The daily life at Umbraco HQ
Or "10 things you didn’t know about Umbraco HQ"
Or "Insider’s report: What really goes down at HQ"
Or “Taylor Swift becomes part of the Umbraco HQ DevOps team”
My name is Vera and I’m The Merry Wordsmith at Umbraco HQ and the above is more or less what went through my head when I got the honourable task of writing about “The daily life at Umbraco HQ” for 24 days of Umbraco.
How could I spice up this article 🌶️?
How could I make it relevant for you?
How do I get you to keep reading (oh, please do! 😅)?
In broad terms, as a copywriter, that’s more or less my daily life here at Umbraco. So this should be easy right?
Especially because I found out I’d be "competing" with another HQ article today on a very interesting topic! …But you know what - challenge accepted!
Because this will be the real “behind the scenes” stuff. Stuff you may have wondered about HQ for years, stuff you didn’t know you could have been wondering about for years and okay, maybe some stuff you already know, but you might not know all the juicy details?
Today you’ll finally find out - as a special Christmas treat 🎁 And all you have to do is sit back and spend just 7 mins on this article.
So let’s get started:
Every day, a rabbit in a military costume greets me at the front door.
No, really, it’s true:
If you’ve ever been to Umbraco HQ, you’ve probably also met lieutenant Rabbit. Or said hello to one of our many unicorns or the seabass hanging from the ceiling? 🦄
What’s the story behind these seemingly random and silly objects? I must be honest, I had to ask Niels, The Cheif Unicorn, for a brief history lesson in order to make sure I got all the facts right for you:
The Rabbit 🐇:
Apart from greeting you at the main entrance as you step into Umbraco HQ, you may also have met The Rabbit at the yearly Umbraco conference; Codegarden.
This was where he was born.
Back in 2012, during the infamous Bingo, The Rabbit appeared multiple times throughout the bingo. First waving innocently to the audience as the fluffy rabbit he is, then later he crossed the stage carrying a chainsaw and then rumour has it, that the last time he appeared during that bingo, he was covered in blood with a black plastic bag on his shoulders with a human arm poking out of it… innocent and fluffy, hmmm? 😅
Later, he’s been seen at the Codegarden bingo where he’s had a few fights; one of the most notorious ones was when he fought his arch-nemesis - The Selfie Giraffe.
A fight that ended with; death by selfie-stick 😳
Oh, and the story behind the rabbit’s uniform? That’s from the Codegarden bingo where he was born. A bingo where the theme was dictators... (yes, if you haven’t experienced the Codegarden Bingo yet, it’s about time!)
The Unicorns 🦄:
Walk around HQ and you’ll find unicorns in all shapes and sizes.
But when did the unicorn obsession start?
Niels says that at some point in the early Umbraco days Per Plough started calling Niels “The Cheif Unicorn” and somehow, that just stuck. And it is quite funny and cute, right? Now we’re blessed with all the amazing and colourful unicorn merchandise that gets sent to Niels from the amazing Umbraco community 🦄 💙
The Seabass 🐟:
In January 2016 our CFO, Poul, joined Umbraco HQ. Apart from talking a lot about numbers and Excel sheets, Poul also talks a lot about his passion - fishing.
His main target - Seabass.
So as a way for him to feel at home at HQ, our Chief Friend Maker, Kim, bought him this beautiful plush-seabass and hung it from the ceiling. And it’s still here, together with Poul, 2 years after. Today, “SEA-BASS” has also become a chant for every time Poul takes the stage - maybe you noticed this at CG18?
I bet you didn’t know all those stories. Well, now you do. And there’s even more 😉
Because the three items listed above are just some of the random objects you’ll find around Umbraco HQ.
Well, random until you hear the story behind them.
In fact, just above my head, there’s a spaceship floating with the word “COMA” on it…which brings me to:
I’m a copywri... astronaut 👩🚀
A Communications and Online Marketing Astronaut, as part of the Umbraco HQ COMA team. A team of just 4 people that takes care of, well, everything that has to do with our online marketing and communication.
Do you know how many teams there are at HQ? And how big/small they are? 🤔
With the growth we have experienced in the past 2 years, it’s no surprise if you’re thinking “No, I can’t keep track”. Maybe you think we’re bigger - or smaller.
Let’s find out if you’re right with this brief overview of the current HQ teams:
- D-team: The ones with their fingers directly in the Umbraco products. This team consists of a total of 17 people spread across 3 sub-teams: The Umbraco Core team, The Cloud team, and the DevOps.
(See - Taylor really did join the DevOps! They call her Taytay...)
- Fish Tank: Yep, you might have guessed this from my previous revelation, this is where you find Seabass and his sidekick, Maiken, taking care of all the money that goes in and out of the business.
- S.W.A.T.: Support Warriors And Troubleshooters. These 10 friendly warriors are the ones that help our clients understand how to use our products and services in the best possible way - and guide them if they ever get stuck.
(The warriors even got their own swag!)
- The Suits:The team that takes good care of all our fantastic Umbraco Partners. 4 people are in this power-team… they all look good in a suit, but it’s actually not very often they wear it 😉
And then we have a handful of (not so) “lone wolves”;
- Ilham; who takes care of anything in relation to our awesome community.
- Andrew; the main man behind Umbraco training.
- Kim; our Chief Friend Maker (or CEO if you like)
- Niels; Mr Chief Unicorn - the founder of Umbraco.
- CO; Claus or the Creative Octopus, who’s creating a beautiful design identity for Umbraco.
(Did you notice the new Umbraco heart at CG18? That's part of Claus' work - more beautiful things to come very soon!)
So a total of 42 people. And that’s it - for now.
We are constantly looking for new people to join our various teams (have a look at our open job positions if you’re curious 😉)
Did that surprise you? We’re definitely not a massive company, but still much bigger than just a year ago. In fact, 2018 brought us 16 new hires!
Things are moving fast 🏃 how do we keep up?
16 new hires… that even surprised me!
We welcome new people more or less every month and it’s great to see them fit in so well with all of us.
Of course, that doesn’t come automatically.
We have a well-planned onboarding program for all newbies where they get taken through all aspects of the company and their new job, then they get to do real work within the first week and finally, they are assigned a buddy, so they know exactly who to go to with work-related questions but also questions like; how does the coffee machine work? Is Friday always pie-day?
And then we are social.
Every Friday we have a Friday bar where people from all our teams can hang out and have a casual chat over a beer or coffee. It’s completely voluntary and some stay for an hour while others end up partying all night. We also have “Fun Squad” every 3 months which is a bigger social activity - last time we all went curling!
Then there’s also “mingle-Mondays” where it is highly encouraged that you sit at a table with people from other teams for lunch. And then there are all the self-arranged activities like; let’s go watch football, let’s go watch the new Star Wars movie, there’s a pub quiz in town next week, girls’ night, game night etc.
Do you do anything to make sure you mingle with people from other departments in your organisation? 🤔
It’s no secret that it gets harder the bigger you become as an organisation, but so far we have managed to keep these activities alive and popular 😃 And it definitely has the delightful side-effect that we’ve become closer as colleagues thus, it makes it easier to work together in our daily life.
Is it all just fun and curling and scary rabbits?
When I was given the title “The daily life at Umbraco HQ” I honestly thought; wow, that’s boring 😅
Because the truth is that our daily life at the office probably looks a lot like yours. By the end of the day, we are a group of people who have a job to do using our various skills and interests whether that’s helping customers, writing code, updating Twitter with the latest blog post or making sure we pay the man who waters our office plants. And like you, some tasks are more fun than others 🤷
We are super busy and definitely never bored as there’s always something that can be improved, invented or published.
So no, there’s not confetti every day. And no, there’s not champagne every week or a crazy rabbit running around 🐰
But sometimes there is.
And we do like to celebrate together when something awesome happens and we do like to be social because that’s part of what makes working here fun 😊
So I hope you forgive me if you thought you were going to read about trivial daily stuff like when we eat lunch, how we do stand-ups etc. Instead, I hope you found yourself entertained with some HQ knowledge you didn’t know - or maybe something that inspired you?
One thing’s for sure, you’re definitely able to ace an Umbraco HQ pub quiz should you ever attend one or impress your colleague with some insider facts next time you grab a cup of coffee 😉
Thank you for reading 🙌 Have a hyggelig Christmas and may your 2019 be full of H5YRs!
Vera Green, The Merry Wordsmith, Umbraco HQ.
P.S. H5Y… what?
Okay, one final fact and then I’m off to drink some mulled wine (or gløgg as we call it in Danish 🤶).
H5YR! Or #H5YR
What’s the story behind that? 🤔
It all started in 2010 at Codegarden when Chief Happiness Officer, Alexander Kjerulf, took the stage to talk about happiness at work and introduced all Umbracians to H5YR (a very good talk - he’s actually been a speaker at Codegarden 4 times now, most recently in 2018).
H5YR is: High-five, you rock! And it is an appraisal for doing something awesome - big or small.
You can either say it, write it or act it out with a big high-five! And it has really become an Umbraco-thing. You’ll find the hashtag used frequently by the Umbraco community on Twitter and if you get yourself to Codegarden, the biggest Umbraco conference in the world, you’ll experience the rush when 600+ Umbracians start the conference by shouting; HIGH-FIVE YOU ROCK!
Vera is on Twitter as @GreenVera22