This team said goodbye to a 'painful' holiday calendar system and are now making good use of Timetastic's handy features.
“Everyone gets a personalised avatar when they join us,” says Sammy Odenhoven, Development Team Lead, who is looking after us today. “After two months we’ll add in a Catchphrase-style quote once they’ve settled in.”
There’s much more to MyWallSt than funky pictures, though, so let’s explore what they’re all about. In essence the business is an investment advice service designed to give users a ‘market-beating portfolio’, and their offer includes an award-winning app. From the Stock of the Month to a team of experts ready to answer incoming questions, everything is geared towards providing a slick service that generates good returns.
A cosy office with a massive TV
With the world in lockdown to combat coronavirus, the MyWallSt office is rather quiet at the moment. When there isn’t an enormous pandemic going on, though, Sammy says it’s a “very cosy” place nestled between nice pubs and restaurants ready to tempt anyone in need of lunch or a drink or two.
“We've got several floors, so we've got a kitchen with some office-supplied food, like bagels, chocolate cookies and fruit. We've got a big living-room style room, with the biggest TV I've ever seen — we have all our weekly company meetings and standups there, and we use the screen to dial in everyone who works remotely.”
Ah yes, remote working. Amid the explosion in working from home, were the MyWallSt team ready to be banned from the office?
“We were already well setup for remote working as we have a few permanent remote workers, so this has been especially useful in these coronavirus times.”
What else do they get up to, then?
“We've got a few nice traditions, including a weekly quiz master who runs a 10-question quiz about any kind of topic after our weekly team meeting on Thursday,” Sammy says. “It's a nice way to tie up a content-heavy meeting with something light and usually funny. We also celebrate MyWallSt birthdays: every year an employee is with us at MyWallSt, we like to celebrate all of the hard work they’ve done. This is done during the team meeting, with either donuts or cupcakes and a few words from our COO John.”
What about an annual away day?
“We have an annual MyWallSt Day to celebrate our founding. It's filled with activities — typically an escape room and scavenger hunt through Dublin — plus nice food and drinks in the pub.”
Dealing with investments sounds stressful. What’s the work-life balance like?
“I think we strike a good balance here at MyWallSt. Everyone works hard, but we generally don't work overtime."
"We take the time to go on team events every few weeks, and we're very flexible on working remotely. Some of our team members have worked from Asia for a few months while traveling. And since we have a very international team with at least seven different nationalities, it's especially nice for people who want to travel home for longer than a weekend, but still want to work.”
Let’s talk time off
When it comes to taking time off, MyWallSt do a few things differently to the norm, including a policy for working on public holidays which many of us might be a bit jealous of.
Sammy says: “This policy allows people to work on certain public holidays, and get time in lieu. I think this a great feature, because it allows people to organise their free time better and decide for themselves if they want to have that day off, or save it for later in the year.”
What about normal time off, though?
Is this a team of leave-hoarders, or are they good at taking the time off they need?
Sammy says it’s “never a problem”, adding: “Holiday requests are practically never denied by managers, and equally team members use up pretty much all of their annual holiday allowance.”
Sounds healthy, but surely they need to block out certain parts of the year to get all hands on deck?
“Thankfully not,” Sammy says. “The work we do is quite continuous, and if there are specific deadlines we need to make, we know about them well enough in advance to plan around the availability there is, rather than have deadlines define our availability.”
“We do try to avoid having an entire team take time off at the same, but even if that happens we generally solve it by taking our laptop with us on holiday in case of an emergency, and planning ahead for the more continuous work, like writing articles in advance.”
From painful and messy to easy and integrated
Like many businesses, the team at MyWallSt were putting up with a less-than-ideal solution for handling annual leave bookings before discovering Timetastic. Sammy says:
“Before we started using Timetastic we used Google Calendar, and we had a very messy and painful process."
“We'd create an event in the calendar and invite everyone who needs to know about it to it. Allowances were calculated by counting the days in Google Calendar. But with Timetastic it's very easy to manage all sorts of different types of leave and the integrations we've got set up with Slack make it easy for everyone to be informed of the right things.”
What are their favourite features?
It seems everyone loves our Slack integration, but we’ve also added a feature to Timetastic that was requested by MyWallSt.
“Timetastic is well integrated into our company-wide workflow. We have different statuses for people's availability and we have Timetastic integrated into our Slack channels. Every morning at 09:00 we get an overview with that day's Timetastic statuses.
“From a personal point of view, I'm happy with the latest summary feature. I requested this feature because as a manager I felt it would be useful to get a summary of the coming week in my inbox on Sunday, so I know who's working when and how to plan meetings.”
“We’ve also brought in ‘focus days’,” Sammy continues. “The idea is that people take half a day, or even a full day, to spend focusing on a specific topic. They won't be available on Slack or for meetings unless it's very urgent, but they're still in the office. We manage these focus days in Timetastic as it helps with sprint planning, it’s important to know how much availability everyone has.
“We also look after ‘who works from where’ in Timetastic, a useful feature as we have a lot of remote workers — these statuses help us manage who is where and at what time."
And now it’s time to wave goodbye to the avatars that greeted us on our way in. While the office is off limits, these guys are still beavering away at home keeping thing going and helping people out during a particularly volatile time in the markets. Meanwhile, Timetastic is still working for them and keeping them informed of who’s available — after all, time off is just as important when you’re working from home.