Getting to know the team
Working at DuckDuckGo is unusual. Firstly, there's the hiring process. Rather than focusing on resumes and interviews, it's based on results and team fit. Then there are the working hours and vacation — work and rest as much as you need to get your tasks done. Most peculiar, though, is that we're a remote team. The majority of our staff work from home or shared office spaces in countries all around the world but it's no substitute for laughing, debating, learning and relaxing in the same room. To solve that, we host an annual, week-long event at our company headquarters for staff to mingle face-to-face. This month was our 2016 meetup.
The annual staff meetup was a chance to finally shake the hand of new colleagues and catch up with old ones. The tools we use for remote working — GitHub, Asana, HipChat, etc. — work well but there's no substitute for laughing, debating, learning and relaxing in the same room and that's what we spent a week doing.
Planning events that everyone can enjoy and benefit from is difficult, but we had a good balance of activities such as a writing workshop, trampolining, lunch and dinner "roulette", group workout, movie night, and team "unconference". We also hung out at Philadelphia's annual Entrepreneur Expo, meeting both faithful fans and new users, and hearing about what people expect from a private search engine.
Community team meetup
Not content with one week of bonding, the community team decided to head over to Los Angeles to continue the fun. This was a chance for us to really focus on how we can better support contributors, ensuring both new and experienced developers can have the chance to see their code live in front of millions. Thanks to some eye-opening brainstorming and a wall full of sticky notes, we were able to see the Instant Answer creation process from a developer's point of view and discover obstacles that we need to smooth out. This was backed up by conversations at the Los Angeles DuckDuckHack meetup, with thanks to Jon Paul and Sacha for organizing.
But I don't want you to think it was all work and no play! Our team-building included daily trips around L.A. discovering the hipster joints of Venice, the fun vibe of Santa Monica, and the wow of Beverly Hills. And yes, there was even time for sharing silly videos we found on the internet! What better way to get to know each other?