Having a “No Meetings” zone

This week, I’ve begun doing a rotation with our support team at Automattic. Every Automattician does this as part of their on-boarding, as this helps to learn the systems, tools and users we’re interacting with every day. For me, this additionally helps to learn more about the users we’re building products for, which is a huge added bonus towards our user-centric approach to product development. Through this week, my work time demands 100% of my focus to be on the support rotation. I take this very seriously and am 110% focussed on learning as much as I can. This means, of course, postponing or moving any meetings I have on my calendar. This brought about some interesting and exciting results, which I’ll be exploring further here.

The new normal

For the next three weeks, there is a new normal. As someone who spends time each day in our help desk (although not all day, I spend at least 30 minutes per day), this isn’t too unfamiliar and is more a shift of focus. Focussing one’s mind elsewhere ensures a new set of neural pathways can be formed, while also giving the “original normal” pathways a chance for some roadworks and upkeep.

A new state of mind

Shifting tasks so radically (from meetings, strategy and road-mapping over to customer support) has resulted in a very interesting new state of mind. I feel a new kind of relaxed (I’m quite a relaxed person in general). My mind is still whizzing about product strategy, team structures and team happiness during my non-rotation hours, yet because of the focus shift, my mind is able to absorb these topics from a different (fresh) perspective.

Having a “No Meetings” zone

I feel this concept is one I’ll be taking forward with me after this rotation with support is complete; having a space where I have no meetings scheduled, on purpose. A space where I’m able to focus purely on my strategic and team-related tasks without jumping into a few meetings per day. Even if just for one week every month or two, I feel this idea carries significant weight towards increasing productivity, freshening the mind and encouraging new pathways and perspectives on current discussion topics in the day to day workplace.

I’m excited to trial this and to hear if anyone else has tried something similar.

2 responses to “Having a “No Meetings” zone”

  1. As someone who spends most days providing support, I always enjoy hearing about what the support rotation means to everyone who does it and what they discover or learn as a result.

    That said, this post also made me realize that those of us who do support every day don’t have our own equivalent of a support rotation. I’m not sure what that would even look like (a product rotation of some sort, perhaps?) but it would be interesting to explore how a rotation outside of support could lend a new perspective similar to how a support rotation does for people in other roles.

    1. Thanks for sharing this, Rachel.

      I reckon there’s definitely scope for some kind of rotation outside of support. While working in support and assisting users, there are often common feedback items given by multiple users. Feeding this information back to the developers and being actively involved in seeing the feedback processed could be one aspect of a non-support rotation. This would form the role of a sort of “deputy product owner”, if you will, enabling anyone (whether comfortable with code or not) to partake in such a task.

      As a product person and developer, I enjoy the “I have feedback for you” element of the support rotation, as I can then further apply the feedback in my day to day tasks once completed the rotation. I feel a “deputy product owner” would carry the same result for a support technician, as they can apply the feedback process and knowledge gained from communicating with developers back to the task of how best to assist the user.

      For support technicians who are code heavy and passionate about code, perhaps a bug fix rotation would be an option as well, enabling the supporter to work on the other side of a bug report, if you will.

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