Our company just turned 8 years old, has a presence in all of Latin America, and currently has 36 members on its team. Our biggest obsession? Productivity.
Since 2007, we have analyzed each one of our tasks in order to exponentially increase our earnings. As a result of this process, we eliminated email six years ago; we eliminated meetings three years ago, and now, we work without project managers.
Here are the reasons why we implemented these three changes and how we made it happen:
The first thing that came to our attention was the negative impact emails were having on our company.
The rest of the world still does not recognize that email, now over 20 years old, is the least productive tool you can use. For this reason, we decided to eliminate email completely for all internal communication (and little by little for external communication).
The two main disadvantages are:
1. Email encapsulates information. This means when we exchange comments, suggestions and inquiries, the rest of the company remains blocked off from knowing about our progress.
It is communication behind closed doors. But, all the documents are directly accessible at all times to whomever may need them.
2. Email ends up being a list of personalized tasks for each team member. It is the place where we go every day to see “which” task is next. Without it, we have a very unorganized way to progress, and we don't have clear priorities.
How do we solve this?
Basically, we developed our own tool for work specifically designed for our needs, but it's very similar to what Trello currently offers. It is a control panel where we can see all of the company’s projects as well as know (in real time) the degree of development.
Furthermore, if people need to be added to an ongoing project, it is not necessary to re-send hundreds of emails for them to be integrated. They simply can go into the history of the project and see what has been done since the beginning, how it was carried out and what remains to be done.
Additionally, today, the control panel for our business venture, MT, can be accessed by our clients, too.
They can see how we are advancing without receiving external emails, such as “Any news on the project?” or “How much longer until the next delivery?”
The second aspect we decided to completely eliminate was meetings.
As a technological company, each team member is a programmer. As such, we need four continuous hours in the morning and four continuous hours in the afternoon in order to write code with the highest amount of productivity.
The “interruption” of attending a meeting always comes at a higher cost for a programmer than for a manager. This is due to the fact the manager’s agenda is basically composed of one meeting after the other.
But, for the programmer, just one meeting per day can have a 50 percent impact on his daily production.
Typically, meetings are used to understand how the work is advancing and to discuss any inconveniences between the project manager and workmates.
In order to rid ourselves of meetings, we also use the same control panel that was implemented for eliminating emails. There, everyone can know the progress and state of the project.
People can also see what each team member is working on at any given moment, without the need for interrupting their productivity.
But, when a specific inconvenience arises, we use Campfire, which is a chat designed for group communication. How does this differ from a meeting?
The advantage is the communication is asynchronous. What does that mean? It's not necessary for employees to stop what they are doing and lose concentration.
But, when they finish the four hours of continuous work, they will have the time and predisposition to answer any pending inquiries.
In this new work method, our communication is exclusively by means of text. This text can later be read by a new member who wants to collaborate on the project with ease and convenience.
One year ago, we decided to work without managers. No one controls our progress because everything is online and visible to all of our workmates.
It's very easy for a programmer to know if his colleague is doing his work on time and in correct form. And in order for this work method to function, we implemented two key aspects:
1. We only hire proactive engineers. That is, we only hire people who do not need to be controlled all the time to do their jobs. Basically, we choose other entrepreneurs like ourselves.
2. We propose new hires have a “vesting” program. This is so that in the future, they can be owners of the company. In our way of seeing the world, an adult does not need supervision or control. We are all grown up, and we give total autonomy.
Our way of measuring progress and effectiveness is exclusively by results.
Thanks to these measures for combating unproductivity, we decided to work only four days per week.
All of this was possible based on understanding email should be eliminated as a way of communication, recognizing meetings with the technology team are not necessary and realizing each individual we employ should be independent, autonomous and responsible for the work delegated to him or her.
This article was redacted based on the experience of the cofounders of CréditosOnline in Mexico, Engineers Hernán Amiune and Cristian Rennella. Both are .NET programmers from the Universidad Católica de Córdoba.