Most people would agree that Steve Jobs was an extraordinary communicator. His products transformed the way we all communicate, and his leadership style inspired a new generation of innovators. The way we all work and collaborate with our teams has, in some way, been shaped by his legacy.

It should come as no surprise, then, that a self-proclaimed Steve Jobs fanboy is leading the engineering team here at 8x8. Neil Lavelle exudes passion, confidence, and humility, and as you'll see in the video below, his approach to communication helps our team and our customers succeed. Meet Neil.

Be flexible. 

As you might imagine, Neil's days have been long over the past year. Like most of us, his workday has been turned upside down. Luckily, he's found a few hacks that have helped him continue to get the job done effectively despite unique circumstances. 

His biggest piece of advice for teams that are now distributed? Structure your day, so there's enough fluid time to book random or on-the-spot meetings.

"Before Covid, it was easy. You'd wander around the office, talk to people, have meetings, go to lunch, etc. That was easy. Today, it's not quite the same."

Chats in the breakroom and lunch meetings aren't possible right now, so it's important to plan for those impromptu conversations to happen throughout the workday. For Neil, blocking some time off on the calendar each day allows him to stay connected with this team and frees him up for last-minute meetings that may need to happen. 

Make it personal. 

If you took a peek at Neil's laptop, you'd probably find tons of windows open. Hundreds, to be exact.

"I have hundreds of chats going per day," he says.

While he thinks email still serves a purpose, he prefers keeping team communication personal when possible. Because chat is so real-time and genuine, that's how he chooses to stay in touch with his colleagues most of the time. 

Experiment with new team structures. 

Neil's number one passion, professionally, is making the organization as effective as possible. His job entails both software engineering and human engineering, and he enjoys the blend. But the variety of work can be a challenge at times, and the key to staying productive, especially while distributed, is staying organized.

What's worked well for Neil and his team? When everyone began to work from home last year, they regrouped and developed regional squads grouped into larger teams that collaborate and communicate as frequently as possible. Each squad holds daily standup meetings, and squads meet regionally, too. 

Neil says It hasn't always been easy, but it's working. 

We're grateful for the work Neil does and inspired by his approach. Original thinkers like Neil make us all more successful. Original Thinkers spark innovation. And Original Thinkers show us all what's possible, even in the most difficult times.  Please stay tuned for more profiles of 8x8 Original Thinkers in the coming weeks.