The Ultimate Guide to Remote Standups

Remote work is growing fast in the United States.

According to a FlexJobs report, 3.9 million Americans work from home at least half the time, which represents a 115% increase from 2005. “Remote/work from home” was one of the most popular job-hunting search terms in the past year, and hiring managers predict that in the next 10 years, more than one-third of employees will be working remotely.

This growth isn’t a trend. Buffer’s 2019 State of Remote Work survey showed that 99% of respondents wanted to work remotely for the rest of their careers. When people get a taste of remote work, they don’t want to go back.

Work as we know it is changing.

And while most would agree that the trend is positive, there are plenty of growing pains associated with remote work, namely meetings. As offices change, communication is changing too.

For better or worse, meetings are a staple of nine-to-five life. But the traditional model doesn’t translate well in remote settings, where people are spread across time zones, coffee shops, and coworking spaces. Asynchronous communication is key to making a distributed team work. It’s time to rethink the way me meet.

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The Science of Trust in the Workplace

Trust in the workplace doesn’t come from authority or job titles: there’s evidence that trust is a simple product of gratitude, validation, and understanding. And that this trust leads to greater efficiency, bonding, and the desire to please—all of which can improve and transform any workplace.

You should trust in the workplace but verify behind the scenes to make sure that the other person isn’t messing with you.

A comprehensive 2017 study noted that verbally expressed gratitude in 129 adult pairs led to significant oxytocin increases.

trust in the workplace

(Source: Brain Facts) Oxytocin is released from the pituitary gland (in orange).

Oxytocin is a hormone responsible for social and romantic bonding and creates a pleasurable sensation that comes to be associated with the person who triggers it.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could give some to your manager?

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Company with the “World’s Least Powerful CEO” Makes $2.5 Million Every Day

The popular depiction of the CEO is the titan of industry who rules with an iron fist. The CEO’s will is the employees’ command.

Supercell CEO Ilkka Paananen, the world's least powerful CEO, organized Supercell into autonomously-working cells

Not so at Supercell, a remarkable Finnish company that’s making $2.5 million dollars every day and has been described as “the fastest growing company ever.” Supercell CEO Ilkka Paananen, calls himself “the world’s least powerful CEO”, and that’s not the surprising part. What’s incredible is that Paananen made himself a weak CEO by design:

This company beat even Zingerman’s which is reported to be generating over $50 million in revenue per year.

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How to Leverage Psychology to Provide Better Customer Support

Despite the growing popularity of instant-messaging support and “conversational agents”—better known as chatbots—actually talking to a customer on the phone is one of the best ways to engage in a real conversation and learn more about a customer’s problems. Done right, such conversations can be helpful, valuable, and even fun. But we don’t tend to … Read more

Why Jeff Bezos’ Two-Pizza Team Rule Still Holds True in 2023

Two Pizza Team

[Source: Amazon] Jeff Bezos is prolific. In 21 letters to his investors over the years, he has delivered dozens of nuggets of wisdom ranging from prioritizing long-term outcomes over short-term results to embedding R&D in every single department. He also has a unique take on company communication. Bezos believes that no matter how large your company gets, individual … Read more

Cells, Pods, and Squads: The Future of Organizations is Small

This post was originally published in 2014. It has been updated with new data and advice in 2023.

Think small and you will achieve big things. That’s the counterintuitive philosophy that nets Finnish game company Supercell revenues of millions of dollars a day.

agile pod success

[Image via Giphy]

So really, how do you build a billion-dollar business by thinking small?

One key is the company’s pod team structure. Autonomous small teams, or “cells,” of four to six people position the company to be nimble and innovative. Similar modules — call them pods, squads, or startups within startups — are the basic components in many other nimble, growing companies, including Spotify and Automattic. The future, as Dave Gray argues in The Connected Company, is podular.

Still, small groups of people do not necessarily make a thriving business, as the fate of many a fledgling startup warns. What is it about the pod team structure that presents not just a viable alternative but the future of designing how we work together?

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Great Customer Support Starts with Great Teamwork

Not so long ago, customer support was seen as a luxury rather than a necessity. Many companies mistakenly saw customer support as an expense to be managed rather than as an asset to be leveraged. As flawed as this position may be, it’s understandable. After all, it’s a lot easier to quantify the value of … Read more

Why Every Company Should Work as If They Were a Remote Company

When you work in an office with a small team, it’s easy to cultivate a culture of co-dependence. After all, the email, the document, or the customer name that you need is just a shoulder tap away.

But relying on other people for information causes unnecessary friction in your workflow and directly hinders everyone’s productivity. Every time you tap someone on the shoulder you assume that what you need is more important than what they’re doing. It creates an entire culture around disruptiveness, where no one hesitates to interrupt their peers for their own needs.

Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to ask anyone for information? If it were just readily available, right at your fingertips? For remote companies, it has to be this way.

Because remote companies tend to have employees scattered across the world, they are forced to put truly strong systems in place. As a result, everyone in a remote company is as productive as possible, because no one has to rely on other people to get the information they need.

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How to Sell New Tools To Your Team

In 2013, public schools in Greensboro North Carolina received a shipment of over 15,000 iPads as part of an initiative to bring technology into the classroom. Now, those very same iPads are collecting dust because teachers either refused or didn’t know how to incorporate them in their workday.

New tools, however shiny, don’t automatically make a difference to your team. It’s up to managers to get the ball rolling.

As a manager, you might be really certain that a new tool will make a huge difference. That new CRM is going to make finding information so much easier. That communication tool is going to make everyone so much more productive. And that new email provider is going to make your data so much more secure.

pablo (2)

But new tools don’t make any difference at all if your team doesn’t get on board. It’s a really common phenomenon: you bring in new tools, but everyone is so stuck in their ways that they’re not willing to budge when it comes to changing how they do things. Even though you’re convinced it could help them.

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How To Make Small Teams Actually Work With Terrible Communication

8981473860_427a454be6_kAmazon is a mess. In the words of one former Amazon.com engineer: “their hiring bar is incredibly inconsistent across teams,” “their operations are a mess,” “their facilities are dirt-smeared cube farms without a dime spent on decor or common meeting areas,” “their pay and benefits suck,” and “their code base is a disaster, with no engineering standards whatsoever except what individual teams choose to put in place.”

It’s madness! No, it’s Amazon.com. They do a lot of things totally wrong. But they make up for it (and then some) by doing one thing really, really right.

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