Great designs, rested minds — that's the Format way. Here's how Timetastic keeps things simple for a close-knit team who know the value of downtime.
In America there’s an annual event called Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. What happens is completely given away by its name, and its purpose is to immerse children in the world of work in a positive way. So, that’s all good then.
But maybe we’re overlooking something throughout the rest of the year.
In a chat with Jojo Alexandroff, Chief of Staff at online portfolio platform Format, she reminded us of the importance of bringing yourself to work.
“There are a lot of reasons our team members love working at Format, but being able to bring their true selves to work each and every day is at the top of the list,” she illustrates.
See, for many people, going to work involves putting on an act. For some it’s a means of survival to get them through the day, while for others there’s some strategy behind it — perhaps they want to make a good impression on certain people to boost their chances of progression.
And if your workplace has a strict dress code and a prescribed way that colleagues should conduct themselves, you’re already toeing the line before you’ve even entered the building. Hmph.
How does Format do things differently?
“We work hard but we also make time for fun,” Jojo says. “Whether it’s weekly team lunches, baseball games or relaxing on our rooftop patio on a sunny Friday afternoon, we genuinely enjoy each other’s company.”
They’ve also thought about their work environment, an often-overlooked piece of the happy-worker jigsaw.
“We work in a beautiful, natural-light-filled space. There are many desks, including standing desks, and many collaborative work areas. You can sit at our kitchen island, on comfortable couches or in a quiet phone booth to get your work done.”
Sounds lovely, but what if I want to work from home?
“We have a flexible work policy — we care about results, not face time.”
The power of Slack
They’ve found a good way of keeping in touch, too, with more emojis than you can shake a stick at.
“Much of our internal communication happens over Slack. We have over 1,200 custom emojis that we use to express ourselves — so even if you are out of the office, you are still aware of everything that’s going on.”
It’s clear at this point that the Format crew have found a good recipe for productive, happy workers — including office dogs Snapple and Andy. But what do they do, and where did it all begin?
The name of the game is building websites. Their focus is on creating beautiful and professional-looking templates that creative people can use to showcase their work with all the gloss and wow factor you’d hope for.
“Creativity is in our DNA,” Jojo says. “Our mission is to see creators showcase their passion online in the best possible light. We support them every step of the way with out-of-this-world customer support to make sure their website reflects their personal flair.”
"We want to make it easy for creatives to build their website, but give them carefully designed, stunning themes to showcase their work," Jojo adds.
You can see these beautiful portfolio website templates in action, and the Format team are always tinkering away at new designs in response to artists' needs. As well as relieving creators of the need to do any coding (though they can still do this if they really want to), the templates all have one thing in common — they look super slick while making sure the artist's work takes centre stage.
A gap in the market
The Format story started in 2008, when co-founder Lukas Dryja graduated from Ontario College of Art and Design University expecting to pursue a career as a designer. This ambition was quickly shelved when he noticed none of his friends had the tech skills required to create a portfolio website to showcase their creative work, and so Format was created in partnership with Amazon alumnus Tyler Rooney.
The team has expanded a fair bit since those early days, and as Format grew, the honour system for adding holiday bookings to a shared Google Calendar became ineffective. Absences overlapped and no one was tracking what was going on.
Remove fluff, add simplicity
Jojo says: “As we kept growing we realised that we needed to officially keep a record of when people were on vacation in order to plan projects and ensure that there weren’t too many overlapping absences. We looked at several software platforms to manage this, but they were all too clunky.”
“We didn’t need all the fluff. We wanted one simple and easy-to-use vacation system that integrated with Google Calendar. Timetastic was a no-brainer for us, its ease of use, simplicity and simple fee structure suited our needs perfectly.”
So, how does Timetastic fit in with Format's way of doing things?
“One of our core values here at Format is Simplify. Timetastic has done just that. I consider ‘no news is good news’ as a way to validate whether something is working for us and we have never had an issue with Timetastic."
"It’s been so easy to use from day one.”
Don't forget the downtime
It seems Timetastic has also helped the team stay chirpy. “It helps us encourage work-life balance,” Jojo says. “Managers can easily see when someone hasn’t taken a vacation in a while.”
“We know how important it is to take time off to rest and recharge.”
“Timetastic gives managers an overview of their team members’ vacation plans and can use it to encourage those who may not have taken time off in a while to get away and reset.”
And because Timetastic integrates nicely with apps like Slack, approvals are “easy peasy”, says Jojo. “We never need to get out of the programs where we do our work in order to give people the necessary time off.”
Meanwhile, sometimes simple pleasures can be the best. “Every day Timetastic lets us know who is on vacation. That means that we don’t unnecessarily message people who are off work—we want people who are on vacation to really be on vacation.”
We can tell there’s plenty of love for Timetastic at Format. Before we go, there’s one last question to ask Jojo. What would she say to someone considering Timetastic?
“It’s a no-brainer. It’s so easy to use and integrates with the programs that you are already on.”