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Posted by Slack

Flexibility and empathy help Chatbooks’ employees thrive

In Vancouver, Washington, Angel Brockbank, a customer support manager and mother of three, nestles into a massage chair in her living room to start her shift, while her dog stands outside barking at his shadow.

Megan Schultz, also in Vancouver, spends the morning accompanying her five-year-old on a field trip to the zoo before settling in later that afternoon to answer customer support tickets.

Over in Washington, DC; Brittany Clark slots in shifts between her nine-month-old’s naps. Both Schultz and Clark’s partners hold down part-time jobs as they work towards completing post-graduate programs this year.

“Compared to sitting in an office eight hours a day, I feel like I’m way more productive as a stay-at-home mom because I know my work time is limited,” says Clark over the phone, her infant cooing softly in the background.

This trio, and about 30 others like them, are part of a team of remote, part-time working moms who call themselves the Momforce — the nickname for the customer support group at a digital scrapbooking company called Chatbooks based in Provo, Utah.

Together, these moms reflect a rising proportion of America’s labor tapestry and increasingly one of its most vital. According to a 2014 report by the White House Council of Economic Advisers, “Without the gain [women’s labor force participation has] made since 1970, median family income would be $13,000 less today and our overall economy would be $2 trillion dollars smaller.”

Chatbooker in Chief Vanessa Quigley with daughter Isabelle

At the helm of Chatbooks are founders Nate and Vanessa Quigley. They launched the service two years ago while raising their family of seven. “In the beginning, when we were bootstrapping, Nate and I were answering support tickets on our phones, from our bed, late into the night,” says self-ascribed Chatbooker in Chief Vanessa Quigley. “We lived in Florida when we started this company and we were in the middle of moving. My friend there had just finished her term as PTA president. She had all the skills I wanted for a customer support lead: She’s smart, organized, and tactful.”

That friend, Tina Descovich, started pitching in occasionally from home to fill in the gaps. As demand grew, Angel Brockbank joined to help manage and grow the Momforce. “Some of our first employees were originally customers,” she recalls, “we would get emails from parents all the time asking if they could work for us. It made me realize how many new mothers are home raising young kids and have ambition to do more, but they have no idea how to do that while also tending to their children.”

The ability to work according to flexible, part-time schedules and from any location is something most moms on the Momforce can’t get at other workplaces.

Another thing they likely wouldn’t get is a boss who goes out and personally buys an office rocking chair to accommodate a team member returning from maternity leave with her newborn.

Brockbank notes that this example perfectly sums up Nate and Vanessa Quigleys’ attitude towards their employees. “They honestly believe that if we’re happy, our customers will be happy,” she says, “For me, I have to balance between being a friend and a leader to the team. I try to be more of a friend. It’s important to me to be close to each person so I know how they’re doing and how I can help them. I definitely have a policy, and this comes from the top down at this company, that your family and your kids always come first.”

Clark and Schultz agree that getting to know one another and caring for each other personally has deepened their commitment to the Momforce.

In the last two years, not a single member has left the team.

Their ties to the Momforce community have also helped cure them of social isolation, sometimes even providing solace through personal strife. “I was actually on hospital bed rest for four weeks before I had my little boy,” says Schultz. “Most people go crazy stuck in a hospital room, but I worked the whole time so I could talk with the other moms and feel a sense of normalcy. A lot of them actually sent packages to the hospital and cards and stuff like that. It was very sweet. It kept my spirits up.”

After a rocky start, Chatbooks gained popularity and in January of 2016 celebrated their one-millionth sale. The Quigleys attribute a large part of their success to the valiant Momforce. But in the time it’s taken to grow the business, they’ve learned an even more eye-opening lesson: what parents today need most are jobs that can adapt to their lives. Not the other way around.

“Before Nate and I launched Chatbooks, my idea of work life balance was: you go to work, then you come home and have your life,” says Quigley, “but we struggled because, as working parents, you don’t just come home and forget about work. There is no dividing line.”

Lima Al-Azzeh is the daughter of a wonderful working mom.

Inside a team built around working parents was originally published in Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

 

Read the responses to this story on Medium.

[syndicated profile] w3c_dpub_ig_feed

Posted by Ivan Herman

See minutes online for a more detailed record of the discussions. Part of the “minutes” took place on a Google Document that was live-edited collectively. See also the minutes of the separate meeting with the IDPF EPUB3.1 WG.

DPUB IG Discussion on Use Cases Document

The meeting was entirely concentrating on the refinement of the Use Case and Requirement Document. The goal was twofold:

  • Find a common structure for use cases. The structure of the [Annotation Use Cases[(https://www.w3.org/TR/dpub-annotation-uc/#tagging-a-publication) document may be the pattern to follow
  • Continue “filling in” some of the use cases that, at the moment, are only a one-sentence entry in the document. After discussion it was agreed that the “fundamental” issues on why several files are used, why there is a need for an extra information on the logical sequence of document, for a separate description of the content of a publication, of for the list of “essential” resources, etc.

The next meeting on the 4th of July will be cancelled, but that is followed, on the 7th of July, by another virtual F2F where further live editing should occur.

Separate meeting with the IDPF EPUB3.1 Working Group’s BFF Task Force

The current meeting was preceded by an ad-hoc meeting between the DPUB IG and the IDPF EPUB3.1 Working Group’s BFF Task Force. The latter is looking at what it would mean if an EPUB3 document was “exploded” on the Web and interpreted directly, how to make that option more palatable to browsers, authors, etc. There is a GitHub repository reflecting the current stage of discussions, concentrating on re-thinking the manifest for such an exploded EPUB3, as well as the usage of the various auxiliary files. Obviously, there is a lot of commonalities with the PWP goals and ideas.

The meeting concentrated on presenting the work so far, essentially around manifests, to participants. It was agreed that further meetings will be necessary, and that, eventually, the work should be merged into one to avoid duplication. This also means that the DPUB IG’s UCR document should also be critically assessed from the point of view of BFF in the future.

Words Are Power

Jun. 28th, 2016 04:39 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
BOOK REPORT for The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library #1) by Genevieve Cogman
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
At this very moment, thousands of librarians from all over the country are in Orlando, Florida for the Annual Conference of the American Library Association, attending panels and workshops and speeches and roundtable discussions, meeting authors and connecting with other librarians. But not every librarian can make it to every library conference, so if you’re reading this, you are very likely—just like me!—one of the few, the sad, the #alaleftbehind.

There's No Place Like Home

Jun. 24th, 2016 06:49 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
Back in 2009, Daniel Zalewski wrote in the New Yorker about the anxious, helicopter parents of contemporary children’s literature and their demanding, unruly children:

An easier way to get help using Slack

Jun. 23rd, 2016 05:05 pm
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Posted by Slack

Slackbot now has answers to your most common questions

You may recall your first encounter with Slackbot, the friendly virtual assistant that helped set up your account:

Now, Slackbot can also answer your basic questions about using Slack. The next time you need help — and would like to avoid interrupting a coworker or posting your question in a channel — ask your question in a direct message to @slackbot instead.

We’ve collected your most common questions, to which Slackbot will reply with the information you need. If Slackbot doesn’t know the answer to the particular question you’re asking, it will search through important words or phrases in your message and match them up with articles in our Help Center. If you’re not getting quite what you need, try reducing questions to just a few keywords.

Because Slackbot’s custom responses are limited to your Slack-related questions, it will get stumped by your most pressing inquiries:

(Keep in mind, in the world of bots, Slackbot is still very rudimentary. In fact, Slackbot would be the first to admit this — but only if “yes” had first been added as a custom response to the words, “Are you still very rudimentary?”)

It’s ok though — you can always browse our Help Center to look for any answers Slackbot can’t find.

Direct messages for (you)

Because of this change in how Slackbot works, it no longer functions as a private scratch pad. If you used Slackbot as a place to store messages to yourself, it’s advisable not to do this any longer as Slackbot will inevitably, chirpily reply that there is no clear answer for whatever it is you’re asking.

However, you can now send direct messages to yourself as a way to compose drafts, test /giphy, or tap out reminders. It’s the same thing you’ve been doing all along, just now in a different place.

Our Help Center article contains additional details about how Slackbot works. Feel free to send feedback or tweet us at @SlackHQ.


An easier way to get help using Slack was originally published in Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

 

Read the responses to this story on Medium.

There’s no “I” in crisis

Jun. 23rd, 2016 05:17 pm
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Posted by Slack

A physician-in-training on teamwork and trauma in the ER

Illustration by Alice Lee

When you’re a doctor, your signature scrawled at the bottom of a patient’s record assumes a lot of responsibility. It says that, no matter the outcome, you were responsible for making the final calls. This burden breeds two kinds of doctors: cautious and cowboy.

“Every attending [physician] measures risk differently. A really cautious attending will admit a patient to make sure they don’t have a heart attack a few hours later, but a cowboy doctor—which isn’t to say they’re reckless, just more assertive—will be quick to send someone home so we can serve more patients,” explains a bleary-eyed Matthew Rogers over video conference.

Now in his third year as an emergency department resident at Bellevue Hospital — a teaching hospital in New York and the largest public hospital in the United States — Rogers is in the midst of figuring out which kind of doctor he’s going to be. For now, he’s focused on learning how to lead a team, and make decisions, under a relentless firehose of pressure — a skill that takes anywhere between four to five years to fully develop.

“I’m lucky that right now I have a bit of a protective cushion with a senior resident and attending above me,” he says, “but I’ll probably be quite cautious my first year out as an official attending. Right now, I just keep thinking to myself: Okay, if I were the last person making this decision for this patient, what would I do? That’s when things start to feel really hairy.”

Fortunately, he’s got a few strategies under his belt.

Confidence (or at least the appearance of it) is key

Your confidence as a doctor has little to do with your ability to control your nerves under pressure, says Rogers. In fact, he says most ER staff tend to be fairly laid back. The real test is in your ability to command a team during the chaos of trauma.

In classroom simulations, Rogers struggles with juggling communications and corralling staff members during an emergency. “It’s a strange position to be in because on the one hand you’re still learning and on the other you have zero time to second-guess yourself,” he says, recalling one of his first simulations a few months ago. “Part of the role is speaking up and telling people to be quiet, people who are much more senior than you. That’s hard for me. I’m not used to telling people what to do all the time.”

Let everyone know who’s boss, literally

On the ER floor, the nature of shift work further complicates things. In a single eight, ten, or twelve hour shift, the entire emergency department staff can rotate multiple times. It’s not uncommon to have members on your team whom you’ve never met.

“Funnily enough, the most important thing you can do is announce yourself at the start,” says Rogers.

“There’s a lot of noise, you wouldn’t believe how loud it gets, all these people are talking over each other. I have to come in and make it clear that I’m running the trauma. My job is to orchestrate: delegate roles, update everyone on new developments and where we’re at, and keep side communication to a minimum.”

Share information early and often

In training, doctors learn early on that the best way to figure out the unknown is to start by stating your known facts. The first things to check for are the ABC’s: airway, breathing, and circulation. If Rogers isn’t positioned at the head of the bed, he’ll call out to whoever is there to find out the status of the patient’s ABCs. “That gets you into the first couple of minutes. Now everyone has some basic information to work with but, more importantly, I’ve bought myself some time to figure out what needs to happen next.”

As machines beep and carts clang, Rogers has to continue to rise above the din to keep everyone on the same page.

“It’s easy to get lost in where the team is at in the process. One nurse could be changing an IV here, another could be checking vitals. I have to constantly recap what’s happening. Even if we’re just a minute into it, I’ll say something like, ‘Okay, so just to recap where we’re at, this is a 30 year old man who got hit by a car. We have established that he’s breathing on his own. His leg is broken.’ There’s a million different dynamics and bits of information to process at the same time.”

This is what makes callbacks essential, something Rogers has been dinged for missing in past simulations: “Say I ask a nurse for the patient’s glucose level and she responds, ‘It was 72’, but it was too noisy to hear, if I don’t repeat, or call back, she’ll know I didn’t hear her.”

Get second opinions

Recapping events as they unfold, out loud, also helps to prevent one of the most fatal decision-making mistakes in the ER: Anchoring, a common cognitive bias that describes people’s tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information presented (the “anchor”) when making decisions, then basing all subsequent decisions on that information.

“There are times when you’ll be working off an initial diagnosis, then mid-way through you find out the patient had a stroke three days ago which can totally change your course of action,” says Rogers, “talking through the process out loud isn’t just about controlling the flow of information in the ER, it’s kind of an invitation to your teammates to provide their input, check your thinking, and make sure you’re not getting stuck on one idea.”

For all its challenges, it’s in these moments Rogers is grateful to have chosen the ER over other medical disciplines. “It’s not like up in surgery, where the attending is sort of the lord ruler and everyone’s just doing what they say. The ER is more democratic. Emergency is a team sport.”

Lima Al-Azzeh is grateful for the service of ER doctors.

There’s no “I” in crisis was originally published in Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

 

Read the responses to this story on Medium.

[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
If you’re a school or public librarian on the look-out for those picture books that equate to story-time gold, you can confidently add Daniel Bernstrom’s One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree, illustrated by Brendan Wenzel, to your collection. Released in May to a starred Kirkus review (“marvelous fun”), it’s a rhythmic original cumulative folktale, featuring a clever boy, one hungry snake, some delicious onomatopoeia, and one gloriously loud belch. As more than one reviewer has noted, there’s also an entertaining Kipling-esque vibe to the whole affair.  
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Posted by dcolenara

Today’s post comes from our Tumblr guru and Today’s Document lead, Darren Cole.

"Amending America" Tumblr Answer Time banner featuring Christine Blackerby and Jennifer Johnson

 Where are the aliens?”

“Did Nicholas Cage ever return the Declaration of Independence?”

“What’s the worst amendment ever proposed?”

tumblr_o731c4YGwU1ql14hlo1_500

Tumblr Answer Time bio picture and signatures for Christine and Jennifer

These are just a sampling of the questions recently put to National Archives curators during our inaugural “Answer Time” Q&A session on Tumblr.

On May 17, Tumblr users were invited to the National Archives Exhibits Tumblr to ask co-curators Christine Blackerby and Jennifer Johnson questions about the new “Amending America” exhibition.

Opened in March at the National Archives in Washington, DC, “Amending America” explores some of the 11,000 attempts to amend the Constitution.  It includes petitions, interactives, landmark documents, and political cartoons addressing issues including child labor, prayer in schools, free speech, suffrage, civil rights, and more.  The National Archives Exhibits Tumblr blog serves as a companion portal, sharing these items and others that couldn’t fit in the exhibit online.

tumblr several questions

The  live, online chat provided a great opportunity to engage with audiences about the mission and work of the National Archives. During the event, Christine and Jennifer fielded a variety of questions from Tumblr users, ranging from classic interests like exhibit design and the inner workings of the National Archives to the more niche topics of ‘craziest failed amendments’ and favorite sandwiches.

NARA's First Tumblr Answer Time

National Archives exhibit curators Christine Blackerby, Jennifer Johnson, and Alice Kamps confer on a question. (Photo by Jeff Reed, National Archives)

tumblr aliens question

The biggest challenge was keeping up with the steady deluge of questions.  By the end of the session, over 1,100 questions had been submitted.  Ultimately the hosts were able to respond to 32 questions over the course of the 2 hour event. The most popular topic? Queries about “aliens in the Archives” comprised over 11% of user submissions.

NARA's First Tumblr Answer Time

Some members of our Answer Time team: Darren Cole, IT Specialist; Hilary Parkinson, writer-editor; Cindy Sandoval, writer-editor;  Meredith Doviak, Digital Engagement Specialist; and exhibit curators Jennifer Johnson and Christine Blackerby. (Photo by Jeff Reed, National Archives)

Questions included the serious, silly, and speculative.  The most popular question asked whether the National Archives might hold records on the comic book character “Captain America.” While the subject may have been fictional, it was a great intro to more realistic archival topics, including military personnel records, declassification issues, and actual comic books in our records.

tumblr fighting american

Takeaways:

  • Preparation was essential.  Our curators had documents and images from the exhibit ready to go as needed.
  • Staying on top of the questions was exhausting.  Our team of six started reviewing questions that morning, only to see them gradually double over the course of the day.  Most fell into thematic groups so we tried to choose representative questions from each set.
  • Divide and conquer.  To make the session run smoothly, each member of our team had an assigned task.  Some questions were answered jointly by the curators but in general they assigned according to their specialty and interest.  A member of the communications staff then proofread and edited their draft answers.  Relevant images and links to relevant blog posts and pages on archives.gov were added to the answers by the Web & Social Media staff and finally queued up for posting.
  • Keep it fun. Don’t avoid the silly or lighthearted questions. They’re still a great opportunity to engage with users and add some levity to the conversation.

    NARA's First Tumblr Answer Time

    Darren Cole, IT Specialist; Christine Blackerby, exhibit curator; Jennifer Johnson, exhibit curator; and Hilary Parkinson, writer-editor. (Photo by Jeff Reed, National Archives)

See the complete thread of questions and answers at:
http://usnatarchivesexhibits.tumblr.com/tagged/AnswerTime/chrono

Catch our next AnswerTime on July 1 when you can send your questions to Archivist of the United States David Ferriero at http://aotus.tumblr.com/ !

Click, done.

Jun. 20th, 2016 10:45 pm
[syndicated profile] slack_feed

Posted by Slack

Do more of your work from Slack

Imagine getting an expense report in Slack and simply tapping Approve or Deny to change its status. Instead of having to search your inbox or open three new browser tabs, you’d be able to complete your task straight from Slack and move on to what’s next.

Now you can do just that in Slack with Message Buttons. These buttons make Slack the place where you can click one button to get your work done, whether that’s posting a tweet, approving a new job posting, or filing your expense report.

The first dozen apps have already added Message Buttons, and with over 500 apps now available in the Slack App Directory, more interactive integrations are to come.

Here are some ways you can put Message Buttons to use:

File your expenses with Abacus

With Abacus, employees can upload receipts and submit expenses that their managers can then review and approve.

Approve new hires with Greenhouse

Recruiting teams who use Greenhouse can get hiring manager approval for new job postings and candidate offer letters.

Manage your Trello projects

Move projects in Trello forward by assigning due dates, categorizing tasks, and linking conversations from a Slack channel to a Trello card.

To start using Message Buttons today with your Slack team, install one of the apps above or try out Current, Kayak, Kip, Kyber, PagerDuty, Qualtrics, Riffsy, Talkdesk, and Talkus.

If you’re a developer interested in adding message buttons to your app, check out the Slack Developer Blog post.


Click, done. was originally published in Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

 

Read the responses to this story on Medium.

On A Fraught Word

Jun. 21st, 2016 04:28 pm
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(This is a blog post specifically aimed at people who aren't in or from the United States and who have conversations with people from the US, especially online. Also, content note: I explain what lynching is and why it's a bad idea to joke about it, with examples.)

Sometimes when people are joking about vigilante justice, they might use the word "lynch," like "we ought to lynch so-and-so," and think it is a harmless and hyperbolic way of saying "we ought to punish them". As a person who likely (if you are reading this blog) cares about inclusivity and social justice, you probably should not use this term in this way. While some people certainly think it has that generic and benign meaning, in the US (the country whose history I know best), it mostly means white people getting together in mobs to kill black people -- for succeeding, for daring to buy houses or vote, or simply for anything deemed unacceptable by those angry racist mobs. It very rarely still happens here, but it was a more common occurrence not so long ago, such that the history and ramifications of this particular form of race-based terrorism are still very present in the American conscience.

In the summer of 1955, Emmett Till, a 14 year old black boy from Chicago, was spending the summer with family members in Mississippi, when he was suddenly accused of breaking the South's unwritten rules of interracial conduct by catcalling a white woman. He was abruptly apprehended by an angry white mob, tortured, and lynched. His mother asked for him to have an open-casket funeral, so people could see the extent of the battering and butchery, and newspapers around the country published the photos. This raised the consciousness of Americans across the nation and helped to spur the movement for civil rights in the United States.

More recently: in the 1990s, for the first time, a black man (Clarence Thomas) was appointed to be a US Supreme Court justice. Anita Hill, an accomplished black female lawyer and Thomas's former employee, came forward and publicly stated that he had sexually harassed her. This accusation, and the subsequent televised judicial hearings, were a watershed moment that brought the issue of workplace sexual harassment into widespread national debate. Thomas responded to the accusations by calling them "a high-tech lynching". Hill was alternately applauded and attacked; however, the hearings ultimately proved no obstacle for Thomas, as the legislature went on to confirm his appointment. Twenty-five years later, Justice Thomas still sits on the US Supreme Court.

I know the basic facts above from memory, and those of us who were raised in the USA basically know much of this stuff by heart as part of the history of hate crimes. So that's the kind of shit that we are reminded of when someone jokes about lynching, and why you probably just shouldn't do it around us.

(Thanks to Camille Acey for suggesting revisions that improved this piece. And thanks to the white person I spoke with on this point in private conversation; I adapted that conversation into this post.)

[syndicated profile] w3c_dpub_ig_feed

Posted by Ivan Herman

See minutes online for a more detailed record of the discussions. (The headers below link into the relevant sections of the minutes.)

Bridging with the CSS WG

This was a continuation of the discussion from last week on how to bridge with the CSS WG better. What was agreed is that there should be more active contacts with (a) reading system developers who hit the major issues themselves and are major part of the ecosystem and (b) with technical people in e-publication production who may hit issues that they have to circumvent with special code (possibly polyfills). It would also be important to find out how the features defined in XSL-FO are currently used in publishing and what difficulties are hit when those are mapped onto CSS. Two actions are planned

  1. organize a meeting with the major Reading System developers, like Google Play, iBooks, Readium, AER.IO, Bluefire, etc, to collect their input
  2. set up a (wiki) page to collect the XSL-FO experiences (eg, from Antenna House, Prince, etc) that should be mapped on CSS and what difficulties they hit

It was emphasized that real business cases are needed; an experimental implementation in a not-widely-used platform will not be convincing enough for browser manufacturers…

Use Cases’ Document Structure and Editing

The discussion (also in preparation to the upcoming Virtual F2F) was mainly on how to structure the current use case document. The example of the use cases of the archival task force was mentioned, although it was felt that the structure in that document is a little bit too complex (and also related to some sort of a workflow), so it should be somewhere in between. Also, some real “story” should be added around the individual use cases, which are often just a one sentence. It was therefore agreed that, for example in section 2.7 of the document we should all add a story around 1-2 case, and then organize the document accordingly.

What are also missing for a proper organization are

  • succinct definitions of the requirements that are referred to from the use cases
  • prioritization of the requirements

It was also noted that some requirements are mutually contradictory; these should be at least called out and, possibly, discussed and decided upon. (Part of this may be the subject of the Virtual F2F.)

Sealing the sale with Slack

Jun. 17th, 2016 05:22 pm
[syndicated profile] slack_feed

Posted by Slack

How Deighton Mckenzie real estate agents use Slack to provide better service to home sellers

The Sunday Times Estate Agents of the Year awards ceremony is known by some as the “Property Oscars”. It’s a glitzy annual event where magnates from top-named real estate firms in the UK go to claim accolades, suss out the competition, and maybe learn some new tricks of the trade.

In attendance was Craig Ferguson. Ferguson isn’t new to the real estate game, but he is a fan of doing things differently. An estate agent for the last decade, in 2015 he struck out on his own to launch Deighton Mckenzie Estate Agents, an independent real estate agency serving the small East Midlands market town of Ashby de la Zouch, UK, population: 13,000.

“There we were, surrounded by all these quite successful people in our industry. Lots of big firms that have been around a long time and have a lot of agents,” says Ferguson, “so you can imagine everyone’s surprise when the Gold Award for ‘Best Innovation’ came around and, out of all these well-known firms, it was my associate Oliver [Wright] and I who won.”

They won because they’re using Slack to turn the real estate process on its head.

People before property

For the last ten years, Ferguson’s watched countless people struggle through the long, trying process of selling their homes—a situation already fraught with tension and often exacerbated by spotty communications (missed phone calls, lost documents, buried emails) between home sellers and their agents.

When he opened Deighton Mckenzie, he was adamant about providing better service through better communication.

“The whole point of using Slack with home sellers is so that they can become part of the team,” says Ferguson.

Ferguson and his associate Oliver Wright had already been using Slack to send messages and share documents while out of the office. They had an inkling they might be able to use Slack to keep in touch with home sellers more frequently throughout the sales process, so they started testing it with a few clients.

To preserve their clients’ privacy, and keep conversations organized, they named channels according to each property (#1500-Madison, for example) and invited clients as single-channel guests.

With combined access to all these channels, Ferguson and Wright could work better as a team to answer questions, offer instant updates about buyer interest, and generally be more responsive; something that comes in especially handy at the most critical juncture: the sale.

“I was in the office, Wright was at a home viewing, and our client was in Blackburn,” says Ferguson. “We jumped into Slack and talked through a final negotiation offer, settling it right then and there.”

Over the past year, the dynamic duo have sold more than 30 properties with Slack. Ferguson provided a few reasons why he sees this system working well for other agents:

  • It’s transparent, so clients have more visibility on sales progression and can get responses to their questions faster.
  • Having an archive of messages means you have a full audit trail of the dates and times of every scheduled property viewing for future record.
  • You can invite more than one home seller into a channel (a couple, for instance) so everyone can play an active part in the sales process, be more engaged, and make decisions faster.
  • The ability to upload documents (like legal contracts and identification) into one easily accessible place.
  • It decreases agent’s phone time, allowing them to be more attentive to their roster of clients and freeing up more time to pursue new business opportunities.

Not to mention, they’re saving a lot of paper (a lot).

Ferguson and Wright recently struck up an #ideas channel where they post photos of interesting properties they encounter on their commutes. Later, they’ll follow up with the property owner or developer about potential partnership opportunities.

When broaching the topic of using Slack with prospective clients, Ferguson says most people aren’t put off by the idea of using “another app”, as long as it facilitates a less frustrating experience and a speedier sale.

“We’ve got home sellers now who are selling their second house with us because they’ve been so impressed with the service,” says Ferguson.

There you have it. A team in an age-old industry using modern means to deliver great service, the good old fashioned way.

Lima Al-Azzeh really enjoys saying “Ashby de la Zouch”.

Sealing the sale with Slack was originally published in Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

 

Read the responses to this story on Medium.

Inside Looking Out

Jun. 17th, 2016 06:02 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
For most of the country, school has let out or is about to do so.  You’ll have to forgive me for writing today about a picture book that is centered on the first day of school, but it’s about to see its release in a couple of weeks. Why it’s being released now, and not near the beginning of the school year, is beyond me, but I’m sure publishers have their reasons.

Facing the Truth

Jun. 16th, 2016 07:31 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
The fish flops in my hand, and my heart speeds up. I’m not afraid of the ice anymore; I’m afraid of the wishing. Before, when I wished for confidence on the frozen lake, I never thought I’d get it. Since I did, the wishing is different. This time, I know I may get what I’m asking for—or something that sounds like it, anyway. I can’t help worrying I’ll ask for the wrong thing.

The Slack Workspace Manifesto

Jun. 15th, 2016 05:30 pm
[syndicated profile] slack_feed

Posted by Slack

Facility Manager Joe Gentel shares his team’s approach to designing humane spaces

Desk shmesk (is the feeling for some in Slack’s San Francisco office)

At Slack, we’ve directly applied our company’s values to how we go about creating productive and welcoming workspaces. Employees have been a major influence on how we plan and design our offices, and those of us on the facilities team have done our best to make people feel comfortable offering suggestions about what they want their work areas to be.

Last fall, we held a panel discussion on what changes people would like to see happen. The suggestions were compiled by our director of global facilities, Deano Roberts, and written into an internal document we call the Slack Workspace Manifesto.

A common mistake of office design stems from the designers and stakeholders crafting a space based on their personal preferences. You may have a specific type of space that works best for you, but that hardly means it works best for everyone.

You’ll see below that as a result of gathering input from Slack employees, we have a set of principles that reflects employees’ preferences—for example, locating offices near public transit, and building a mix of communal and private spaces into an open floor plan.

Small meeting rooms and open common spaces

Hence this manifesto exists not only as an expression of Slack’s workspace design principles, but as an expression of our overall culture and values.

Slack Workspace Manifesto

  • We shall not have offices larger than 150-ish people when possible
  • We shall always locate offices within reasonable walking distance from public transportation
  • We shall avoid locating offices in dedicated tech hubs that limit the diversity of and influences on our community
  • We shall have an open floor plan with easy access to many individual quiet spaces
  • We shall encourage development in emerging and underserved communities
  • We shall leverage in-house and local designers and artists to make each office reflective of Slack’s mission and the local community
  • We shall encourage space redesign updates every 18–24 months to incorporate ideas from new employees and cues from our evolving culture
  • We shall develop spaces at Slack that are public facing and allow for regular public interaction
  • All employees should have safety and security at work with limited impediments to office flow, as well as safety in getting to and from the office

The Slack Workspace Manifesto is a set of ideals, many of which will take a lot of work and discussion to achieve. In the coming months, we plan to write more about some of these specific goals and share the values, conversations, and challenges behind them.

Slack’s Vancouver office and its “rolling rooms”

In the meantime, we’re curious to hear how you structure and think about your own workspace planning and design. Feel free to leave us a note below or tweet us @slackhq.

Joe Gentel is most likely drinking coffee.

The Slack Workspace Manifesto was originally published in Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

 

Read the responses to this story on Medium.

Joe Jiménez

Jun. 14th, 2016 07:23 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
Aficionados and budding fans of poetry alike should ready themselves to embrace the exquisite lyricism in Joe Jiménez’s debut teen novel, Bloodline. Words are wound and wrapped and married in a delicate weave that belies the story’s underlying tragedy.
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