At Onward, we are building a fully remote company. We now have 5 employees that are scattered throughout the country and we’ll be fully remote forever.
There are lots of benefits to working remote. You can read all about it all over the web and on the Twitter-verse. I’ve now been doing this over a year and the reasons that resonate with me the most are:
No commute. Knocking out the time it takes to drive to/from an office puts hours back in my day. I never got stressed by the driving. In fact, I always enjoyed the time for podcasts and catching up with people on the phone. However, that lost time was a drag. Now my day is that much more efficient.
Autonomy. While I like being in an office and catching up with co-workers, it also has a downside of co-workers constantly interrupting me and my thoughts. It was hard to control my own schedule. Being at home gives me much more control over my calendar and my day.
Broader employee pool. When we’re hiring and looking for a potential colleague, we can now look across the entire planet rather than those who live close by. This has already paid dividends as it’s allowed me to work with my good friend Nader and our awesome early employees who are in Pittsburgh, Texas, and Chicago.
It’s not all fun and roses though. It took me 4-6 months to get used to working out of my house. It takes discipline to focus on the tasks and not be distracted by an empty messy house. Also, there’s a solitude that took some getting used to. Now that i’m in the groove, I do think it’s a better way to work.
Asynchronous is Key
One of the keys to successfully working with my remote colleagues is to be able to work without communicating in real-time. Because my colleague isn’t right next to me, I have no idea if they are working right now or planning on coming online later. This has lead us to use some new tools that are pretty cool.
The first, and by far my favorite. This is a combination of Google Docs, Asana and a wiki. Before we had Notion, we had a problem where we didn’t know where to post a home page of operations for our company or a division, or where to post decisions and goals for everyone to see and access easily. We tried Google Docs and also tied making an intranet on Google Sites. Both sucked. This is exactly what Notion solves.
We now have home pages for the company which has a general company handbook, lists all the tools we use, policies and other generic info. We also have a home page for each group which houses the processes, goals, OKR’s, meeting notes, and more. There’s a good overview of how another business is using Notion here which will give you the idea.
From those I know who work at GrubHub and other delivery companies, they all claim that UberEats is doing incredibly well. As Uber eyes the IPO next year, I can imagine this being a secret weapon that pushes their valuation higher than most would expect.
There was a good article in this week’s Business Week about how Uber is helping create “virtual restaurants” that have no in-person customers but exist only to deliver on Uber Eats. Uber brings some unique insight into the demand for existing restaurants.
If you haven’t seen this demo from last week’s Google I/O
Our vision for our assistant is to help you get things done….A common theme across all this is we are working hard to give users back time. We’ve always been obsessed about that at Google. Search is obsessed about getting users to answers quickly and giving them what they want.
Google really wants to start doing things for you and Duplex was super impressive. It is, literally, a computer talking on the phone for you.
I read this article in Monday Note the other day and it struck me how much of a problem Facebook has on its hands. It’s about how Facebook is flat out harming it’s users through it’s core functionality and through its ads. Both are being revealed as destructive. Really good article.
This is an epic tweet storm about Apple’s development process by Steven Sinofsky. If you don’t know him, he ran the Microsoft Office business unit for over a decade. This rant touches on how to balance quality, launch dates and features, IBM, iPhone dominance and more…
1/ Apple has a software problem. Here’s how it plans to fix it. https://t.co/dJaikfRhs7 via @markgurman // Let’s take a step back and talk about the broader context and product development at scale. Lots follows…
3/ Scanning the landscape, it is important to recognize that in total the work Apple has been doing across hardware, software, services, and even AI/ML — in total — is breathtaking and unprecedented in scope, scale, and quality. Not saying that lightly or trolling. It just is.
5/ The pace of change has been remarkable. In the 10 years from when Apple acquired NeXT OS X was reinvented in a completely modern architecture. And in the next 10 years the iPhone went from that code to where we are today.
I made a few fun purchases in 2017. Here’s two that captured my attention…
They look ridiculous but man are they useful. I love them over all my other headphones because they
They connect to my phone every time, immediately and magically.
The charging mechanism is genius. Having the storage compartment be the charger is so smart.
Siri is nice on it. Every day, as i’m walking out of work, i pop them in my ear, hear a little noise that notifies me that they are on and connected. I then just double-tap the side of the earphone and say “Call Diane” and, having no idea where my phone is, a call is placed to Diane. It’s a big of magic.
Apparently, i’m not alone. The customer satisfaction surveys around these are off the charts – 98% from all customers with NPS of 75 and many people believing that this is the best Apple invention since the original iPhone.
I usually get a new iPhone every year so i can experience the latest and greatest. I spend hours a day on my phone and i justify the cost by this time and usage. However, this year’s lineup of iPhone X and 8 didn’t seem to be the latest and greatest. Sure there’s FaceID but having a new way to unlock my phone isn’t a reason to buy. There’s the big screen of the X, but i already have a 7 Plus which has a big screen. So, i wasn’t buying.
I WAS impressed with the new Apple Watch. It seemed that they had put the phone into the watch. This seemed like the new phone to experiment with. I also could imagine a future as: Apple Watch + AirPods + AR glasses = iPhone is just a battery pack that I never take out of my pocket. So, if that’s the case, I wanted to see what this future looked like.
I do enjoy it. Some observations
I have the LTE option so I don’t need my phone ever to get calls or texts or updates. While that’s cool and I do leave my phone at my desk at work all of the time now, I am rarely that far away from my phone. So, i never get the chance to really test this feature.
The battery life is great. I can go almost 3 days without a charge.
I do wish the watch was smaller. It’s too fat. I want a version that’s slimmer and has half the battery life. I’d be okay with that
The exercise app is the killer app for me. It keeps me putting it on every day as i want to see my steps, stands, and calories and how it measures up against other days. I’ve always been a sucker for gamification and motivates me.
PS: Shout out to my parents and wife for getting me both of these as birthday presents. You guys rock.
Apple announced the new iPhone 7 yesterday and announced that they are removing the headphone jack. Some quick thoughts on that…
Short Term Pain
It’s annoying to have to live in a world where my phone does not have a headphone jack as I have many different headphones laying around and to use them I have to use an extra dongle that i have to carry with my phone. Also, for people who want to listen to music and charge their phone at the same time – a common use for Uber and Lyft drivers, this is now impossible (although i did see this solution). For all of these reasons, I think it will be a pain in the ass for many people – including myself in the short term.
Moving towards the future
I do think that the wireless technology of headphones is underrated and way more advanced than we are aware. By forcing the issue and making these headphones mandatory, Apple will bring more and more great wireless headphones available. I can imagine a world in 5 years where everything is wireless.
From my use of the Echo, I does seem that the only thing between the cloud and my is voice. Having a sweet set of headphones that can access it all of the time seems like the right way to go.
The use of the word “courage”
This was totally ridiculous. Apple, even if you think it, don’t say it. When you’re causing so much short-term pain to your customer, don’t get up on stage and pat yourself on the back. That was a dumb move.
The Apple eco-system
Now all headphone manufacturers who build a lightning connector are married to the iPhone. Doing this will result in more lock-in than ever before. This was definitely part of their thought-process when coming to this decision. Apple loves the lock-in.
Back in 2010, Toby, Nader and I went into Techstars. In the Techstars bunker we took our seats next to two young guys who had a crazy look in their eyes. These two guys, Ian and Adam, were hard core robotics and mobile engineers and we liked them immediately.
The problem was that they didn’t really have a good idea for their company. After a few weeks of discussing what to do with mentors, they decided to make smart hotel room keys. Keys that could be controlled by your smart phone. It was a huge market and seemed destined to be a successful company. There was one issue with their plan: they totally weren’t into it. One of their mentors asked them “What do you guys do in your spare time?” They replied that they played games. He responded, “why don’t you do that instead?” And thus the robotic ball, the original Sphero, was born.
Five years later the balls are better, faster and in more styles (check out Ollie, he’s awesome). They just yesterday released the coolest version yet, the Droid BB-8 that will be featured in the upcoming Star Wars film.
These two guys went from nothing in the basement in Boulder to producing with Disney the coolest toy in the world. A huge congratulations to them. Well done!