Author: Geraldo Figueras, marketer at remote company Xoxzo
Welcome to our development diaries for Project Plum. We’re a building a work management software for remote workers and we’ll be sharing details of the development process with our community. If you want to know how it all started, just check this before you move forward. Otherwise, let’s see what we have today.
Why are we building a software for remote workers?
The short answer is: because we’ve been working remotely for a decade and no software could solve the problems we encountered during this time.
I believe this is a good enough and compelling reason, so thank you very much for reading this post! See you next time!
Wait, what? Should I explain further? Fair enough.
The real issue
After spending enough time, both individually and collectively, within both sides of the fences, myself and the team noticed that there’s a basic polarization regarding working philosophies.
At one side, office workers regard there is no way to overcome the cultural establishment, and people need to be grouped together – at the same space, with tight guidelines – to produce effective work. Let’s call them officers.
At the other side, remote workers think they discovered something more important than the cure to cancer, that their way of working is the 8th Wonder of the World, and the only good thing about having an office space is being able to leave the office space and feel relieved that the day is over. Let’s call them remoters.
As with any polarization, neither side is completely wrong, neither side is completely right, and both of them tend to exaggerate.
And, again, as with any polarization, the noise tends to overshadow more subtle and more real issues.
That’s exactly what we’re trying to tackle with Project Plum. We’re well aware of the strengths and weaknesses of both sides. But, as remoters ourselves, our experience stretches well enough so that we’re past the honeymoon phase: we spotted the real remote work, went to therapy and now know exactly how to coexist and be happy.
As well pointed by our fellow officers, one of the biggest problems of the remote work environment is how much it relies on a very disciplined team. Working without supervision can be tricky to a lot of people, but trying to replicate the my-boss-is-looking-over-my-shoulders stance is a sure way to ruin remote work.
Yes, we believe in accountability, but we also understand we are all prone to errors.
We also believe that software design can bring the best of our team, and that’s one of the main points of Project Plum.
Instead of creating exhausting guidelines and demand the team to memorize them – or have a manager constantly nudging everyone -, Project Plum aims to create accountability by design.
That means we have to create a fine balance where transparency and automation works well enough for influencing the user to do its part.
There’s nothing like a notification push from a coworker
In the age of smart phones and a plethora of applications demanding your attention with misguided notifications, users will do what users do: ignore the nudge.
The 2010s brought a software design philosophy of pushing notifications as the ultimate solution for everything – including for slacking. And, as a modern bunch, us remoters adopted those tools expecting the solution to all our problems.
But a software is just a software. It’s mutable. It’s deletable.
All the things you can’t do with your peers.
Humans can only be accountable towards other humans and never towards a notification sent by a machine. Our biggest sin was to delegate this very difficult but important part of our work to the machine. The machine instead must facilitate this, but can never replace us.
Hence, software must not push for attention. It must push for accountability. It should ease the connections of your team members. It should automate processes that doesn’t demand human input, but must send the occasional nudge for you to do your work.
And that’s the ultimate goal of Project Plum: drive you and your team work better.
The accountability of an intense manager combined with the flexibility of remote work.
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