Supporting Innovation and Inclusion at LINK, Workiva's R&D Team Event
The Workiva platform has a global impact. At any given time, we have over 400 Research and Development (R&D) team members in different solution areas working on and shipping code from multiple cities and continents around the world. Teamwork and collaboration are core values at Workiva, so once a year the teams that develop our platform come together for LINK, a week-long event that supports Innovation and Inclusion, and reminds us all what we are building together. This pause from a regular work week allows us to collaborate on new Workiva innovations.
What makes LINK special, above all else, is the opportunity to build inter-personal connections you cannot get through a video call alone. Members of our Engineering, Product, User Experience, Quality, Support, and Delivery teams all come together and connect in person at LINK, at least when there’s not a global pandemic. In May 2020 and 2021 we had the unique challenge of hosting LINK virtually, and although I haven’t seen my colleagues in-person, it gave everyone the opportunity to attend even more keynote presentations, customer panels, jams and virtual social events!
LINK provides a place for cross-functional teams to work on something new and different from their regular day-to-day tasks. Starting with project submissions form, anyone in R&D can submit a jam idea for consideration. These temporary teams then get to build something rapidly in just a few days - talk about cross-departmental team building! And code is not the only output. Often projects include new features, process improvements, code-writing tools, and more. Some of these projects are customer-facing and are delivered within days or weeks, while others are done for research purposes, to prove out a concept, or make a technical direction for future work. Over the years, projects that weren’t code-based have refined how we hold regular product reviews and changed the ways in which we execute on processes.
LINK has resulted in a lot of great projects and it has also provided many opportunities to engage in fun activities as a global R&D team. Over the years we have held casino nights, trivia competitions, tournaments for basketball, dodgeball, and pickle ball. For the last few years, teams have created short videos that showcase their work and presented them company-wide during our closing ceremonies. Demos full of visual effects and voice-overs tell the story about what happened for each team during LINK so we can celebrate one another’s successes. At all of these events, we forge stronger relationships with people we may have only seen over a video chat before.
Despite being virtual in 2021, we had over 50 different jams, 6 keynote presentations, and over 25 social activities during a two-week period. One of LINK’s foundational principles is innovation, and we were also proud to innovate how we operate our conference, and continue to empower our ever-growing teams to connect and collaborate.
LINK is an exciting and unique experience that supports inclusion, collaboration and makes me feel connected to the global team of R&D pros who are helping to drive the future of work with our innovation.