We’re getting ready for our next Hack Week, where our engineers take a week between sprint cycles to explore ideas, write code and build projects they might not have time to pursue during a product-focused work week.
We’ve been celebrating Hack Week at Bitly for the past three years and each week, it has proven to be a time for exploration and innovation. Many of our Hack Week projects spark ideas for new features that are later incorporated into the Bitly product, or evolve into tools that help our engineers with their day-to-day responsibilities.
Hack Week has become a staple of Bitly engineering. Here are a few more reasons why we love Hack Week:
1) It gives us time to recharge
Hack Week gives our team the chance to take a break from the 150% they give each sprint and allows everyone to work in a more relaxed environment. By slowing down the pace of the work week, we’re able to unwind so that we’re fully focused and recharged before the next product-focused set of sprints.
2) We have an opportunity to be creative
Hack Week gives our team a chance to be creative and raises a question for our engineers; if you have one week to work on whatever you want, how would you use it? Hack Week serves as an outlet for our engineers to explore all of the ideas they think about during their product work. This Hack Week, we’ve seen projects that focus on monitoring site load time, games with gifs and features that track breaking news utilizing the Bitly Story API.
3) We work with new people
This Hack Week, our engineers divided into randomly selected teams of three. Each team was responsible for coming up with an idea that reflected their collective interests and demo it to the company. As we continue to grow our engineering team, Hack Week gives us a chance to get to know our newest hires. It lets each member of our engineering team work with a new group of people instead of the more defined teams they usually work with.
4) We explore new technologies
Our Hack Week teams were made up of engineers from different backgrounds with different skillsets. When they find a project that piques their collective interests, each person can bring forward their individual strengths while exploring new tools and systems they don’t typically interact with. As a company that values learning and growth, we love the learning opportunities that can present themselves through Hack Week projects.
5) We can dedicate time to our community
We’re constantly working to improve our own systems and make those systems available to our community. Hack Week gives our engineers time to build systems they are proud of that can be potentially open sourced and shared. Hack Week provides a break in product updates so our engineers can take time to give back to the community that helped build us, which is a core part of our engineering culture.