TextExpander empowers people across the globe to save their most irreplaceable resource: time. By eliminating repetitive tasks, businesses and individuals have reclaimed countless hours with TextExpander.
A passion for customers is core to the team’s culture, and one glance at their Twitter account makes it obvious that passion is mutual.
Building a product loved by so many requires a tremendously talented, multidisciplinary team that truly cares about the product they deliver, and the people that use it. We recently caught up with TextExpander’s Rex Mann to learn what it’s like to be a member of such a team, and explore some of the ways they’re building a unique, engaging distributed employee experience to support it.
“I get to work with a lot of really cool people—both customers and colleagues,” he said. “Our team is awesome. I haven’t met a single bad egg yet, and I feel like that’s super rare. Everyone’s so technologically inclined, too. That’s really refreshing.”
With a background in psychology, Rex has developed several best practices to help TextExpander users better organize and use their Snippets. You can learn directly from Rex in the company’s regular live webinars.
A persistent dedication to collaboration, meaningful work, and authentic connections extends across the entire organization, and it shows in the team’s ability to retain great talent. Several members have been with the team for over 10 years.
Our team is awesome. I haven’t met a single bad egg yet, and I feel like that’s super rare.
As the team continues to grow and expand, culture remains a core priority and a driving force for TextExpander. Asked how the team keeps its culture strong across great distances, Mann pointed out a few examples.
“Our onboarding is really fun,” he shared. “We focus a lot on values—especially during the first few weeks.”
While it wasn’t always so distantly distributed, TextExpander now has team members working across nine countries and 11 time zones. Despite working across greater distances, the tight-knit collective found its way to an efficient and effective rhythm quickly.
“In the past, our team was more centralized in the US. Recently, we’ve been especially focused on asynchronous work, as our team becomes more and more geographically distributed.”
To help support that cultural value of teamwork and connectedness in a distributed environment, TextExpander continues to adopt new tools and strategies to make them more effective.
“To the extent we can, we’re really working to do away with email,” he explained. “It’s obviously not the most efficient or secure form of communication, so the less we can use it, the better. We’ve always used Asana, but in the past year we’ve become a lot more deliberate and consistent with that, which has been really helpful.”
Most recently, Rex and his team implemented Haystack to further support the shift to asynchronous collaboration, to help build connections between distributed colleagues, and to establish a central source for organizational knowledge.
A Central Reference Point
Like many modern organizations, TextExpander has a significant amount of documentation employees need quick access to.
“We are heavy Slack users. Prior to coming to Haystack, a lot of our documentation either lived there or in Google Drive. Having things stored there was particularly challenging for new folks. When I first started, I was digging through the Slack archives for information, wondering if what I found was right or not.”
Now that information has a centralized, searchable, and easily accessible home in Haystack. A broad range of integrations make it easy for people to consume that information in the way that suits them best.
“If it’s evergreen content, that goes in Haystack,” Mann explained. “Anything that would be a large or company-wide post, we make sure that posts in Haystack, and then it also gets distributed through the Slack integration.”
In addition to accessibility and visibility, the team now has a way to verify the accuracy of information as well.
I love the ‘verified’ badge. Even on a smaller team, it doesn’t take long before enough information piles up that it’s hard to find what you’re looking for—and even if you do, you’re not sure if it’s still valid or up to date.”
And while Haystack has been a valuable place to store key documents and other important company information, it has also become a way to improve communication and accessibility for teammates working from anywhere.
“Lately we’ve been recording our monthly team updates and putting each section in Haystack. Then when we do have the synchronous meetings, it’s a time to review, and for everyone to ask questions."
We’re still in the early days of bringing everything into Haystack, but it’s already exciting.
As you might expect, a team so focused on collaboration didn’t find or deploy Haystack in a vacuum. “Marcie Arvelo, our HR and Recruiting expert, was an important partner for this initiative,” Mann explained.
Arvelo quickly adopted Haystack as a way to celebrate team members and help people get to know one another. In addition to those goals, she also found ways to make hiring and onboarding more fun and seamless. “One of [Marcie’s] new policies is related to hiring: if you want to bring someone new onto the team, you need to have a playbook ready for them in Haystack first.”
“Marcie has been posting regular employee spotlights in Haystack as well,” he shared.
As Haystack was adopted across the organization, some favorite features emerged.
“Everyone loves the name game. We’re all competing to see who can get the highest score. I went in one evening on my phone and got past 200. Nobody’s tried to challenge it yet, but we’ll see how long it lasts!
Also, people love the employee map—I think it’s just fun to see where everyone’s at, and sometimes you have these little moments of insight like, ‘wait, we have people in Nebraska, too?’”
TextExpander’s spirit of teamwork can’t help but grow and thrive in Haystack, and it’s showing up in some truly creative ways. “We even plan to use the new poll feature to let the team name our intranet,” Mann mused.
Everyone loves the name game.
Rex and the TextExpander team built an extraordinary digital employee experience to support a geographically diverse team. He was happy to share some helpful tips and learnings he and his team gathered along the way.
- Make it a team effort. Get people excited and involved from the beginning to the end of the process, rather than just dropping a new tool on them. Get feedback from everyone, and follow it. Otherwise you can end up with resistance.
- Make it fun. Making it more than just a repository for information really helps. Running a tutoring center for years, I learned the power of dressing information up. Engaging content makes a big difference. Going through a bunch of documents, you might get fatigued before you find what you’re looking for. Things like image banners, and animated GIFs really do make a difference.
- Find good partners. As a team passionate about customers, it’s important to see that in the vendors you choose to work with as well. Be conscious of the vibes you’re getting during those initial demos and conversations.
As a customer-obsessed team ourselves, it’s always exciting to get to work with a company like TextExpander, building tools that people all over the world (including some Haystack team members!) absolutely love. We’re looking forward to seeing all the ways TextExpander continues to innovate their product, and their digital employee experience right alongside. To learn more about TextExpander, visit https://textexpander.com/.