When you think about the main challenge of working entirely remote, one of the biggest things that comes to mind is how much your team communicates and the value of those daily micro exchanges of information.
Each unit of information exchanged is like a seed that gets planted in your employee’s head. When those seedlings are watered with ideas from the next person she talks to, they ultimately turn into new ideas. When shared further, those new ideas help your company evolve and iterate, getting incrementally better, every single day.
If you are familiar with the work of James Clear, you might say that these micro moments are the Atomic Habits of office culture, that empower organizations to get 1% better each day.
So what happens when overnight, the entire world moves from the Business As Usual (BAU) Economy to the Social Distance Economy and what does that mean to businesses?
The immediate impact is obviously being realized in the markets as the entire world responds to the ambiguity of what the future holds, but I have to assume that the lagging impact on productivity has yet to be realized to its fullest extent. Why? Because at the end of the day companies are made up of people and people rely on exchanges of information to become those ideas that empower companies to innovate and make their businesses 1% better everyday.
As the Customer Success Manager for Lexio at Narrative Science, a next generation data analytics and storytelling tool for your most critical business data, I am fortunate enough to work in a really hands on way with each of our customers. So, naturally, when on a dime all of Narrative Science was called to work from home with less than 24 hours notice for the foreseeable future, I asked myself – what can we learn from our customer and partner Cloud Pathfinder, who’s entire team is remote all day, every day?
Here’s what I learned when I sat down with Founder, CEO and Veteran Jesse Grothaus.
Stef, Customer Success Manager, Narrative Science: Jesse, tell me a little about Cloud Pathfinder:
Founder, CEO and Veteran Jesse Grothaus: Cloud Pathfinder is an elite group of Salesforce consultants on a mission to help businesses achieve their ultimate success. Every one of CPC’s clients receives a personalized plan for maximizing their use of Salesforce, and 1:1 support to reach their goals.
Stef: Having been founded in 2017, you, like many businesses of the digital era, are the benefactors of incredible connectivity and productivity tools such as Salesforce, Slack and Zoom which has empowered you to build your entire team without having the need for an office space, meaning you guys are entirely remote. Tell me about the unique challenges of being entirely remote and how that has translated to “office culture”
Jesse: What we lack in a physical presence with each other we have to make up for with communication, technology and processes. We don’t have the luxury of just leaning over your desk to the person next to you and asking a question. You really have to know your stuff or communicate really effectively through tools like Slack or video conferencing tools, they are really the backbone of our existence and in many ways, our success.
Stef: When it comes to how you think about growing your business and growing your team, how does being remote factor in? Obviously you don’t have to think about things like hiring an office manager or anything like that. But what about IT? Operations?
Jesse: We’re growing our business and we are growing our team. We are hoping to hire a new salesperson in the next couple of months so we can accelerate our growth even more and deliver an even better customer experience. When I think about how we invest in people, processes and tech, it’s a balancing act. We always are thinking about growth, but of course that comes with its own set of challenges. Whereas before, I didn’t really have to think about our data practices and visibility into our revenue, pipeline and leads (because I was able to keep all the of that straight in my head and I was pretty in the loop on the intimate details of each new customer project we had coming down the pipeline), as we’ve grown our team, it’s become harder for me to keep all the details straight. Ultimately, that’s what led us to bringing on Lexio, we wanted a tool that could keep the entire team straight on the data in a really human way. We often find that Lexio is providing answers to questions we hadn’t even thought to ask of our business. Lexio keeps your business data organized, it’s like a smart alternative to your Business Intelligence tools, but better in that Lexio is also like a personal assistant bringing up some sales insight data on what’s going on in my company.
Stef: Being as specific as possible, as I think it will be relevant to those reading this interview and trying to adapt their office culture to the new normal, how do you actually use Lexio day-to-day or week-to-week to stay on top of things?
Jesse: I log into Lexio a few times per week and use the Lexio Newsfeed, in particular, to get info about our salesforce data from all different angles. We are small enough that I have enough of a pulse on the health of the sales organization but I still rely on Lexio as my personal assistant bringing up some sales insight data on what’s going on in my company. Once I’ve reviewed the Newsfeed and have an idea of which opportunities are progressing, stalling, growing in size, I move into the library to learn more about the impact of these changes to our business that week, that month, that quarter, etc. Because we are a Salesforce consulting business and backed by Salesforce Ventures, I always want to make sure that every single customer gets the white glove service they deserve and that means making sure we have the right consultants aligned to the right accounts, so any changes to our pipeline and/or bookings really helps me plan for how we align our delivery resources to ensure great customer experiences.
"I log into Lexio a few times per week and use the Lexio Newsfeed, in particular, to get info about our salesforce data from all different angles. We are small enough that I have enough of a pulse on the health of the sales organization but I still rely on Lexio as my personal assistant bringing up some sales insight data on what’s going on in my company." - Jesse Grothaus, Founder and CEO of Cloud Pathfinder
Stef: As your team grows and becomes more successful, I have to imagine that at some point you will need to hire someone to lead Sales Operations, are you thinking about that today?
Jesse: I wouldn’t be a good leader if I wasn’t already thinking out that far in the future. So, yes, I am always thinking about our people and how we evolve our team to continue helping our customers. That said, access to a tool like Lexio has really slowed that need down and empowered us to just get everyone of the resources we do have aligned to key initiatives where they are skilled and have interests but Lexio really fills in the gaps that we would otherwise have on the sales ops side of things. Between Lexio and Slack, we all stay really informed on how the business is tracking day to day and can get ahead of any challenges before they become obstacles to our growth.
Stef: Alright, what is your one request for the Lexio Product team for where you’d like to see Lexio go in the future.
Jesse: I mentioned that key to our culture is how we communicate with each other. I envision in the future that just as Slack integrates with the apps and services you and your team already use every day, so does Lexio. I see a future where Lexio stories flow into the stream of Slack conversations so everyone can see it — or act on it — in line with where we are already communicating about these things.
Stef: Good news for you I guess is that future is just a month or so away…
Jesse: That’s very exciting.
Stef: Let’s deliver on the title of this Q&A with one last question.
Jesse, what are your three biggest pieces of advice for companies moving to a remote working situation for staying productive, keeping that micro-moment office culture while being remote and staying sane as we transition to a Social Distance culture:
- First, share documents a lot, although memos may take you time to write, they ensure that ideas and initiatives are communicated clearly and keep everyone aligned.
- Second, do a lot of video calls, make it a normal part of your culture to do five minute video drop ins in the same way you would do five minute desk drop ins. Communicating “face to face” really alleviates challenges you would otherwise face around misinterpretation of a slack, email, text, or even a really thoughtful memo!
- Finally, use communication tools like Slack and Lexio to create that culture of constant information sharing, be creative and constantly thinking about how you can adapt and create more of those sharing micro moments that you would have in the office, without having to be in person.
Interesting in learning more? Check out Lexio to learn more about it’s data storytelling capabilities.