More on Remote Teams: Thomas Knoll on The Hows and Whys

Even if you’re not managing a remote team, there are several tools available to help you increase productivity and transparency, which ultimately results in increased team happiness. Matt Mullenwegg and team leaders at Automattic are often hailed as the go-to for how to manage a distributed team, and one of the main ideas is that company headquarters are virtual, not physical. This takes away the “remote” of a remote team – how much do you love being referred to as “remote”, anyway? Even if your whole team happens to be in one place – what about when someone goes on personal leave? When systems are set up to keep everything transparent so that a returning employee can be completely filled in when they get back, neither productivity nor morale have to take a hit.

In response to Hunter Walk’s blog post on the various ails associated with email, bcc, and cc, Primeloop founder Thomas Knoll wrote a post on Medium entitled “I banned email at my company.” You can read the post in its entirety here, and it is truly an insightful reference for the tools that increase productivity – whether distributed or in-house – along with exactly how those tools are used.

“Email should not be used to share information. Especially if that information is a resource that might be useful again in the future. Most email (Hi there gmail, I know you’re better than everyone else) is not very searchable. So, it is hard to rediscover the information in the future. And what about all the people who are coming and going from a company. Just because you weren’t here 5 months ago doesn’t mean that some internal knowledge wouldn’t be helpful to you today.”

Not only does email create a barrier to the sharing of information, Google Hangouts/g-chat segments these questions and conversations to the select few who are a part of that conversation at the time. What if a member of the dev team moves over to the sales team? If the information on the hows and whys of the sales team’s decision-making process are readily available and not hidden in email, that team member can get up-to-speed faster and start contributing right away. Knoll mentions that he uses a combination of Slack, which is exploding in popularity in the tech world, and a new product created by a friend, called WorkingOn.

At Primeloop, we have found that it is motivational for everyone in the company to be able to see what everyone else is working on at any given time. It’s helpful for two different reasons: (1) If I see someone diving in on their next task, it can trigger a reminder that I had some thoughts that might be interesting for them to consider while working on that task. (2) When I see other people having an awesome day, it inspires me to crank harder. Plus, our stand-ups are much faster since we can skip that whole section.

Are you working on a product to help deliver productivity and happiness to remote teams? Which products help you most? Let’s start this discussion!


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Written by:
Previously the Managing Editor at Tech.Co, Ann Diab has a background of launching and nurturing of startups and tech companies. Empowering and educating entrepreneurs and startups to better productivity and culture is her passion. Growth Manager at WorkingOn to enable folks all over the world to enjoy work and improve communication. Follow me on Twitter.
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