Like so many other companies, SimplyPHP made the switch to hybrid, then completely remote work over the last two years. This has been a huge adjustment for our staff. Before, we worked out of a spacious office on Montreal's bustling Peel Street. We provided comfortable chairs, lots of snacks and drinks for our team, and encouraged developers to work closely together to solve complex development problems.
When we started remote work, we wanted to maintain all of these essential amenities of our workplace. The last thing we wanted was for our staff to experience a drop in the quality of their work-life especially when there were already so many challenging things happening in the world.
To help maintain the unique culture of our workplace, we were forced to make some modifications. Read on to learn more about how we've adjusted our workplace to continue supporting developers and putting clients first.
Essentially, a Center of Excellence is an institution or a set of practices designed to pursue excellence in a particular area. The ultimate goal of a centre of excellence is to bring together people from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, using a shared set of facilities or resources. You can find centres of excellence all over the world.
One organization that has used the centre of excellence model again and again is the United States Army. They operate a variety of centres of excellence all over the United States, all of which are focused on different concepts. For example, there’s an Aviation Centre of Excellence in Fort Rucker, Alabama, and a Medical Centre of Excellence located at Joint Base San Antonio in Texas.
However, it isn’t only governments or government agencies that have dedicated themselves to building centres of excellence. By thinking about training and team management intentionally, businesses and private organizations can build their own centres of excellence and offer both staff and clients an improved experience across the board.
At SimplyPHP, we believe the concept of a Center of Excellence has had the most important impact on our workplace. A center of excellence is either an institution or a set of practices that are designed to facilitate excellence in a particular area.
When we set out to build a center of excellence model within our workplace, we knew that our developers had to be at its heart. Knowing that, we prioritized creating support, resources, and best practices to facilitate this goal.
One of the most important pillars of our center of excellence model is peer support. When we first moved to remote work, we were concerned that the close peer relationships within our company would stagnate and die. To help stop this from happening and to encourage the building of new relationships as we brought on more staff, we instituted a new tradition: virtual water cooler chats.
Virtual water cooler chats are a tradition that we started building at SimplyPHP recently. Many of our staff were missing the quick daily chats in the kitchen or by their desks, so we tried to find a replacement.
Now, a few times a month, we grab 5-6 random staff members and invite them into a Zoom meeting with our founders, Raph and Tony. During that time, they can chat about anything they want. Most of the time, we don't end up talking about work and instead talk about the weather or what's going on in our personal lives.
These conversations have been an invaluable point of connection for our developers. They offer opportunities for our developers to get to know each other and, most importantly, form closer relationships with company management.
By building a rapport through these virtual water cooler chats, we want to continue to stress the importance of peer support within our organization and break down barriers that may be holding people back from reaching out to their managers with questions, comments, or other inquiries.
If you've never met in person, it can be hard to go to your manager with a problem. However, if you've gotten to know them over the course of a few online video chats, reaching out feels a lot easier.
Want to learn more about how we build a culture that better supports developers at SimplyPHP? Reach out to us any time on our website to inquire about open positions or check out our podcast to learn more about our approach to development.