Why and How We Close Buffer For The Last Week Of The Year | Solo Tech

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 stored 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 really like telling individuals about this apply at Buffer as a result of they’ve so many questions on how we proceed to function whereas closing down for every week.

As we work with many small companies and creators who can generally wrestle with working over the vacations, it feels particularly necessary to share how we’re going about this.

So on this put up, I’ll cowl what it means to shut down for every week as a enterprise whose prospects are at all times utilizing it, why we do it, and particularly how our largest groups handle this time without work whereas nonetheless caring for our product and our prospects.

Let’s dive in!

What does it imply to shut down for every week?

On the finish of yearly, we shut down for the 12 months’s ultimate week. The precise definition of “closed down” varies from firm to firm – some companies will fully shut down operations whereas others will solely shut explicit sections of their enterprise.

This offers everybody on the firm some additional time to relaxation, and it creates an setting the place nobody is frightened about lacking out on tasks or updates whereas they’re offline as a result of we’re all offline. We’ve executed this kind of factor earlier than, closing down for an additional lengthy weekend in the summertime, and it’s at all times been refreshing for our staff.

After 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 be reliably gradual. So in contrast to another industries which will decide up over the vacations, we are able to lean into relaxation by closing the corporate throughout a naturally slower interval.

What does this appear to be in apply?

For many groups at Buffer, closing for the vacations means a full disconnect. Our two largest groups, Engineering and Buyer Advocacy should create methods the place we are able to nonetheless serve our prospects and guarantee Buffer is operational whereas additionally making area for added relaxation. So right here’s how Engineering and Advocacy deal with the week off.

How our Advocacy staff handles every week closed

Our Advocacy staff is a bunch of absolute professionals who’re taking good care of our prospects. This 12 months, they’ve helped remedy over 60,000 buyer assist requests with a mean first response time of simply three hours.

Through the years that we have now been closing, they’ve discovered the proper steadiness to make sure we are able to nonetheless assist prospects whereas additionally giving our Advocates that additional relaxation.

To begin, we take steps to make this era seen to our prospects. They put up a transparent message stating that we’re shut down for the vacations in all the principle channels the place we talk with prospects. These embrace a banner for people who find themselves in Buffer, an auto-reply to buyer assist electronic mail, a pinned tweet on our account, and a number of other different locations.

This 12 months, the message reads:

The Buffer staff 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 are able to. Joyful Holidays!

For Advocates, we ask that every individual on the staff works one full day or two half days in that interval. We’ve 21 individuals on the Advocacy staff, and we’ll have two or extra individuals on-line most days. We don’t at all times have individuals on December twenty fourth or twenty fifth, or January 1st, and we’re okay with that.

The staff has in place a transparent schedule, expectations when individuals are on-line with prioritize their work and get again to prospects, and pointers for emergencies. (We’ve these pointers in place on a regular basis, nevertheless it’s at all times good to overview forward of the vacations.)

How our Engineering staff handles every 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 seems completely different as a result of they’re on name, that means they’re obtainable if one thing breaks, moderately than totally on-line throughout this time. That implies that the load of being on name might be unfold amongst fewer individuals as a result of the chance of them needing to be on-line is decrease.

The best way that the on-call schedule works is that there are a number of specialised or senior members of the staff who’re instantly positioned in the entire on-call spots. Then we ask for volunteers from the remainder of the engineering staff to be on-call all through the week.

Along with having of us on name, we additionally do a code freeze earlier than the tip of the 12 months. This merely means we cease transport new code and making modifications to Buffer. The objective of that is to extend our confidence that issues will go easily for the engineers on-call and our Advocacy staff.

Just a few questions from our neighborhood about closing down for every week

We reached out on social media to see what questions individuals had about closing down for every week, and we acquired just a few good questions. Right here’s our response:

Do purchasers 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 time without work throughout our communication channels. We nonetheless have our Advocacy staff spending a while on-line and might reply to something pressing.

Did this influence your backside line in any respect?

No, we deliberately select a gradual time for us to be closed. So it’s the proper time to take a break with none main influence. As well as, for the reason that Advocacy staff remains to be monitoring for pressing buyer requests and the Engineering staff is on name, we are able to nonetheless leap on any points that pop up, and our prospects nonetheless have assist.

I’d like to learn 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 staff is extra rested and refreshed. It’s a novel alternative for everybody at Buffer to take a break, moderately than it occurring in spots all year long. It means the vitality 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 provides us a larger alternative to loosen up as a result of nobody wants to consider tasks which are transferring ahead with out them or lacking out on staff communication. In any case, we’re all offline. That is nice for us as a staff, which interprets into being nice for our product and our prospects.

Do you’re taking breaks from work or your online business, and in that case, what’s your strategy? We’d love to listen to from you on Twitter or Discord.

Why and How We Close Buffer For The Last Week Of The Year