At Root, our culture is informed by how we show up every day. In our Start with Why blog post, we unpacked how understanding the ‘why’ behind our everyday actions keeps us aligned to our mission. Here, we’ll dive into our #PublicByDefault mentality and how we value sharing information by always chatting publicly.

We have an open communication and documentation culture – what we’ve called our #PublicByDefault mentality. We don’t keep anything private, except sensitive information. We believe that the best way to make progress is to share openly so that there can be collective input on problem solving and less time spent on explaining context. Operating within an organised environment, we share openly, knowing that the right people, in the right context, will be able to join or observe any conversation.

The main benefits of adopting a #PublicByDefault approach in our team have been the ability to quickly leverage the value of the entire organisation for collective problem solving and reducing the number of APIs you need to consume to gather data and context (we’re a tech company, so we think about it like this!).

#PublicByDefault communications

For new joiners who are not used to this open communication style, it’s a refreshing (and often shocking) learning experience, especially the first time their harmless DM question is copied and posted to a public channel to be answered. The benefits quickly outweigh the initial discomfort. No more passive-aggressive DMs when a problem arises or locked channels with information that someone in need can’t access. Everything is out in the open to all and sundry.

We have specific Slack channels for every team, every client, every project and every product that we work on at Root. Each team member can join, consume and contribute to whichever channels they choose. Whatever question needs to be asked or context needs to be created, there will be someone to answer or a conversation thread to follow.

#PublicByDefault knowledge

We carry this virtue into everything at Root, not just our communication style. Our calendars are visible to everyone in the company and all documentation, except sensitive data, is open for anyone to view, irrespective of team.

Hardly anything is siloed in locked folders that nobody can access. We value input from every team member, in every project. So for every project shared, you get feedback from more than one perspective. It helps us stay aligned, work fast and reduce siloes.

Our partners are #PublicByDefault too

Outside of our team, we actively encourage our partners to adopt this way of working to streamline our interactions and reach solutions more efficiently.

Partners with whom we’re working on projects have a shared channel via the Slack Connected Workspace setup. All discussions with the client are posted on this single, shared channel – from questions and meeting notes, to feature demos and product builds. This centralised source of information is available to both our clients’ teams, as well as the entire internal team at Root.

Reaping the rewards

Our #PublicByDefault virtue massively simplifies access to information, reduces resolution time for issues that arise and prevents the “Grrr, the discussions were in a DM, and we forgot to add you”. Need to pull in a Support person to answer a query? Great – send them the link for context. Product team would like insight into a feature request? No problem – here’s the Slack thread.

An added benefit we’ve found is that communicating so out in the open prompts people to consider the language they use. Giving context becomes more concise, and asking questions becomes more pointed. With the goal of making it as easy as possible to get help, people spend more time thinking about what they want and how they can ask others to help them get there.

If you’re worried that this way of working will create too much noise, we don’t blame you. We took a little while to work out how to use Slack to implement our #PublicByDefault virtue, without creating a ton of unnecessary noise. You can read about it more in this blog post.

We’re looking for people to join our team. If our #PublicByDefault virtue resonates with you, look at our careers page to see if we have a role open for you.