Tech Leader Chats: How to keep teams engaged while working remotely with Sabeen Syed

Title of talk and speaker photo

Whatever anyone says, remote work is here to stay – so how can we keep teams engaged while working remotely? More importantly, how can we build high-trust teams even when we're distributed across timezones and rarely see each other in person?

To learn how to do this. we heard from Sabeen Syed (VP of engineering at Ockam, previously Director of Engineering at HashiCorp). Remote work makes it both harder and more important to build a good team culture. Sabeen has seen that building trust and psychological safety is a key part of overcoming the challenges of remote work, and she's putting those principles into practice now with managing a remote team at Ockam. She shared what she's learned about how to keep team members happy and humming along.

About Sabeen

Sabeen Syed is passionate about building happy, healthy teams that are productive and progressing towards their goals. She has worked in the Engineering field for ~17 years, when she landed in an Engineering Leadership role is when she truly found her calling and has never looked back since. She is a lifelong learner and enjoys sharing her experiences with others as well.

Sabeen has 4 kids and a husband, which means she has no free time 🙂. She used to really love playing board games and is hoping that she'll get to play with her kids soon!

How to keep teams engaged while working remotely

See below for:

  • Key takeaways from Sabeen's talk
  • The slides & recording from Sabeen's session
  • A transcript of the discussion

Key takeaways

Recording and Slides

You can view the slides from Sabeen's talk here – and see below for the full recording.


[00:00:00] Lauren Peate: CEO and founder of Multitudes. Thank you, Brooke. Sweet. So can you start the recording? So, yes. Hello, I'm Lauren, I'm the CEO and Founder of Multitudes. We do engineering metrics, but without the creepiness and this Tech Leader Chats community, our bigger goal here was to create a space where engineering leaders could learn and grow together and to do it in a community that cares about diversity, equity and inclusion.

[00:00:21] Lauren Peate: So it's not necessarily the focus of all of our topics, but, as people coming here, one we've all agreed to the code of conduct and to treat each other respectfully. And we're also people that know that. This, the equity and inclusion work is part of building effective teams. So that was the vision for this community.

[00:00:39] Lauren Peate: And we're super excited to be hearing today from Sabeen. Everyone that we brought in as a speaker, we, we bring in people that have been highly recommended to us and something really unique that time with Sabeen. So we already knew we already had team members that had worked with her that said, hey, she's amazing at this, have her come talk.

[00:00:55] Lauren Peate: But then the other thing that happened was as we were going out and telling people as about this event, other people who heard about it proactively came to me and said, hey, yes, Sabeen is really great. You're so lucky that she's coming in to speak. So, yeah, just super excited, so grateful that you're sharing your time and your insights with us.

[00:01:12] Lauren Peate: And to share a little bit, I'll do a little bit of the bio about Sabeen and then hand it over to you. So I mean, amazing person to speak about this. She's been leading engineering teams, both as a director of engineering at HashiCorp. Now running the engineering team at Ockam both with very globally distributed teams.

[00:01:29] Lauren Peate: And she's also someone who cares deeply about, about building both happy and healthy. And then on the, the personal side, we always love sharing some of the human side. She's got four kids and a husband, so she mentions that she's got no free time but loves playing board games, which we at the Multitudes team can very much resonate with.

[00:01:45] Lauren Peate: So that, let me hand it over to you, Sabeen. 

[00:01:48] Sabeen Syed: Cool. All right. Thank you. Thank you so much for that intro Lauren. I appreciate it. I'm super excited. So we're excited to talk to you all. And also in the breakout sessions to get to know y'all better and have some good conversations there. So let me share with you all some fancy slides that I made.

[00:02:07] Sabeen Syed: And let me just go ahead and set up and get into presenter mode. And thank you, Vivek, for showing me how to get into this mode and not show you all my tabs. I'm one of those people I have embraced the tabs. So I've got like, I mean, this is pretty good for, for me or this amount of tabs that y'all just saw.

[00:02:26] Sabeen Syed: It's pretty good. It's it gets pretty bad at times, but. All right. So I'm gonna talk to y'all today about team engagement on remote teams. Just an intro, a little bit of intro to myself. As Lauren said, my name is Saab Sayan. I'm currently the VP of engineering at Ockam. Ockam is a company that builds developer tools in the security space.

[00:02:49] Sabeen Syed: We are currently remote as well as global. We are also open source. We just released our cloud service that we're super excited about called Ockam orchestrator. We're also hiring we, lot of, we have a lot of engineering racks, open solutions, engineered racks and product racks. So if you're interested, we would love to talk to you.

[00:03:10] Sabeen Syed: All right. Okay. Enough about the shameless plug there. Let's get into a little bit more about just my experience and just building on what Lauren was saying. So yeah, so Ockam is fully remote and global all over the world. We hire folks from, from pretty much anywhere. Before Ockam, I was working at HashiCorp.

[00:03:27] Sabeen Syed: HashiCorp is fully remote. It has been fully remote from its inception, therefore pre pandemic. And there was a lot of learning on my side around how to build environments that are that are autonomous and where people can work AYQ as. Before HashiCorp, I worked out Rackspace.

[00:03:45] Sabeen Syed: Rackspace was a hybrid environment. We had some people who would go on site. Some people who would work from fully remote. Some people like me who would kind of do half, half. And then we also had a multiple number of office locations. So one was in Austin, Texas where I live. And then there's one in San Antonio, Texas.

[00:04:04] Sabeen Syed: Where the headquarters were. And then I think there's one in San Francisco as well. So basically I've had a lot of experience working with different types of remote teams, some hybrid, some fully remote, some global. So that's been super fun, lots of learning there. And I'm happy to share some of that with y'all today.

[00:04:21] Sabeen Syed: One thing to know about me is my ultimate goal is to build happy, healthy, productive teams. You'll see that kind of underlining everything that I'm gonna talk to y'all about today. So, all right. Okay. Let's start off with a, the throwback. So I'd like y'all to think about when, or what was the ideal engineering environment that you have worked in?

[00:04:48] Sabeen Syed: What was that like? Did you have a good relationship with your manager? Did you have a good relationship with your peers? Were folks just more personable? Did you have open, transparent communication? Was it a safe space where you felt like you could voice your opinion? You could ask questions, you can challenge each other in a positive way.

[00:05:09] Sabeen Syed: Did you feel respected? Did you feel like you were advancing in your career? I could ask you a whole ton of these questions. And I feel like we could totally like riff on this and what that environment could look like. One thing that I wanna point out is that whenever I ask this question the, the base line of all of the answers is an environment that's built on trust.

[00:05:32] Sabeen Syed: Good relationships come out of that. Open, transparent communication comes out of that. Respect comes out of that foundation of trust. So that is basically what the focus of my topic is gonna be. So that's gonna be team engagement through building trust. And there's gonna be five factors that I'm gonna talk to y'all about.

[00:05:55] Sabeen Syed: You see the slide here and it has five little rocks on it. Those are not the ones that I'm gonna talk to y'all about it today. That was just like a nice little image that I found, you know, on the Googles. And I, I was like, that's nice. Has a baseline of trust anyway, so that's the, the main thing that I want y'all to walk away with from this particular slide is that everything is, has an underlying factor of building trust.

[00:06:17] Sabeen Syed: And another thing that I want y'all to know before I really get into everything is that this content is pretty dense. I will try my best to keep it within a decent amount of time. So like the 20, 25 minutes. And I will share this information or I'll put the slides up somewhere so that y'all can get it and y'all can go through it later.

[00:06:35] Sabeen Syed: If that is something that you're interested in. All right. So first thing that first of the five that I wanted to start out with was one of the core avenues of building trust. And that is through your one on ones. This is your time as leaders to get to know your team members, understand what they like to do, what they wanna improve, what they're struggling with and overall who they are as people.

[00:07:01] Sabeen Syed: I truly believe if you use your one-on-ones well it's a great avenue to, to build that foundation and that connection with your team members. The way that I like to gauge if my one-on-ones are going well, is basically through this tweet from SHS Doshi he's a product manager that has worked at many companies.

[00:07:21] Sabeen Syed: So, okay. He, so he says there's two tests that can reveal a lot about your relationship with your manager. Number one, do you usually look forward to your one on ones with them? Or do you dread them at the end of a one on one? Do you feel more energetic than when you started the same or less? And I feel like this is actually, honestly, I haven't done it till yet, and I wanna do that, but I wanna create like an autonomous survey, send that to my team members at some regular intervals to get that feedback.

[00:07:49] Sabeen Syed: Cuz I feel like this is super important. I feel like when you do things where. Your team members are looking forward you know, to talking with you and feeling more energetic after they left on one, on one, I feel like that's a great way to know that. Yes, you are building that trust with your team members.

[00:08:05] Sabeen Syed: All right. So the goals of your one-on-ones building trust is the first one some of the hows around that is, or that I like to do. And that has helped me a lot is ask your team members about their morale, ask how they are doing as people. I like to do a one to five scale as well. One meaning, you know, life is not going.

[00:08:26] Sabeen Syed: You know, happy. You're not a happy camper. Five is, you know, everything is rainbows and unicorns. And that really helps to, to set the stage and to have that conversation of what's going well, what's not going well, how can I make things better? And then asking them, what is top of mind for them? You know, what do they wanna talk about?

[00:08:42] Sabeen Syed: Giving them that opportunity to be able to take that one on one and. And to bring up things that are going on, you know, on their side. And then the third one, like I mentioned before, motivating your team members super important, know their strengths, use positive reinforcement for all the parents out there.

[00:09:00] Sabeen Syed: I feel like we've heard positive reinforcement a number of times I think it's super, super important and Yeah, I, I, I love receiving that myself. And then the other thing is ask for their feedback. And this is really important again, to building that trust and example of this is I just started retros at Ockam and I wanted to know, you know, how they're going.

[00:09:21] Sabeen Syed: And I, I feel like when I ask my team members on a one-on-one basis, it's. It's letting them know that I value their opinion and I want to gain their insight about how things are going. All right. And then after that career advance advancement is the second goal of one on ones or that has helped me in the past.

[00:09:42] Sabeen Syed: And in this case is no. And talk about their career goals and begin to create a path for them and continue to touch base. And we'll talk a little bit more about that. In a couple of the next points, all. Getting to point number two. And that is setting expectations. So set expectations with the folks that report to you, your peers, as well as your upper management.

[00:10:02] Sabeen Syed: This enables you to set the guidelines. To make sure that trust doesn't break later, if that makes sense. You are basically having those discussions, making sure that you know, this is what I expect from you or what you expect from me and making sure, you know, we talk about it and we see what makes sense.

[00:10:23] Sabeen Syed: And it gives you more of that understanding of what somebody else is doing. And then also they get an understanding of what you are doing. All right. So I'll give you an example here of in the past, when I was transitioning to a new team and this was, I was transitioning into it as a manager. I had one individual on the team who had mentioned that they wanted to become team lead.

[00:10:45] Sabeen Syed: Unfortunately we never spoke about it again until I let them know that somebody else was becoming the team lead. And oh boy, like the difficult conversations that ensued the emotional conversations that that happened. And. Just the effect on, you know, myself and them, of course you know, peers and, and managers and things like that.

[00:11:07] Sabeen Syed: It was no fun. And I felt like a big reason was because. Ex I failed to set expectations correctly and have those conversations more importantly about what the expectations are of a team lead. How do we decide who becomes a team lead? You know, what are the responsibilities and, and everything else like that?

[00:11:24] Sabeen Syed: So I have learned my lesson. Ever since then, and this is me sharing it with y'all alright. Some action items that I recommend for folks is number one, study your career matrix or your career ladder. You it just helps everyone if you know, and understand and can articulate what things like a large project means, you know, in your career matrix, if that is a verbiage that you use, but generally in career matrixes or career ladders, there's some verbiage that's used.

[00:11:54] Sabeen Syed: Objective. So making sure that you can explain it to others, what that means. I think it's super, super important. And then yeah, have alongside this, having an idea about what is important to the company so that you can articulate that as well, when you're having those type of conversations. The second is scheduling a quarterly or any cadence that makes sense for your company, a sync with each team member that you have to go over the career ladder that, you know, generally what I like to do is I like to talk about at their current level where they're at and the next level, what does that look like?

[00:12:25] Sabeen Syed: So they have a good understanding of, you know, things to concentrate on next and things like that. You can also create like a, a proper career path of things that they can do, especially when they're coming on the. Okay. Third is communicate early and often this one, we all know, I feel like this is not a surprise for, to anybody.

[00:12:45] Sabeen Syed: But I think it's a great reminder. And I also feel like this graphic here explains really well of, you know, most people's communications here and what people think. Too much is this amount and what actual good communication looks like. And so basically that means repetition. I have heard or I have read but don't quote me on this is that it takes approximately seven times for you to repeat something, to make sure that everyone has heard it slash begun to absorb it.

[00:13:20] Sabeen Syed: So that retention just highly re. Keep going and especially the more important a particular message is, say it over and over again. An example here is suppose you create another team and you need to, you know, form another team for whatever reason for your company to grow, you have a new product maybe that you're gonna start or some infrastructure space that, that you need to.

[00:13:45] Sabeen Syed: Make sure that folks know the whys behind it, what the responsibilities are and continue to repeat it. I, that, that repetition just really makes sure that people have absorbed it. And also one thing that I recommend is to use the different tools at your disposal. So things, both verbal and written so slack or whatever, you know, chat, communication tool you use, you know, use that zoom if that's what you use email, or if it's.

[00:14:11] Sabeen Syed: Customer related articles or podcasts and things like that have been super helpful. Alright. And then communicate early and often all. So another, this is sorry, this is super dense. I will try and just to summarize it here. So like I said if you have an important message create a plan of how you'd like your team members to absorb it.

[00:14:30] Sabeen Syed: So, especially if there's something changing and if it's like a companywide organization wide message that you wanna get, think about how you would want to present that information, you know? Avoiding of course, you know, you can present it in all hands, but then that, that repetition is really important afterwards.

[00:14:47] Sabeen Syed: And then the second one that I feel like is really important, especially as your organization grows, is make sure that your team members have an avenue to talk to you. And not just You know. Oh, okay. Yeah. I'm always available on slack. That's great. But nobody's gonna reach out to you or at least very few people will reach out to you.

[00:15:06] Sabeen Syed: So setting up those regular office hours or setting up one on ones, if you can do that or until you can do that, I think is wonderful. And that communication and feedback that comes through it I think has profound effects. Three and four is more like letting your organization know what you're working on, I think is really important.

[00:15:26] Sabeen Syed: I actually just set up daily bot at Ockam and it's great. And that's basically what it is, is like virtual standup. So you know, every day you're asked, like the three agile questions, what did you do yesterday? What are you planning on doing today? Do you have any blockers? And that's something that I find really important to do myself as well, so that folks know what I'm working on and.

[00:15:45] Sabeen Syed: That transparency just really helps to build that trust. Number four, this is more of a product side of the house. But something that I've seen profound effects on, where whenever you have customers begin to use your product. Tell people why they're using your product, what is their, you know, what is their situation, scenario, use case all of that jazz.

[00:16:07] Sabeen Syed: And even if there are potential customers who did not choose to use your product, why is that? Number five, I feel like that can be like a whole separate conversation is vulnerability. And you yourself taking the, the torch and being vulnerable. And that means things like if you're not doing good and if you have days where you're like, ah, man, I'm, I'm just not feeling it.

[00:16:30] Sabeen Syed: It's okay to let your team members know and just be like, Hey, I need a couple hours off. I'm gonna go chill out, relax. Or, you know, if my, my family's sick or something like that, it's fine. Like, let, let people know, you know model that environment of open communication and, and transparency. All right.

[00:16:48] Sabeen Syed: So number four, this is this is my favorite one. Out of all of these I feel like without empathy and kindness I really don't know how a, an environment of trust or engagement can be created. I really believe that this is the backbone. To creating long lasting trust. And when you have an environment of kindness, the safety that emerges from that, the conversations that take place, instead of people hesitating to speak up the morale, boost the wanting to learn the wanting to share.

[00:17:19] Sabeen Syed: Is just really profound on your company and on the, the, the product or the outcome that you are working on. Alright. So in the past, I'll tell you a little story about in the past and where, where I felt like this was kind of a big game changer and a realization for me of kindness.

[00:17:39] Sabeen Syed: So I. I have, I, I started out my career working as an engineer. And I did that for like what, like almost 10 years or so. And generally, and I worked in bigger companies. So so I'll just say that first and, and not to, not to say anything bad about them, big companies are great but when I was working out those companies, the, the more senior engineers and I think we've probably all had a form of this some way or the other, but they weren't really.

[00:18:06] Sabeen Syed: Conducive to like asking questions. There's many times where I would ask a question, somebody would like roll their eyes, give me a half answer. Or, and it was just something where it became where asking a question to a senior member of, of the team was tough. And. I actually, I started at another company and I had to give a talk at a conference.

[00:18:28] Sabeen Syed: And this was like, I was six months into the company. And this particular talk was a a technical talk and I had understood like the high level and, and all of that, but I needed some more information and details and things like that. And I was like, okay, well, you know, I knew that my senior engineer, that one, the most senior engineer, like they knew the, you know, the topic that I wanted to talk about.

[00:18:49] Sabeen Syed: They need that in detail. So I, I messaged them and I was like, Hey, you know, can I, can I just book some time with you? I'd like to understand more about this and gave them the whole context and everything. And they were like, yeah, sure. I went into that conversation with them and it was amazing. I, they, they answered more than all the questions that I have, even the silly ones.

[00:19:10] Sabeen Syed: That you know, that, that sometimes everyone can tend to ask. And they were just really open to it. I walked out of that meeting feeling great. Like I had the information that I needed feeling like, you know, I was still smart. And, and I just overall just, you know, felt really good and felt really encouraged.

[00:19:30] Sabeen Syed: And that made me wonder, I was like, well, why, why. How hard is it to be kind? I, I, you know, it's, I feel like this is a such an important thing to instill as a leader and environment where people can ask their questions and, and it should be okay and encouraged. So, anyway, that was something that after that I was like, as, as long as I keep going that's something that's gonna be super important to me to make sure that that environment is being created and it, and especially for the more senior folks, it's more important to them to, to demonstrate that.

[00:20:05] Sabeen Syed: Alright. Okay. So that was a. Thing about there. Okay. So the goal over here is my manager cares about me as a human being some action items here that I mentioned before as well. The first one is ask how they're doing as a whole person and ask them regularly the, the, the topics and this stuff that you will find out.

[00:20:23] Sabeen Syed: Is going to be, is gonna be wonderful. And, and I feel like it's, it's a really great avenue you know, for them to, to let you know, and to have deeper conversations. Alright. The second one is taking action on feedback that you get. This is more, I didn't know, like if it fell under empathy or kindness, but I feel like it kind of does.

[00:20:39] Sabeen Syed: So basically like whatever feedback you're getting. You know, talk to people about it. If it's not something that you're gonna action on, if it is something that you're gonna action on, then go ahead and take that action. I feel like that is, you know, being able to view it from an empathetic perspective.

[00:20:54] Sabeen Syed: And then, you know, it's not kind if you're not taking action on your feedback Yeah. And then the third one is treat others the way that you wanna be treated. I think this is something, again, as everyone, everyone knows this you know, this is something I think that lots of people have been hearing since they were kids.

[00:21:10] Sabeen Syed: But I think it's a great reminder. Yeah. And a reminder to myself first. And then everyone else, all right, this is the last one. This one is one of those where it might be something that is a little bit unexpected. But. I really like this one. So humor and positivity, and I put those two together because I think it's important to have positive humor.

[00:21:31] Sabeen Syed: In other words not humor that like roasts somebody on your team or like, you know, doesn't make them feel good, but rather humor that uplifts or lighten the atmosphere or neutralizes challenging situations. So we all know, you know, humor lightens up the mood. It creates a good and actually great connections with people.

[00:21:52] Sabeen Syed: And overall it just makes things way more fun and less boring. And this doesn't mean that you have to like go out and like, you know, take some comedy course or something like that on how to be funny. It's more like just being authentic, be yourself. Like you are like, you know, with your friends and family.

[00:22:06] Sabeen Syed: And also do caveat there. Just you know, read the room you. If, if you're in like a customer meeting where, you know, their production is blowing up, you know, don't make jokes at that time. So but anyway, it just makes means basically, just to look for the lighting situations. And doing even like small things, like adding some fun memes to stuff or I really like slack emojis as well.

[00:22:30] Sabeen Syed: I think that's very much appreciated and just helps situations. Alright. And then some of the takeaways here are positive humor. Not roasting people keeping things light even when times are tough. And the third one I feel like is really important, like using humor to give your team hope.

[00:22:45] Sabeen Syed: And I don't mean like in, in a, in a bad way where, you know, but in, in a positive way where where you're able to bring that other perspective. So example, like if you're in a tough situation You know, maybe there's some, some work that your team has been doing. And then you kind of have to shift course bringing that other perspective of yeah.

[00:23:04] Sabeen Syed: Like, you know, this is, this is the why behind it. This can be used in this way. Or even things like where. All right. Well, this keeps things you know, entertaining and that's the, you know, that's kind of the, the part of you know, life that it makes things spontaneous. All right. And then small things, like I mentioned, emojis and memes and such.

[00:23:26] Sabeen Syed: All right. So all together these are the, the five main takeaways. That we talked about. So quality of your one on one setting, expectations, communication early in often empathy and kindness, humor and positivity. Like I mentioned I know that these were pretty dense but it was great talking to y'all about this, and I hope that there was pieces in there that were helpful.

[00:23:49] Sabeen Syed: And thank you so much for your time. Thank you. Thank 

[00:23:53] Lauren Peate: you. Amazing. Yeah, we have tons of questions to dive into. So what we'll do we'll take like five, 10 minutes now, so we can dive into some of those questions and then do just a little bit less time at the end for the breakout discussions. So yeah, really, really great tips for, for building trust and, you know yeah, lots of, lots of great feedback in the chat about, you know, for example, importance of doing humor in a way that doesn't roast people.

[00:24:15] Lauren Peate: Yeah. And so one of the things I wanted to ask is, is thinking about the the unique challenge of building trust in a remote environment and all your experiences with that. I'm curious if you go through those five items, is there anything you've learned about, like, how is supporting those different five aspects?

[00:24:31] Lauren Peate: How is it different when doing remote? Do you have any tips for kind of doing that trust building, you know, when maybe people have never met their team members in person or, you know, with this new world that 

[00:24:42] Sabeen Syed: we're. Yeah, definitely. So that's a big thing. Like the. The remote aspect when people have never met there are things like on the team building side that I definitely do.

[00:24:54] Sabeen Syed: There's a lot of stuff or like online that I've done before where thi things like. Events where Airbnb experiences online experiences, like those type of things, and those are great tools to use and activities to do with your team that are outside of work and that help to build that type of connection.

[00:25:13] Sabeen Syed: Another small thing that I do is just icebreakers on a regular. So making sure that every now and then we do some icebreakers, we go on around the room and just like, you know, talk about different things. A couple of other things that I've seen that helps out are unstructured collaboration time.

[00:25:30] Sabeen Syed: I've actually set that in the past with some of my Teams. And that's actually, it is on more on like the work side, but it's an unstructured time where people can just like come to the table, you know, ask their questions, talk about things. And, and that's helped as well. And then we also have social chat times where it's kind of like the water cooler, you know, conversation to make sure that that type of stuff is happening.

[00:25:54] Sabeen Syed: And that's been, that's been super helpful. Great. 

[00:25:58] Lauren Peate: Those are such great examples. I'm seeing some comments in the, in the chat too about yeah. Other people resonating with those. Love the, the unstructured the unstructured, but we're in the same virtual room time. Yep. One other one that I wanted to weave in and I.

[00:26:11] Lauren Peate: Feel free by the way, feel free to keep adding questions. And then we're gonna weave in some of the questions that came through throughout. So another one was around how one ones, video calls are so important 

[00:26:20] Sabeen Syed: for billing. I'm just gonna 

[00:26:22] Lauren Peate: mute you, Kevin. Thank you. So yeah, all these, the one on ones and.

[00:26:27] Lauren Peate: You know, the unstructured time and the games and all of that being so important for building trust. And we also know that screen fatigue can be a real thing. And so I'm just curious what you've seen or how you've navigated that challenge of the like let's get together and we have to do it through a screen, but also we don't wanna have too much 

[00:26:44] Sabeen Syed: screen time.

[00:26:46] Sabeen Syed: Yeah, totally. So there's a couple of things that I've done there. Sometimes I'll do like, okay. One-on-ones are, I feel like great opportunities where you and your manager or whoever you're talking to, if it's in a one-on-one situation. And if you don't have to share a screen with them and you don't have to like, do some active, you know, work, and it can be just audio, you know, taking it from outside, you know, going out, taking a walk and just talking to them.

[00:27:13] Sabeen Syed: That has helped in the past. And I also try and do, for example, like if if we're doing a, an, like a no site offsite type of a thing, I try and make sure that I don't. Do like a full day offsite, you know, we're doing just like half a day or even less than that, maybe just like an hour or two. And then the rest of it is all ay time and things that you can do on your own.

[00:27:38] Sabeen Syed: And you don't have to be, you know, stuck on zoom. We've also done things where we just turn off our video. So a couple of the meetings that I've had in the past, Just turn off video and it's just audio so that, you know, you can you, yeah, you just don't have to be staring at other people all the time.

[00:27:53] Sabeen Syed: You're still in, in, in front of a screen. I mean, you can take it outside and like take it on your phone and things like that. But that's something that's helped. Cool. Thanks so much for that. Yeah, the screen fatigue is so real and yeah. A lot of the solutions are very online obviously, and yeah, often I'm just like, I just wanna hop off as soon as possible.

[00:28:14] Sabeen Syed: But then you don't get any of that sort of water cooler answer and things, so, yeah. Oh yeah. So we've had a few questions along similar themes from poly Samora Julian. Yeah. And so yeah, the big theme is around how we get people on the same team with quite different social, political views, different backgrounds.

[00:28:31] Sabeen Syed: Yeah. Some people who are much more open to things like training and personal development on microaggressions or DEI versus people who are yeah, like less keen on that sort of thing. How do you get people? You know, having trust, being open and collaborating effectively when you've got that sort of.

[00:28:47] Sabeen Syed: We've got, got those differences in a team. Yeah, that's a really good question. So one of the things about building trust is that it takes time and it's not like a flip of the switch type of a thing. And to me, these small, like. Small things that you do to set the steps up to get your team to continue to engage is really like those small things are what leads up to, you know, people wanting to share more.

[00:29:21] Sabeen Syed: And I feel like the biggest thing is that vulnerability and also being an example of it yourself. I feel like it's. It's difficult for somebody to open up, like if you're not opening up yourself. So, you know, for example, like if you're doing like these icebreaker things and, you know, you have a question that is around, you know D and I, you answer that yourself first and you set the stage so that, you know, other people can pick up from that.

[00:29:48] Sabeen Syed: And yeah, and I think it's just small steps. And over time is what builds that environment of trust. Yeah, and I don't think there's like any like short cut where it's like, you know, like, you know, we're gonna get there right away. It's just that time taken and that, you know, people knowing that you yourself and the teams that they that they work with are people that you can or that they feel comfortable with.

[00:30:14] Sabeen Syed: So, Yeah, 

[00:30:16] Lauren Peate: thank you. I'm gonna do one last question and then we'll go into the breakout groups and I know some of these others we haven't gotten to, but we'll we have been making note of them. So we'll follow up about those. And the last one was one. That's also come up a few times and it's around this question of structures that work.

[00:30:31] Lauren Peate: When you're thinking about a hybrid environment and you've got some people who are virtual and then some people who are on site. And so yeah, just also wanting to hear things that you've learned with that, especially again, you know, in the context of how could we build trust and, and treat people equitably when they have these different ways that they get to engage with others on the team.

[00:30:53] Sabeen Syed: Yeah. That's a great, that's something that at Rackspace We definitely came across and I felt like the thing that helped the most was basically treating everybody like they were working remotely. So example like there's situations where sometimes. You know, folks in one location wanna have a meeting, but they wanna have it in a specific meeting room.

[00:31:14] Sabeen Syed: And then they'll have other people like join in like that situation. In my opinion, doesn't work well because it's just not fair for the people who are remote. It's hard to like, you know, get into conversations when you're remote. And when everybody's like sitting in a room and. And all of that. So I would actually ask everybody to join from their own laptops and to make it as equitable to everybody as possible, that that environment, you know, is the same.

[00:31:41] Sabeen Syed: And then it was kind of the same thing. Like the, the team building. All of that also is done, you know, online, of course there's gonna be water cooler conversations that are gonna happen with people who are on site, but then doing the same thing online as well is really important. Like those social chats, you know, every week or, or multiple times a week.

[00:32:02] Sabeen Syed: And I think also there's a empathy portion, right? Like the people who are on site making sure that they're just aware, like, Hey, you know, if you were working remotely, you know, this is kind of like the impact of this type of stuff. Make sure to, you know, let's, let's make sure that we're being inclusive and things like that.

[00:32:21] Sabeen Syed: And yeah, those. Those are some of the things that helped. 

[00:32:25] Lauren Peate: Awesome. Thank you. Yeah. And just on that note of you were talking about with the keeping things in slack of just adding to that, her something we've been trying to practice is in particular, if there's been a decision to make sure it's in slack, I've definitely been guilty of having the quick chat and making a call and then, and then forgetting to share it with the whole team.

[00:32:42] Lauren Peate: But yeah, just wanna wrap it up there. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your. Have tons of takeaways. And so, yeah, just wanna run through kind of some next steps. We will we'll share the slides, we'll share the recording and we'll also share some takeaways. So watch for that, we'll send it out on the meetup group, so they get it there and we'll share it out on socials.

[00:32:58] Lauren Peate: And we also, I just wanna thank those of you who will be tuning in, in the future and just watching this portion. Thanks so much for joining we'll turn off the recording in a second. So it's a great to have you here. For everyone, we will be setting out a survey at the end of this. So we're, this is an the tech leader chats are still a pretty early experiment on our part.

[00:33:16] Lauren Peate: And so we're always keen to learn and kind of weave in the feedback. We also have a slack group. So we'll share the takeaways from this there. And then we do a weekly resource Roundup of just interesting articles and a cool action tip, which we'll often source from the community. So some of you here have actually inspired action tips that we've shared with the community in the past.

[00:33:35] Lauren Peate: And then our next tech leader chat is coming up very soon, actually in two weeks. And it's gonna be about how to support juniors and make your workplace a really great place for them to start their career and, and have a great launch pad to the rest of it. So anyway, that's all to ask there. Well, now turn off the recording and then I'll go ahead and share my screen.

Brooke Mills
Brooke Mills
Business Operations
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