At WordFest Live, on July 23rd, three team members from WebDevStudios (WDS) joined together to educate attendees on successfully implementing Five for the Future (5FTF) at their WordPress company. While you can watch the post-event video, which includes a live question and answer session featuring WDS CEO, Brad Williams, at the WordFest Live website (you will need to register), we thought it prudent to share our 5FTF formula on our blog, as well. This way, anyone can return to this post for reference or to simply share with others.
So, how did WDS make Five for the Future a part of our WordPress agency’s company culture? We break down our recipe into three main ingredients. But before we do that, let’s have a quick review about 5FTF and its importance.
Five for the Future
It all began with a blog post from Matt Mullenweg in the fall of 2014. After being asked how WordPress companies can contribute to the growth and success of WordPress, Matt said…
I think a good rule of thumb that will scale with the community as it continues to grow is that organizations that want to grow the WordPress pie (and not just their piece of it) should dedicate 5% of their people to working on something to do with core — be it development, documentation, security, support forums, theme reviews, training, testing, translation or whatever it might be that helps move WordPress mission forward.
Next thing you know, companies and individuals began to dedicate 5% of their resources to giving back to WordPress. Naturally, WebDevStudios was among the first. If you have yet to join the 5FTF movement, you can start by committing a pledge.
Implementation of Five for the Future
Experiment with various iterations.
Director of Project Management, Cristina Holt, was there at the beginning when WDS first decided to contribute 5FTF. Originally, when our WordPress agency was smaller, we allowed individual employees to pick one full day of the month to contribute to Five for the Future. Over time, the team initiated new ideas, including holding a company-wide 5FTF day on the first of the month, and later, at the end of the month.
Basically, we experimented, finding our groove. Today, we hold our Five for the Future event on the last Friday of the month. That’s what works for us, for now. So, be open to trying different formulas until you find what works for your WordPress company, and know that it will take time. You won’t discover your magic potion within a few months. Be flexible and ask your team to do the same.
In fact, Cristina recommends requesting feedback from your team. Ask them how things are working out for them and if they are enjoying their 5FTF. Ask them what, if anything, you can do better. Review the feedback and be prepared to implement a new iteration, if required.
Offer ideas for contribution.
Right off the bat, people just don’t know how to contribute. Most will think of WordPress core contribution (a big challenge!), but that’s not the only way to give back. Anyone can participate in Five for the Future; you don’t even have to know code.
Investigate the many ways a person a can contribute to 5FTF. You can start with this blog post that our Website Specialist, Christina Workman, wrote about contributing to Five for the Future. Make a list of options, keep it as work in progress that you continually add to, and share with your entire company.
Allow for self direction.
Now, while we encourage you to offer ideas for 5FTF, you absolutely should not assign them. As WDS Engineering Manager, Justin Foell, says, “If you tell people what to do on their Five for the Future day, it’s just another day at work.”
However, if you allow your team to give back to WordPress by contributing to projects that they find interesting, inspiring, and exciting, well, you will be recharging their passion for WordPress and open-source technology. That type of motivation benefits everyone involved, including your own WordPress company.
It’s common for friendships to develop at WebDevStudios. However, it’s uncommon for all friends to be able to work together on every single client project.
Five for the Future is the opportunity for friends to collaborate. Often new friendships are born between coworkers who never work together when they collaborate on a cool 5FTF project. This kind of bonding is priceless.
At WDS, we have a dedicated 5FTF Slack channel where team members can announce what they’re working on and invite others to assist. Consider supporting collaboration at your WordPress company, too. Make it easy for everyone to work and give back together.
Your WordPress company should keep up with those hours donated! This is great company news to use later, and seeing those hours add up will fuel excitement.
We use a simple spreadsheet that allows teammates to log their contributions and how they participated—be it plugin development, writing a WordCamp talk, core contribution, mentorship, or anything else. While our Slack channel does allow for employees to see what their coworkers are working on, and offer collaboration, a spreadsheet allows for easy access to view past 5FTF projects and participation.
Promotion of your WordPress company’s 5FTF participation is necessary both internally and externally. Here’s how we do it at WebDevStudios.
Because we have determined that our 5FTF days are held the final Friday of the month, that makes it easy for us to simply remind our team, especially new members, about that day. Having this set process in place creates anticipation for the day and opportunities.
The Slack channel and spreadsheet mentioned before also help to keep motivation running internally. Not only are people announcing what they’re up to in that channel, other teammates voice their support and interest creating an actively encouraging atmosphere around the day.
At the end of our Five for the Future day, instead of holding our usual work scrum, we share what we worked on that day. This gives a spotlight on each contributor and project, thus letting each participant know that their contribution matters and what they’re doing is important (and, it truly is!).
Don’t be shy. Tell the world you’re participating in Five for the Future! Why?
- You’re promoting the initiative. There are still people out there who don’t know about 5FTF, and there always will be. It’s our job as individuals and companies in WordPress to promote the importance of giving back to WordPress and open-source technology.
- You’re promoting your WordPress company. While your contribution to Five for the Future should be selfless, don’t deny yourself the benefit of establishing a positive brand image.
- You’re promoting your team. Internal kudos will be appreciated, for sure, but when you gush over the contributions of your individual staff members on your social media or blog, they feel like real rockstars. Don’t you agree they deserve that kind of recognition? Of course, you do.
At our WordPress agency, we utilize our blog and Twitter profile to externally promote our 5FTF contributions. When promoting on social media, we recommend using the hashtag #5FTF. This will get more eyes on your participation.
Make Five for the Future an Element of Company Culture
Don’t just incorporate Five for the Future as a process, but weave it into the overall culture of your WordPress company. Think of it as a chance to come together and join the forces of the entire WordPress community. Such involvement is a boon for all—your brand, your team, and WordPress.