Sharing previous work stories as a tool to bond the team.

Sharing team members’ work stories? Does this seem like a good idea? Well… Google recently found this outcome after in-depth research:

Employees value managers and colleagues who care about what happens in their lives outside of work.

The original post with the complete research is here

We reached the same conclusion just by asking team members. It was one of the dimensions we valued the most to build a Great Working Environment. We wanted to know the people behind our jobs/roles. It made clearly sense as we had just started to work together when we launched the GWE project.

So we set a double target. On one hand, we would like to know our teammates and what they do in their spare time, on the other hand, what they did before they joined the team (within or outside the company).

For the first question, we have weekly updates where we are free to share anything we do in our spare time. As you can imagine, being working at Automattic for, we publish internal posts for this. Note: as we grow confidence and bonds, it is more and more frequent to find colorful and interesting stories on these posts.

This is the amazing Neptune team (Neptune is the guy on top of the fountain)

Previous Work Stories: What I did posts

The second question was about what we did before joining the team. And again, we found the tool in our marvelous P2 themed internal blogs.

We made a series of posts that we called ‘What I did posts’. The question was easy: “Be free to describe and share what you think is important in your journey until you reached the team” (Anyone was then free to decide what to share). We ask Stephano to open fire (Thanks! and at the end of each post, the author nominated the next team member to publish their journey post.

So… what we did before?

We are a 14 people team working in a distributed customer success team. We call ourselves Happiness Engineers. So, well, one could expect in our case finding a 90% of computers related work stories. But it was worth to give what we did posts a try to be surprised. We found we are extraordinarily diverse… and interesting.

What did we find?

All of us have Blogs ¯_(ツ)_/¯… and some of us certainly had some episodes having to do with WordPress, but our stories were incredibly divergent and interesting. For instance we had four healthcare professionals. A Medical Biologist that always wears a bowtie -and had a WordPress agency-. A PhD in bio-cybernetics that enjoys improvisation theatre and wrote a book to learn English ‘the smart way’. Also 2 nurses! One volunteering at a local library, helping with their website and working full time at since 2006! The other having worked for some Plugin Development company and been a speaker in 2 of the 3 major WordPress related events in the world (She took part in WCEurope while she was in Japan and WCAsia while living in Poland).

What else? Sports people in any perspective. We have a WordCamp Europe organizer that plays Badmington, or a Nature lover having worked in Yosemite that is part of the Spanish National Ultimate Frisbee team (so he organized an ultimate match on our team meetup). Yep, ultimate seems to be the team sport! Jaco also plays Ultimate… and takes care of the spectators! Lastly, Stefano, not a sportsman properly said: but made awesome soundtracks for sports TV spots!

Setefano did this!

Want more? What about an Art Historian that ended with us because he failed an exam to be a policeman 😀 (He doesn’t regret) or the former head of communications for the leader of a political group in the European Parliament? He, Richard, has a PodCast to get great histories to be heard. Same as an adventurer woman having worked as a teacher for 15 years in Canada, India, Sudan, Japan and Prague that was tired of having the same conversations and created a PodCast about changes, big and small.

Cut to the chase. The outcome?

Honestly? Not sure for the others. I enjoyed a lot discovering how interesting my teammates were. This could be a new year’s resolution for all of us 😉

Happy 2020!


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