When organizations transition to a fully remote workspace, they still need to find ways to be connected with their teams. In 2014, Matt Bendett co-founded Peerspace, the leading marketplace for hourly venue rentals for meetings, productions, and events, centered around the idea of bringing people together both inside and outside of work. Nicole Henry, a Spot Walking Coach, spoke with him about the transition into a remote workforce and how strong organization and documentation has helped his team stay connected and on track of business.
Matt: We started off as a company that was in the office 5 days a week and it was a really interesting transition for us to go through. It definitely felt like the right thing to do, but we were forced into it because of the pandemic. What I learned through that process is there are definite benefits beyond just the interpersonal relationship that you can build in-person, which is why it’s really important that we still meet periodically. But being 100% in-person was also less productive for us and we didn’t know this until we were forced to work together remotely. We’ve found that being remote gives us the appropriate amount of downtime so we could focus deeply on key projects - and being remote has really helped us stay productive. The only thing we really needed to adapt was finding the right digital tools to be able to have that connection when we need it and also ensuring that it doesn’t burn us out over time.
M: We do it ourselves actually. Now that we’re working remotely, twice a year we’ll converge from across the globe on a city as a whole company and several times throughout the year as individual teams for about a week at a time in different Peerspace venues. It’s a great way for us to come together to team build, get strategic work done, and to basically make up for the time we no longer spend together in the office.
M: Making sure things are better documented has become a high priority for us. We don’t have the flexibility of doing the desk drive-by to ask a question anymore, so tools like Notion have become our de facto tool for project management - especially in the remote onboarding process. We’ve now forced ourselves to create this documentation, because we can’t just sit on a Zoom call for 8 hours a day to manually onboard.
M: We onboarded an employee a few weeks ago and they said this was the best new employee onboarding experience they’ve ever had. We have an onboarding template that’s customizable to the employee, but everything is linked and documented. I guess I didn’t appreciate how much value that creates. We wanted to do this to save ourselves time just as much as we wanted to make it a good experience for the new employee. Who does this person need to meet with and what are their roles? How can we make sure they have a mixture of self-guided work and time spent with their teammates? What do we want them to have grasped by the end of the onboarding process? Those are pretty standard parts of our onboarding templates. We use an onboarding doc that is tactile and interactive and you can check off tasks once complete. It is well organized and I think it helps onboarding feel more organized.
Another component of our strategy as a company is a culture of transparency - we don’t try to wall anything off. We try to think about how to document things so they can be shared and other people can get context from it. It all helps them better understand their place in the company, and how they are contributing to our overall objectives.
M: Yeah, it’s possible to end up feeling like you're a cog and because you are remote, some people don’t have a lot of meetings, so that can be sort of lonely and isolating. Whether you do this consciously or not [make time for transparency and access to information], those things do matter to be able to feel connected to the company in ways that are valuable for individuals and the greater culture. Especially if you are no longer able to spontaneously grab lunch at the office with a colleague.
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