How to strengthen company’s values using Slack and our Thanksy app

  • Scope:
  • Product Design
  • Culture and People
slack app

Enhancing culture in the company can be very difficult especially when you have over a hundred people on board and at least half of the team works remotely.

I’ll give you a glimpse of what Tooploox has recently been up to and how our internal app helped us build healthy habits to celebrate appreciation within the organization.

As a company where the culture stands upon people, one of our strongest values, we decided to open source our internal tool, which was intentionally made to encourage acts of kindness within the organization.

Can you remember when was the last time your colleague did something amazing for you when you were working remotely? A simple private message would work, but really, isn’t there a more engaging and unique way to say thank you?

Say hi to Thanksy!

Thanksy became a thing during our hackathon in 2017. Here’s the link to our hackathon video and blog post about Thanksy, which has been written by one of our iOS folks, Karol, after the event.

In short, Thanksy is an app that allows you to say thanks to any ‘@group’ or ‘@individual’ via Slack and broadcasts to any TV with a built-in web browser, Apple TV and Android TV coming soon.

Why we came back to the idea after almost 2 years

Tooploox has changed a lot since 2017. We had many challenges ahead back then and not much time to allocate to finish what we have started. Plus, what we had worked for us extremely well (up to some point) as a simple hackathon project, so there was no need to modify it.

Tooploox evolved, company’s values grew stronger, mission and vision became more clear. Right now we have 150 folks on board and 3 offices in Poland . Those things matter especially for a company which values people the most. We decided to kick off again, rethink the way we want to distribute it, fix issues that we came across and simply give it to the community.

A not so small rebuild and not too big redesign.

We started with a small team of an iOS developer, Paweł, two backend folks, Tomasz and Mariusz (Ruby) and one front-end developer Grzegorz (Elm). You might say a pretty neat team – especially when two product designers joined the forces. One of them specialized in UX research and the other (that would be me) in UI and some minor work management.

Diving into details

Thanksy backend has been rewritten from Python to Ruby on Rails framework. The code is mostly responsible for commands monitoring coming from Slack application, sending thanks, listing stats and generating frontend. One thing worth mentioning is Slack API integration. Tomasz, our backend guy, said he enjoyed working on this mostly because of well-written documentation from Slack and interesting problems they have had encountered. One of them was caching some part of the information to reduce calling to Slack API and reducing the time to generate thanks.

Waiting for better things to come

While backend was dealing with, well… backend, the design team started analyzing issues they had encountered earlier-visual appearance, communication inconsistency, wording etc. We made a couple versions of UI, gathered feedback, iterated and when the work was finished, we started UI refactoring. During our discussion, we discovered a few areas where Thanksy could help but I’ll keep it for another blog post.

We put more frontend to your backend so you can do more frontend

Design handoff in the team went extremely well. Grzegorz took ownership of the code quality and proposed a technology which would work best for our product and could be beneficial for the community to learn from.

Quoting Grzegorz:

“Thanksy client was written using Typescript (version 3.3.3) and React (16.8). Both technologies fit perfectly. React gives simplicity and allows you to write purely functional code while Typescript supports it with static type checking and type inference. We also used Redux and Redux-loop to manage application state and side effects respectively. Thanks to that, there is only one determined way to handle interactions and manage the state. They also provide a good foundation for modularity, code reuse and testing by default. Jest was used for unit testing and combined with enzyme for components testing (not so unit anymore). Moreover, Cypress was used for high-level acceptance testing (e2e). Since Redux and Redux loop were highly-inspired by The Elm Architecture, we also decided to rewrite Thanksy client in Elm. The experiment was successful and now we have both clients with the same functionalities.”

Incorporating something that is already in use

Slack is our favourite beyond all, and our main tool of communication and expression, but it also enhances the employee’s experience within the company… Wait, what?

The entire communication at Tooploox is held on Slack or in person. Slack helps us every day, starting with scheduling a meeting, saying “hi” to posting a funny gif on #random. During those past 2 years, Slack evolved and become more robust from the technological perspective allowing us to do much more when Thanksy was born.

We use Slack bot as an input for Thanksy, you trigger it with a /thanksy command, type your message and that’s it! Love spreads!

Thanksy supports, @user and @group mentions.

Thanksy is basically a small backend, Slack integration and a shiny-looking frontend, used to broadcast messages to any device with a web browser. If you choose your TV to be a broadcaster, you can bring it to the company’s canteen, open space, hall or basically wherever your team sits so everyone can enjoy these simple acts of appreciation!

Our mission is simple: We want people to be appreciated

We started with a simple thought which brought us here – people. We asked ourselves, ‘how much do simple messages enhance the way we engage in small acts of kindness to the others’? We knew it back then and we’re sure now. People are having fun playing with Thanksy.

Let’s stop for a second and try to put yourself in the shoes of:

  • Remote employees who are a bit disconnected from what is going on locally in the office and saying ‘thank you’ to the office manager for helping with picking up a package for them.
  • Office managers, usually dealing with stuff we rarely see problematic or exhausting and getting a message which reads “Thank you so much for bringing Xmas atmosphere to our office” and getting dozens of positive reactions.

There are more situations where this type of motivation matters and seeing how our world is evolving, there’s even more to come.

Give it back to the community

We open-sourced our internal tool so everyone can send and receive a simple ‘thanks’. We did it because we think that sort of tools should be up for grabs for any company, and we strongly believe in investing in people.

Send your appreciation and simple acts of kindness, announce birthdays, newcomers and broadcast it all on TV. Do it in all offices so everyone can enjoy these little things, get to know what is going on in their teams or recognize the silent heroes around them.

Thanksy is now on GitHub under open-source license. We’re ready to keep working on it to bring more fun and engaging stuff.

We’ve had an amazing time working together on something that empowers organizations and brings teams together by a simple gratitude.

There is no conclusion

We did it. Visit our landing page to learn more or go github repo to download Thanksy.

Help us and share this post in your network!
/Thanksy Big ❤ @internetfolks for sharing it!

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