Stay Home and Stay Productive: Tips From a Fully Remote Company

March 12, 2020 - By 

What tools do you need to work from home, and how do you stay focused?

In this episode, the team shares how they work remotely from home and the discipline it takes to make it a successful working environment. You’ll hear about the tools Greyscalegorilla uses to run the business, project management, chat, and more.

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Show Notes:

NAB 2020 has been cancelled

Office Space

The open office plan is a disaster – Chicago Tribune

Shawn Astrom

Major projects are split quarterly into 90 day chunks

Monday morning meetings

Why Synchronous Isn’t Ideal For Remote Work – Medium

Tips to Working From Home – Greyscalegorilla

How Doist Makes Remote Work Happen – Doist

Tools We Use:

Tools We Have Used or Other Companies Use:

Episode Transcript:

Nick Campbell (00:00:00):
Well hello render friends. You may have heard in the news recently that NAB has officially been canceled. And uh, of course if you’ve been catching up with the news, you know that a lot of these events have been canceled for health reasons and uh, we figured it’d be a good time to talk about working from home and specifically about remote work and virtual teams. You know, we started doing this about five years ago and uh, have learned a lot over the years on what works, how to run a team remotely, how do, how to run a virtual team and some of the tools, some of the tips we use to stay, uh, you know, connected with our team. And so we figured this would be a great podcast, kind of talk about our history with it and try to help those of you freelancers, maybe, um, those of you who run a team and are thinking about going remote, trying to answer some of your questions. We also, uh, actually specifically answer some questions we got from Twitter about this exact topic. So stay tuned. This will be a fun one. And we’ll see you inside.

Nick Campbell (00:01:01):
Hey, render friends. Before we jump into today’s episode, if you are a freelancer or working in Cinema 4D for a living and you’re feeling stuck, maybe you want to make better renders and not quite sure what’s missing. Or if you can’t quite get what’s in your head out into your renders, we can help. We have created the best pro training series and handcrafted material collections for cinema 4D redshift, Arnold, octane, and more over at Greyscalegorilla Plus just head on over to grayscalegorilla.com/plus to learn more. And if you use the special offer code redsphere during checkout, you’ll get one month free off your first annual membership to plus. That’s the code R E D S P H E R E during checkout to get your first month free on us. So go check it out today. All right, on with today’s show.

Nick Campbell (00:01:50):
Hello, render friends and welcome back to the Greyscalegorilla podcast. Hope you’re all safe and healthy and, and rendering, rendering heartily out there in the world. Um, uh, today we have two special guests with us today, Chad. Ashley, how are you doing today, sir?

Chad Ashley (00:02:07):
Doing well. Doing well. Can’t complain. Not yet.

Nick Campbell (00:02:11):
Good. We’ll find something to complain about by the end of this episode. You and I, we’re going to get into it. I feel it. Okay. Sounds good. Michael Maher, how are you sir?

Michael Maher (00:02:21):
Sleepy. Time changes. Don’t like it.

Nick Campbell (00:02:25):
Yeah, we just did the spring forward, the old spring forward trick, which was great. I was like, wow, I slept in. Nope. It just, the clocks moved. Just the clocks move. Um, but I, I think, I think we brought our good Wednesday energy today. Trying to feel good. Trying to stay healthy here. Let’s talk. Speaking of staying healthy, let’s talk quickly about all the news that’s going on. Of course we got this virus stuff happening and events are canceling bit by bit and if, if events aren’t canceling even a large, um, sponsors and parts of the event are dropping out. So what’s, what’s an update on that for anybody that hasn’t been paying attention, all that stuff?

Michael Maher (00:03:05):
Well, the, the biggest show for us is NAB in Vegas. Usually the show that, uh, we have the biggest presence at. It’s like our whole team is there. Um, we hang out with the Maxon team, we hang out with the Adobe teams and we’re kind of all over the show floor. But as of this week, a couple major vendors have already pulled out of the show that the show itself hasn’t canceled, but Adobe has announced that they will not be attending. Um, and then just breaking was Avid. Uh, avid has also pulled out of the show Aja, Western digital. So a bunch of really big vendors have already announced that they’ve, they’ve already pulled out.

Nick Campbell (00:03:45):
Yeah. That’s, uh, that’ll, that’ll be a bummer. Uh, totally understand why this is happening. And, uh, and I think it’s important to stay safe, but, uh, man, I love NAB. I hope. Um, uh, I mean, I know we’ll hear news about it soon. Um, but, uh, it’d be a bummer if we can’t go, but, uh, Chad would, have you heard anything, anything on top? All that?

Chad Ashley (00:04:08):
Yeah, I think the general consensus is that people are waiting to see a, on the NAB thing when he’s waiting to see. Mainly if, uh, some of the bigger players continue to drop out. Uh, I think the big one that, uh, I’m waiting for is black magic. They have a gigantic presence at the show and I think if they drop out, then it’s just like, uh, Mike and I talked about this. That’s a domino effect. I think everything will just sort of fall apart from there. And it’s a bummer. I really love NAB. I love going there. I love getting out of the Midwest and into the desert, change a climate, see all the people that I only see a couple of times a year and the food, everything is so great, so I’m super bummed about it. Uh, but you know, you gotta do what you gotta do. So we’re gonna keep, keep an eye on it and see what happens.

Michael Maher (00:04:55):
It’s going to be super interesting this year because like several big shows have already canceled. So like South by Southwest, GDC, E3 was just canceled. But then there’s festivals like music festivals are trying to postpone and I think that’s just, that’s just going to be even more headaches trying to move like an entire event, like a few months down the road. Um, so I mean that’s, I am fortunately not part of planning any of these events because I can’t imagine what they’re dealing with.

Chad Ashley (00:05:26):
Yeah. And from what I’ve been hearing from people, uh, hotels are being pretty cool about stuff and the events are being pretty cool about cancellations and stuff, but the airlines have not been very cool about it. So there’s a lot of people out there and not being able to get refunded for their, for their airfare. But I will say if you are willing to take a risk, airfare is very low.

Nick Campbell (00:05:52):
You might not have anybody at the other end of that airline that it’s willing to like serve you a beer. It might be a cheap flight to where to go. A few people I saw were talking about the hotel. The Vegas hotel rates have dropped like dramatically during NAB. Like you could get a really nice room at the Bellagio or something for like a hundred bucks. It’s like crazy cheap. As long as say they just got to get you like custom chips, one use chips and then those go in the garbage disposable. Well all this, all this, uh, you know, stay at home talk and, and cancellations and even larger companies. A lot of the banks I know are just saying like, look, we’re, we’re still in business, but stay home, try to work from home. And it’s been bringing up a topic that we’ve been talking about for quite a long time and, and, and doing for quite a long time as a company, which is remote work. Um, so we, um, figured today we could talk about, you know, for those of you thinking about, uh, staying at home and also trying to stay productive while you’re at home and get some work done and, um, and not have to go to the office. Figured what we could do is talk a little bit about how we have worked remote for, I think it’s almost six years now. We’re fully remote and I’m kind of share with you some of the, the reasons we went remote as a company. For those of you who might not be remote already and also some tips and some tricks and some kind of a good, uh, good housekeeping habits for those of you who are working from home or thinking about it. Just things that have helped us out over the last few years. So I figured that’d be a good topic for today.

Nick Campbell (00:07:34):
Um, we can kind of go around the room. We’re all working from home right now. We’re all from either at a, um, uh, at our actual house or from a small office, uh, that’s nearby our house. And, uh, we’ve been doing this for how long now, Chad? I feel like right? It was right when you joined when all this started to, I think it’s gonna be, I think it’s going to be five years in April. Yeah. Yeah. And I guess the first kind of question is like, even without all the health scare and all this stuff going on, like what are the benefits from working from home? You know, why, why start that process? Um, I mean, I’ll, I just have like two things here I just wanted to mention, which really mattered to me a lot when, when making this decision. The first one was commuting. Um, I know Chad, I’ll let, I’ll let you speak more about commuting then the authority on that one. The, the whole like stuck in traffic, especially in Chicago, um, was so bad. Luckily I was even able to ride my bike for most of my career when I worked in Chicago, but the times when I had to, um, drive, uh, even, even just a few miles reminded me of like, what a pain in the butt that is. But, uh, Chad, you had, you had it way worse than I did from so far away.

Chad Ashley (00:08:50):
I’m not gonna go too far into it, but, so at one point in my career, my commute could be the following, a car, a train, a boat, and sometimes even a bus all in one day. I’m not even joking. Like you’re like, wait, what a boat. So yeah, I worked downtown Chicago. I lived in the far North burbs, so I would take, get in my car and take the commuter train to the city. So that’s the car to train. Then there’s a boat that will run in the summertime that’ll take you down the Chicago river down to the Michigan Avenue area. And I would take that boat instead of walking if it was a nice day. So I’d take the boat to Michigan Avenue, then I’d walk from where I left the boat and maybe I would catch a bus, but probably not. I’d probably walk the whole way. But yeah, at some point my commute was like that. Ridiculous.

Nick Campbell (00:09:40):
Oh my God.

Michael Maher (00:09:41):
Have you guys seen office space? Do you remember the scene in the very beginning of the movie when he’s driving in traffic? And he’s stuck car behind car. That was my literal commute. That highway was my commute. I know that’s I, that highway where they filmed was the highway I drove to go to work for like three years.

Chad Ashley (00:10:05):
So how long did you listen to that song?

Michael Maher (00:10:07):
Oh, I don’t know if I could listen to it anymore. Well, there was, there was a really bad, there was a dark, dark Michael phase in my life where I was working a job. I did not enjoy driving a beige sedan where, you know, khakis, it was, it was the office space life. And now I still enjoy the movie, but I still have a hard time watching that scene.

Nick Campbell (00:10:30):
Too much, too close to home. Commuting sucks. Um, you know, and obviously we, we don’t, we’re, we’ll go into some specific tools that we use, but the fact that these tools exist for us now and you can get quality work done from home, it’s just, um, making it so much more obvious that this is the choice. You know, it was a part of when I made the choice for Greyscalegorilla, um, to kind of give it a try. Commuting was a huge part of it. Uh, meetings were a huge part of it, not getting bogged down in a million meetings. And for me, uh, an office was always full of distractions. Um, at least the way that I like to work. I loved working next to creative people and artists, but I found it wasn’t the most, most focused place to get real work done.

Nick Campbell (00:11:19):
I found myself getting work done after hours when everybody went home, uh, or um, staying up really late at night. I’d never woke up early. I’m still bad at that, but it was always when the office was less empty when I found myself actually getting the work done. And so, you know, this, this idea that, especially the open office thing that happened in the last 10, 15 years I think is totally opposite of how creative people work. Um, and so for me it was a really inability for us all as far as the company for us all to have our own, hopefully as private offices we can, you know, I know there’s families and dogs and other stuff going on, but the idea that you can control your workspace was really a big part of it for me. And I, I hoped for the rest of the team as well. Um, so that, that was definitely a big part of it. I don’t know. Well, how was, how was like the open office stuff for you, Chad?

Chad Ashley (00:12:16):
I’m a huge, uh, hater of the open office policy or the open office movement, I guess you could call it. Um, and I, I find open offices to be, and there’s studies that have proven that they’re not actually good for much of anything really. Um, the illusion that management likes to like put out there is like, Oh, it’s, you know, more creative. You’re going to be able to like share ideas. And when you’re in an open office environment, it’s proven that you are less likely to share ideas because you’re constantly thinking, is that person staring over my shoulder? They watching what I’m looking at on my computer or are they listening to my conversation? You find you end up becoming more alienated and sort of, uh, siphoned off into your own little world in an open office environment. In my opinion. Um, I don’t like them.

Chad Ashley (00:13:07):
I feel like people need a little bit of their own space. I’m not saying that everybody needs their own. Like, you know, he gigantic office but a little separation I think is really healthy for people so that they can feel like they, they’re, they feel more comfortable to be themselves and create. Um, I was, uh, at an office at one point, the open office plan was so bad that the entire one, like there’d be six or seven artists sharing, uh, a single desk surface. Like it was a gigantic long desk and we were probably like shoulder to shoulder. You could probably touch the person maybe with your elbows if you really reached. And anytime somebody like tapped on the desk or hit their leg on the desk, it would, you’d feel it throughout the entire, everybody would feel it and it got really distracting. So like stuff like that was just a pain. I just don’t really think it’s very effective as a, as an idea.

Nick Campbell (00:14:00):
that would drive me nuts. I mean, I would probably be the one driving everyone else. Not to say I’m a bad like table drummer, you know, like just like,

Chad Ashley (00:14:08):
I would just like thrown my monitor.

Nick Campbell (00:14:09):
Right. But that, that would be a, that would be awful. You know, I’ll say, I’ll say this quickly before we move on. Like the, the offices I have been in that have worked in an in an open space, had really strict rules and in particular there were two that were really great. One was a kudo partners. I was lucky enough to share some office with them for a little bit. And, um, also, uh, uh, base camp, which used to be called 37 signals. They had an amazing office and, uh, I was lucky enough to sneak in there for a few months and they both came from the same, um, office originally.

Nick Campbell (00:14:45):
So they both had the same rules, which was, look, this is a library. This is not where you’re gonna hang out. Talk about, um, your weekend. There is one place in this entire office to go do that. It’s the kitchen. Go do it there, go hang out there or go on a walk. But we’re all here to work. It’s an open air office. It’s shared space. There’s quiet music in the background and be quiet and get your work done. Um, and they also had a really strict rules about, um, headphones as well, which I, I tried to carry forward into some of the open offices I worked at in the after that, which is if I have headphones on. Um, I am in my own private office right now, you know, don’t, and actually what it really meant was like, don’t even knock on my virtual door right now.

Nick Campbell (00:15:31):
I’m working, I have my headphones on. If you really need to get ahold of me, go ping me on Slack or go send me an email, but consider my headphones on as the ultimate red light or green light that I am sitting here working. So getting those things kind of together are helpful. I do want to transition into actual remote work because I think that, um, you know, these, these tips are great, but I think ultimately the, the, the goal is to get the heck outta there. And even if it’s one or two or three days a week, get into a space where you can do your best work, where you can focus in on a big project you have and really give yourself time to, to be creative. I mean, um, a lot of us listening or in a, in a creative job and need that creative space to do it.

Nick Campbell (00:16:21):
So, um, uh, any, any, any last reasons that we, I don’t think we have to go overboard and convincing people that working from home is great, but, um, any, any, any other thoughts about that one?

Chad Ashley (00:16:33):
Well, I think what’s interesting, um, I don’t think you have trouble convincing people that working from home is good. I think you have a harder time convincing companies and management owners of studios that that’s something that can happen. So what is, I would be interested in, in what you have to say about that since you started a company and then turned it remote, what were some of the things that you were afraid of from an owner perspective and did were those fears Uh, you know, did you need to have those fears or not?

Nick Campbell (00:17:06):
Yeah, I think, I think, um, I was really lucky to have a really great boss right out of college. Um, and I was working at Avenue Edit, which was a post house in, in Chicago. And I walked in as this young kid and didn’t quite know what I was doing. I just knew that they were hiring me to do after effects work. And I remember asking them like on the way out, he’s like any last questions wherever I go, Hey, what time do I show up tomorrow? And he looked at me and I’ll never forget this. He looked at me and goes, I don’t care when the hell you show up. And he’s like, I don’t even care if you show up. We’re going to give you a deadline and then you’re going to hit the deadline. How’s that sound? And I was like, dude, that’s it. That’s, that is how creative work is done. Right? I loved deadlines. I love the pressure of deadlines.

Nick Campbell (00:17:54):
And I loved the, the ability to know that I can sometimes work really well at midnight and I could also just not work at all at 10 in the morning. But it was up to me to hit my deadline and to get the job done that I was hired to do. And, and that really as I became the owner of my own company, that really was the kind of guiding light in hiring the right people, um, that were, I guess now I’m, I’m shifting a little bit, but that message struck such a chord with me that when it came to starting to build my own business and hiring people, one of the things I wanted to make sure I did was hire people that were self motivated and self managed enough to where you could, I could do the same thing to them and say, Hey look, I’m going to, we’re going to have a deadline and we’re gonna stick to the deadline.

Nick Campbell (00:18:42):
And when you get it done is not really up to me. If you like to work weekends or you have you like Sundays or you like four in the morning or you like a nine to five, that’s fine. Just hit the deadline, let’s get stuff done. And so, you know, for me, I was really lucky to, uh, kind of go through that and not have that worry that I think a lot of bosses have. And a lot of, you know, company managers and owners have, which is how do I know people are getting their dang work done if they’re not sitting here next to me. Um,

Chad Ashley (00:19:15):
yeah, that comes with its own challenges too though, right? Because it’s sort of, it means that when you’re a remote company you have to hire differently. You have to, right? You can’t, just like in an, in an office situation, you can sort of hire lots of different level people because the lower level people will be shadowing the higher level people and they’ll learn how things are done and whatnot. But when you’re completely remote and that is gone, like that’s off the table. There’s no, Hey come over my desk, let me show you this thing in two seconds. Because that’s just not how it works. So you have to, like you said, you have to sort of like, you have to expect that that’s not going to be a part of your culture or figure out a way to make it part of your culture using technology or whatever. But in our case we tend to, like you said, we tend to hire people that are self starters that are, can manage their own time well, and that’s like a really big thing for us. I think.

Michael Maher (00:20:08):
I think the like, the biggest benefit though of having that remote environment is that your talent pool of potential hires has now just, it’s so much bigger because now you don’t have to find the best person at, let’s say, you know, making training or making cinema 4D materials. You don’t have to find the best person in one location. You can literally just go find the best person anywhere and offer that ability to work from home

Chad Ashley (00:20:37):
as somebody who’s hired people at a studio from different locations, having to move them out, that’s a, that’s a huge undertaking. And people that are willing to move, maybe they have a family, whatever. So a hiring remotely. Yeah, you’re absolutely right Mike. The downside is that, you know, you need the self-starter cast to be fairly seasoned already, but the upside is there’s no limitation on where you can look and you’re like, that’s awesome.

Nick Campbell (00:21:05):
We now, like for Greyscalegorilla plus, we now can go grab the best trainers and the best artists in the world and have them make training for us. And they don’t have to just be in, you know, the Midwest or Chicago or Detroit or whatever. Right. Or, or even looking at Shawn and we just hired Shawn, our latest employee.

Chad Ashley (00:21:24):
Welcome Shawn Astrom.

Nick Campbell (00:21:25):
Welcome to the company, Shawn. So happy to have you. Uh, but Shawn’s in Denver. Right. And he’s such a great fit and he’s, uh, already shown so much great stuff that he’s done for the company, but he would, if in a traditional setup, he would have had to move out to wherever we were set up, um, or we wouldn’t be able to hire him. And so like, that’s, it does, it really opens the potential. I do want to say something though about that idea. Like you have to hire different people and, and, and maybe, maybe I’ve just been lucky enough to, um, work with some really great people. I’ve, you sure have. Especially you guys, that’s like a humble brag. Is that what they call that? Yep, totally. So what, um, I guess I guess what I’m thinking about through this is like I think self motivated people are just the right people period. Whether you have them as remote employees or whether you have them in your company, in the room with you to have someone where you have to hand hold everything. Um, in general is just, I don’t think that’s the right employee in general. So I think it’s, it’s really the idea that self motivated people are just better fits for any company and, and it also is a way better fit for remote company. So I guess it’s, it’s kind of splitting hairs, but it’s something that, um, I’ve always found working in this industry is somebody that that can take, um, direction and critique and know what the customer wants or know what the client wants and knows what the boss wants and be able to go take that into their room for a little while and come out with something better is always the right hire and not the one that you have to stand behind and say, are you working? Why aren’t you working? Like, I guess that’s, that’s obvious, but I think it as we transition into a more remote world as this becomes more popular, that learning those skills for yourself on how you work and how you and the times a day you are most focused are, is really one of the skills you have to develop as an artist.

Michael Maher (00:23:37):
I’ve got a question for you guys. Like when you, because by the time I joined this team, you had already been remote, you had already been using, you know, you had a pretty good setup on the way, uh, you guys operated, we’ve since made a lot of changes. But what were those first steps as a company that you guys took to establish like a working remote environment? Like what were the, what were the tools you realized you need to download or how did you get everybody connected and how did you set up meetings and all that stuff?

Chad Ashley (00:24:07):
Step one, don’t have an office that’s way that’s really right there in the title one. Stop paying new year lease.

Nick Campbell (00:24:16):
Stop paying the lease.

Chad Ashley (00:24:18):
and then you’ll figure the rest out.

Nick Campbell (00:24:21):
Hire Chad to figure the rest out and say, Hey guys, why aren’t we using, why are we,

Chad Ashley (00:24:27):
I mean, dude, when I started, it was like the wild frickin West. I was like, wait, what do you, what are you even doing? Like you’re, you’re using Apple mail. This person over here is using Gmail. Nope, no unified calendar, no unified, like anything. And so the first thing I did when I started, I was like, I was new to it too. I mean, I had worked from home at studios, but you know, that’s not the same thing at all. But I did take a lot of that same organization, uh, mentality and tried to bring it over to GSG and, and really I just was like, okay, step number one, Nick, get on G suite and stop using all of these like Apple, this and whatever that so that we’re all on the same mail system or on the same calendar system.

Chad Ashley (00:25:17):
We’re all the same in that way. And that was like the first step, I think. Right? Nick, wasn’t that like the first thing?

Nick Campbell (00:25:23):
Oh yeah. Oh yeah. I was definitely reluctant. But I think having that, that was the part of not only moving into a remote company, but really re moving into a company that had more than like two or three employees that all worked in the same room required this step. And it was something that wasn’t even aware. I wasn’t even aware of until, until Chad brought some expertise to it. And so we, um, yeah, we immediately pushed to a unified calendar. And then I think Slack was kind of a part of what we did, but it wasn’t really formalized.

Chad Ashley (00:25:58):
Right. Yeah. You guys didn’t even have your own, like formalized Slack that was,

Nick Campbell (00:26:03):
yeah, we had like one big general Slack because again, we were three, four people and, and it was that scale of company where you could just like have one channel and nobody’s really bugging anybody and you could just drop everything into one channel in Slack. And as soon as we started growing, we’re hiring more people. You know, that was a big part of it was like organizing our Slack and having different, uh, channels I think is what they call it for different topics so that you’re not bugging everybody. Um, yeah. And I think you had a bunch of your friends in that Slack too.

Chad Ashley (00:26:38):
And I was like, who are all these people? Do they work here? Like Whoa. It was like anybody

Nick Campbell (00:26:44):
that was at the office where we worked, we worked in a shared office there. There was, yeah. You know, anybody that ever made one piece of training, like, uh, uh, you know, three years ago they were just all hanging out. And again, that’s just kinda how the, the, the company was started too. It was just me and my friends all doing this stuff. Um, but yeah, so I, I mean, I guess as a way to think about it, it’s really sitting down and figuring out how, if you, if you’re trying to tackle this, what I would think is you would want to sit down and think about how you want to be organized, the two to three tools that you want to learn and get better at, whether that’s a Slack or if it’s like we use notion that’s relatively new to us, but that’s been a game changer as far as organizing all of our details and what’s going on and a notion has been a big part of it. Uh, Slack. And then what would you say is like the number like email I would say is like number three in the list?

Chad Ashley (00:27:42):
Honestly, I would say the, the G suite is probably number one because that’s where it all started. And ultimately that’s how we do our email on our calendar and our video chat. Um, but we, uh, we’re learning as we go. Like we, and that’s the other thing that I wanted to make sure people are aware of is like when your work, when your company works remotely, you have to be nimble, you have to try new things, you have to be open to change because the technology is constantly evolving to get better, to help you run your business or your studio or your freelance, whatever. It’s always getting better. So you have to be open to change, try new things, see what works for you, what it doesn’t work, be nimble and really just like experiment. And so yeah, like, like Nick was saying, we moved to G suite and then we moved to Slack and then we started other things. We tried, uh, we tried a software called DePaul’s, which then became Monday, which is how we were sort of organizing our jobs. And then we transitioned, as Nick said, to notion, which completely like simplified all of our other tools. We’re using it for project management, knowledge base, uh, product management, uh, communication, brainstorming, like we’re using it. It replaced a lot of tools for us, which is great. And anytime we can find a tool that simplifies how we do things is good. Because when you work remote, you have a remote company, you might have new people that you need to onboard very quickly. And if you’re having to walk them through a million processes and admittedly in different ways of sharing files or whatever, then it can get really, really hairy fast. Because you may be used to all these things and these little work arounds, but trying to walk somebody through that process remotely via a video chat, that’s fricking hard.

Nick Campbell (00:29:34):
Well, I have on the list here, like some of the specific tools we use, I think that’d be good to go through it. Not just like, you know, what video chat and notion and all that stuff, but even like the things that are on our desk and the, and the things that actually like help us get stuff done every day. But I wanted to address that, that, that last thing we were talking about just really quickly because I think there are, you know, uh, managers or owners of businesses, um, and we know from the comments that those of you listening that are in that position are thinking about remote and really just wondering like how that gets done day to day. And I know that we’re not a production house here at grayscalegorilla, but we’re, you know, we are producing a ton of training and products. We have a brand new website we’re working on. And so I think some of the things that we do might transition over to your company. So I just wanted to briefly go through like what our day to day, week to week looks like.

Nick Campbell (00:30:29):
Um, so first of all, we have, we have a Monday morning meeting, uh, every Monday morning. That is all team that comes in and we all report on how our week has been, the goals that we have hit. We, we, uh, we have big quarterly goals that we’re all responsible for and we report on those. Uh, let the team know how we’re doing and if there’s any questions or any, um, anything that we’re stuck on. We now have the entire team there in the morning to, um, to kind of bounce ideas off of or, or you know, say, Hey, you haven’t followed up on this, can you do that today? That’s on Monday mornings. And then quarterly we get together. Uh, he usually, it’s not the full team, but it’s kinda the, the management side of the team gets together once a quarter and we decide what the major projects will be for the next quarter that we will all be talking through and reporting on and working on.

Nick Campbell (00:31:22):
So our major, big projects get divvied up into 90 day chunks. I know that’s not the same as what what a production company is, but that’s how we do it. And then we have yearly company meetings where we all get in a room and we all catch up. We all, we all talk about what we want to accomplish and how we did in the last year. And, but a lot of that is really solving some of the downside of having a remote company, which is you don’t really have that personal connection with the people that you work with. And so I always find the quarterly meetings and the yearly meetings and also events like NAB and, and you know, the, the, the really big reason I’m bummed that, that these things might get canceled is having that comradery, having that, you know, dinner or a drink with, with your employees and like learning about their life.

Nick Campbell (00:32:06):
Um, we try to do that at least once a year and then at these giant meetings. So that’s like a rough schedule of the amount of time we spend together. Uh, and then I’ll say this, we also mostly are asynchronous as a company. Then. This is something Chad’s pushed a lot on and, and I’ve, we’re all getting better at, which is by default, communication should be through email, it should be through Slack, but not like, Hey, answer me right away. It’s like, Hey, when you have time and you get to this, it’s on Slack. It’s on email. Or, uh, it could be on notion. Um, but then when something really has to get solved, um, we dive into a one-on-one video call, or maybe it’s a, you know, three-person video call and we’ll use zoom or we’ll use a Google, what’s Google calling it this week?

Michael Maher:
It’s Meet now. It used to be Hangouts.

Chad Ashley:
All of our meetings are just to clarify, our Monday morning meetings are complete video calls. They’re not like, just like a big conference call.

Nick Campbell:
Oh, yup, yup. We all jump in a Google meet on Monday. Um, and so, uh, we rely on this idea that we all know what, what, who’s responsible for what, and then, uh, if there’s questions or we need to collaborate or we have to dive into some something technical and just get it done, we have these video tools that we could jump into, share screens, uh, take over each other’s screens. Like it’s really, really flexible in the way that we do it.

Nick Campbell (00:33:31):
So I’ve had people ask me that. Um, and in fact, we’ll get to some more Twitter questions to some people on Twitter were asking specifically about some of those tools. Um, we’ll get to some more of those in a bit, but I wanted to clarify that because it might help clear up the like what, how, how do you stay up to date with what people are working on? And that’s, that’s basically how we’ve, uh, we’ve been running it.

Chad Ashley (00:33:55):
Yeah. Asynchronous, synchronous, if you haven’t looked that up, it’s really important as well as discipline. Um, when you’re working, when your company decides to go fully remote, it’s really hard to break out of that mentality where I have a question, I’m going to go walk over and get the answer right now. And that doesn’t, you have to sort of break yourself of that habit when you’re at a remote company because you’re essentially a, that person might be in another time zone. It might not be their time to work. Maybe there they go and drop their kids off at school at that time or whatever it is. So you have to sort of set yourself up for that mode of thinking. And, uh, once you sort of like go all in on it, it’s hard because a lot of us in this business, we want that instant answer. We want to know exactly what we need to know right now. So waiting is hard, but if you sort of let yourself get into it and you’re respectful of other people’s time and what they’re doing and the times that they’re most productive, then they’ll do the same for you. And that is a two way street so you’ll, you’ll get the benefits of that once you sort of fully buy into it. But the discipline thing I wanted to talk about for a second, because I think that’s really the hardest thing for a lot of companies and people and whatnot to sort of wrap their brains around is they don’t think that they’re going to be disciplined enough to be able to sit down every day for eight to 10 hours in their house with all the distractions and all that stuff. Like how am I going to do that? Like that sounds impossible. Um, what do you guys think? Has it been impossible for you?

Michael Maher (00:35:36):
There’s definitely a learning curve. Yeah.

Chad Ashley (00:35:38):
Right. It’s hard.

Michael Maher (00:35:40):
I actually have, I have, I’ll make sure I link to this in the show notes as well, but I wrote an article for Greyscalegorilla probably about a year or two ago, uh, back when I started here about tips for working remote. Um, there’s a few things that, that I always defer to and, and we can talk about that later, but yeah, you definitely have to regiment yourself and remove yourself from everything else happening, like at home or wherever you work.

Nick Campbell (00:36:09):
Yeah, I find like a, a tight, a tighter schedule with that stuff does help. I mean, I think the immediate reaction of working from home is like, cool. Uh, wake up whenever and then I can leave my sweatpants on and then I could go to work whenever and, you know, I could then, I could take the dog out and then I can go to lunch with a friend. And, uh, and I think at first, and I’ll say for myself, like I did all of that. I was like, I could finally go get a Kuma burger at, at, on a week day. Uh, when the line’s not, when the line’s not out the door. And that’s good. That’s good that to have that right. But I think for me it was like I did all that stuff and I had zero schedule and I had zero. It’s not really about a schedule, it’s more about like a routine and having um, a way to tell your body that it’s work time.

Nick Campbell (00:36:54):
And for me it was just like I, I learned really soon after working from home that I just needed to wake up, take a shower and then put some actual adult clothes on and then I could sit at my computer and feel like it was ready for work. Where when I just woke up late or like I just kind of shuffled in and checked my email and my sweatpants at never had that same amount of like pressure to start to work. Right. And I always loved what I was doing. Like I was playing, I’d open up cinema 4d and start playing around and, and think about tutorials and it was very fun, but it, it didn’t have the same amount of structure. And I found myself finding little ways to procrastinate, um, and it just didn’t feel like work. So for me, one of the big ones was just like figuring out a rough schedule and more importantly a routine to get me to that place.

Chad Ashley (00:37:47):
Yeah. Routine is, is absolute key. Like I really believe that like every day I go through my routine and it’s really helped me sort of retain that discipline over time. I do break the routine, I’ll jump out for lunch because I do think when you work remote it’s also important to balance that out with some real human interaction. Otherwise you start peeing in jars and never leaving your house. So like it’s important to like get out. Right. So yeah, it’s all about balance, discipline, schedule. Um, yeah, it’s, it’s hard. It’s not easy. And I think that that’s why, going back to what we said earlier about hiring the self motivated person, those things come more naturally to that person I think. So that’s why I think they work really well in a situation like this.

Nick Campbell (00:38:41):
Yeah, that’s true. It’s not, it’s not just that, you know, a self motivated self managed person isn’t just finding out how to get their actual literal work done. They’re also applying a lot of that knowledge to their, to their life a little bit. They’re like, Hey, I, I should wake up earlier because that’s when I get better work done. Or I should go for a run in the morning. Or actually I’m better to go to the gym at night or I’m actually better to, um, take a walk with the dog and at two o’clock because that gets me fired up to, you know what I mean? Like finding out how you specifically work. The problem was some of these, um, tips are, they’re, they’re very unique. They can be very unique to, to us. So, but, but I think the ultimate idea is like, find out how you work. I’ll say this really quickly. I got a, an office away from my home for this reason. And so I worked, uh, I worked from home for, for, uh, many years and, uh, I’ll actually, I’m going to, um, we’re going to learn some of the downsides of working from home too. I’ll ask you guys in a minute.

Chad Ashley (00:39:43):
Oh boy, there’s a lot.

Nick Campbell (00:39:46):
But, uh, I found myself, you know, at home, uh, working all day long, not leaving the house, um, and really loving what I did. But I, I found myself in that, like you said, jail, like that being in jars, uh, you know, aviator kind of situation where I’m like, I gotta get out. And so what I found was that’s when I started going to some friends studios I was mentioning earlier, some of these companies in Chicago that let me kind of see how they worked and how they had their own little rooms in their own office. And I was like, okay, this is closer to what I want. What I really wanted was just to, um, feel like I was around other creative people. I didn’t necessarily need to talk to them every day, but having other creative people in the room that were also doing cool work had an energy to it. To me that cannot be, that couldn’t be replaced by just being at home by myself. Um, so for me, I liked, I loved the energy of going to the coffee shop. If I had a laptop job where I didn’t need the biggest computer I could find at that time to do. If I could like do 3d on a laptop, I would go to the LA, I would go to a coffee house because that energy is what I found out I liked. I liked other people around me that they didn’t necessarily bug me. They didn’t come up and tap me on the shoulder. But there was a creative communal energy of being in a room with other people that made me want to go work at a, at a shared office. It made me want to get an office where I am now, where there’s other people here. I have my own private room where I could yell and talk into a microphone, but just outside the store there’s other creative people doing their job and I found for myself that I needed that. So I just wanted to put that out there. If you’re like, man working from home, be really isolating, there is the option to get, you know, a shared private off or a shared office or a private office in town that’s on the table. If you could pull it off, it’s been really helpful for me. Um, but I wanted to ask, maybe we could talk a little bit about some of the downsides working from home and how we can overcome it. I know Michael, you have a, a young family got some new babies and new kids run around. How’s, uh, how’s all that stuff going?

Michael Maher (00:42:00):
Uh, it definitely has its fair share of challenges. Um, if, if, uh, if you guys hear absolutely nothing from my mic, it’s cause I’m quick on the mute button cause it’s, uh, it’s, it’s spring break this week. So, uh, all of my kids are home. So there’s, I’ve got three little kids all under the age of eight. And so there’s, you know, there’s a lot of yelling and crying and stuff, but to me it goes back to the whole open office concept we were talking about earlier. The best thing you can do is get a nice pair of headphones. And I’m not talking about earbuds, I’m talking over the ear like quality, high quality headphones that you can wear all day. I do not take my headphones off and it’s a great way to, I actually hear crying barely right now, but.

Chad Ashley (00:42:45):
I can sort of make it, yeah.

Michael Maher (00:42:47):
So I do my best to wear my headphones at all times, but I’m also in a secluded room. I’m in my own office, I have a door. Um, if you live in a place where you can have your own room with a door, I highly, highly recommend that. Like getting out of open common areas or don’t get stuck at the dining room table because then you, all your work stuff gets spread over the table. Then you have no place to eat. You get distracted, try to contain your work mess into like one solid environment.

Nick Campbell (00:43:18):
Yeah. Do you guys, do you guys have, um, uh, are there like family rules too? As far as I know Chad you work at home as well and there’s family around. are there, uh, kind of known rules on like, okay, now I’m at work or, no I’m not. You guys talk about that kind of stuff?

Chad Ashley (00:43:35):
I do, yeah, quite a bit. There’s a, there’s been a rule since I started working from home, which is if I’m in my office, uh, don’t come in here.

Michael Maher (00:43:44):
Yeah, I’ve got that. I’ve got the same one. If the door is closed they’re not allowed to. They’re not allowed to come in.

Chad Ashley (00:43:52):
Yeah. My kids are older so they, they don’t, they don’t really like feel the urge to like barge in and, you know, tell me about something random. But there have been times where my office is actually right next to their, their bathroom. So for me, thank you. This is like, my daughter will be like, they listen to music when they shower like constantly and really loud. So they always, they’ve gotten into the habit now of being like, Hey, ah, I’m about shower dad, can I listen to music and I’ll, and I’ll, if I’m on a call, I’d be like, no. And they’ll be like, ah, dang. And if most of the time I’m not on a call and they can listen to music. So that’s fine. And it’s usually like, you know, some crazy rap or something.

Nick Campbell (00:44:35):
Um, no thanks for answering that. I, I, I think that hat letting the, the uh, employee or the artist or you know, having you really go through what rules work for you and your family I think is really important and something I don’t think a lot of people talk about when it comes to this remote work stuff. So, right.

Michael Maher (00:44:54):
Like it, it really does come down. You, you mentioned it earlier, it really comes down to the individual’s lifestyle and you know, every person listening to this lives their life in a different way. And so, you know, when I was younger, I did live the no pants freelance lifestyle, just sitting at my computer trying to work, working all day. And now that I have a family, I have responsibilities outside of work, so I have to be really strict with my routine. I have to get ready in the morning, I have to get to work on time because I have to leave work at a certain time because then we have, you know, football practice or I’ve got to go coach a baseball or I’ve got to take the kid to a doctor or whatever. You have to manage your time that’s best for your whole family. And so that’s something that I think there’s probably a handful of people here that might have new young families don’t even, you know, think about yet. And those are, those are the other things that you have to start planning for and really start forcing yourself to work during the optimal hours. Otherwise you’re going to be up all night when your kids finally go to sleep and then trying to work and then you’re not sleeping and you’re not doing your best work.

Chad Ashley (00:46:05):
Yeah. Can easily avalanche and get out of control. I think one of the biggest challenges I face is probably, I think you guys mentioned this already, is knowing when to get up and leave work. Because if work is right here and I’m, I enjoy my work, then I don’t ever want to stop that work. And I found early on that I was working later than I would if I was in a studio, um, because I was just here and if I’m here, I might as well be working. Right. And if I’m not, if I’m here and I’m not doing a family thing or I’m not spending time with my wife, like I might as well go work. Right. Well that’s, uh, that won’t last. That’s not sustainable. So you have to sort of like, I’m going to unplug at six 30 and I’m not going to plug back in until Monday. Now we’re all guilty of like checking email and all that sort of thing. And I don’t really count that, but I try not to go into my office and do work unless it’s during the week, during my set times just otherwise I’ll S snowball and I’ll get out of control.

Nick Campbell (00:47:11):
Yeah, that’s definitely one of the, one of the good downsides. You know, if you like what you do and you, and you are creative, you like working, you can definitely get burned out because the room is right there. Your gear is right there, the chairs nice and comfy. Like it’s you, you set it up the, that you want it and it’s just waiting right there. And it’s actually one of the reasons I ended up working out of the home. I remember having a talk with uh, Jim Coudal who uh, was nice enough to let me sneak in the office there for a bit. And I was like talking to him about it and saying like, you know, you could work from home, why do you do this? And we started talking through it and at the end of the talk I basically said like, you know, I feel like I’m going to get a lot more work done because I’m going to be more focused. I’m only, I’m only at work for a limited amount of time. And then when I leave I’ll feel like I got more accomplished. And he looked at me and he goes, you’ll also get more home done. And I was like, I didn’t even think about that. Like you’re by not having a giant, you know, rendering computer at home. It allowed me to be, uh, you know, closer with my wife and, and like sit and snuggle the dog and not worry about like the answering that, you know, I’m guilty of enough about answering emails for sure, but it won’t make me like go back over to the computer and like start another render at midnight. And so that, you know, again, I just, I wanted to share that because I think it is a, a part of finding your personality and how you want to work with it. Um, I’m just looking here on Twitter and I want to transition to a few questions we got here on Twitter. I sent, uh, out that we’ll be talking about this on the podcast. Got some great questions. Dominique. Uh, actually asked just what we were talking about. He said how to, uh, how to make your folks at home understand that you are in fact working as in like work and to stop distracting you. So, uh, I hope, uh, stuff we just talked about Dominique helps you with that one.

Michael Maher (00:49:08):
I would add to that too, to also mention that when you set your ground rules, it’s not just about the door being closed and that you’re at work, you, your family, whoever’s at home, roommates, whatever, they need to realize that you are literally not there. So I’m not at the house so I can’t go change the laundry. I can’t go prep dinner, I can’t go vacuum that room or whatever. I’m not at home. I am at work. And that’s like something that you have to establish with, with anybody you’re living with.

Chad Ashley (00:49:41):
That’s a great point. And I, I truly thank the Lord the, my wife is pretty, she’s really good about that. You know, like she doesn’t say, Hey, well you’re home. Why don’t you, uh, go run that errand? She cause yes, Mike, you hit the nail on the head. Like, have that talk with your roommate, with your wife, whoever, you know, uh, and, and really just like lay it down and be like, yo, like when I’m here, I’m not really here like you said. And I think that’s great man. Like if you can, if you can work that out in advance, then you won’t have that guilt of like, well I am home and they do need that Aaron run, you know, and you feel bad. Like I’ve been in that situation and you feel bad. But if you had conversation and you can be like, well we talked about it. I’m not really here. I’m working. I need to get this done.

Michael Maher (00:50:32):
Yeah. I think the realization that we had is when we had that conversation, I said, just imagine I’m at a normal office. Like pretending you saw me drive away. I’m not here.

Chad Ashley (00:50:42):
Pretend I grabbed my brief case.

Nick Campbell (00:50:44):
pet the dog, kiss away kids heads and then turn it, do three 60 and then go, I’m gone.

Chad Ashley (00:50:53):
No, just go out in the back, sneak in the backdoor, climb up or climb up the wall and get into the like. That would be hilarious.

Nick Campbell (00:51:00):
Uh, I love that. Um, so just going through Twitter here, our buddy Ross woods had a question. Hi Ross. Hey Ross. Um, uh, he had two questions. I think we kind of answered some of these, but, uh, one is about setting up boundaries for when not to work from home. Uh, which I think we touched on, you know, not just setting work hours, but I think part of that guilt of, of being at home and letting the family know that you are gone is also having those rules. That’s like, okay, now I am home and the office is closed now and now I’m here with you guys. I would say setting up those rules would be a big part of it. Uh, and then second question is now to, uh, to make it so your home doesn’t just feel like your office. Um, so then psychologically it feels like you’re always at the office. I think Chad, you touched on that. Um, uh, quite a bit there.

Chad Ashley (00:51:51):
Yeah man. You gotta I, man, if you can have a separate room for your office, do it. Even if you can’t make that little section of the room, your office, make it feel, uh, neat and organize a place that you want to go every day and you feel like, ah, all right, I’m ready. You know, like that kind of a feeling and whether that’s through decor or how you organize your shelves or whatever it is that you need to do to get yourself into that mindset. I’m a firm believer in your environment is going to inform your mood. It’s going to inform how you react to the world. So I try to keep my office inspirational, fun. I have a lot of design books and film books and skateboarding stuff all over the place because that’s the stuff that gets my juices flowing and I try to keep that stuff around me so that when I’m in my office, I’m already starting to get into that mindset. Whereas if it felt like another room in my house with a bunch of random laundry everywhere and you know, cups left out by my kids or whatever, I would, I would be so like it would stress me out man. Like, cause I feel I get stressed out pretty easily by disarray and anything that’s like a lot of clutter that sort of like gives me anxiety. So I try to keep my room. I mean it’s not perfect dude. Like it’s still pretty, it’s not like I’m like immaculate or anything like that, but I do like that and I feel like whatever that is, whatever that thing is for you, find it and try to put that your little workspace or office or whatever.

Nick Campbell (00:53:27):
Yeah. I think think about the, uh, the places you’ve worked in the past that did calm you or did inspire you or was comfortable and like take things from that. You know, one of the things I got that I’m so glad I did was get the same exact chair I had at digital kitchen. Not the exact one. I didn’t steal that one. Okay. Wait again, um, at the same kind of chair it was, I remember just, uh, knowing I liked the chair and I, gosh, I didn’t know how expensive those days Herman Miller chairs were, were. But I remember loving that chair. And, um, when I got home, I realized my a hundred dollars office max chair just did not, you know, give me the same kind of feeling I had a bad back. I’ve all these issues. I’m like, well, all right, I’m gonna spend the money on the things, um, that, that I touch.

Nick Campbell (00:54:18):
You know, if my, I’m a firm believer if you’re like, if your body touches it, if your butt touches it, spend the money on it. And if it goes on the shelf, you could cheap out a little bit, get the Ikea version. But if you think about the things that you were comfortable with and used in the past that brought you joy and spend the money and the effort to, it doesn’t have to be expensive, but take the time to design your space if you can and make it feel like an office. Um, it’s something that a lot of real offices do. They have designers come in and make these spaces feel comfortable, you know, put a plant in there, um, to find the things that make you happy and, and make sure that’s a part of it because it’ll, it’ll help with all these things. It’ll help with, uh, being productive. That’ll help with, um, being relaxed and, and, and, you know, enjoying your space. Um, let me see here. I’m quickly going through last couple Twitter questions. I appreciate all the questions guys. Michael Jones from MoGraph mentor. Hey buddy, thanks for, uh, thanks for asking a question. He’s, uh, saying having switched between many different team collab dashboards. Oh, here we go. Trello a sauna Monday. Um, and he says, uh, he’s feeling they often create more work than they save. Uh, wonder what your approach is to this or recommend a specific platform to manage overlapping projects. Uh, Michael, thanks for the question. And um, and yeah, this would be a good chance to maybe talk about some of the tools we use and how we use them in general. Uh, Chad, what’s, um, what’s your take on this one?

Chad Ashley (00:55:58):
Yeah, I agree. I feel like it’s always that balance where you’re trying to find the right tools to help you work smarter, not harder, but you end up creating more work for yourself and others by trying to implement these things. Cause sometimes these things can be very, uh, they can be difficult to manage or set up and they can really sort of take over. So I’ve always been the person who likes to experiment and play with these things and try to find that balance of like, okay, is this saving more work than it’s creating or are we just wasting more time? And what I found when we started experimenting with different workflows and different software and we serve first started playing around with managing projects via this a software called Monday, which was at the time called DePaul’s. It was working for us, but it was also not working for us because it meant that we had to go into a different piece of software to manage a project. And anytime you’re trying to like do that, then be disciplined about it. It can almost always just sort of falls apart because if one person doesn’t use it, then all of a sudden two people don’t use it and then nobody’s using it and then it’s useless. So these systems only work if everybody is 100% in. If they aren’t 100% in then it is like a disease. It’s going to like slowly deteriorate and then nobody will want to use it. So it has to be something that everybody’s all in on. And so when we moved into notion, uh, it was great for us because it solves so many of our problems. We were looking for a place that we could store all of our company information, all of our frequently asked questions, everything that we want to remember. And that was a thing for us because when you’re in a remote company and we have a lot of different facets to Greyscalegorilla, we need to, we need to always know a little answer from some question or something and it needs to be right at our fingertips because I don’t know when Nick is going to be online. I don’t know when Mike is going to be, uh, you know, online and able to answer this question. So we use it as a knowledge base. We can store all of our information. We recall it, you know, super, super fast. The other thing that we use it for is project management. It’s super flexible. The system can do pretty much whatever you want it to. So we start, we’re just now starting to really get into it for project management. And so far it’s great. We’ve onboarded a few new people onto it. They seem to really like it. It’s not without its flaws. They all have flaws. They all have issues. No business is exactly like the next, so everybody’s going to have their own little thing. But what I like about this is it unifies everything into one place, which I think is really important because if I have to send, if I, Nick, if I have to send you to like five different websites to do something like, Oh you gotta we manage our projects here. So go check that task over here. Oh and we also need you to find the answer for that question. You’re going to have to log into this other thing over here and as soon as I have, as soon as I splinter you into like three places, your brain’s going to check out. You’re going to be like, no, I don’t want to do this or this sucks.

Michael Maher (00:59:16):
Yeah, like having used everything, you know, mentioned in that tweet. I’ve, I’ve used Asana, I’ve Trello, I’ve used JIRA, I’ve used them all, uh, at all these different companies. And you see like the splinter factions where it’s like only this department uses Trello and only this department uses Asana and they all use different ones. And the reason I fell in love with Notion is because it is like this incredible mix of all of those tools that you can still customize. Now there’s definitely a learning curve to it, but now I’m able to create like one page that you can read it like a Monday board or you can change the view and look at it like a Trello board or you could change the view and look at it as an outline. Like it’s a very versatile platform. And, and honestly I think it’s probably one of the most underrated platforms out there.

Nick Campbell (01:00:08):
Yeah, it is. The learning curve for me, um, was definitely steep. And for me it was the fact that basically the rest of the team was in love with this thing. And I’m like, all right, I’m going to give it a chance. That’s the typical like Nick getting on board with anything. That’s right. Okay. I guess I’ll learn it. Look, I’m, uh, that’s, that’s a, that’s part of my personality, like skeptical until proven wrong and um, notion once I got up, you know, in the Bay and it’s biz and started figuring out what it was I actually got. Oh, I just love when Chad teaches anybody. I just, I think Chad is an incredible teacher and I had an amazing moment where I was like, Chad, can you make me a tutorial for, for notion? And uh, he’s like, I’ll do you one better, let’s hop on a call. And he really walked me through the first 20, 30 minutes of, uh, the basics of it and I fell in love with it too. So, um, it does look a little complex up front, but it’s really, really flexible and I’m really digging it as well if it, if it helps make a decision. Um, and I’ll say this, uh, you know, I think you guys said it as well. It’s like find the one that’s, that works best for you and your team and the one that everybody wants to use for the most part. Um, I’ll also say too that some people use their own little favorite board, like if it’s a Trello board or if like, I use a simple note for a lot of stuff. I still use Google drive for a lot of stuff. And that’s for my personal like little brainstorms or my little, you know, my little tinkering around. But everything I do that’s official for the company, I bring it to the notion board. So what I would say is, especially for, you know, hiring remote, let people use tools that they are comfortable with if they need it to manage their own time, uh, and they need it to, you know, stay productive if it’s, I have to do this or whatever else, but then have that mandated like company facing board that, that most people like, at least for us, I think that that’s been the, the good compromise. You know what mean? Yeah. Yeah. I think that I’m the same way

Chad Ashley (01:02:21):
like I have, I used to do just, um, as my like little personal task list, you know, like, Oh, I gotta pick up the kids here. I got to go pick that thing up or do this other thing. Like I use that, but anything that’s like business company related, I bring that into notion. But I, I think another thing that I wanted to talk about and ask you guys about is this idea of, okay, being disciplined as a company when it comes to managing projects and, and getting work done. When Slack is there, there’s a temptation to give feedback on a image or video or some project stage and project. There’s an, there’s a, a real sort of like, Oh, I’m just going to jump on Slack and tell him to change that thing. And that’s a dangerous sort of slippery slope when you’re in production because those, those change notes or whatever it is that you’re saying can just get easily lost in a place like Slack or a chat or Hangouts or whatever you’re using for that instant chat experience. And so you have to sort of almost like force yourself to like talk about the work in a place that, that, that stuff can be tracked. Otherwise you’re gonna run into situations where I didn’t, I didn’t see that note like you told me to make it green where I don’t, I don’t remember that. Oh, I told you on Slack and that’s going to happen unless you start to really force yourself to use the tools that you’re, that you’re managing your projects with, whether it’s Trello notion, whatever, put your changes, put everything in there. It’s, it seems overkill and it seems like, why are we doing this? I can just like hit him on Slack and tell him this thing. The reason you do it is because someday on notes going to get lost someday something will not get communicated properly.

Nick Campbell (01:04:14):
Yeah, I’m definitely guilty of that and I, what I’ve been trying to do is, is batch things. I think this gets back to that idea of like, I’m going to go tap them on the shoulder and ask them for the answer to this. What I’ve been doing instead is just trying to write down the, the, the, I’ll have a note. It’ll just say like Chad and then I’ll have under that it’ll have the thing that, well I want to ask Chad and then once there’s three or four things, I try to hop on a call or do like, or just ask them all at once and maybe even send an email that says one, two, three, four and try to try to batch these things together. And I think changes are another part of that that I’m definitely not great at, but I think is something I’m trying to do more of is not just go bug somebody to change one thing, write it down and everyone’s got enough stuff to do and unless it’s super pressing, it’s going out the door tomorrow, let’s wait until this meeting or let’s wait until they can read their email at night to go through these three changes.

Chad Ashley (01:05:14):
The idea of batching, batching, like where you would have just walked over and like seeing if the person had their headphones on and then like, Hey, uh, how about that one? Like, I like that idea of batching things together so that when you do communicate, whether it’s via Slack or maybe a video, like you have your five things, I think that’s a, that’s a cool idea.

Nick Campbell (01:05:34):
Yeah. You guys maybe have noticed where I’m like, all right, here’s the call. Uh, and here are the four things on my list. You guys want to add anything and these are my, these are my little batching moments.

Michael Maher (01:05:44):
it also allows you to prioritize them. Whether like if you have a list, you can prioritize them the way they need to get done or if you don’t have an order they need to be done, then the person with the tasks can put an order to them and then just put that on your list. Know which ones you got to tackle, get them all done.

Chad Ashley (01:06:01):
I will say though that if it’s, if you’re discussing with somebody, if you’re calling them with tasks, then if you’re at Greyscalegorilla, those things need to make it onto the project or job board or whatever it is that we’re using because that’s the thing that I think when you start to scale, you sort of lose track of things. So being able to like put them in a place that everybody can see. Oh, okay. Yeah, that’s the, we got to get to that thing. I think that’s like super important for people and especially for me because I like to, if things are out of place, it gives me anxiety. So like if I, if I have a note, a task that’s not associated with a project, or maybe it’s loose in a Slack or something, I have to take it and put it in there. Otherwise I’m going to be like, Oh my God, I’m going to forget that thing. I know I’m going to forget. So, yeah, I would say just try to be as disciplined as you can and just try to make sure that it’s all relating to something that you’re all working on. Obviously if it’s a thing like, Hey, remember to email such and such, like that’s not going to go into a project, but it would go into my, in that case, if I got something like that from you, I would put that in my to do list because that’s like a, an outside of a project thing.

Nick Campbell (01:07:19):
Yeah. I think, um, I think we, we’re, we’re running out of time today, but I think there’s even a case to, um, add this to the next episode, even if it’s not the entire episode. Talk a little bit more about the specific tools we use. We got a lot of questions about that. Uh, we touched on quite a few of them today, but I think there’s even more, um, little things that you can use and do to stay productive, to stay on task, to organize yourself to, to communicate. There’s so many little unique, uh, apps coming out every day in day. And, um, I think maybe we’ll, we’ll have another little episode about that. In fact, if you guys are listening, uh, and we didn’t touch on a topic or if you have a question or even if you have a, you know, one of these apps or, or task managers or whatever it is that you want to kind of share with us, hit us up on, uh, the comments at Greyscalegorilla for the podcast. Um, you could also hit us up on Twitter, hit me up or, or the, uh, GSG3d Twitter. Um, let us know your thoughts and maybe we’ll do another little segment, a little bit more about some of the tools as we go. Um, but I think we should probably wrap this one up. Um, and anybody else have any last little thoughts here about, uh, working from home?

Chad Ashley (01:08:36):
Yeah, I feel like you’re right. We need to do another part because there’s so much to this topic that I think could help a lot of people, especially when it comes to, uh, tools and workflows and stuff like that. We should definitely do a new one.

Michael Maher (01:08:49):
No, agreed. I’ll go ahead and put a lot of stuff in the show notes for you guys. When we share this episode. You can comment to us on Twitter, Facebook, or go to Greyscalegorilla.com/podcasts find this episode and comment there. We’ll make sure we read all your questions and prep those for the next episode.

Nick Campbell (01:09:06):
Awesome. Thank you, Michael. Thank you Chad, and thank you guys for listening. Uh, and let us know your thoughts and stay safe. Stay healthy out there and we’ll see you in another Greyscalegorilla podcast really soon. Bye everybody.

Michael Maher (01:09:19):
Bye bye.

Chad Ashley (01:09:20):
Bye bye.

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4  comments
4 Comments
  • So my punch is:
    list of the software I use:

    1) Gdrive- personal projects.
    2) Dropbox on shared projects with some clients.
    Personally I don’t like it. Currently, it was a huge crash.
    3)Time camp – Invoicing, tracking working hours
    4) FTRACK: on bigger scale projects. Its a time camp on steroids.
    Much more functional.
    5)Google slides: referencing

    PS:
    Here is a little explanation of how I do use cloud drives.
    Usually, I map a working folder as a NETWORK DRIVE (on windows) with a fixed name on all machines I use on a project.
    And sync it with a cloud service, via a desktop app.
    A working folder itself could be under a different letter on a particular machine. But mapping kinda unifies all the local paths.

  • Here is an another important topic I’d like you to cover.
    How to decode a creative brief from a client.
    Here could be 2 parts:
    1) The necessary info which client needs to provide (a questionary for a client)
    2) Brief planning and Organizations tips and tricks

  • Great discussion. I’m sure you would have got into it with more time, but I’d be interested in hearing about the protocols of sharing assets, project files, etc., including file names and versioning.

    Thanks!

  • HI DONALD!
    I do have some information about these topics.
    Gonna put a link soon on a list on my Blogspot!

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