It’s amazing what running a company on the road does to you, and your team.
For 6 months now, we’ve been running our online customer service support company, Helpando.it from the road as we travel across South America. Literally from the road.
Our office is a converted Land Rover Defender, the perfect combination of ruggedness (for driving through deserts or waterfalls), endurance and space (we sleep in it some nights).
It isn’t your typical office – there are no chairs, desks or coffee machines. The wifi is whatever we can muster up. No hard lines or meeting rooms. Though your office probably doesn’t go from deserts to beaches, villages to cities, mountain-tops to volcanos etc. If it did, you’d understand it when we say that we’ve had to master efficient workflows and processes.
We’ve also started Startup Diaries, creating bi-weekly webisodes and sharing our adventures with the world. These 10 minute episodes focus on our travel adventures to amazing places, our trials and tribulations as a company and the great people we meet along the way.
We have a global team. While we manage from the road, our video editor is in Russia, design team in Romania, and production team in Canada. The management team, those working from the Defender, is in some remote corner of South America (Such as Montevideo, Puerto Montt, Valparaiso, Lima, Bogota, jungle villages and more).
As many people can relate to, whether you are working on projects with teams spread around the world, those travelling often for work, or maybe those working remotely with short deadlines (looking at you journalism people), there is an ever increasing reliance on an efficient and collaborative process to managing creative projects.
Not to be cliche, but we have used these limitations as an opportunity to develop a seriously agile workflow. It has to be. With teams working across a variety of timezones, having a disciplined organization while tracking and collaboration, becomes critical to the success of our projects.
So here’s a description of the basic workflow and tools we use to produce each webisode for Startup Diaries:
Our primary project management tool is Basecamp, for it’s simplicity, ability to have discussions around tasks, posting via email and assigning tasks within the project.
For document management we’re big fans of Google Apps for their collaborative capabilities. Before shooting, we use Google Spreadsheets to build a contact list and shooting location checklist and Google Docs for script development.
Once we’ve done all the shooting we use Dropbox to transfer the footage to our editor who prepares the first cut for the team to review. Given the difference in time zones, ReviewStudio has proven to be the perfect video tool for us to collect and track the feedback from our global team. Our ability to markup precisely on frame, so anyone involved can easily understand what we are referencing, is very convenient and clear – literally saving us hours (read: costs) of downloading, messy commenting, tracking and more. And while 90% of our reviews are done independently, for those times that we do need to get together in real-time to review the production, ReviewStudio’s live video sync functionality and real-time markup are indispensable in facilitating our discussions.
In the ever mobile workplace, where remote working and digital nomadism is on the rise, the cloud and virtual collaboration are indispensable to successful workflows.
As a nomadic company, we’ve found that the lack of formal meetings, limited internet connection, and the absence of traditional conveniences, has allowed us to do much more in less time.
It’s only been possible with the right tools. Twenty years ago, this kind of work adventure would’ve been completely impossible. Nowadays, these great tools have made it possible to thrive as a nomadic company and it’s an exciting adventure for us to be part of.
To follow the Startup Diaries adventures across South America, you can visit startupdiaries.org and follow them on Facebook. And if you need any Zendesk related services, check out Helpando.