Zoom wine tasting, a less crazy work life, and falling in love with email again

Hi everyone, welcome back and thanks for reading. Today I have three mini-thoughts to share.  Enjoy… 😊

Finally – a Zoom social I’m fully on board with!

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably taken part in a fair few Zoom quizzes during lockdown. Honestly, I’m not a big fan. It was fun a few times, but I quickly found them more than a little dissatisfying. I’m not even totally sure why. Maybe it was the wishing it triggered for actually spending time with people. Maybe it was that I’m simply not the world’s biggest fan of quizzes. Who knows. Regardless, I found myself trying to avoid quizzes where possible.

Last night though, I found a Zoom social I was fully on board with. What was it? A Zoom wine tasting evening! I loved it. Our friend dropped round six small tasting bottles of wine to us and three other couples; three red, three white. Each bottle was labelled with a 1, 2, and a 3. Then, when we met online, we had to identify which variety of grape each wine was and which country we thought it was from. Finally, from each set of three, we had to say which we thought was the most expensive.

Let’s be clear: me and Rachel were terrible! We got five points out of 14. But it was such a fun evening. We’re already planning the next one. Definitely recommended if you want to add some variety to your Zoom meet-ups.

What about you? Anyone other suggestions for better Zoom socials? Let me know.

It doesn’t have to be crazy at work

I read It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson this week. They’re the founders of a company called Basecamp. They make project management software (called Basecamp) and, more recently, a new email tool called ‘HEY’ – more on that later. 

I loved reading how they work. And their commitment to not doing more than eight hour days and forty hour weeks. In an industry sector that almost celebrates workaholism, they are a breath of fresh air. Not only that, they are big believers in the need to promote a working environment that allows for deep work. 

They value asynchronous collaboration and try to avoid spending their days endlessly reacting to emails and Slack or Teams messages. They also see meetings as an exception rather than a norm. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling more than a little envious. Lockdown seems to have led to more meetings not less for many of us. My team at work are going to read this together. We’re not in the same industry but there’s lots I think we can learn.

Could email become lovable again?

I mentioned Basecamp’s new app called HEY earlier. They released this around two weeks ago. It’s a whole new take on email. Yes, email, that thing we all mostly hate, that feels like a chore, and has very little joy associated with it. Email has become something we all have to do but wish we didn’t. There’s the spam, the endless marketing emails, the invoices and receipts; it’s a job just staying on top of it. 

But what if no one was able to email you unless you specially let them? What if all those newsletters and marketing emails went into a separate feed, not getting mixed up with important emails? And what if all those invoices, receipts, orders, and delivery notices got filed into a paper trail section, also separate from your important emails? That’s what Basecamp have created with HEY. And it’s delightful.

I’ve been using it for about ten days now, and it’s rekindled my love of email. And that’s the thing: email used to be wonderful! It’s powerful medium and yet we lost sight of that because it got filled up with so much clutter. I’ve found myself exchanging emails with a few friends this last week, and it’s been so gratifying. WhatsApp and iMessage have their place, but I think we’ve been missing out on the longer-form benefits of writing to each other. There’s more depth, more nuance, more understanding, and more patience involved. It might not be for everyone, but I’ve been inspired to give email another shot for my personal communication. And here’s hoping I’ll be able to use HEY for work soon too. 

Oh, and feel free to say ‘Hey’ anytime: samradford@hey.com. I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading,