Castos has always been, and always will be, a totally remote and distributed company. At one point we had team members on 4 continents, and as of the time of this writing, we span 9 time zones.
With this team setup good written communication is essential to pulling off asynchronous collaboration across all business units: development, product, sales/marketing, and support/success.
But as good as async can be, there is literally nothing better than having a few smart people on a call together trying to solve a problem.
It’s just the velocity of ideas and continuous refinement of solutions that can only happen in real-time communications.
Because of this, we have a handful of calls each week.
Here’s how our current standard call schedule is set up:
Monday: All-hands team meeting – everyone in the company is on a call at 10:00 am ET. This is our sweet spot time that accommodates people in EU timezones and on the west coast of North America.
This is the only meeting of the week that has to be on a specific day. The all-hands team meeting should always be on a Monday because it sets the tone for the rest of the week for the whole company.
In this meeting, we start with “Wins” from the previous week. What big new deal did we close, what moment of WOW for a customer did the Support team make happen, or what new feature did we ship.
Then I as CEO go over some high-level updates and announcements, and then we dive into group updates.
The point of Group Updates is not to give a rundown of every little thing that someone may have done in the past week. Rather its goal is to break down any communication barriers that might exist (even subconsciously) between functional groups to bring everyone in the company up to speed with either what happened last week with your group, or what might happen in the week ahead.
With this, there should be zero surprises throughout the week between groups and across the whole company.
I’ll generalize here a bit and say that throughout the rest of the week, you should be meeting with each individual functional group within the company.
This is a time to check in on your Rocks or OKRs, identify blockers that could be standing in your path, and resolve issues related to those.
Team members should come to each of these meetings ready to talk about their OKRs/Rocks (having already reported on their metrics in whatever tool you use to track them), initiatives that are coming in the next week, and any resources or support that they’ll need from other areas of the company.
We used to have these calls spaced out evenly throughout the week, but as I’m trying to have bundled days of either meetings or individual creator slots, we’re having multiple different meetings on the same day.
I’m the only one that is in all of these meetings, and it’s rare for anyone else to be in more than 2 meetings between Sales, Support, Marketing, Growth, and Development.
These meetings, as well as the weekly Team Meeting, are all recorded with Grain and automatically transcribed.
Full credit to Jonathan Bossenger (our very first employee) on this one.
CoWorking happens every Friday for us and is a very unstructured time for us to just be on a call (we actually use Around for this, cause it’s so cool!) and just be together for an hour.
There’s always a bit of real work that is discussed, a lot of “oh hey, by the way…” mentions. Sometimes people have cameras on, sometimes not, sometimes you’re muted the whole time but are just there with your colleagues.
It’s entirely optional, but most of the company shows up most weeks just to hang out for a bit.
It’s the closest thing we have to grabbing a coffee together.
These are my favorite part of the week, and arguably the most important for any founder: 1:1s.
I have 1:1s with everyone in the company every 2 weeks.
These are 30 minutes long for us these days, and from a scheduling perspective for me, they’re pretty well spread out through the 2 weeks. It’s not like I have all of them in one or two days.
I know some founders who have extremely structured agendas for their 1:1s, but not me. Some team members just want to talk about their families, or a trip they’ve been on recently. Some always like to talk about work stuff. Anything goes.
It’s a rapport building, casual conversation, but with the explicit understanding that if you have something (or if I have something) important that is sensitive and should only be discussed between us then this is the time that it should happen.
In these 1:1s things like raises, schedules, personal/family matters, performance reviews/concerns, and career planning all happen.
It’s An Evolution
Our current meeting cadence is one that has changed A LOT over the past 3 or 4 years. When we were a really small company there just wasn’t a need for “Group Meetings”, since there was just me and 2 developers.
But as the company has grown, it’s been increasingly important to have dedicated time and space to talk about the specifics of what one functional group is trying to achieve.
I hear some founder friends say that things like OKRs or EOS don’t work for them because their company is too small. I’d agree that if you’re < 5 people you don’t need a system like that. But 5 or more team members and having some kind of system that you follow is helpful.
So, while async is great, and I know we all love having our quiet, creative time I think that if you want to be a high-output team you have to have a meeting cadence something like this just to get ideas out in the open and iterate on them in realtime.