Why We Tour

In the early days of Arcweb Technologies, we called Indy Hall home. And even though we eventually physically outgrew it, we adopted countless elements of Indy Hall culture, values and practices that are still ingrained in us to this day.  One of the other practices we learned at Indy Hall is the concept of touring.

What is Touring?

Touring is rooted in the idea that great things can come out of sitting next to someone new. What sort of things? A better sense of the community around you. New friendships. Potential partnerships. Referrals. New ideas. New recommendations. New connections. Ultimately, touring mixes things up. At Indy Hall, there are specific desks at each pod that are specifically reserved for touring. One day you’re sitting next to a freelance designer; the next day, an independent travel consultant, an attorney, etc. And it’s awesome for all the reasons mentioned above but also because you simply get to know new people which, in turn, strengthens the community.

Our Take on Touring

Recently, we implemented our own take on touring. It’s slightly different in that we all work for the same company, but the general concept still applies. As you see in most companies, our seating (or standing) arrangements were based on discipline. There was a design pod where the designers all worked. There was an engineering pod where all the engineers worked. The same goes for business, product management, etc. While we called these clusters “pods,” it’s not hard to see that they also had a siloing effect.

Siloes

So we decided to blow it up. We dissolved our silos. Now, engineers are sitting next to the business team, are sitting next to designers, are sitting next to interns, are sitting next to the CEO, and … you get the idea. Each pod now has a complete mix of Arcwebers, and most have an empty desk to encourage even more flexible seating. The bet is that this will strengthen the community within our company. It doesn’t matter if the value is professional, personal, or even another joint venture that the team members are working on outside of Arcweb.

As of today, we’re three weeks into our implementation of touring. Has it been frictionless? Of course not. There was a lot of concern and hesitation when I announced the program, and again just before the actual move. We haven’t held our first one-month retrospective, but I’m confident in saying that it’s been generally well received. We’ll update you on the results, and so stay tuned.

How are your teams laid out? Tell us on Twitter.