You might not be aware that Barouh & Partners is an international company - you can find us in five different countries, but most of the time you won't be able to meet more than three people of our team at the same geographical location. Whoever you find the chance to meet though, you will most probably have work-efficient and nicely spent time.
We say "most probably" here, because some of us haven't seen each other at all. But we meet every day in our virtual Campfire office and we feel as we know each other already pretty well. It is a weird way to work in a team but it functions well. How do we manage to organize our work environment in a situation like this is what we plan to share with you today.
Almost all of our virtual office space is organized using the products of a company called 37signals. You either have heard of them and you are a fan or you are going to like them after we draw your attention to what they do. Starting as a web design studio, they used their experience at the workplace and their desire for more efficiency to create a solution which to help them organize work better and increase productivity. In 2004, they created a product which was genius enough to make them switch from web design to software development company. At the moment, they create software solutions combining at the same time clever functionality, great design and fun communication.
The application discussed above is named Basecamp. It is a project management tool, which allows you to keep track of tasks, to-do lists and project communication at one and the same place. We started using Basecamp in October and we are loving it - mostly because working with it is so easy and enjoyable. You can access any information on the on-going work process in literally two clicks, you can as easily allocate tasks, upload and view files and track your working time. What you most easily fall in love with, however, is the design - simple, responsive and beautiful; it simply makes you want to create and be part of more stuff which is happening on your camp.
Campfire, another application by 37signals we use, is a web-based collaborative group chat and an amazing resource for internal company communication. It is our virtual office space where we hang out, discuss in real-time our thoughts of genius or share what is on our heart, like Macklemore's Thrift Shop music video, for example. The way it goes in a real work office. In Campfire, you can set up as many chat rooms as you wish for all the topics you need to discuss on a regular basis. Then you have a record of all the communication conducted on a particular project, which can be accessed easily by any team member who needs to catch up on the progress of some task. This is an extremely useful asset when your employees don't work 9 to 5.
The only tool with which we cheat on 37signals is our time tracking application, which is a product by Harvest, another company we hold high and to which we would like to dedicate some time on our blog in the future. Harvest app allows us to trace the efficiency of our team's work. Each employee records the hours they have spent working on a given project, while having the ability to navigate through different tasks with a single click. Then there is a comment left for each record, explaining what work has been done for this time passage. The application is specially created to sync perfectly with Basecamp, which makes its use even more efficient. Having the ability to calculate the time spent on each of our projects helps us enormously in the correct billing of our clients.
We use all these tools to organize our work in a situation where most members of our team are 1000 km away from each other. We are sure, however, that these applications can turn out useful for you even if you share with your colleagues a real office. In case you decide to try some of them, we will be curious to learn from you if they have brought improvements to your business environment. And if you are interested in hearing more ideas on remote working, do not miss to check 37signals' amazing blog.