Andreas Overbeck
Feb 14 · 5 min read
Credit: rawpixel on Unsplash

The future belongs to distributed, remote and cross-organizational teams. We already see this shift towards remote teams. And it will only accelerate over the next 25 years according to Fast Company.

We also see this reflected in the growing number of SaaS productivity and project management apps. Each trying to solve the challenge of working together efficiently in remote teams.

The Built-in Conflict: Remote Team vs. Efficiency

The need for remote teams is larger than ever before. Companies are forced towards remote teams to attract the best talent, have the right skills in-house and be competitive.

It’s not open for discussion. It’s a condition.

On the other hand, a survey by Google App for Work among 258 North American companies showed that “employees working together more collaboratively in person” is the number one factor impacting profitability.

So we have a built-in conflict: We need remote teams — and striving to make them as efficient as a team who sits together.

Let’s first identify what’s impacting a team’s productivity.

The Silent Killer for Team Productivity

When it comes to team productivity, switching apps is the number one enemy. Very few notice this. Probably because constant switching apps is a condition in the current setup. Even fewer think of how expensive this is.

Try to make the following calculation:

  • You switch between apps (or tabs) 10 times/hour
  • You work 8 hours/day
  • After every switch you spend at least 15 seconds to find the information you are looking for

That’s a minimum of 20 minutes a day. Just on switching and navigation! That’s almost a full workday every month!

It doesn’t even include other related time consuming work processes like

  • Copy/move data between systems,
  • Trying to keep everybody in the loop,
  • Or that it sometimes takes 2–10 minutes to find a specific file or information.

When you sum up the overall impact you’ll realize how expensive switching apps is for your team and company. Time which could have been spent moving your projects ahead faster.

The Current Collaboration Setup

Let’s quickly run down through some of the existing SaaS productivity apps and which area they take care of:

  • Trello (task management)
  • Asana (task management)
  • Clickup (task management)
  • Hive (task management)
  • Teamwork (task management)
  • Wrike (task management)
  • (task management)
  • Slack (messages)
  • Twist (messages)
  • Fleep (messages)
  • Flock (messages)
  • Workplace (messages)
  • Dropbox (file sharing)
  • Google Drive (file sharing)
  • Airtable (database/sheet)
  • Google Calendar (calendar)
  • Outlook Calendar (calendar)
  • Basecamp (messages, file sharing, task management; but as individual apps which you need to switch between)
  • Podio (messages, file sharing, task management; but as individual apps which you need to switch between)
  • Office365 by Microsoft (messages, file sharing, task management; but as individual apps which you need to switch between)
  • GSuite by Google (messages, file sharing, task management; but as individual apps which you need to switch between)

From this list it quickly becomes clear that current apps require you to switch between apps in order to send messages, share files and follow up on tasks.

And due to the nature of the apps, none of them optimize the overall workflow; they only suboptimize a small part of the workflow.

The famous quote by Abraham Lincoln frames this very well.

“Give me 6 hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first 4 sharpening the axe”, Abraham Lincoln.

Instead of “starting to chop down the tree right away”, why not “sharpen the axe” by rethinking how we can optimize the overall workflow?

How Can We Optimize The Workflow?

SquidHub is a new collaboration app which tries to optimize the overall workflow. Instead of switching between apps, it provides access to messages, documents and tasks from a single dashboard.

Some compare it to a mix of Slack, Asana and Google Drive. Let’s unwrap it and explore what it actually includes.

  • Task management: Tasks, subtasks, deadlines, reminders, assignees, notes and attachments. Much like Asana. However, it doesn’t include a Kanban board if you need that.
  • File sharing: Upload files, create Google Docs and link to documents on Office365 or Dropbox. You can also organize your files and links in folders.
  • Messages: Much like Slack it provides a team messenger and direct one-on-one messages.
  • Calendar: The calendar is not part of the primary dashboard. It currently allows you to sync with Google Calendar.

The dashboard is clearly a unique feature compared to other collaboration tools. You get the basics covered, but don’t have all the bells and whistles as other systems provide.

SquidHub comes in both a Free and Premium version.

So what is right for you?

There’s no silver bullet when it comes to the perfect setup for remote teams. The best setup could be:

  • A combination of Slack, Asana, Trello, Dropbox and Google Drive
  • Office365 combined with SquidHub
  • A pure SquidHub setup
  • Or a completely different combination

Every team has their preferred way of working together, so find the setup which fits your team the best.

Making Your Remote Team Efficient

Now that we’ve seen different tools on the team collaboration scene, let’s get back and see what it takes to make your remote team efficient.

  1. Clarity. Ensure that the vision is crystal clear to everybody in the team. What exactly is the goal for the team, who’s taking care of what, which requirements/specifications need to be met, etc.
  2. Align expectations on your work processes. When can people be reached? How fast do you expect your team to respond? How does the approval process look like? What’s the expectations to the level of quality?
  3. Provide a clear structure so everybody in the team can find what they are looking for. Where do you share files? Should you adhere to a specific structure? How do you keep track of what’s going on? Which channels do you use for communication? And so on…
  4. Create a virtual cockpit which provides a great overview of all relevant information.
  5. Foster a culture with open and honest communication. Where you can share good and bad news equally. Where you can openly tell about unexpected issues. Where it’s ok to say “no” or challenge the solution.

The right tool (or set of tools) will cover several of the above points.

But the rest is up to you. You need to set the right team and show remarkable people skills to make your remote team work effectively.

Now, go build your dream remote team 🚀

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Technology consulting & implementation certified by software vendors

Andreas Overbeck

Written by

CEO & Founder @ SquidHub



Technology consulting & implementation certified by software vendors

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