How We Work
We want the people who work at Two Barrels to be happy. To thrive. To feel like part of our great team doing amazing things. And we know that for all of this to happen, Two Barrels has to be the right kind of environment for you. That’s why we’re taking the time to explain how we work and what matters most to us.
So how do we do things at Two Barrels? We manage projects using Agile principles, which we explain below. After that, we also go over the general principles we live by here at Two Barrels. These are the behaviors and characteristics that we feel are essential for all of our team members.
How We Manage Projects:
Agile, Scrum & Kanban
Like many modern tech companies, we use Agile at Two Barrels. Not familiar with Agile? It’s the fancy name for a collection of project management principles that have had a lot of success in the tech world.
One important idea within Agile is that teams should be self-organizing and cross-functional. At Two Barrels, team leaders don’t just decide which person will do which task or how a problem will be solved. Instead, we all work together to decide these issues as a whole.
In Agile, there’s also an understanding that our products, projects, goals, and priorities will go through lots of changes during development. Our job is to adapt along the way. We’re always looking to help each other improve efficiency and maintain a steady stream of excellent production.
So how do we actually incorporate Agile into our work here are Two Barrels? We mainly use two Agile methodologies: Scrum and Kanban.
Scrum? Doesn’t that sound like something we should scrape off our shoes? It sounds funky, but Scrum is just a way to translate the principles of Agile into a smooth process.
In Scrum, we each have set roles, such as a Front-End Developer or Designer. We are also responsible for certain products, such as specific websites or services. Because we have these set roles and responsibilities, it’s easy for us to organize and solve problems. Scrum also helps organize projects by breaking them down into one or two-week chunks called “sprint cycles.” Each sprint begins with a planning session. And we follow up with regular retrospectives (reflections on what worked and what didn’t).
And in order to help our teams adapt to constant changes, Scrum is big into communication. Really big. At Two Barrels, we have “stand ups,” which are quick (usually daily) meetings. In a stand up, we briefly share what we worked on the day before, what we’re working on today, and any issues preventing us from moving forward. We also meet to review our backlog a couple times a month to break down upcoming projects into manageable parts.
Together with Scrum, we also use Kanban (which is almost as fun to say as “scrum”).
Because every project has many small parts that require different people, it can be difficult to see exactly where we are on a project at any given time. Kanban helps solve this problem by representing our workflow in a visual way.
At Two Barrels, we use online Kanban boards (mostly Jira Software) where we list our individual tasks in 5 categories:
- To Do
- In Progress
- On Hold
- In Review
We move our tasks from one category to the next as we complete work so that the current state of projects can be seen at a glance.
In a nutshell, Scrum guides our process and Kanban gives us a snapshot of where we are in the process.
How We Work: Remotely or In Person?
Most of 2B is working from home now—and many will continue to do so in the future. We support remote work and get a fancy “work from home” allowance to help us do so in comfort (and style).
Some work however is best done in person—hardware has to physically exist in a tangible location, right? So we have offices in Spokane and Austin, and a few 2B positions require office proximity. (And even for those you can usually work from home most days.) We typically have a quarterly office meetup as well, where we eat a bunch of food and do something fun, like rent out a theater or go on a hike.
Some people have come back to the offices full time. Others pop in every so often. A couple live hundreds of miles away. And it works—in part because we follow a few key principles.
Principles We Live By
Taking out the project management jargon, how do we really work here? There are a few things we do each day that we feel are important to make the best possible team.
Check in with each other
Checking in has become all the more important with remote work—we keep logged into chat during the workday and are happy to hop into a video call for some quick face time. In person, the first few minutes of each day are usually spent together with coworkers—showing each other what we’re working on and letting each other know if we need anything.
We prefer bite-sized interactions that move the ball forward instead of hurting our heads with 3-hour meetings or epic emails. We talk to the people we work with and get stuff figured out in real time.
Test new ideas
There’s a reason we call our team members “creatives.” Every project introduces new obstacles and calls for new solutions. Systems, software, design, development, writing, marketing—at their core, all of our jobs require us to do the same things. We try out strategies and solutions. We compare new results to old results. We tinker and test. We experiment in order to make the strongest security solution, the most user-friendly interface, the most striking design, the most compelling content, or the highest-ranking page.
At our end-of-the-year party, we hand out a larger-than-life trophy for the Best Idea of the Year, voted on by our peers. And it’s always hard to decide who to vote for. There are so many innovative thinkers with great ideas to choose from—and learn from.
So that new idea didn’t pan out so well? Maybe the new landing page design was a bust? Maybe deleting a few links accidentally orphaned a page? It’s important to let go of bad ideas and fix our mistakes. It’s also essential to make sure the right people know what happened. Every part of a project affects many other parts. We wouldn’t want the marketing team to launch a campaign using a page design that tested poorly. And if someone is making pages inaccessible, there’s probably a hole in the process that we can fix. How we handle our misses and mistakes contributes to our entire team’s success.
Make beautiful things
We care about what we create. Our work matters, and we take pride in it. We excitedly show our team members the cool things we just made. At Two Barrels, it’s not just about getting the job done. We want to craft the best solution or product every time.
Teach and learn
No one here at Two Barrels has exactly the same knowledge base. New writers might not know much about SEO. New coders may not have a lot of experience with PHP. One of the most essential aspects of teamwork is teaching and learning from each other. Sometimes no one knows how to do something. Sometimes we’re not even sure if something is technically possible. So we research. We study. And we develop skills we never even dreamed of.
If Two Barrels sounds like a place where you would thrive, grow and enjoy work, then we’d love to see what skills you bring to the table.