The Skimm Lets Its Employees Take 'Sacred Time' Away From The Office

Here is how to use technology to keep you focused.
The Skimm Lets Its Employees Take 'Sacred Time' Away From The Office
Image credit: The Skimm

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This story appears in the July 2017 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

As a company, our goal is to create products to help female millennials live smarter. You go offline -- to a dinner, a work event, a party -- and our tools make you savvier and empowered for those times. So inside our office, with our own employees, we want to use technology the same way: Digital should make real-life connections even stronger.

Related: 5 Strategies to Build a Fun Work Culture That's Also Productive

This started early for us. Back when we had only five employees, one of them asked what we were up to during the day. So we made our calendars accessible to our team. Then we created a shared-calendar system for everyone. Now we have 45 employees, and everyone can see each other’s schedule. It’s useful for scheduling and collaborating, but just as important, it enables people to block off hours for what we call sacred time. Everyone here can set times on their calendar when they’re not available for the company -- maybe to take a twice-a-week workout class, or regular walks, or whatever they want to do. There are no parameters. When people take care of themselves, they’re more creative and more focused when they come back.

We use the usual connectivity tools: Slack, Google Hangouts and so on. But we’re always seeking tools that help facilitate in-person interactions. For example, our team also stays connected on an iPhone photo stream. When people are traveling or on the weekends, they’re posting pics of what they’re doing. Someone just posted from a really cool spa over the weekend. It’s a fun way to be connected that doesn’t involve work or email. And before our weekly Monday staff meeting, anyone can drop anonymous questions into a Google Form; we’ll then answer two of them in front of everyone, in a kind of Skimm AMA.

Related: 4 Fun Team Building Activities for the Office

We just made a digital-minded change to our meetings, too: In May, we banned devices from staff meetings (with exceptions for presentations or pulling up documents). We were all multitasking so much, and people weren’t paying attention, or they’d ask questions other people had already asked. So we wanted to help people focus. Device-free meetings are still an adjustment, to be honest. But our meetings are going faster. And, critically, it forces everyone to be in the moment.

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