As a company with multiple products, and leadership located all across the US, we’re committed to being a business that is not only in touch with our customers but with each other. As they say, teamwork makes the dream work, right?
A successful software company doesn’t always need to operate out of an office, and for us to have the talent that makes Applian what it is today, we can’t possibly have everyone in the same place at the same time every day. That being said, there are some tricks we’ve learned to make sure that our team stays productive, no matter where they have a desk.
Email. Email. Email.
Obviously, this is the main form of communication in any office — remote or cubicle — everyone needs an effective email client. Aside from that, we also have developed some tricks to get the most out of constructing and composing our inbox.
- Voice recognition is great for any (ahem) “slow-typers” or for those moments when you, say, slip off your bike and break a wrist? Yeah, ouch. We like Windows 7 Voice Recognition software on PC.
- Don’t underestimate bolding, bullet-ing, and highlighting. When you are dealing with a large quantity of email every day, it is important to compose email structure with intention. If you can’t make it short, then space it all out. And don’t be afraid to highlight call-to-action for those who need to know the important stuff. Email-skimming is real, people.
Virtual filing cabinets and whiteboards.
Organizing tasks and records is just as important in a virtual office environment as it is for a physical one. Not only is it helpful to be able to reach back and find past work or finances, but it’s important that everyone else who needs to can. Thank the stars for the cloud!
- Everyone needs a basic, overall file storing space, and as a company we like the Dropbox experience as it can sync to desktop.
- Basecamp works great for tracking and squishing bugs, especially so the whole Customer Service Team is on the same page and our Leadership Team can follow along and get super-impressed with their awesomeness.
Talk through it.
We’re huge fans of chatting it up. Whether it’s business-related or not (okay, so usually it is). There’s a ton of tools out there to get your whole team in on the conversation, literally.
- Skype. Of course. Most of our calls are Video. Mostly so that we can all make fun of whatever might be happening in the background. Typically, we like to record the super-important meetings with our very own Replay Telecorder or Replay Video Capture to get all the good stuff and have it on file if we need to go back to important deliverables.
- On occasion GoToMeeting is helpful for client or business development calls. It’s just healthy to simply get up and give someone a call on the phone… talking in-person really does get things done faster and will always have a more personal touch.
- Keep outlets open for old school! We use Onebox for those now-and-then customers who want to call in and leave a message, and (believe it or not) we even get faxes sometimes, so we take advantage of eFax for those rare cases.
Real face time.
One of the most important factors is blocking out time to have work retreats and connect with our team one-on-one. These excursions provide the necessary blend of relaxation and company-bonding to make sure everyone feels a part of Applian as a whole. Being behind a computer screen can make you forget the big picture.
It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.
We try to recognize that everyone has their own schedule. Some of us stay up late and code, others need a more 9 to 5 routine, and sometimes, our meetings might interfere with the whole life-work balance. It’s not too unusual for us to have a long Skype session with people dropping in and out to make an errand, attend an appointment, and (most likely) enjoy a good glass of wine. In fact, the latter tends to help when everything gets stressful and miscommunication is likely. On that note, we recommend Black Box Wines / BevMo as an alternative productivity resource and attitude refinement tool.
Whether you work from home, out of a coffee shop, or have your own corporate environment to adapt to, we know it can get tough to stay connected, productive, and inspired. Hopefully, some of those resources can help.
Have some we should know about it? Let us know in the comments below — we’d love to find out!