Your company not got its shit together? Try Basecamp 3

Churchill famously said, ‘We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us’.

What then about our working environments?

For those of us who work predominantly on screens, this comes down to our project management — or business management — tools.

In a terrific article in The Spectator a few weeks ago, Rory Sutherland, vice-chairman of Ogilvy Group UK, made the point that much of our online behaviour is dictated by the incentives of the tools we use.

‘[The internet makes] airlines worse, since all travel websites more or less force you to act like a bargain hunter: an airline which sensibly decided to add £20 to the price of every ticket to increase legroom would more or less vanish from sight in online price comparison rankings. Will air travel become nastier and nastier not because most air travellers are cheapskates, but because websites encourage everyone to act like they are?’

If we use chat tools, we force our company to become a real-time, everything-decided-by-instant-message company.

If you want to be more deliberate, contemplative and thoughtful as a company, you need a platform that encourages it.

In my humble opinion, Basecamp 3 is simply the best way to go.

See most tools on the market are one dimensional.

The founders of Basecamp, having been working remotely as a company since 1999, have realised there are six things all companies need to be able to do:

- Make announcements
- Set a schedule and calendar
- Have to-dos
- Have a place to hash things out quickly
- Share docs and files
- Have some form of regular check-in

With this insight, they’ve rebuilt their platform from the ground up (for the second time) to meet each of these needs.

What makes Basecamp 3 so wonderful is its versatility. It’s like a jungle gym for all work styles.

The six tools you need, all in one place

I can hit send on a 1,000-word update to the team then launch straight into a group chat to get real-time updates from developers, then dive into to-dos to map everything out.

Six months into starting a new company, we’ve had highs and lows, periods of (relative) feast and famine, and challenges with some team members not working out while others consistently blow us away. In other words: the usual turbulence.

But one thing nobody could accuse us of is not having our shit together. That we have in spades – and across a team that spans 13 timezones.

Ask me to locate any company document (internal or for a client) we’ve produced since our founding and I could do so for you in a pinch.

This is completely counter to stories I hear from friends, running their companies via Slack or duct-taped together by email, Skype and SMS.

There are different modes of work and we need to recognise them and use each in the appropriate instance — and have a room in the building that allows for them.

- There’s deep work and shallow work
- Fast, drafting work and slow, contemplative chewing
- There’s cognitively demanding work and then admin to blitz
- There’s work on something that’s never been done before and work that follows procedure

Do you really think one means of communication can cover the lot?

Most companies wield a mace and use it exclusively in all instances.

Basecamp 3 is our fully stocked arsenal.

It even has a feature called ‘work can wait’ so my team and I can tune out for the weekend, or be blissfully unaware of mine and my partner’s mad Saturday updates (as we’re sometimes prone to) until Monday morning.

Set your ‘work can wait’ schedule

And just released this past week: a new ‘focus mode’ to tune out all notifications during the work day when you need to knuckle down and do something important.

For anyone who’s read Cal Newport’s Deep Work, you’ll know what a game-changer this is.

Basecamp 3 is how we do great work for our clients while allowing our team periods of most well-earned rest.

If you run a small company of any kind, I urge you to give it a shot.

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