Yearly Archives: 2017

Challenges of remote project management and how to address them

It is quite rare to find someone who does not, at least partly, collaborate on business tasks remotely. Neither is it uncommon for teams within your own organization to be located in other parts of the country (or even the world). If you are someone like me whose clients come from across the world, remote project management is the only way to get things done.

Managing a project remotely can be tricky. No matter how articulate you are in your verbal and written communication, it is still not as good as being there in person. In his book, Silent Messages, Professor Albert Mehrabian argues that spoken words contribute to only seven percent of communication. Body language, voice, and tone contribute towards the rest.

It is, of course, not realistic to turn back the wheel of time and erase remote collaboration. Instead, we will do the next best thing – identify the challenges that come with remote project management and find ways to fix them.

Dealing with different time zones

Working with a team member from the other side of the globe is by far the most challenging aspect of remote project management. Simple queries to your colleagues could take hours to get answered. Not only can this mess up your work schedule, but it can also sometimes be a source of frustration.

This can seem like a bad thing, but it’s actually not. The fact that you may not be able to catch up with your team members for another day could instead force workers to better organise their tasks. Invest in project management software that fits the specific needs of your organization. Ensure all elements of your project are exhaustively documented by team members. This way, you reduce your dependence on individual members and instead focus on the process.

If you run an agency that deals with clients from around the world, it is important to stick to a specific work schedule. Otherwise, you could be tiring yourself out by trying to work across multiple time zones.

The rules change if most of your clients or team members are based in similar time zones. In such cases, it is a good idea to tweak your schedule to fit their working hours. You could, for instance, start a couple of hours early or end your day a couple of hours late if that could help you reach out to your colleagues before one of you logs out for the day.

Dealing with communication barriers

There are several factors that can impede an effective communication within a remote team, and the absence of body language is definitely one of them. Besides this, communication is can also be affected by external issues like poor network reception or internet connectivity. This can exacerbate other relatively minor issues, too.

While there are several collaboration options available, they are not all suitable for every scenario. At a basic level, your team communication may fall into one of two categories – brainstorming and project updates.

Brainstorming may include weekly catch-up meetings and product demo calls. In each of these scenarios, the objective is to enable a free exchange of thoughts and ideas among members of the team. In this case, are not the best option to build a free-flowing and cohesive conversation.

Video conferencing makes it possible for face-to-face conversations and if you are using a tool like GoToMeeting, you can also make use of the collaboration features like whiteboard, screen-sharing, and control sharing to replicate a real-world conference room.

For project updates however, it is more ideal to use a collaboration channel that is type-based. This helps with documenting the efforts from all members of the team, which is absolutely crucial. Any team member who has a query relating to the project can reference past conversations. Asana, Basecamp, Trello, and Jira are some popular tools for collaboration and project management. Slack, or the recently launched Microsoft Teams, is a good option for quick back-and-forth communication if team members are in relatively overlapping time zones.

Tracking progress

Tracking progress on a remote project shouldn’t be so hard. Yetprojects fail because of improper collaboration. There are a few reasons why this happens. First, there are often too many people meddling with the process.

When your remote team has a flat hierarchy where people from various departments (like business, sales, design, and development) collaborate, it leads to a free for all wherein each member of the team creates their own workflow. This clutters the system and reduces the productivity of the team.

This problem can be frequently seen with project status messages. When different team members set their own status messages, it can lead to chaos where the status message itself does not carry any meaning.

To fix this problem, all members of the team need to agree on who is responsible for the various processes like creating a new project, structuring project statuses, and who can close projects. Typically, these responsibilities fall on the service seeker. In a webpage design project, for instance, the design and development teams shall be the service providers while the business/sales team would be service seekers.

The second factor that contributes to improper collaboration is lack of ground rules. Too often, members in a project tend to discuss casual and non-work related stuff from within the collaboration platform. This can drown out any critical project related updates shared by other members in the team. Other times, team members could share updates in the wrong section or without making the appropriate changes to the project status. Not following a protocol while collaborating online could make the whole process futile. It is important for a team to create a protocol document that underlines all the do’s and don’ts and strictly abide by it.


Remote working is already mainstream and is not going away. The only way to survive in this new reality is to acknowledge the problems this comes with and work out suitable ways to fix it.

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How Apple Changed What Your Audience Expects

This article is based on the webinar delivered by bestselling author Carmine Gallo, which can be viewed here.

Apple co-founder and CEO, Steve Jobs, was an extraordinary presenter. He brought theatre and storytelling to the dry world of computing, and transformed presentations into an art form, complete with narratives, props and visuals. Years before TED Talks made their foray online, Jobs had already risen the bar for what audiences could expect from a presentation.

“For example, in 1984 when he launched the Macintosh for the first time (some time before PowerPoint and Keynote), it was like a Broadway production,” says communications advisor, Carmine Gallo. “The ability to communicate your ideas persuasively is the single greatest skill that will set you apart in the world of global competition.”

Gregory Berns, professor of neuroeconomics at Emory University, writes that “a person can have the greatest idea in the world, but if that person cannot convince enough other people, it doesn’t matter”. According to Gallo, Jobs made use of three key techniques to persuade and convince his audiences, which helped his ideas to stand out and be memorable…

He used emotion to help his presentations come alive

Steve Jobs wore passion on his sleeve. This passion didn’t necessarily stem from the computers and devices that he developed, but rather the ways in which they could be used to unleash creativity. Within his presentations he would use the word “passion” quite frequently. “It’s okay to share your enthusiasm, and tell the audience what you’re excited about,” says Gallo.“Passion is contagious.”

Harvard researcher Amy Cuddy, writes within her book called ‘Presence’: “we tend to put our faith in people who project passion, confidence and enthusiasm; these traits can’t easily be faked.”

A study by the University of Minnesota found that when an individual meets or hears people who are genuinely passionate and excited about a particular topic, it rubs off on them and changes the way they feel about a particular topic. Presenters, therefore, need to be clear on what they are passionate about, and transfer that passion to their audience. According to Gallo, the best tool we have to achieve this is the art of storytelling.

Storytelling is in our DNA, he says. It began around a campfire 400,000 years ago, and neuroscience has taught us a lot about storytelling over the past few years. Princeton University has been studying the subject, and has found that when two people are engaged in storytelling, a psychological process called neural coupling takes place, when the stories synchronise the listener’s brain with the teller’s brain. Furthermore, when captivated by an emotionally engaging story, chemicals are released in the brain: cortisol which makes you pay attention, dopamine which makes you feel good about the speaker, and oxytocin which is the “love molecule” or empathy drug. So when two people are engaged in storytelling, they have empathy, which is important as it makes the listener more likely to back an idea or a cause.

Bryan Stevenson, a US civil rights attorney, generated the longest standing ovation of any TED Talk in its 30 year history for his talk entitled “We need to talk about an injustice”. It’s received more than 3m views, and according to Gallo, 65% of the content falls under what Aristotle would call “pathos”; i.e. storytelling and emotion. Within it, Stevenson told three short personal stories which related to his theme of injustice; anecdotes of things that had happened to him. These are often called ‘signature stories’, which refer to the one story you can tell about a brand or about yourself, which is repeatable, and which is core to who you are which advances your organisation’s mission, values and strategy.

According to two Berkeley professors, Jennifer Aaker and David Aaker, signature stories are “almost always far more effective and impactful than communicating facts”. So according to Gallo, when you’re giving your next ‘presentation’, think about the signature stories or personal anecdotes you can refer to which will help build some emotion and authenticity into what you are saying.

A notable example of a signature story relates to a Mr Fred Schultz, who in 1961 got injured on the job. He had no health insurance and his family found it difficult to make ends meet. His son, Howard, was only 12 years old at the time. That’s why, several years later, Howard Schultz was one of the first CEOs at Starbucks to offer full time health benefits to part time workers. Howard Schultz has never got tired of telling this story, and writes “the more uninspiring your origins, the more likely you are to use your imagination and invent worlds where everything seems possible.”

“A signature story tells you so much more about the values of a company than 50 PowerPoint slides could,” argues Gallo. “When people know the story behind a product or a brand, there’s a meaningful connection established, making them more likely to buy into it.”

In 2005, Steve Jobs famously delivered his Stanford University commencement speech. He opened with the following introduction: “Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal.” The three stories focused on critical moments within his life, such as when he received his first cancer diagnosis, and shared the impact that these moments had on him. The speech is well worth listening to as a lesson in how Jobs built emotion into his public speaking.

He created a sense of novelty

“All great stories need to have a twist. In neuroscience, we call it ‘violating expectations’,” says Gallo.

Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, employed this technique within a TED Talk in 2009, where he unleashed a swarm of mosquitoes into the audience, to explain how malaria is spread. The video went viral. “If you do something that people don’t expect, they’ll remember it,” Gallo argues.

“Our brains are trained to look for something brilliant and new, something that stands out, something that looks delicious,” says Dr A K Pradeep, author of The Buying Brain.

Gallo suggests the idea of using a prop, for example, which will help to create multisensory experiences. When Jobs launched the iPad for the first time, on stage he had the replica of a living room complete with a leather sofa. Central to his presentation was the message that the iPad was more powerful than a smartphone, but more intimate than a laptop. To bring this to life he wanted his audience to be able to visualise the intimate setting where they would be using the product themselves in the future, and he created this through theatre.

Elon Musk, co-founder of Telsa, last year gave a presentation on a new battery he was creating that could store sunlight and convert it to energy. At the end of the presentation, just before leaving the stage, he revealed that all of the lights and electricity in the room were powered by this battery, which took his audience by surprise. A quote by a blogger at The Verge, T.C Sottek, following the event, said “dude’s selling a battery and he still managed to be inspiring”.

Gallo says to ask yourself what novel moments can you create within your presentations. This will undoubtedly require some thought and creativity, but Steve Jobs relied on this surprise element time and time again.

He made it memorable

Gallo explains that the human brain craves meaning before detail, and processes information quickly by looking at the bigger picture.

Richard Branson once said: “if your idea can’t be explained on the back of an envelope, it is rubbish”. Gallo suggests thinking about your big idea as a tweet, and considering how you could convey it to an audience in no more than 140 characters.“A great leader is able to strip things down to their essence,” says Michael Moritz, investor at Sequoia Capital.

When Steve Jobs launched the MacBook Air in 2008 for example, he did so via a single slide with the headline: ‘The world’s thinnest notebook’.

When the Apple Watch was launched, the media coverage that followed repeatedly referred to it as “the most personal device we’ve ever created”. This happened because it was the way in which Tim Cook consistently spoke about it, in every presentation and interview.

Gallo asks, what is the one thing your audience wants to know? He advises to always begin a presentation with this one thing, but beyond this, give the detail that people crave. Stick to the rule of three he says, that being that with short term memory the human brain can only remember three pieces of information at any one time.

Another memory trick, he says, is to make your data meaningful and put it in a context people will remember. Steve Jobs was already doing this back in 2001. When he launched the iPod in 2001, it came with 5Gb of storage, which at the time meant very little to the average consumer. So Jobs put this data point into a context that people would understand and want, saying “5GB = 1,000 songs in your pocket”. Apple continues to do this today. How thin is the new iPad? “As thin as a pencil”. How heavy is it? “It’s as light as pad of paper”. Take a data point, and use one more sentence to make it relevant. It’s a technique that good journalists use all of the time.

Gallo advises to also make sure that there is a visual component to your narrative. “If information is delivered verbally, people remember about 10%. But if a visual reminder is created, retention of that information will soar to 65%. So you can either create this through an image, or create a visual in the mind’s eye,” he explains.

For example, the Fort McMurray wildfire in Alberta, Canada, consumed more than 877,000 acres of land. When the story hit the news, few would have appreciated the scale of it, so one news outlet put it in context saying the size of the fire was 4.5 times bigger than New York City, which of course made sense to listeners.

Gallo also shares that K-Cups in the US came under widespread consumer pressure to make its coffee pods recyclable, after one reporter claimed that if the nine billion K-Cups sold every year were placed end to end, they would circle the globe 10.5 times. The analogy was picked up and referred to in hundreds of following articles. It made the data point tangible to the general public, and the story went viral, leaving K-Cups with no choice but to make its product recyclable.

There is much that we can take away from the presentation secrets of Steve Jobs. He was way ahead of his time, using master storytelling and theatre to capture the attention and imagination of his audiences, and ultimately persuade them to buy into his products or write about them favourably. See him in action here, in one of his most memorable presentations, utilising minimal slides, and listen to the audience reaction he receives…

Three companies who are helping mothers to find a better work-life balance

It was back in 2013 that Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, published her seminal text Lean In – Women, Work, and the Will to Lead which encouraged women to “sit at the table,” seek challenges, take risks, and pursue their career goals. It examined the barriers holding women back from taking on leadership positions, such as discrimination, sexism, and sexual harassment; and crucially, demonstrated how men could be supporting women more, both in the workplace and at home. “A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes,” she argued.

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Tips for scheduling meetings when you work virtually

As someone who’s worked virtually (and independently) for many years, one of the biggest benefits that comes with this way of working is the autonomy that I have in how I structure my working day. Providing I am consistent in meeting my client obligations and deadlines, it’s entirely up to me how and when I work. I have no corporate expectations such as fixed office hours or daily team meetings, which means that providing I am organised and self-motivated, I can be far more productive within my virtual environment.

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Can ‘mindfulness’ help us to perform better at work?

Mindfulness…everyone seems to be talking about it, and it’s a word that can create mixed feelings. While some see it as a New Age, trendy but useless concept, others believe firmly in its ability to create happier and more productive employees and leaders.

Over the past few years, Google, Intel, Adobe, Apple, LinkedIn, Goldman Sachs, the NHS have brought mindfulness and meditation to the workplace. In our fast-paced, high-tech world, it seems companies are increasingly turning to mindfulness to help employees cope with the growing stresses and pressures surrounding them.

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5 best business books to read this summer

I don’t know about you, but now’s the time that I begin to research my summer reading list. It’s an annual task that I really look forward to doing, and throughout the year I’m forever adding books to my ‘want to read’ list on Goodreads. Primarily I listen to the recommendations of like-minded friends and peers within the industry, but I also like to keep track of literary awards and take note of books that have been well reviewed. Bill Gates’ reading list, for example, is a continual source of reading inspiration, and particularly when I’m looking for non-fiction or business suggestions.

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Meeting personality types – which one are you?

In his 2008 book “Outliers,” Malcolm Gladwell wrote that “ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness,” for a person to become very good at something. Quick calculations of my own reveal it would be highly possible for an individual to attend 10,000 meetings throughout the course of their career (based on starting work at 18 and retiring at 65), averaging at slightly less than one meeting a day. So in theory, by the age of 65, we could have become world-class meeting experts!

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What Harvard Business School graduates can teach us about high-achieving women (study)

Goldman Sachs made headlines recently for a two-day technology conference in London it was organising where 76 people were scheduled to speak, but just five of them were women. Of the five women speaking, only three of them were Goldman Sachs employees, one of which was drafted in at short notice to replace a male speaker. The gender disparity was quite shocking, particularly within a business that runs a 10,000 Women program, which invests in and trains female entrepreneurs.

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7 popular destinations for digital nomads

Man with laptop travelling

Chances are you’ve seen the term ‘digital nomad’ online of late – the ubiquitous name for freelancers who take their work on the road. From graphic designers to entrepreneurs to software developers, many professionals are trading in their 9-to-5 office gig for something different, working instead from coffee shops, co-working spaces, trendy Airbnbs and beachy vistas.

Once you’ve ensured you’ve got the right tools and have thoroughly read up on visa restrictions and other legal fine print, it’s time to decide where to go. Where are the other nomads?

Here are 7 popular destinations where you’re likely to find fellow workers on the road.

Sunset in Bali

Image credit: Richard Schneider via Flickr Creative Commons

Canggu, Bali

It wouldn’t be an article about digital nomads without giving Bali a shout out. Tropical, picture-perfect Bali is ideal for tourists, hipsters, yoga enthusiasts and nomads alike, and Canggu has become one of the top destinations for workers on the go.

Compared to Ubud and Seminyak, Canggu is a cheaper and quieter village: according to Nomadlist, the ‘Nomad Cost’ for Canggu is about $955 per month, while Ubud is $1,395 and Seminyak is $1,638. The co-working community in Canggu is centred at Dojo Bali, and they regularly have BBQs, workshops, networking events and more social meet-ups – perfect for those looking to connect up with other nomads.

Read more about life in Canggu as a nomad:

Nomadlist’s ranking of Canggu

http://www.fulltimenomad.com/bali-digital-nomads/

https://breathingtravel.com/ultimate-travel-guide-canggu-bali/

Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

The city of Porto has curated a considerable nomadic scene, thanks to its beautiful weather, relatively inexpensive cost of living and chilled-out vibe. Considered a smaller, more affordable version of Lisbon, Porto is the ideal place to work and explore.

Porto i/o, a co-working space with a location in downtown and another near the riverside, is the best place to check out the local nomad scene. With plenty of events like coffee meetings for entrepreneurs, coding groups, information sessions and networking events, you can easily find some fellow travellers.

Read more about Porto as a co-working city here:

Nomadlist’s ranking of Porto

http://www.johnnyfd.com/2016/07/johnnys-guide-to-porto-portugal-for.html

http://charmbtrippin.com/welcome-to-porto/

https://nomadasaurus.com/discovering-the-best-things-to-do-in-porto/

Bridge in Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest is another hub for digital nomads and rightly so. Often cited as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Budapest has something for every kind of traveller – ruin bars for evening fun, incredible architecture for daytime wandering, traditional Turkish baths for relaxing, and so much more.

The city’s fast, reliable Wi-Fi, the inexpensive cost of living and co-working spaces are the major selling points for this as a hub for nomads. According to Nomad List, the average cost for a nomad for one month is about $1,448 – not as cheap as Canggu or Chiang Mai, but very affordable for Europe. Greenspaces and Loffice are two popular options for co-working spaces, but there are also a number of coffee shops perfect for working in, such as Tamp & Pull Espresso Bar and Madal Café.

Read these blog posts by nomads for more info about living in Budapest:

Nomadlist’s ranking of Budapest

http://bohemiantraveler.com/2017/01/digital-nomad-budapest/

http://www.1bag1life.com/budapest-travel-guide-for-digital-nomads/

Temple in Thailand

Chiang Mai, Thailand

One of the most popular cities for digital nomads – in fact, arguably the most popular – is Chiang Mai. With gorgeous beaches, incredible temples and pristine forests, it’s not difficult to see why many nomads flock to the largest city in northern Thailand.

Chiang Mai’s incredible value for money attracts nomads from all over the world: according to Chris the Freelancer (an Australian nomad, blogger and YouTuber), a typical sit-down meal for 4 was around $8.50 AUD, or just £5. There is also an abundance of coffee shops (like Ristr8to) and co-working spaces (like Punspace) ideally suited for nomads.

Read more about experiencing Chiang Mai as a nomad (including Chris’s experiences):

Nomadlist’s ranking of Chiang Mai

http://christhefreelancer.com/one-month-as-a-digital-nomad-in-chiang-mai/

https://www.goatsontheroad.com/digital-nomad-guide-living-chiang-mai/

Streets in Seoul, South Korea

Seoul, South Korea

Often overlooked on nomad lists for beachier destinations, Seoul has a bustling freelance and start-up community. Renowned by foodies for its incredible cuisine and by techies for its position as the world’s most wired city, Seoul is ideal for nomads.

One of the best things about this capital city is its availability: 24-hour cafes with reliable Wi-Fi are perfect for those who like to make their own hours, and Seoul’s transport system will get you pretty much anywhere you need to go. If you’re looking to connect with other nomads, check out hip co-working space Hive Arena.

Read more about what makes Seoul ideal for nomads:

Nomadlist’s ranking of Seoul

http://umap.openstreetmap.fr/en/map/seoul-korea_41876#12/37.5379/127.0138

http://travel.cnn.com/seoul/life/50-reasons-why-seoul-worlds-greatest-city-534720/

Split, Croatia

Split, Croatia

Croatia has long attracted travellers for its breath-taking beaches, beautiful forested trails and affordable living, and Split is no different. Croatia’s second-largest city, located on the Dalmatian Coast, is a historical testament to Croatian culture, with ancient Roman ruins next to trendy shops and bars. From the start of spring until about late October, Split is full of tourists enjoying the culture, so if you’re looking for a quiet place, opt for the off-peak season.

In terms of where you can get work done, there are plenty of co-working spaces, equipped with fast, reliable internet, like CoCreative or WIP.

Nomadlist’s ranking of Split

https://vollo.net/blog/comprehensive-guide-digital-nomad-croatia/

https://www.goatsontheroad.com/5-digital-nomad-spots-where-you-can-live-for-half-the-cost/

https://www.goatsontheroad.com/goatlife-tv-episode-73-living-in-split-croatia/

Image source: VV Nincic via Flickr Creative Commons

Meixco City, Mexico

Mexico City, Mexico

Mexico City is a destination that is often overlooked due to its reputation for crime and corruption; however, many nomads beg you to reconsider. This capital city attracts workers on the road by its delicious food, cheap cost of living, vibrant culture and fantastic selection of Wi-Fi-equipped places for work. From the sprawling park of Chapultepec to the ancient Mesoamerican Pyramid of the Sun, Mexico City’s incredible history is woven into its modernity.

With no shortage of cafes to work from, Mexico City also boasts a number of co-working spaces where you can connect with other nomads, including Urban Station, Impact Hub and more. Local marketplaces provide the perfect spot for grabbing affordable, authentic eats.

Read more about life as a nomad in Mexico City here:

Nomadlist’s ranking of Mexico City

http://www.indefiniteadventure.com/digital-nomad-cafe-mexico-city/

http://digitalrailroad.net/digital-nomad-guide-mexico-city/

 

For more information on becoming a digital nomad, read our resource guide ‘How to become a digital nomad’. It’s got everything from to general advice on preparing for life abroad to gear recommendations – a laptop equipped with videoconferencing software is a must, especially GoToMeeting’s screen share feature – incredibly useful for nomads to clearly communicate with clients and customers on the road).

5 things to do in the first month of a new job

While ultimately it is the responsibility of a company and employees to welcome onboard a new member of staff, there are also some important steps an individual can take within the first 30 days of a new job, to ensure it’s a smooth and positive process. Of course it’s common to feel nerves and excitement in equal measures, combined with the renewed enthusiasm and aspiration that come with a fresh career start. It’s great to convey the fact that you’re raring to go, but it’s important to temper this with the acknowledgement that you’re a new entrant and have a lot to learn about the organisation and culture, regardless of your level of seniority. This will help to earn the respect of your colleagues over a period of time, and ensure that you find your natural fit within the business.

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Do we need a 30-hour working week?

The dream of a four-day, 30-hour working week is something that many of us aspire to achieving one day. But the reality is that few companies offer such flexibility, despite rising preference among employees for a better work-life balance. Furthermore, in many places there remains a stigma attached to those opting to work reduced or part-time hours, which could have repercussions for those wanting to continue their climb up the career ladder.

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How to take a more meaningful approach to corporate social responsibility in 2017

Corporate Social Responsibility, or CSR, has risen in prominence over the past couple of years owing to the growing social conscience of today’s consumers. Nowadays, the rising generation of buyers would prefer to spend their money on a brand, service or product that displays strong ethics, is tied to worthwhile charitable causes, and takes its environmental responsibilities seriously. Similarly, up and coming businesses and entrepreneurs are showing preference for investing in tools and services provided by socially conscious businesses which share similar values to their own, over and above a big corporate name.

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10 Companies Embracing Remote Working for Business Success

Work remotely from anywhere in the world

Remote teams and flexible working arrangements are becoming an increasingly common occurrence in companies of all sizes these days. Part of this is thanks to more advanced technology and better solutions. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn’t – Yahoo! chief executive Marissa Mayer famously banned flexible working a few years ago, arguing that being physically together is the only way to produce the best work.

But is this still true? As more and more of our lives happen online, it seems natural that our work should reflect the same change. Many companies have embraced this remote working model so much so that entire teams are spread across the globe – and they’re achieving success. Here are 10 companies who are challenging the idea that presence equals productivity and making the ‘virtual office’ work for them.

  1. Zapier

Zapier, the integration platform that automates web apps like Salesforce, Dropbox, Office 365, GoToMeeting and more, is a true remote work champion. Their team is distributed all over the world from South Florida to Nigeria, and remote work is so strongly built into their company ethos that they’ve written a guide about it. Through task management apps and collaborative tools like Google Docs, they’re able to stay agile and keep the company running smoothly.

  1. Etsy

Although not entirely remote like Zapier, Etsy has embraced a global workforce to their advantage. Their headquarters are in Brooklyn, but they have employees all over the world from London to Tokyo to Melbourne. In an interview with software engineer Brad Greenlee (based in Washington), he says that Etsy emphasizes a ‘reply-all’ culture that fosters inclusivity and doesn’t make remote workers feel isolated or like they are not ‘first class citizens’ of the company. He also says that recording videoconferences makes it super easy for staff to catch up on anything they may have missed.

  1. GitLab Inc.

This software provider and Git repository management is another proud remote company. They even have a Remote Manifesto, which outlines their eight principles for effective collaboration. In a recent interview, the CEO Sid Sijbrandij says at GitLab they ‘treat remote working as an advantage, not an obstacle.’ Remote working helps eliminate unnecessary meetings or inefficient communication, and they rely on chats to work together across time zones and continents.

  1. Olark

Olark is a live chat platform connecting businesses with customers based in San Francisco, but their team has grown into a global force. From Tiree, Scotland to Cookeville, Tennessee, it’s clear that Olark truly values their people and their well-being. Not only do they place a strong emphasis on transparency and communication, they foster a sense of digital community. They also have annual company retreats so everyone – including staff based outside the US – can hang out face-to-face and grow real friendships.

  1. Geckoboard

For those that haven’t heard of Geckoboard, they are a live TV dashboard software for businesses – a real-time metric and KPI tracker – and they are another champion of the remote working model. From their London headquarters, they’ve expanded across eight different time zones from Hawaii to Mumbai to give better service to their global clients. Throughout this growth, they’ve kept true to one of their core company beliefs: that having a great workplace and a great personal life mean working smarter, and you don’t all need to be in the same place to do so.

  1. Automattic

Now over 500 strong and valued at over $1 billion, Automattic is one of the most well-known remote working success stories. The WordPress developer has been remote from the beginning to tap into the best talent, regardless of location. CEO Matt Mullenweg said in an interview with Glenn Leibowitz that ‘[having distributed teams] has been amazing for the company in that we can attract and retain the best talent without them having to be in New York or San Francisco or one of the traditional tech enters.’ To stay productive, the teams communicate through internal chats and P2, an internal blog.

  1. 10Up

‘The best talent isn’t found in a single zip code, and an international clientele requires a global perspective,’ says 10Up and their completely remote workforce reflects this global attitude. 10Up, a web design and development agency specialising in content management services, has engineers and developers located from Costa Rica to Pakistan. In a Q&A for Remote.co, president and founder Jake Goldman says one of the main benefits of a remote working model is that ‘with the right team, you have a grassroots marketing campaign in cities and towns all around the country, and world. Many of our employees are active in their local meetup groups and communities, which spreads organic awareness of our brand outside of a single city.’

  1. Upworthy

There’s a pretty good chance you’ve heard of Upworthy – you may have even seen one of their stories shared on your Facebook Newsfeed recently. The popular content platform is a distributed team, with most of their job positions available virtually (although some require a U.S. time zone). They value results, not hours spent working, and encourage their employees to shift their work around other life commitments.

  1. Skillcrush

When Adda Birnir was one of many employees laid off from her job in 2008, she realised that those who remained at the company were all the technical workers: coders, developers and designers. She founded Skillcrush to give everyone, especially women, the opportunity to learn coding, get hired and enhance job security overall – and in the process, became a role model for the remote working model. Skillcrush’s (all female) team is fully remote and scattered from Finland to Texas.

  1. Help Scout

Help Scout, an online customer support platform, is the perfect example of the way a remote team should work. Although they have a head office in Boston, each employee has the freedom to work wherever they want, relying on transparency, trust and videoconferencing to get the job done. Help Scout also have a unique tradition called the Friday Fika – a 15-minute chat over coffee between randomly-chosen employees to keep everyone connected, despite the physical distance.

 

The case for working to become a thought leader

I just got off the phone with a business owner who agreed we should NOT work together.  And we both feel great about it!  I was talking to her about thought leadership and what it would mean to have her very best content in print and in the public domain.  She said she was not really interested in that, and she’s not willing to put the time and effort in.  We agreed to disagree and ended the conversation amicably.

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On Millennials, Technology and Presentation Culture

It may not feel like it but a key part of the way we conduct business is currently teetering on the edge of a precipice. The good news is that for once this has nothing to do with Brexit or the macroeconomic machinations of the new US President – we’ll save that for another day. No, the cause for my concern is a little closer to home – presentations.

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What we can learn from these companies about work-life balance

Establishing a healthy work-life balance is something that I continually struggle with. I work from my home office which can be very difficult (impossible) to get away from; but also, since I am self employed, I rarely stick to a rigid 9-5 routine. Of course this isn’t a problem unique to home-workers. Having worked for large companies too I remember how unusual it was for myself and my colleagues to leave the office on time. If we managed on the odd occasion to get all of our work done within our contracted hours, it was a rare and wonderful thing.

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Cube feng shui: How to use an ancient practice to boost productivity & focus in your workspace

You don’t have to look too far to find critics of the office cubicle: Google “cubicles are awful” and you’ll find hundreds of articles decrying these hated workspaces. And most of the data on work environments seems to support these claims. Cubicle-bound workers report exceptionally low levels of satisfaction with their work stations. They’re less productive than their peers in open-plan offices. Meanwhile, most cube workers get absolutely no daytime exposure to natural light, which wrecks sleeping patterns and skews cognitive ability.

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6 LinkedIn influencers worth following in 2017

LinkedIn has recently undergone a big refresh, bringing its newsfeed far more in line with Facebook and other social networks, showing trending stories that are curated by human editors and algorithms. Users can un-follow and hide posts easily (just like Facebook), but interestingly, Pulse, its daily news and publishing platform, is now more tucked away than ever it seems, although also available as a standalone mobile app. This makes it even more important to seek out the influencers worth following, so that you will never miss a post by them.

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How to successfully delegate decision making

There’s some irony in the fact that taking the decision to delegate decision making can sometimes be a tough one, and particularly within a small company where autonomy has generally rested with you. It can be a time-consuming process and often requires a mindset change on your part, along with a willingness to let go of a certain amount of control. It can sometimes be tricky to find the right balance but when managed successfully, the delegation of some decisions brings with it great benefits and can be highly worth the investment of time.

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