Create Meaningful (and Fun!) Remote Community

Create meaningful and fun remote community

What makes community meaningful? How can you create a meaningful culture and community in a time where we are all separated while working remote?

I want today to talk about community, and how important it is to be a proactive agent in fostering a meaningful (and fun!) remote work culture.  Just a smidge about me: before I was a software engineer at Eventbrite, I was on the ground figuring out how to create and grow community in various capacities – as a resident advisor in college, an event planner at Stanford, a coding teacher in various classrooms, and as a participant in various worldwide dance and performing communities.  Community is my thing.

I have seen a lot of articles floating around with recommendations on how to create a remote work culture. I want to point out that I’m very specifically using the phrase “remote community” as opposed to “remote culture” because to me, community is something present and tangible and interconnected, whereas culture can be this very nebulous thing.  Culture arises out of community – community is the foundation.

I am also writing this article from the perspective of a mostly remote work community, but these ideas can be taken and used in any type of community.  This article is not engineering specific but can easily used to benefit any engineering community.

What makes community meaningful?

Community, to me, is about caring for people.  A lot of times, community starts by happenstance – you and others happen to share an interest or work at the same job.  But, in my opinion, ‘happenstance’ community graduates to being a real community when people work together to create a place that everyone cares about.  That to me is where the meaning is derived – from people caring enough to want to make their community a place where people feel supported and feel joy.

How you can create meaningful community

I find that creating meaningful community is as simple as stepping up. Being proactive goes a long, long way – either on an individual level, like reaching out to someone you know who is having a hard time. Or being proactive with a broader group in mind, like creating activities that bring people together, etc.

I want to touch mostly on the latter – how to engage a broader group, with either active engagement or passive engagement.  One more thing to consider – how to make things fun! For me, it’s pretty easy – I think about what I enjoy and what I want to see in a community, and then I make it happen.  You can too!

Active Engagement

Active engagement involves events or activities that require people to be present and available at the time that it is happening.  Here are some ideas:

  1. Remote happy hour.  Schedule one once a week with your department or with cross sections of the company you normally don’t interact with.  Use this as an opportunity to talk to new people that you would normally don’t cross paths with.Pro tip – if you think more than 10 people are going to show up, figure out some way to create ‘rooms’ – either separate Hangouts that people can jump in and out of, or utilize Zoom’s room feature.
  2. Remote team lunch.  Suggestion – why not every day or twice a week?
  3. 2pm 2 minute planks.  Get stronger every day!  We do this via video chat as well to cheer each other on.

Passive Engagement

Passive engagement involves activities that people can circle back around to when they have time.  Ideas include:

  1. Daily Photo Share.  Post a theme for the photo of that day (Baby photo of you! Throwback photo of your parents! Photo of you doing an activity you love!) and see what you end up learning.  I have added a list of ideas that I compiled with my co-workers at the bottom of this article.
  2. Dear Diary chaining.  Remember when email chaining was a thing?  Well, my coworker came up with this idea – write a ‘Dear Diary’ entry about your day, post with a picture, and then tag a new coworker for the next day! It’s been interesting to get a more in-depth look into people’s mentality and how they are trying to stay optimistic.

Out of all the ideas above, so far the Daily Photo Share has seemed to have the most impact and been the most uplifting – I tend to post it around 12pm, and then spend the next hour scrolling and commenting on everyone’s amazing pictures of themselves, their families, and the things they love.  It’s an amazing way to see everyone share what they care about.

What’s your time commitment?

It’s up to you to decide your community time commitment.  It doesn’t have to be everything that’s listed above. I recommend the thought model of 2 minutes, 2 hours, or 2 months – what can you contribute? Can you contribute 2 minutes of your time, or 2 hours, or maybe even 2 months?  The 2pm 2 minute plank is a great example of a short amount of time, or even commenting on someone else’s photo of the daily photo share. 2 hours could be something like deciding to throw and promote a remote happy hour.

I think that now, more than ever, it is really important to take time out of our lives to reach out, to connect, to engage – to build community, and to receive from our communities.

I want to hear from you.  What ideas do you have for active or passive engagement in your community?  What makes community meaningful to you, and how can we surface that more in remote communities?

(Some) Daily Photo Share Theme Ideas:
  • Throwback photo of your parent(s)
  • Hobby/activity you love doing
  • Last meal you took a photo of
  • Your family (immediate or otherwise)
  • Your workspace at home
  • Silly photo of you
  • An item you cherish
  • Vacation you recently took
  • Photo you are proud of (either proud that you took, or of something you are proud of)
  • Photo with a story (and tell the story!)
  • Something that most people don’t know about you
  • Favorite costume photo of you (Halloween or otherwise)
  • Photo of you where you like your vibe
  • Share a photo of a coworker that you appreciate, and why you appreciate them
  • Photo of a new hobby or life hack have you acquired in the last few weeks
  • Something/someone you miss (and give back story!)
  • This could have been an ad for…
  • Everybody should try this once
  • “I didn’t want to be in this photo“

Leveraging AWS “spot” instances to drive down costs

I had the pleasure of participating in a Big Data Cost Optimization event in San Francisco (October 17) at the AWS Loft location. I was a panelist in a round-table discussion focusing on the use of AWS spot instances. It was a terrific opportunity to share how Eventbrite’s Data Engineering team is smartly using spot instances for Big Data & EMR to drive down costs. 

At Eventbrite, we’re using spot instances to leverage AWS auto scaling and I’ve published a blog entry on this topic (Big Data workloads with Presto Auto Scaling). Two key focus areas for the data engineering team are ephemeral computing (something that lasts for a very short time)  and idempotence (repeatable behaviour with the same outcome).  Making a commitment in these areas has allowed us to leverage spot instances to effectively manage costs.

Spot instances are a cost-effective choice if you can be flexible about when your applications run and if your applications can be interrupted. They are well-suited for data analysis, batch jobs, background processing, and non mission-critical tasks. Below are some of the panel questions and my answers, and I’d love to share what I learned based on the conversation.
Continue reading “Leveraging AWS “spot” instances to drive down costs”

Discover “Pro D3.js”, a new book to improve your JavaScript data visualizations

D3.js is the de facto standard JavaScript library for building interactive data visualizations on the Web. When beginning a new D3.js project, developers usually start by taking one of the community’s many examples and using it to jumpstart new work. This is a convenient way to get something working fast so that they can iterate over it. However, by working this way, you soon struggle to maintain, extend, or modify your charts. D3.js examples are made to demonstrate implementations and techniques, not to ship them to production.

Discover “Pro D3.js”, the new book that walks you through the creation of maintainable, modular, and testable charts. You will also learn how to package and document your visualizations, producing open-source libraries. Read on to learn more about the book and its contents. Continue reading “Discover “Pro D3.js”, a new book to improve your JavaScript data visualizations”

A Story of a React Re-Rendering Bug

As front-end developers, we often find ourselves getting into perplexing bugs when the page we build involves a lot of user interactions. When we find a bug, no matter how tricky it is, it means something is wrong in the code. There is no magic, and the code itself does not lie.

This blog will take you on a short journey about how I fixed a particularly annoying bug that existed in one of our products. Continue reading “A Story of a React Re-Rendering Bug”

How boba trips and event onsites made me a better engineer (a Briteling intern’s reflection on community at Eventbrite)

Written by 2019 summer Organizer App intern Vivian Phung

Hello World! I’m Vivian Phung, a Computer Science and Mathematics double major at Bryn Mawr College, and for the last few months, an iOS Software Engineering intern on Eventbrite’s Organizer App Team. Some of the best parts of my internship were the communities I had the opportunity to engage withboth at the office and within the broader Eventbrite community. In this blog post, I want to share how engaging with these communities helped me conquer imposter syndrome and get the most out of my summer internship.  Continue reading “How boba trips and event onsites made me a better engineer (a Briteling intern’s reflection on community at Eventbrite)”

How to fix the ugly focus ring and not break accessibility in React

header image

Creating beautiful, aesthetic designs while maintaining accessibility has always been a challenge in the frontend. One particular barrier is the dreaded “:focus” ring. It looks like this:

focus outline on a button

After clicking any button, the default styling in the browser displays a focus outline. This ugly outline easily mars a perfectly crafted interface.

A quick Stack Overflow search reveals an easy fix: just use a bit of CSS, outline: none; on the affected element. It turns out that many websites use this trick to make their sites beautiful and avoid the focus outline. Continue reading “How to fix the ugly focus ring and not break accessibility in React”

How to be a Successful Junior Engineer

I came to software engineering through a nontraditional background, and as a result, I entered the engineering world trepidatiously with a great fear of failing. As I gained experience in my first few engineering roles, I realized that being successful had to do with providing myself the right tools.

In this blog post, I outline some of the things that helped me get to where I am today: an accomplished software engineer that feels confident about the value I provide to my team and my company. Continue reading “How to be a Successful Junior Engineer”

The Truth about Boundaries, Curiosity, and Requests (Part 2 of 2)

In Part 1 of this series, we discussed boundaries in depth. As a refresher, a boundary is the line of demarcation between one person’s consent and another’s agency. This article will be covering curiosity and requests. The two things, used together, help us manage boundaries and navigate through other’s boundaries.

Practicing curiosity

I’m going to borrow from the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy model and look first at what is happening in our minds that drives actions. In this approach to therapy, there is a model called the Thought-Emotion-Action (TEA) Triangle. The model starts with some event that initiates a thought, the thought leads to an emotion, and that emotion leads to action. Breaking it down, here’s a possible TEA in action for the example we used in Part 1 of a hugger initiating a hug with someone who doesn’t like them: Continue reading “The Truth about Boundaries, Curiosity, and Requests (Part 2 of 2)”

The Truth about Boundaries, Curiosity, and Requests (Part 1 of 2)

Learning how to recognize and manage your boundaries and respect others’ boundaries is key to growing emotional intelligence and generally being a better human. Most importantly, managing boundaries is essential to healthy conflict, reduced stress, and creating a psychologically safe environment for yourself.

In the first of this two-part blog, we’ll dig into understanding boundaries. In the coming weeks, stay tuned for a blog on the skill of practicing curiosity and making requests which can help you manage the sometimes tumultuous landscape of your inner dialogue and maybe the panorama of someone else’s boundaries.

Would you like FRIES with that?

We spend just over 13 years at work in our lifetimes; that’s 676 weeks and over 27 thousand hours. Relationships at the office are arguably just as critical as our familial or social connections. With the abundance of social media, communication technologies, and increased connectedness the edges of our boundaries are blurring more and more every day. Continue reading “The Truth about Boundaries, Curiosity, and Requests (Part 1 of 2)”

BriteBytes: Maddie Cousens

An Eventbrite original series, BriteBytes features interviews with Eventbrite’s growing global engineering team, shining a light on the individuals whose jobs are to build the technology that powers live experiences.

Maddie Cousens is a Site Reliability/Backend Software Engineer who works out of Eventbrite’s Madrid office. This interview took place two weeks after Maddie moved from her San Francisco home to Spain. With the help of modern technology, we were able to chat across the Atlantic Ocean. I sat, a cup of tea in hand, in a Nashville conference room while Maddie relaxed in her cozy new apartment overlooking the streets of Madrid.

In this interview, we talk about what it was like to move overseas, how Maddie became the first woman at Eventbrite on the Site Reliability Engineering team and the things she has learned along the way. Continue reading “BriteBytes: Maddie Cousens”