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Sassafras Tech Collective

How to Work With Me

Published March 06, 2024

As software developers in the labor movement, several of us at Sassafras attended the Labor Notes Tech Organizing Conference in October 2023. At one particular session titled Neurodiversity in Organizing, common themes and questions emerged:

  • How do we know the best way to communicate with coworkers?
  • How do we ask?
  • What if we make the wrong assumption?
  • How do we relate more effectively, both in person and remote, especially during challenging and divisive times such as a union campaign?

At Sassafras, we have a series of different docs related to our roles, team structures, remote work schedules, and collective skill sets. One of the most useful of these is our “How To Work With Me” (H2WWM) doc.

H2WWM is a place to share things about our preferences for how people work with us and information about how we each work in general. The shape has evolved over time, and different people prefer different formats (including bullets, paragraphs, and audio).

It’s one of many relationship-building tools; it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, but it has helped us a lot.

The doc

Some common questions you can find answered there for each worker:

  • What are 1-3 things coworkers can do that help keep work sustainable while you are at work?
  • What kinds of work are more energizing (emotionally, mentally, etc)?
  • What kinds of work are more draining (emotionally, mentally, etc)?
  • I am trying to improve on/welcome feedback about…
  • I prefer to receive feedback… (e.g. via private message, email, 1:1 voice call, etc.)
  • I feel good about my work when I receive affirmations about…
  • Anything else this is bringing to mind?

A few ways we use it:

  • Share with new employees and support them in adding their own section when they feel comfortable enough to do so
  • Review together when starting a new project or collaboration
  • Revisit & update periodically as a group

And a few warning signs that we’re using it wrong:

  • It’s NOT to passive-aggressively address a specific interpersonal dynamic, conflict, or request with another coworker — this should be done 1-1, explicitly, with external support as needed
  • It’s NOT to replace evaluations or deeper accessibility and accountability work, although these conversations may lead to clarity that leads to updates to H2WWM answers