🔑 Key Takeaways
- Remote work is no longer just a buzzword, it's the new normal. Companies must adapt to working without the constraints of an office and employees working synchronously in the same room. Remote work provides opportunities for people everywhere to get an amazing job.
- Building a sustainable business that prioritizes solving problems, deep work, and asynchronous communication while maintaining a positive company culture is more important for long-term success than chasing short-term revenue targets through external funding and rapid growth.
- Asynchronous communication is the norm for remote work and there is a need for innovative tools and platforms to improve efficiency and productivity. Remote work is a spectrum and companies should consider incorporating asynchronous-first approaches alongside real-time interactions.
- Asynchronous and remote working can optimize productivity for various roles, avoid HR issues, and enable transparency. Using a tool like Twist can make searching and indexing easier. Balancing the lack of real-time communication with human connection is crucial for success.
- In an asynchronous work environment, balance managing people with individual development tasks to avoid burnout and limited creativity. Investing time in team collaboration and problem-solving is crucial for unblocking tasks and fostering synergy.
- To overcome challenges in remote work, have independent and senior authorities, a well-documented handbook, expert managers, outcome-focused sales teams, and a remote work culture with synchronous communication.
- Building a successful productivity app requires developing both single and multiplayer modes, trying out new marketing strategies, and prioritizing intra-network effects for virality and sustainable growth.
- To unleash our full potential, we need powerful tools that enable remote work and collaboration. We must bring the model of working from advanced developer tools to non-developers, so they can effectively collaborate on knowledge sharing and build a structured knowledge base.
📝 Podcast Summary
The Rise of Remote Work: Challenges and Opportunities
Remote work has been a buzzword for a long time but the COVID-19 pandemic has brought it into the mainstream. Amir Salihefendic, founder of Doist, a 90-100 person remote company, has been evangelizing remote work for 13 years before it was cool. Remote work now provides an opportunity for people regardless of their location to work from anywhere and get an amazing job. The implication of remote work is significant as it provides more opportunities, and the second and third order effects of this could be huge. Companies must think beyond just providing tools for remotely working and consider how to work without the constraints of an office and employees working synchronously in the same room.
Prioritizing Profitability and Culture Over Growth and Funding for Long-Term Success
Doist founder, Amir, took a different approach to building a sustainable business. Rather than prioritizing growth and external funding, he opted for profitability and a culture that he wanted to work in for decades. This has allowed the company to be completely independent, profitable every year since it started, and grow to about 100 employees. The focus is on solving real problems and promoting deep work and asynchronous communication, which led to the creation of a second product called Twist. Amir believes that this approach is more sustainable than burning millions on ads and having broken cultures, even if it means not hitting a $100 million revenue target. It's a different model that prioritizes long-term success over short-term gains.
The Need for Innovative Tools in Remote Work
Asynchronous communication is becoming the default mode for remote work. Companies that implement this model are unique and special, but it is a niche space and there is a need for more innovation. The current system is inefficient and there is a need for a new stack to replace it. Remote work is a new medium and it will take time to figure out what is native to it. Remote work is a spectrum, with office real-time at one end and remote-first, asynchronous-first on the other end. Remote work is the future, but we need more tools and platforms that are specifically built for it.
The Benefits of Asynchronous and Remote Working for Deep Work
Amir, the CEO of Doist, explains the benefits of asynchronous and remote working for deep work. It is not only good for the life of people; it's also good for work because it is optimizable for designers, writers, coders, and finance people. An asynchronous environment avoids HR issues, avoiding flame wars and insulting each other. Doist uses Twist as a tool for asynchronous work, which indexes, makes search easier, and makes everything transparent. Real-time communication can be discouraged with design patterns and culture. However, human connection is important, so Doist also organizes team retreats to make the most of that connection. The human connection is essential, so organizers focus on being thoughtful and structured when planning such retreats.
Managing a Global Asynchronous Workforce: Insights from Doist
Doist is a company that employs people in 35 different countries, dealing with taxes, legal issues and employment but in an asynchronous working environment. They encourage the use of weekly one-on-ones bi-weekly, which they credit to being one of the biggest advancements for their company. To be successful, you need to manage people, but it's also important to balance development tasks as it can create a dull job and limit creativity. In an asynchronous environment, people are blocked by default, so it's essential to have other tasks as well, and it's worth spending time with colleagues to deal with blockers.
Overcoming Challenges in Remote Work Environment
Remote work can be challenging for inexperienced or junior employees who need a lot of hand-holding, so it's important to have independent and senior authorities in place. Having a well-documented handbook with clear core values can also help set expectations and ensure a smooth transition for new hires. In a remote work environment, it's crucial to have expert managers who can evaluate work properly and ensure high-quality output. Sales teams may be a good candidate for the outcome-focused nature of remote work, but it's important to explore and innovate on this front to ensure success. Overall, creating a remote work culture and maintaining synchronous communication are essential for success in this modality.
The Importance of Single and Multiplayer Modes for Productivity Apps
In the productivity space, retention and competition are brutal, and having a sustainable business model is important. Todoist has grown by tapping into powerful free distribution channels, but also sees opportunities in solving the multiplayer mode. Wunderlist, a competitor, had a similar product and gained mass adoption despite not having a business model, but failed to sustain growth. In order to build a successful business, focusing on both single and multiplayer modes is crucial. Additionally, following standard marketing playbooks may not always lead to success, and trying out new strategies could be advantageous. Finally, in the productivity space, LTV is low and intra-network effects are vital for building virality and sustaining growth.
The Future of Work: Enabling Asynchronous Collaboration with Advanced Tools
The future of work requires a new stack with advanced tools and processes to enable asynchronous work and collaboration. Single player mode in enterprise-wide systems are terrible, and it is difficult to create tools that excel at both single player and multiplayer modes. The key is to bring the model of working from advanced developer tools to non-developers. The need to solve and work on a lot of challenges in knowledge sharing, collaboration on text, and building a structured handbook and knowledge base of the company/team. By bringing powerful tools to everyone, we would reach our true potential as a species. Twitter is the best place to connect with Amir, and his handle is @amix3k.