Basecamp has saved my (work) life.
It can save yours too.
This is going to feel more like a letter of professed love written by a (not-so-secret) admirer. It’s long overdue and I need to get it off my chest.
I guess you could say I’m obsessed.
Honestly, I think you should be too.
Rethinking the way we work is something we desperately need to be focusing on right now, and have needed to for years, as a business community.
Work is getting more and more complex, nuanced, data-bogged, and machine-driven. As it evolves, so does the complexity of our lives.
Our capabilities / profits / performance / access / blah-blah-blah may increase, but we’re still just people. Humans with human — not machine — needs. And those aren’t evolving at the rate your iPhone XX (pronounced ehx • ehx) is.
Very few companies are truly aware of this. They toss slides and beer fridges at these needs.
But what people really need at work has nothing to do with carbonated alcohol or a more enjoyable way to jump down 10 floors.
What people need is an effective & focused environment, the right tools for the work, and the autonomy to do what they were hired to do: their Job.
People don’t really need managers, or quarterly evaluations, or endless check-ins & meetings.
They need support. They need access. Clear communication. Trust. Freedom to actually get shit done and not be bothered every second of the day.
Companies building open offices promote an “open work environment” for words like collaboration and transparency. This is bullshit-speak for “more ways to bother & watch you, while setting ridiculous expectations on your performance because of all the free Cheetos and emoji-balloons.”
Companies like Basecamp, however, don’t just promote a culture that delivers what people really need.
They built a tool, too.
And it’s an amazing one. I’m broadcasting because I believe we all need better ways to work, and that includes you.
This nifty software can help you do just that. And the more people it helps, the better off we all are.
To get work done today you need to know what’s going on, who said what, when this happened, why didn’t we deliver…all the time. Demand from customers is high, and the challenges are changing constantly.
But while the need for access grows, so does the need for focus. To not be bothered by information irrelevant to getting the job done today, and yet enough transparency to see possible conflict or distracting focuses for tomorrow.
My “Why Basecamp is the best thing since Bread” list is short. It solves for problems most other office and productivity tools end up making worse:
I know exactly what ’s going on, who’s supposed to do what, everything I’m responsible for, and how we’re moving along.
I get access to information, know how it affects my company and team, own my responsibilities, and get rewarded for getting shit accomplished.
I have everything an office gives me, on the internet. Only better. It’s built for today’s kind of work (always new), but for people (still kinda the same).
I can chat. I can update. I can track. I can schedule. I can document. I can collaborate.
Every other part of completing work comes down to only one other thing: People.
I don’t think I could live without Basecamp. I recommend it as a potential option to almost every organization in which it models their work environment or workflow.
Don Normon, author of The Design of Everyday Things, says in his book:
Good Design is actually a lot harder to notice than poor design, in part because good designs fit our needs so well that the design is invisible…
A well-made tool is no different. It should be so good, eventually you don’t even know you’re using it.
That’s what Basecamp does. It get’s out of your way.
It works with you to get the work done, not just manage the work you’re supposed to do.
I’m grateful for companies making things like Basecamp and actually practicing human-centric design.
In a now machine-driven world, we have to remember that some things have to still cater to what humans need.
Basecamp succeeds — valiantly — at doing just that.
It’s not perfect, but at least it’s made for people.
The team at Basecamp and affiliated organizations are also great writers and producers of relevant content. Check them out on Signal v. Noise.