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André Jonas
André Jonas

Posted on • Originally published at

Start with "Good Morning"

Building a great engineering culture where people take pride in caring and helping each other grow is hard. It becomes even harder when we or some of our coworkers or everyone in the company is working remotely. It's easier to just focus on our work, it's easier to only communicate with other folks when we're stuck. What's hard is to cultivate a friendship with someone halfway across the globe, what's hard is to make it our business to elevate everyone's day.

Around 4 years ago I've cultivated the habit of consistently greeting my coworkers daily whenever I'm starting my day. A simple "Good Morning", a "Good Morning" in a different language, a funny GIF, an "at last it's friday!", my plans for the weekend or just something nice about my day. There's always a light and different way of greeting someone and making conversation.

When there's a strong culture this habit might already exist or it's easily incorporated in a couple of days. On the other side of the pendulum it can take up to a month of persistent greetings, every single day, to get buy-in from everyone. At the same time this is also the most rewarding scenario. We begin observing coworkers starting the day before us and greeting each other, sharing something about their personal lives or side projects. It is the first step for the necessary change in culture and it cannot be forced, it must come naturally.

I had the luck of being able to implement this "cultural bootstrap" in at least 5 different teams and achieved 100% success every single time. Sure, at first it's weird being the only one saying "Good Morning", don't expect anyone to follow your lead just yet. It's even natural to receive private messages from skeptical coworkers a few days into this venture, they doubt such a simple hack will ever stick but I know I've won after getting the first 2 or 3 people greeting me for a week straight.

And let me tell you what's the most rewarding aspect. Months or even years after parting ways with the team or the company I still get private messages from ex-coworkers telling me that they still do it or that they've moved on to other companies and have successfully applied the same tactic. That's the power of empathy transcending the company itself!

So as we approach the end let me remind you that your company's culture also depends on you and let me ask you to take pride in caring for your coworkers and that you just start by simply saying "Good Morning".

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