When Cassie Chao started working as the head of recruiting for Threads in the Spring of 2020, she knew things would be different. For one, she was onboarding in the middle of a pandemic that had forced Threads and many other teams to start working from home.
But something else made Threads stand out from all the other companies she’d worked for.
Cassie would get access to an archive of work on her very first day. With it, she’d be able to see nearly every single discussion and decision everyone at Threads made throughout the company’s history.
She and her fellow new hires, product manager Ayesha Bose and business development and sales manager, Chris Martellotti, quickly discovered that this archive of work helped them get up to speed and start contributing faster, among other benefits.
What Is an Archive of Work?
An archive of work is a centralized, organized, and open digital space where all of a company’s work happens.
People tend to think of work as everything that happens during work hours. That includes the emails or Slack messages you send to set up meetings and the deliverables or product updates you’re left with at the end of the week.
But work isn’t any of those things. Real work is knowledge. It’s all of the discussions and decisions you make every day.
An archive of work is essential because knowledge doesn’t lose its value once a project is over. We compound its value over time, adding insights on what worked (and what didn’t work) and use that knowledge to make more informed decisions in the future.
Or at least that’s what should happen at work. Really though, work happens all over the place. It’s in inboxes, on Zoom calls, in Slack channels, as well as in Google Docs, Notion, Quip, and Asana. It’s scattered across tools and largely hidden away from teammates.
Scattered knowledge makes it difficult to have full context on what’s happening within the company, even if it’s related to the work you’re doing. So while knowledge work is still happening, it’s not nearly as informed or effective as it would be if it were contained within a single, searchable space.
“In any organization, there is work happening in parallel to your role, which, in many ways, is hidden. This isn't necessarily intentional; it would just be in somebody's inbox or a lost folder sitting in a drive without much context.” —Chris
Threads is a natural archive of work because our team uses it as our primary communication and work platform. We designed it to be . . .
Threads is the one place where we store all of our company’s knowledge. It’s where we have most of our discussions and make all of our decisions.
Everything is grouped by topic. Each topic has its own dedicated space within Threads and contains all of the written conversations that pertain to that topic.
For example, someone looking for information on how our team handles recruiting need only navigate to the Recruiting space. There, they’ll see all of the discussions we’ve had and decisions we’ve made on candidate outreach, interviewing, vetting, and more. If they want information on something more specific — like how we came to the decision to make hiring more inclusive — a quick search will take them directly to that discussion.
Everyone in our company can access and contribute to any of the knowledge stored in Threads. That means Cassie, Ayesha, and Chris can review, add their thoughts, or ask a question about a decision made a year or more ago.
Keeping knowledge open for conversation helps our team stay accountable to our decisions and values as we scale. We can revisit something we once thought we knew and reassess for today. We can also review the knowledge we created in the past, and then use that to help solve problems and make better decisions today.
That super-transparent nature doesn’t work for all companies, so Threads offers private spaces as well as direct (1:1 or small group) discussions. These features give teams full control over what’s open to all and what needs a more filtered audience.
How Does an Archive of Work Help New and Future Team Members?
Providing a history of company projects and decisions makes ramping up new hires more efficient, effective, and easier for all.
It Gets Your New and Future People Up to Speed and Contributing Faster
It’s difficult to speak up and make an impact when you’re brand new to a company and don’t have enough context.
An archive of work makes that context immediately available — new team members get access to all of the discussions and decisions on any given topic so far. They can use that context to quickly get up to speed on what’s top of mind for your company and the work they need to accomplish.
This allows your new people to be able to speak from a similar level of knowledge as the rest of your team, leading to more informed conversations, more insightful ideas, and better decisions.
For example, when Chris started in business development and sales at Threads, he immediately wanted context on what the team had tried with marketing and lead generation so far. He expected to find that information locked in someone’s email, but instead he discovered previous initiatives along with commentary and results waiting for him in Threads. He was able to use that context in ideating new lead-generation strategies from day one.
“I can almost have a conversation as if I was here when that happened, even though it was prior to my time.” —Chris
It Empowers Your People to Define Their Onboarding Experience
Typically, HR and team leads use what they think is most important to dictate the onboarding experience. Yet this doesn’t always align with what new team members need or want to learn.
An archive of work breaks that mold by giving new team members the agency to explore and learn about the company on their own terms. They can dig into topics and discussions they find interesting, explore areas of expertise, and get a better feel for their new company.
Ayesha, for example, took the time to review discussions that led up to Threads’ major strategy updates and product launches. She started to learn more about the team (and got a few laughs) by reading through the amusing anecdotes in the “overheard at Threads” space.
She also felt a lot less pressure to absorb a bunch of one-hour, back-to-back presentations. Instead, a lot of the information she needed was standing by in Threads. We recorded all of her onboarding sessions and then sent them to her in Threads for her to revisit if needed.
“People want to make sure they don’t overwhelm their new employees during onboarding. I like being able to manage my own time and decide what I want to read.” —Ayesha
It Makes New People More Self-sufficient, Reducing the Burden on the Rest of Your Team
Onboarding new team members takes a lot out of the existing team. Usually, people have to find time to walk new-hires through tools and processes in addition to completing their usual workload.
An archive of work takes the pressure off of the team by making your new people more self-sufficient and productive. Instead of relying on everyone else for information, new team members can dive into the documented discussions and work to find the answers and context they need. That way, they’re not interrupting others’ work or waiting around for their peers to have time to respond.
If a teammate’s help is needed, at least the new hire is coming from a more informed place. They know who is best suited to answer their questions, and they come with better questions after having read through the conversations the team has had on the topic so far.
For example, when Chris wanted to find out more information about some of the integrations we use, he first looked on Threads. Using that context, he identified the engineering lead as the person who’d most likely be able to answer his more advanced questions.
“One of the hard parts about starting a new role is that I am very curious to learn, and eager. In other onboardings, I would have balanced that curiosity with not bothering my new teammates for information, as they would have to pause what they are doing to help me.” —Chris
It Builds Stronger Team Connections
Learning about your new teammates and figuring out your place in the group takes time.
An archive of work speeds up that process by giving new team members insight into what their colleagues are passionate about and what they’re working on. This gives your people a head start on building work relationships because they can come to conversations with an idea of how to connect with others.
It also helps new people feel like they’re already part of the team, because they spend less time struggling to understand what’s going on and what’s important to the company.
“I've been working very closely with one teammate on a few projects and every thread we jam on together, her comments are thoughtful and empowering. With her suggestions, I feel completely supported in making holistic decisions. Because of this supportive interaction, I feel like I've worked with her for years! — Cassie
Your Archive of Work Becomes More Valuable Over Time
You can’t create an archive of work overnight, but it’s well worth the sustained effort.
Knowledge builds on itself, so the more knowledge your team documents, the more value it lends to new work. As it grows with your company, it helps bring new hires up to speed faster and elevates the discussions and decisions made by everyone on your team.
Learn more about harnessing your team’s knowledge for your company with Threads.