Remote work has replaced office buildings and business hours with an asynchronous, work-anywhere culture. But people need a virtual place to gather. Here’s how to build that place.
Just a few years ago, it was standard operating procedure to commute to a workplace and expect coworkers to be available during office hours. It took a pandemic for these time-and-place traditions to unravel. But, for most desk workers, they are now firmly a thing of the past. One study found that work-from-home now accounts for over 60% of US economic activity.
This cultural acceptance of asynchronous and distributed work is inclusive and liberating. It allows people to be working parents, to live where they want, and to work hours that suit their nature and lives. One study found that 93% of employees want flexibility about when they work and 81% want flexibility about where they work.
Work-from-home now accounts
for over 60% of US economic activity
Not only has distributed, asynchronous work unleashed creativity, cut down on burnout, and improved work/life balance for workers but it also has huge benefits for businesses, making it possible to hire across geographies, cut back on office expenses, and hold onto a happy and productive workforce.
The next challenge is to move away from video calls and online meetings toward collaborative work environments that take full advantage of the freedom of distributed work.
The way you collaborate is the key
The temptation to lean heavily on video calls for remote teams is a vestigial limb of office culture, an extension of the idea that people aren’t working unless you can see them doing it. In most cases, though, it’s counterproductive.
Meetings – even video ones – keep people from working. Unless meetings are task-targeted or used to build connections among teams, they usually get in the way of productivity. Meetings are also synchronous, which means people in distant time zones are often joining them late at night or early in the morning, giving up many of the benefits offered by remote work.
While the last two years have made video calls the work-world norm. Better collaboration technology – and a better way for managers to monitor productivity – is the key to embracing asynchronous, distributed work in the future.
Every workplace needs a place. It doesn’t have to be a building. In fact, it’s better if it isn’t. If the workplace is online – and has the right tools – people can get there easily, managers can see how much time everyone is spending at work, and no one has to be there at an hour that doesn’t fit their lives.
We built Perfect Project to be that place for professional service projects.
While people hunker down to work in a spreadsheet, help-desk ticketing system, data or financial analysis application, engineering tool, or CRM, they gather – to discuss the progress projects, post updates, accept assignments, and collaborate – in our project management tool.
This online workspace is much more than a place to chat. It is integrated with all the other tools the team uses and it handles all the overhead of work management so that everyone is visible and the work is transparent.
It starts with a handshake
Bringing people into a workplace or project can be a slow and annoying process. If you know, for example, that you need to assign an engineer to a new project, you might send Beth an email, because things worked out last time, and hope she has time. When that email is met with silence, you don’t know if it’s because the email got lost or she is unavailable. Do you wait or move on?
With Perfect Project, this is a quick and easy chore. It is connected to the schedules and workloads of everyone on your team. It can see who has the appropriate skills and who is available. In it, you search for a resource with the right skills and availability. Beth doesn’t turn up because she is on vacation. But it shows you that Derek is wrapping up a project and will soon have plenty of availability.
You send Derek an invitation to take on the task. It pops up in his dashboard (or Microsoft Teams feed). He accepts the job and Perfect Project notifies you immediately.
That digital handshake takes only a second – a click of a button – but it triggers the release of information to you, Derek, and the rest of the team. You know he has accepted the work. The team knows Derek is the new team member. And Derek has access to information – team members, chat rooms, and work progress – that is relevant to his role.
The workplace that enhances communication
When workers gathered in an office – back when time and space were the frame for work – it was easy to see who was there, have quick chats, and gather for meetings to hash things out. If you missed a day or worked from a remote location, though, you missed much of these low-contact information exchanges.
In Moovila’s online collaborative work environment, those exchanges are not tied to time or place. You can see who is present for a chat. You can leave notes on the work and read the notes that others have left. Tag a financial report with a comment noting an omission or change. Read a discussion about a customer complaint tagged to all the relevant files and messages. See who is blocked and help them out from within the task they are struggling with.
There’s no need to hunt through emails, transcripts, or Slack threads to get up to speed, see where people are having questions or problems, or see who stepped up to save the day. All this information is in the tasks in digital sticky-note style notes.
Notes on tasks are more efficient because they are embedded into the work and controlled by permission level. If you are a manager, for example, and want to discuss a problem with other leaders, but not share that discussion with the team, you can set the permission on that conversation so that only people at your access level can see it.
Everyone’s view is unique
Because access to all the data in the project is set by permission level, you can invite contractors, freelancers, customers – anyone – to the project and give them an access level that’s appropriate to their role.
The project technician contractors will see only tasks and data relevant to that job. The project manager will see a higher level of access – without perhaps pay scales or company financial data. A company leader will have access to all levels of data. If it is your role to assign work, you will see the skills, schedules, and time commitments of the entire team. A customer, on the other hand, will see only the tasks that are assigned to them –a contract or proposal that needs a signature, perhaps – and the people available to chat with them.
Everyone is more informed than they were when they went to a physical place to work. Information only goes to the people who are cleared to see it. And no one has to attend meetings or spend hours reading emails to get the data they need.
It’s not just permissions that govern each person’s view, though.
Culling the data for each viewer
Everyone can create their own unique view of a project by building the dashboard that suits them and the work they do. One person might want a big picture. Someone else might focus on the nitty gritty of the work. Another might look only at financials.
Creating a window into the project that shows you only what you need to see is easy.
The financial person simply drags the relevant datasets into a dashboard. Someone focusing on boots-on-the-ground work drags applets and datasets that show current progress, conversations about problems, and task deadlines. The person tasked with managing the project would drag-and-drop views that surface progress against goals, tasks in danger of missing deadlines, an overall project score, schedule changes, and progress against the timeline to their own unique dashboard.
The future of work is asynchronous and distributed. To succeed at that, you will need a virtual workplace that doesn’t sacrifice collaboration or your management team’s ability to monitor productivity. Schedule a demo of our award-winning collaborative work environment. It was built, from the ground up, to be a virtual workplace that’s better than a physical one.