AG Conf 8


AgileBits Conference Travel Badge 2018

One of the many highlights of a job at AgileBits is our annual meetup, AGConf. Held in February, but anticipated year round, it’s a chance for the entire AgileBits family to get together and share a week of work and fun. For AGConf[8] this year, we sailed on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas, from Fort Lauderdale in Florida, stopping at Costa Maya and Cozumel along the way.

New Friends 🎉

If you’ve read any of our previous AGConf blog posts, you’ll have seen that a common theme throughout is the growing size of our company. There was no sign of slowing over the last year, and in fact, I’m one of the new ones myself! It’s worth pointing out that most of us new ‘Bits were new to cruising, too – that explains the excited faces.

In fact, I remember a comment on our post last year, where a customer asked if we’d rented the entire ship to ourselves. We’re still not able to fill the 4,370 guest capacity, but we are getting closer every time. As long as we keep the family feeling that I love, new ‘Bits are certainly welcome!

Saying Hello 👋

AGConf[8] started on land for most of us. Since lots of ‘Bits work remotely, this involved travel from all over the world. After arriving, we checked Slack (which we use to communicate) for ‘Bits nearby. Very quickly, we were sharing breakfast and dinner, getting to know each other, and dreaming of the week to come.

Twelve stories up 🛳

As the morning sun rose the next day, ‘Bits staying in hotels around the port began heading to the ship. After handing our bags to the porters, we all moved towards deck 12, which appealed to us because of both the sun and drinks on offer. Once everyone had arrived, we took a team photo, had dinner, and finally went to the welcome party downstairs.

Off to work ✉

Keeping our customers happy is always a priority! Each morning, we made sure to reply to as many of you as possible – the entire AgileBits team were in the dining room sending help from sea. Being able to research answers by walking up to the right person and asking them face to face was a real luxury, and it definitely felt surreal.

There were also exciting meetings to be had, where we received support tips from Dene, and security lessons from Goldberg himself. We even looked back at 2017 and into the future. I am personally very excited about what’s to come, and I can’t wait to be able to share the details.

Brett’s the spy 🕵️‍♂️

As the cruise continued, there was lots of time for fun! I really enjoyed playing board games with the team, and Resistance was a popular choice (a game where the good guys work to identify a secret group of spies). Other cruise pastimes included karaoke, mini golf, and Isha’s scavenger hunt which I really want next year!

Fun away from the ship ☀

While there was plenty to do on the ship, there was no shortage of shore excursions on offer either! I remember the ziplining most fondly, along with the taco that I enjoyed at the beach. I’ll let the pictures do the talking, though, as I’d be here forever if I went through the adventure of choice for each Bit.

Sending birthday wishes 🎂

The final day of AGConf[8] overlapped with our Minister of Magic’s birthday. I’m glad it worked out that way – two birthday cakes were presented, and I can say with certainty that the chocolate one was delicious! Happy Birthday once again, Sara, and thanks for organising what I’d call the trip of a lifetime if I wasn’t already excited for AGConf[9].

Our friend and colleague, Roman

We’re a family here at AgileBits. It might sound like just words, but it is true. We really feel that way. We share our good days and bad days, our wins and our losses, our gamer IDs and our favourite recipes. Which made hearing the news of the sudden loss of one our own so much more unbelievable.

We first met Roman in September, after a mutual friend tweeted that Roman’s current contract was coming to a close. We weren’t actively hiring, but hearing from a long-time 1Password user, who had a customer-support background at a different remote company, well, we knew we had to chat. And so Dave and Rob had a call with him, and the rest is history. His response to receiving the job offer?

In that case, my reply has to be ‚Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes!‘, doesn’t it? :)
In all honesty, Dave, this is awesome and I’m really happy.

Roman brought that enthusiasm with him as he dove into all things 1Password. His first responsibility was creating his job title – Mage of Friendliness – a most appropriate creation, given that he was working to help untangle some of the confusion that some customers had found themselves in. He learned quickly, and was always willing to lend a hand, even in cases where he himself was not the expert:

Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 2.18.09 AM

His giving nature and positive attitude made working with him wonderful – regular chats about things work and family were effortless and enjoyable. He always made an effort to reach out and help whenever possible.

While the loss of Roman has been challenging for us, his family is also dealing with this unexpected loss. Knowing how important his family, especially his daughter, was to him was one of the reasons we wanted to write this and share – so that a bit of “What Daddy did” could be preserved for her, as Roman was a great man who thought the world of his daughter.

Emojis are the virtual hug of the remote office, and sharing kind words and pictures are often the primary way we can share our feelings. Please remember to let the people in your life know that you love them, as things can change in an instant. Roman’s passing has affected us all, and we ask that you join us in remembering him, and all in his life.

What follows is a collection of comments from both team members and customers (Roman did see those customer comments also thankfully, and knew how much his help was appreciated).

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Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 2.42.24 AM Roman, your friendliness will live on in our hearts, and we will miss you.


Having a blast at AGConf[7]

Every year since I joined the AgileBits family, I’ve looked forward to our annual reunion. It’s a rare opportunity to see the faces and hear the voices that only exist in my head and in text most of the time. AGConf gives us the chance to get together, discuss, plan, collaborate, joke, sing, dance, and occupy the same space for one glorious week.

Suffice it to say that AGConf[7] was a blast. We all met in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where we boarded the Independence of the Seas for a five day Caribbean cruise. We visited Labadee, Haiti, and Falmouth, Jamaica, before making the return trip and parting ways.

Seeing the same old friendly faces

Most of us work remotely, and with the exception of the odd trip to the mothership (Toronto), we don’t get to see each other. The first day is filled with hellos and hugs–and an abundance of both. We always keep our eyes out for the official AGConf tees, and this year’s 007 themed one was a big hit!

Seeing the shiny new faces

In addition to seeing our old friends and colleagues, it’s always fun to meet the new Bits on the team! It seems like we’re growing exponentially these days, and by some wonderful Agilemagic, everyone fits in just right. I’m already looking forward to meeting more new Bits next year!

Getting some work done

Getting such great minds together always makes for some interesting discussion. It’s fun to put our heads together to help customers, solve problems, and make plans for the future. It’s also one of the few times during the year where we can have face to face discussions. Any big plans we’ve been working on in secret can finally be revealed. Any questions we’ve been wanting to ask get answered, sometimes with a full lecture.

Beyond all of the enlightening and productive internal discussion, we also spend a lot of time supporting our customers. At AgileBits, we take customer support very seriously, and everyone takes part in it. On the high seas, we all have each other to bounce ideas off of, or help with tricky issues we may not be too sure about. Need a developer? Just grab one. Have a security question? Goldberg’s got you covered. Working during AGConf almost doesn’t feel like work at all.

Having lots of fun

And of course, when we get together, we have fun. We play games, soak in the hot tubs, drink Labadoozies and rum punches galore, get dressed up fancy for dinner, sing karaoke, eat lots of dessert, get late night pizza, do yoga, watch the sun rise and set…I could go on. There’s so much to do, and so many people to see, it’s hard to make sure to get enough sleep! For a bunch of computer geeks, we’re a pretty rad crew.


Parting is such sweet sorrow

Like all other good things, AGConf, too, must come to an end. We came, we saw, we conquered, and we did some other stuff too. Now it’s time to get back to developing software we’re passionate about, and supporting customers we love. Until next time, Bits!

Love 1Password? We’re Hiring!

It’s been a while since I wrote a hiring post so let me take a step back before jumping in.

Ten years ago, we started out as a Mac OS X shop and slowly branched out to all platforms. 1Password is now on OS X, iOS, Windows, and Android. With our 1Password service, we also have customers on Linux now.

During this time, our development team has grown from 2 to over 20 and this has enabled us to have separate teams for each platform. Nowadays when I write a 1Password announcements newsletter I am routinely able to share updates on multiple platforms instead of just one. I used to have a hard limit of 500 words per newsletter but have since raised it to 1000 to make room for all the awesome things we’re working on.

And with all these additional updates have come a lot more customers as well. We love helping customers and pride ourselves on giving helpful and friendly answers to everyone who reaches out to us.

Lately it has been getting harder and harder to keep our response time super fast so we’re looking to add several awesome folks to our support team to help out.

Read on to see if you’d be a good dance partner for us ?

Love Helping People?

If you love helping people I’d love to talk with you and see if working at AgileBits is right for you.

It really is that simple. I’m not looking for any resumes or technical degrees – I will read them if provided but all I really care about is you have a good heart and that you love helping others.

We can teach you everything else you need to know, but try as we might, we cannot teach you compassion or empathy.

If this sounds like you, contact me and we’ll get the conversation started. But before you click Send on that email, let’s cover a few important points you’ll need to know ❤

This Ain’t Typical Customer Support

If you have a mental image of Customer Support as being locked in a cubicle within some faceless organization reading from a set of prewritten scripts, you’ll be happy to know that working at AgileBits is nothing like working in a cube farm.

For one thing, we are a remote company so most of us work from home. Second, we want to WOW customers whenever possible so our support team has no prewritten scripts to read from.

Sure we have an Internal Knowledgebase with answers to help you when you need it, but your goal is not to get the customer to go away like most companies. Instead, your goal is to go out of your way to put a smile on our customers’ faces. There’s no script in the world that can accomplish this given our diverse set of users so it’s up to you to be creative and find a way to create a personal connection with each user.

Communicating with 1Password users and helping them directly is an incredibly rewarding experience. We really do have the best customers in the world and we give you the freedom to have fun with them.

With that in mind, we want you spending some extra time to learn about each customer, what they like and dislike, and if you find they are a Mets fan, go ahead and razz them and let them know they don’t stand a chance against the Blue Jays this year. ⚾️

Once you show customers that you’re human, have a sense of humour, and are actually there to help them, they are quick to respond with a smile and helping them becomes much easier. You’ll also be well on your way to making a new friend.

Our best marketing tool

You might think that spending all this extra time with customers would be expensive but we’ve never viewed Customer Support as an expense. In fact it’s the exact opposite: we believe support is the best marketing tool we can possibly invest in.

When customers have an awesome experience with 1Password and our support team, they tell their friends and families and co-workers. Word of mouth marketing has always been the cornerstone of our marketing plan and it’s one of the main reasons we’re here today.

We want you going the extra mile while helping customers and finding creative ways to make them smile. Doing so encourages customers to write back whenever needed and we can continue building the relationship.

Greatness doesn’t require perfection

I was thinking about this blog post a few weeks ago while driving with Sara, Abby, and Jack to Darien Lake for a family weekend.

During the drive I saw a sign that really resonated with me. It said, “You don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent”. As much as I think fostering children is awesome, what came to my mind when I read the sign is that it applies equally to support.

No one on our team is perfect, but we provide amazing support.

This is certainly true for me personally. Long gone are the days where I knew everything there was to know about 1Password, so when a customer catches me off guard I’m honest and tell them I need to go ask for help. Other times I don’t understand the issue being described so I simply tell the truth that I’m not following them 100% and ask if they can elaborate. When I make a mistake I fall on my sword and say sorry. And I always try to go out of my way to wish people a good weekend or any holidays that might be coming up.

At the end of the day, I simply try to be human and treat people the way I would face to face. Over the years I’ve found humility and friendliness to be the best tools to show customers that I care and am listening.

In sum if you’re nervous to apply because you’re worried you can’t answer every everything, don’t be. If you’re a hero, we’ll hire you. But if you’re just someone who loves 1Password and enjoys helping people, we’ll also hire you ?

By the way, you might be wondering why I am so confident you would be an awesome fit for our support team. My thought process is this: You are already using 1Password and you’re passionate enough about 1Password to be reading our blog. And if you’ve made it this far to learn that you need to include your favourite Game of Thrones character in your application email, then you obviously have the stamina and attention to detail that we need ?

If you have a kind heart and love helping people, let’s talk. Our support team is the best in the world and we’d love to have you join us.



Meet Saad, AgileBits Test Pilot

Tell us a little bit about yourself

Behind the Mug: Saad and his mug

Hi! I’m Saad :) My name is often misspelt as Sad, Said and sometimes even Salad (thanks to autocorrect!). I’m 25, living in Toronto and I am among the few that have the luxury of working from home and regularly visit our office located in the heart of the city. I’m a technology enthusiast. I enjoy playing around with new gadgets and learning new things on a daily basis. I’m filled with small jokes, and I admit that sometimes I am the only one laughing at my jokes. Haha!

Football, or soccer as we call it in this part of the world, is one of my favourite sports. FC Barcelona is my team and in international matches, I follow Brazil closely. I also play friendly football twice a week and occasionally join my friends in the FIFA video game tournaments.

All my free time at the moment is committed to wedding planning. My lovely fiancée, Megda, and I are planning our upcoming wedding this summer. It is a lot of stress, but we are excited to start our lives together. Megda also loves watching football and she is a hard-core France fan, her birth country. We often butt heads with each other, especially during the World Cup—but it’s all with love and it only happens every 4 years. ;)

What do you do on the AgileBits team?

I come with a Computer Science background and I am one of the developers working on 1Password for Android. My job title, Test Pilot, suggests I test a lot of things—which I do! I make sure what is broken gets the attention that it needs.

Our users are a big help with this process and I appreciate every individual that takes time out of their busy day to provide us with feedback. I am often found in our discussion forums and answering e-mails too. I find that it’s the best way to connect directly with our users.

How would you spend one million dollars? And it has to be spent, so no saving it for retirement with this windfall.

ONE MILLION DOLLARS! Woo! First of all, I would try and figure out how I would split the money for three different things: myself, family/friends, and finally making a contribution to the world. With my personal cut (which I would share with Megda, obviously), I would use the funds to travel around the world.

What is the wildest thing that you have ever done?

While doing Christmas shopping one year, three of my friends and I impulsively decided we needed a vacation to escape the Canadian winter. We literally dropped everything and left a few days later for a long road trip to Miami from Toronto.

The drive there was a lot of fun. We stopped at all the major cities we wanted to check out along the way and had a great time staying in the Miami area. The drive back was a different story, as it always is during a return trip.

This was one of the wildest things I have done to date, because it was a spontaneous decision that was made in a few days. We each had to rearrange existing plans to make sure we could make this awesome adventure happen. It’s hard to find time like that. In fact, I don’t think I could do something similar in the present time! I would really like to do the same on the west coast, some day.

What’s your biggest challenge explaining 1Password?

I thought I was an expert at explaining 1Password, but my recent trip to Bangladesh made me reconsider that thought. Naturally, after visiting my home country after more than 10 years, friends and family were curious about what I did for a living. Now to try and explain our beloved 1Password in Bengali was a challenge! I think I did a fairly good job after a few days of practice. Unfortunately for me though, I still haven’t figured out how to explain it to this goat:

Behind the Mug: Saad and the goat

One week in: Slack changes reviewed

It’s amazing how quickly time seems to fly by these days. I’ve been told it’s because I’m getting older, but I’d rather believe it is anything but that :)

Last week, Dave told you about the reasons we decided it was time for AgileBits to take a step back from Slack and really evaluate how we communicate with each other. I have to admit, I was definitely one of the folks dragging my feet, resisting the change. It’s well known around here that I’m not one for new tools, and I have a tendency to overthink potential pitfalls. Analysis Paralysis! It’s real, and can be its own hurdle to jump.

We were supposed to take baby steps, starting up Basecamp and gradually winding down things with Slack. But as Dave said, breaking the addiction was hard, and people didn’t naturally migrate away. So we decided one day that we were going cold turkey, everyone all at once—including me!

Immediately, there were things I loved: the Card view of To-Do lists let the organizer in me instantly see the top items and where my team need support. There were also things I missed: the little-green-dot “here” indicator from Slack, and surprisingly, the emojis. I hadn’t realized how much more satisfying it was having the opportunity to “react” to someone’s statement with a smiley face :) or a party horn :toot:!

I haven’t got a technical background, and I hear Dave say things that often make sense, but don’t always register on a deep level for me. One was his beating of the “Signal versus Noise” drum. I’d heard it before, but hadn’t really thought about what it meant. I was following 97 channels in Slack, and now I have 23 Basecamp groups. Either way you slice it, it’s a lot of communication.

I was very surprised that within a day or two, I noticed a complete change in how I was able to approach my notifications. As someone who regularly clears all the notifications a few times a day, this used to take a longer time in Slack, often resulting in backtracking to see which channel talked about such-and-such, because it was also being chatted about in another channel. I felt that I had to reply to comments immediately, because otherwise someone might not read back far enough to see something, and my voice wouldn’t be heard in the process.

In Basecamp, Messages are focused points for each of the different ‘camps’ and I can easily see whether a discussion is something I need to focus on or something I can glance at quickly. And with its threaded nature, I am able to completely focus on that Message, instead of having other pieces of information hopping in the way, distracting me from the task at hand. I have been able to focus in on the Signal much more quickly with this new setup.

The discoverability and permanence of the Signal have also helped greatly. Having the chance to go back and review, while also providing a place for future planning, gives us the opportunity to combine a few different tools into one. I know I’m in a unique position here at AgileBits, but Basecamp has me using one tool now to see who won the WWDC lottery, discuss plans for the next newsletter, and also track the pulse of each platform’s development.

Speaking of pulses, let’s talk about Heartbeats. We had initially looked at daily Heartbeats for everyone on the team, but decided to stick with Know Your Company and their Monday “What are you up to this week?” email. It gives everyone a chance to reply in one place and receive a nice digest email the next day. Deciding to use a new tool doesn’t mean you have to throw all the things into one package – if you have something that works, and works well, recognize that and keep on doing it!

We found a great use for biweekly and weekly Basecamp Heartbeats for our Developer and Customer Support Leads. Last week was our first kick at the can, and it was definitely a touchdown! It was wonderful having something that summarizes top issues and information, and provides a chance to discuss specific issues, responses, and possible solutions. I found the overview much better at tying all the individual threads together, and it gave the entire team a better opportunity to see the big picture.

Seeing the big picture is often the hardest part. It’s disheartening to hear “communication sucks at this company” when you spend hours emailing, calling, and chatting with people, only to find that your important information has gone through a sieve. Another benefit of quitting Slack entirely was that it ended the safety-net thinking of “if I miss it, I can just ask again”.

Entirely too often, folks would pop into a Slack room and ask a question that needed a quick answer, without first checking to see if we had documentation on it. If we rely on “the little green dots” to answer questions, we will never take the time to make our documentation better. There is now a concerted effort to make sure we are capturing the knowledge of our teammates; we need to be sure we are making things easier for us not only today, but also tomorrow. Growing a company has its challenges, and having solid information that a new person can rely on makes onboarding much easier.

It’s been a very revealing process so far. The move is still a new one, and as folks are getting more comfortable in Basecamp, it’s interesting to watch the spaces get filled in. For those of you following our journey, thanks for being here! Change isn’t easy, but in order to keep growing and making things better, we need to always be looking for ways to improve.

Curing Our Slack Addiction

I love Slack. I really really do. So much so I would call it an addiction at this point.

Slowly but surely this addiction has been killing my sanity and sapping our productivity as we simply used Slack for too many things. We decided it was time to try a new approach for communication at AgileBits.

Below is the story of how we started using Slack, the problems that started to crop up, and our plan for moving forward.

How We Got Here

We started as a 2 person company 10 years ago and slowly but surely grew to over 60 people.

As a remote company, group chat felt essential, especially given the flat company we had with no management. It worked quite well at the beginning.

Over the years we’ve tried many chat clients and would switch to a new one every few months. We used IRC, HipChat, FlowDock, Campfire, and test drove many others. And then we found Slack and fell head over heels in love.

Almost everyone loves Slack, and it’s no surprise. It’s incredibly fast, always remembers where you were in every channel, has wonderful integrations, and provides fantastic clients for every platform.

And the notifications are to die for. They are simply amazing and fun to receive. At any moment I can get anyone’s attention and have a quick conversation with them, and everyone can do the same with me.

As a company we’ve never felt more connected.

Channel Inflation

It didn’t take long to realize that having 60 people discussing everything in one channel wasn’t going to work, so we quickly expanded the number of channels.

It started innocently enough: having different channels for Development, Documentation, and Customer Support was an obvious choice and indeed a good start.

In time, each of those channels needed to split into multiple, more focused channels. Development begot iOS, Mac, Windows, and Android channels, and Customer Support spawned new areas for Forums, Twitter, Social, Outreach, and Email.

Then there were all the amazing app and service integrations. We could receive Slack messages whenever an issue was opened, new code committed, or someone said something on Twitter. It was fun and reduced our dependence on email. It felt like we were in heaven.

These integrations added a lot of noise for some of the team, while others felt the notifications were important to their workflows. So we created more channels, allowing people to choose what worked best for them.

In each case we would add more channels in a desperate attempt to allow people to find the important information they needed while avoiding the noise.

Often we would hear jokes about having too many channels, so we created #too-many-channels to help people find the channel that they needed.

You would think adding all these channels would be an administrative burden, but that wasn’t the case. Slack allows anyone in the company to create a new channel so if you need one there’s no need to wait for anyone—simply create it and invite everyone you want. The sky’s the limit!

Our limit ended up being 81 channels. And this did not include private channels nor archived ones.

Using Slack for All The Things!

Slack was simply too good for us to resist and as a result we preferred using it over all the other tools at our disposal.

When you had a question about how 1Password implemented something on Mac, you simply asked. You knew Rick and Kevin did some work related to your question, so you would @ mention them both to make sure they saw it.

If you were on a phone call with a customer and were stymied by a technical issue you weren’t prepared for, you would use use the global @ channel notification to make sure you got an answer in real time.

In the event that you found a bug you would simply mention it in one of the channels and expect that it would be taken care of. After all, there’s tons of people in the channel so surely someone would do something about it.

When you couldn’t remember why 1Password behaves the way it does in a particular situation, your first instinct would be to switch to Slack and ask. And since everyone’s addiction was as strong as yours, you were sure to get someone’s attention.

All of these interactions would happen in Slack, despite there being many other tools that are better suited. Tools like bug trackers and wikis would allow answers to be preserved so future questions wouldn’t even have to be asked but they weren’t as fun.

We all knew how great it would be to have a repository of knowledge for people to find their answers, but Slack was simply too good at providing the quick fix we all needed. Copying these answers from Slack to a permanent location didn’t release the same endorphins provided by Slack, so it seldom happened.

Connectedness vs. Communication

With Slack we were more connected than we ever were before. We had 81 channels where anyone could talk to anybody in the company, and if the person you needed wasn’t in that channel, no worries, you could simply @ mention them and they would be added instantly.

If it sounds like it would be hard to focus, it was. But we were willing to accept this in exchange for better communication.

The thing is, being connected doesn’t magically enable effective communication. If you’ve ever listened to an old married couple fight about how the other one never listens to them, you’ll instinctually know this already. If living together doesn’t help the old couple communicate, how can we expect a group chat tool to do it for us?

But for some reason most of us think that communication is simply a tooling problem and completely ignore the human aspect. In reality people are the most important piece of the puzzle, so we should simply teach them how to communicate better, right? If only it was that easy.

For many months myself and a few others have been trying to make Slack work for us. We would be the bad cops and point out people’s bad behaviour and suggest alternatives.

When someone would report an issue in Slack, we’d point out the appropriate JIRA or GitHub project where that should be reported. When someone would get an answer to their question, we’d remind them that they should copy it into our internal knowledgebase so others could find it in the future.

It got to the point where several of us would answer questions with a Let Me Google That For You link. It was insulting and we didn’t feel good doing it, but we were at the end of our rope and desperately trying to point out how ridiculous things had become.

Unfortunately it didn’t work. The allure of the always on nature of Slack and instant gratification was just too strong to resist.

And even if we had been successful in changing people’s behaviour, the lack of threading made it very difficult to have meaningful, deep conversations about complex subjects anyway. Before you could even fully understand the problem being discussed (let alone find a solution), someone would invariably start a new conversation or reply to a previous discussion that happened earlier in the channel.

Effective communication requires a lot more than amazing connectivity. The fact many ‘Bits complained they had no idea what was happening in the company or why certain decisions were made proves this point.

Sanity Check

It took me a while to realize just how bad our patterns of using Slack had become for my sanity and the health of AgileBits.

Slack forced me to evaluate things very fast and respond quickly, otherwise I would miss my opportunity to join a conversation before it moved onto something else.

Then there was the fact that we had so many channels and direct messages and group chats. It multiplexed my brain and left me in a constant state of anxiety, feeling that I needed to always be on guard.

And I had to read everything. I felt that I had no choice as often decisions would be made in Slack that I needed to know. And in other ways it was simply an addiction that needed to be fed.

For me, things came to a head when one of my awesome team mates asked me something I didn’t expect:

Dave, I feel like you’ve been much more angry as of late. Is there something else going on? Some stress that none of us are seeing?

I was surprised by this question because the reality is I’m happier now than I have been in years. And I had just finished sending out (what I thought was) a very positive and uplifting internal newsletter to the entire team. So where was this question coming from?

Then I realized that this individual was raising this question in Slack, after I had a Slack conversation with them complaining about how they were using Slack incorrectly.

This made me realize that our use of Slack was even more destructive than I had realized. The time pressures forced me to be curt and I avoided taking the time to be playful. Worse, since I was in a constant state of heighten anxiety, I often wouldn’t feel like being playful to begin with.

I had always evaluated Slack from the point of view of “Does it make me more productive?” and “Does it help my team ship a better product?”. I had never considered the more important question “Does Slack make me look and feel like a dick?”.

I think the answer to the last question was yes. In fact, some of the most positive and uplifting individuals I know come off as curt and stressed and pissed off in Slack conversations. And given that I believe the answers to the first two questions are NOT a resounding yes, I don’t think the sacrifice is worth it.

Breaking the Addiction

Breaking up with the tool you love the most is not easy to do.

Indeed, it’s so hard that we talked about changing tools and behaviours for over 6 months. The rallying cry of “it’s just a tool, let’s use it properly” was heard so many times that I lost count.

The reality is we could make Slack work for us but it would require constant policing. I simply don’t want to be that bad cop, and I don’t want to hire a police force either. Furthermore, Slack was not designed for the deep, meaningful conversations that are needed to move 1Password forward.

So we made the incredibly hard decision to break up with Slack. We’ll always be grateful to Slack for all the fond memories and I suspect our paths will cross again someday, but for now we need to be apart so we can remember why we fell in love to begin with.

The next stop on our communication journey is Basecamp. In a future post I’ll share more on how we hope Basecamp will help and how we plan on using it alongside our other tools.

AgileBits Family Gathering 2016

When I joined the AgileBits family last March, everyone had just returned from AGConf[5], the most recent annual company gathering. Throughout the year, I’d see things in Slack (the chat application we use) like, “Last one to join the call owes us all Labadoozies!” But it rang hollow for me because I had never tasted a Labadoozie. A couple of weeks ago, I finally had my chance (and it lives up to the hype)!

Biding my time was well worth it, not only for the Labadoozie, but also to meet the smiling faces behind those avatars I know and love. To accommodate our biggest team yet (along with several of our family members and guests), the conference took place on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas, the world’s largest passenger ship!

The reunion

As soon as we got to the ship, it was all about meeting, greeting, and hugging. What a treat to finally chat with my teammates face to face, and to meet their spouses, kids, boyfriends, girlfriends, and other loved ones.

I certainly wasn’t the only one embarking on my first-ever AGConf. We’ve been fortunate to welcome several marvelous new team members over the last year.

What makes AGConf special is the chance to meet (most of) the entire company at once – but can you imagine being invited along for your interview?!? Talk about pressure! It takes a brave soul to pounce on that kind of opportunity, and that’s one of the many reasons we knew that Sonya would be a great fit. It was announced over dinner one night that she had accepted our invitation to join the AgileBits crew, giving new meaning to our customary “Welcome aboard!”

Customers first

Keeping our priorities straight, we all knew we wouldn’t be on this cruise without our wonderful 1Password customers, so we began each morning with all hands on deck for customer support. It was so refreshing to be able to just sit next to a developer to talk about a bug instead of having to type a message!

We also had some excellent presentations on the progress we’ve made with each of our apps over the last year, where we’re headed, and what we’re focusing on now. We even had the pleasure of getting some tips from Dene Cohen of DCODE Communications Inc about how we can make 1Password better for everyone.

The fun is just beginning

On top of helping customers and making 1Password better, another great reason we have AGConf is to spend time bonding with everyone. We made some time each day to relax and have fun together—and eat a lot of frozen yogurt. Dinners together in the main dining room were a highlight for everyone. The food was top-notch, and the company even better. Following dinner with dessert and some awesome games made for wonderful evenings!

Meanwhile, on land

We also had three lovely ports of call; we enjoyed beaches and adventures in Falmouth, Jamaica; Cozumel, Mexico; and of course, our favorite: Labadee, Haiti, namesake of our beloved Labadoozie.

It ain’t over til…

Singing karaoke is one of my most favorite things to do, so I wound up at On Air, the ship’s karaoke bar, just about every night. And there were contests! On the final night, Khad and I competed with eight of our fellow passengers in the Karaoke Superstar Championship finals, for which we had each qualified earlier in the week. Dozens of our teammates packed into On Air to cheer us on. Khad’s incredible performance of Meat Loaf’s “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” brought the house down, and somehow my rendition of “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele won me a gold medal, a swag bag and a bottle of bubbly. But better than all that was the room full of hugs and high fives from our fellow ‘Bits. :D

Float on

Working from home certainly has its perks, but there’s something really special about having the whole team in the same room (especially if that room is on a ship). The fact that it only happens once a year means we all make the most of our time together, and I know I’m still cruising on the positive energy and inspiration I took home from our tropical meeting of the minds.

Behind the Mug: Greig Allen

Tell us a little bit about yourself

Behind the Mug: Greig Allen

Hey, I’m Greig, part of the AgileBits UK contingent. I’m 28 and live in Aberdeen, which is in the Northeast of Scotland, a truly beautiful part of the world; it’s home to Scotland’s only dedicated castle trail, several Whisky distilleries and the infamous Rowie. I’ve been married to my wife Lauren since June 2014 and we’ve recently upgraded from an apartment to our own proper grown-up house with a garden (or should that be yard!).

Behind the Mug: Greig Allen - Greig in his native habitat

In my spare time I love playing and watching American football, following tech news, cultivating my new-found love of BBQ and enjoying any local whisky. I’m at my happiest either in my “man cave” surrounded by gadgets, LEGO, and games; or sitting in a field at a festival enjoying music with my family and friends. Music is one of my great passion—our house is always abuzz with the sounds of Ryan Adams and The White Stripes or my guitar, which I’ve played since the age of nine.

Behind the Mug: Greig Allen - Greig and his toys

If you were sent to the International Space Station for 3 months and were only allowed to bring 3 personal items, what would they be?

I’d definitely take some home comforts:

  • My iPhone (for music and photos)
  • Crate of beer
  • Reese’s Cups, in copious quantities!

If you had one chance to travel anywhere at any time, where and when would you go?

Before I tell you where I would go, I’m telling you how I would get there, and that has to be in the DeLorean! I am the biggest Back to the Future fan out there. As for where I would go, it would definitely have to be Woodstock; to be a part of such an iconic event in music would be incredible. Just as a little side note, not to be mushy but I would love to relive my wedding day too!

What is your hidden talent?

My hidden talent, well, if you’ve seen me after a few drinks you’ll understand why they call me “Snake hips Allen”. Give me a dance floor and good music and I’ll dance all night long. It’s maybe not a hidden talent… I’m maybe using the word talent pretty loosely but I sure do enjoy it!

What does a typical day in your life look like?

My wife gets up super early and once that hairdryer gets going, I’m up and out of bed. I set myself up for the day with a bowl of Krave, log on, check the football scores and blog feeds. Once that is taken care of, I’m usually one of the first in the morning to start engaging with and helping our amazing customers (might be something to do with the time difference). I’ll take a break for lunch and get some fresh air, taking a walk down by the burn and listening to Back to work.

Behind the Mug: Greig Allen - Greig's office

Then it is back to offering support to our customers until my wife comes home from work. We really enjoy cooking together so we will usually do that of an evening. In the winter our weather gets pretty bad so we tend to hibernate with a movie but in the summer we will visit family and friends, hang out in a beer garden, or fire up the BBQ!

Behind the Mug: Greig Allen - Interesting


Meet Virginia, AgileBits Day Brightener

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m 32 (pronounced “thirty-too-legit-to-quit”) and originally from the Detroit area. I’ve been living in beautiful Portland, OR, for 10 years and counting. I spend my free time in pursuit of fun and adventure! I’m an Associate Artist with an awesome local theater company, Action/Adventure Theatre. I like to sing a lot of karaoke, play pub trivia with friends every week, go out to brunch, see comedy shows, visit my family in Seattle, and generally frolic about. I’m often sporting several temporary tattoos but no permanent ones.

What do you do on the AgileBits team?

Virginia and kitty

I’m proud to be a member of our world-class Customer Support & Social Media teams, answering questions and providing help to our awesome customers. My title is “Day Brightener,” and I strive to live up to that in all my interactions with customers and teammates alike. If I’m not brightening somebody’s day, I’m not doing my job! I get inspiration from my housemates’ two dogs and my boyfriend’s cat; furry little critters always brighten my day.

How did you get your start in the tech industry?

With a BA in Arts & Letters and a background in primarily customer service and admin support jobs, it took a lot of commitment for me to pivot into tech. I started by talking to friends working in tech; poking around in some free online coding tutorials; and attending conferences, talks and meetups here in Portland. This is my first job in the tech industry, and I love it more than I could’ve imagined. :)

What’s your favourite thing about what you do today?

I love the flexibility of working remotely and learning all the ins and outs of 1Password. I’d have to say the upbeat attitude and collaborative environment of this company are my favorite parts. And it’s a great feedback loop: we care so much about our customers and making a product that makes them happy, and they feel that and reciprocate. Our customers love us because they know we love them! My last job was in insurance claims, so this is definitely a happier environment.

What are your geeky aspirations for the future?

The only goal I have for sure right now is to continue learning and growing. Before I started at AgileBits, I wanted to be a developer, and I may yet.  But I love working in Customer Support & Social Media so much that I’m not sure I’d want to give it up!

If you had one free hour each day, how would you use it?

Walk around my neighborhood listening to podcasts and playing Ingress (Enlightened ftw!). Unless it was raining, which it often is here; in that case, I’d probably stay in and read.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Teleportation! I almost said flying, which would obviously be really awesome, but flying takes time and I’d rather be able to travel anywhere in the world instantly.

What’s your Patronus?

A unipeg (unicorn pegasus)! If we must stick to the natural world, I’ll say an otter.