and guarantee Buffer is operational whereas additionally making house for added relaxation. So right here’s how Engineering and Advocacy deal with the week off.
How our Advocacy group handles per week closed
Our Advocacy group is a gaggle of absolute professionals who’re caring for our clients. This 12 months, they’ve helped resolve over 60,000 buyer assist requests with a median first response time of simply three hours.
Over time that we’ve got been closing, they’ve discovered the correct steadiness to make sure we will nonetheless assist clients whereas additionally giving our Advocates that additional relaxation.
To start out, we take steps to make this era seen to our clients. They publish a transparent message stating that we’re shut down for the vacations in all the principle channels the place we talk with clients. These embody a banner for people who find themselves in Buffer, an auto-reply to buyer assist e mail, a pinned tweet on our account, and a number of other different locations.
This 12 months, the message reads:
The Buffer group is observing an organization shut down between December 24 and January 1.
We’re nonetheless responding to buyer assist emails and messages however will take longer than regular to answer. We’ll get again to you as rapidly as we will. Completely satisfied Holidays!
For Advocates, we ask that every individual on the group works one full day or two half days in that interval. We have now 21 folks on the Advocacy group, and we’ll have two or extra folks on-line most days. We don’t at all times have folks 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 individuals are on-line with tips on how to prioritize their work and get again to clients, and tips for emergencies. (We have now these tips in place on a regular basis, nevertheless it’s at all times good to evaluate forward of the vacations.)
How our Engineering group handles per week closed
Much 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 to be like totally different as a result of they’re on name, that means they’re accessible if one thing breaks, relatively than totally on-line throughout this time. That implies that the load of being on name will be unfold amongst fewer folks as a result of the probability 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 top of the 12 months. This merely means we cease transport new code and making adjustments to Buffer. The objective of that is to extend our confidence that issues will go easily for the engineers on-call and our Advocacy group.
Just a few questions from our group about closing down for per week
We reached out on social media to see what questions folks had about closing down for per week, and we bought a number of good questions. Right here’s our response:
Do shoppers discover this irritating or ever complain?
We haven’t heard main complaints or frustration about this prior to now, and if ever issues haven’t gone as deliberate, we’ve adjusted our plan for the next 12 months. We make sure that to be very clear that we’re taking this day off throughout our communication channels. We nonetheless have our Advocacy group spending a while on-line and might reply to something pressing.
Did this affect your backside line in any respect?
No, we deliberately select a gradual time for us to be closed. So it’s the correct time to take a break with none main affect. 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 will nonetheless bounce on any points that pop up, and our clients nonetheless have assist.
I’d like to find out about the advantages your organization has seen and the way it positively impacts workers!
The largest profit we’ve seen from closing down for the vacations is that our group is extra rested and refreshed. It’s a novel alternative for everybody at Buffer to take a break, relatively than it occurring in spots all year long. It means the power ranges within the first few weeks of the 12 months are at all times actually excessive for us. Taking this week off for all of us directly additionally offers us a better alternative to calm down as a result of nobody wants to consider tasks which might be shifting ahead with out them or lacking out on group communication. In spite of everything, we’re all offline. That is nice for us as a group, which interprets into being nice for our product and our clients.
Do you are taking breaks from work or your small business, and if that’s the case, what’s your strategy? We’d love to listen to from you on Twitter or Discord.