Working remotely builds organizational resiliency

For many, moving from everyone’s-working-from-the-office to everyone’s-working-at-home isn’t so much a transition as it is a scramble. A very how the fuck? moment.

That’s natural. And people need time to figure it out. So if you’re in a leadership position, bake in time. You can’t expect people to hit the ground running when everything’s different. Yes, the scheduled show must go on, but for now it’s live TV and it’s running long. Everything else is bumped out.

This also isn’t a time to try to simulate the office. Working from home is not working from the office. Working remotely is not working locally. Don’t try to make one the other. If you have meetings all day at the office, don’t simply simulate those meetings via video. This is an opportunity not to have those meetings. Write it up instead, disseminate the information that way. Let people absorb it on their own time. Protect their time and attention. Improve the way you communicate.

Ultimately this major upheaval is an opportunity. This is a chance for your company, your teams, and individuals to learn a new skill. Working remotely is a skill. When this is all over, everyone should have a new skill.

Being able to do the same work in a different way is a skill. Being able to take two paths instead of one builds resiliency. Resiliency is a super power. Being more adaptable is valuable.

This is a chance for companies to become more resilient. To build freedom from worry. Freedom from worry that without an office, without those daily meetings, without all that face-to-face that the show can’t go on. Or that it can’t work as well. Get remote right, build this new resiliency, and not only can remote work work, it’ll prove to work better than the way you worked before.

Live Q&A on remote working, working from home, and running a business remotely

In this livesteam, David and I answer audience questions about how to work remotely. At Basecamp we’ve been working remotely for nearly 20 years, so we have a lot of experience to share. This nearly 2-hour video goes into great detail on a wide variety of topics. Highly recommended if you’re trying to figure out how to work remotely.

A live tour of how Basecamp uses Basecamp to run Basecamp

David and I spent nearly 2-hours giving a livestream tour of our very own Basecamp account. We wanted to show you how Basecamp uses Basecamp to run projects, communicate internally, share announcements, know what everyone’s working on, build software, keep up socially, and a whole bunch more. Our entire company runs on Basecamp, and this video shows you how.

Remote Working: The home office desks of Basecamp

People are always curious about work-from-home (WFH), remote working setups. So, I posted a Basecamp message asking our employees to share a photo of their home office, desk, table, whatever. Here’s what came in.

First, the ask:

And the answers, in the order they came in:

Keep reading “Remote Working: The home office desks of Basecamp”

How we acquired HEY.com

Back on June 9, 2018, I cold emailed help@hey.com:

Hey there

Curious… Would you entertain an offer to sell hey.com? I'd like to use it for something I'm working on, and willing to make you a strong offer.

Let me know. Thanks!

-Jason

And that’s where it all began.

For the 25+ years I’ve been emailing, I’d say close to 95% of those email began with some variation of “Hey [Name]”. So when it came time to think about a name for a new email system we’d be building, HEY was a natural.

Further, the “Hey!” menu in Basecamp 3 holds your notifications for new messages, chats, to-do assignments, automatic check-in prompts, boost summaries, and the like. So we already had some prior art on Hey being a place for communication.

But hey.com – that would be an amazing email address, and, we rightly assumed, hard to get. But what the hell – if you don’t ask you don’t get, so I sent the email, crossed my fingers, and waited.

The same day I emailed, June 9, 2018, he replied. Turns out we’d actually talked before on This Week in Tech, way back when. This was his first email back to me:

Hi Jason:

Thanks for reaching out, I've always respected your business accomplishments and your writing. You may not remember but we spoke briefly a couple of times when I was at TWiT.

As you might imagine, I've gotten a number of offers and inquiries about HEY.com over the years. Usually I ignore them, but very happy to chat with you about this or any other topic. I'm on cell at ###-###-####.

Thanks!

Dane

So we set up a call and had a nice chat. Really nice guy. A few days later, I made an offer.

He said no.

So I countered.

He said no.

We were clearly way off. And the momentum went cold. He decided he wasn’t ready to sell. I thanked him for the opportunity and said let’s stay in touch.

Then on August 19, 2019, well over a year after my initial outreach, he wrote me back.

Hi Jason:

Not sure if you're still interested in Hey.com, but I'm in the process of vetting what appears to be a serious inquiry to buy it. The numbers being discussed are notably higher than what you mentioned previously. Given your previous offer I'm thinking you probably won't be interested, but I appreciated your approach and also what you've done for the industry, so I thought I'd let you know as a courtesy.

We caught up via Zoom a few days later, discussed again, and I made another offer. This time significantly higher than our original offer. It was a nervous amount of money.

Things were beginning to heat up, but there was no deal yet. I completely understood – he owned this domain for a long time, and he wasn’t a squatter. Dane used hey.com for his business. It was part of his identity. It was a valuable asset. He needed time to think it through.

We traded a number of other emails, and then I upped the offer a little bit more on September 18, 2019.

A few days later we’d verbally agreed to move forward on an all-cash deal with a number of stipulations, conditions, etc. All were perfectly reasonable, so we asked him to prepare a contract.

There were a few small back and forths, but we essentially accepted his contract and terms as is. We wired the money into escrow, we waited for some Google mail transfer stuff to finish up, and on November 20th, 2019 the domain was officially transferred over into our ownership. Funds were released to escrow, and the deal was done.

This was a long 18 month process, and there was uncertainty at every step. We’d never bought a domain like this, he’d never sold a domain like this. There’s a lot of trust required on all sides. And more than money, hey.com was important to him. And who he sold it to was important to him as well.

But it was truly a pleasure to work with him. Dane was fair, thoughtful, patient, and accommodating. And for that we’re grateful. Business deals like this can get messy, but this one was clean and straightforward. Kudos to him and his lawyer for their diligence and clear communication.

All in we traded 60+ emails over the course of the deal. Toss in a few zoom calls as well.

So that’s the story of how we acquired hey.com. One cold email to kick it off, no domain brokers or middlemen, and a lot of patience and understanding on both sides.

Wait how much was it? I know everyone wants to know, but we can’t say. Both sides are bound by a non-disclosure around the final purchase price. You’ll just have to guess.

As for Dane, he relaunched his brand under a new name. You can check him out at VidiUp.tv.

As for us, this April we’ll be launching our brand new email serviced called HEY at hey.com.

Note: This post was cleared with Dane prior to publishing, so he’s cool with me sharing his name, the story, and the name of his new company.

The Basecamp Guide to Internal Communication

We just published “The Basecamp Guide to Internal Communication“. It’s a collection of philosophies and day-to-day practices that help guide the way we communicate with each other at Basecamp.

We cover when to write stuff up in detail vs. when to chat about it. Why meetings are a last resort, not a first option. How companies don’t have communication problems, they have miscommunication problems. Why a single central source of truth is better than different versions all over the place. Why writing benefits everyone, but speaking only benefits those who were there.

We hope you find it useful. Check it out.

No one’s complaining

I’ve heard this one before. I’ve used this one before.

“No one’s complaining” so it fine.

“No one” really means “no one has complained to you“. It doesn’t mean no one is complaining to someone else, somewhere else.

In fact, if the thing you make/sell isn’t meeting someone’s expectations, there’s a good chance you’re the last one who’d hear the complaint.

Contacting the company to complain is pretty far down the list. At the top are friends, family, colleagues. If you aren’t hearing the complaint it’s likely because it’s directed elsewhere. People typically talk truth behind backs, not to faces.

Reputation erodes in the shadows before it comes to light.

It’s not all that different from a manager or CEO eventually discovering something was wrong but “no one told me sooner”. The higher up you are, you’re often the last to know.

Out of everywhere someone will complain, you’re close to nowhere.

“I haven’t heard anyone complain about that to me” is a more accurate statement.

So next time you say “no one’s complaining” you may be right, but you’re probably wrong. Doesn’t mean you need to do anything about it – not all complaints are worth acting on – but it should serve as a reminder that there’s a lot you don’t know.

Launch: Basecamp Gets Personal

Since the beginning, Basecamp has been marketed as a project management and collaboration tool for small businesses (or small teams inside larger businesses).

However, over the years we’ve also heard from thousands of people who use Basecamp outside of work. They’ve gone off-label and turned to Basecamp to help them manage all sorts of personal projects too. No surprise there – it really works!

But one complaint we’ve heard is that Basecamp is priced for businesses, not for personal side projects. We felt it was finally time to do something about that.

So today we’re formally introducing Basecamp Personal – a completely free Basecamp plan designed specifically for freelancers, students, families, and personal projects. Why should businesses be the only ones who get to use Basecamp to manage projects? We The People deserve a Basecamp for us, too!

  • You deserve a Basecamp for home improvement projects
  • You deserve a Basecamp to manage your girl/boy scout troops.
  • You deserve a Basecamp to manage your weddings.
  • You deserve a Basecamp to manage your hobbies.
  • You deserve a Basecamp to manage your volunteer projects.
  • You deserve a Basecamp to manage your family events.
  • You deserve a Basecamp to manage your sports teams.
  • You deserve a Basecamp to manage your neighborhood association.
  • You deserve a Basecamp for small freelance gigs.
  • You deserve a Basecamp for personal side projects.
  • You deserve a Basecamp to manage all sorts of personal stuff!

And you want it for free! You got it.

What do I get?
Basecamp Personal includes 3 projects, 20 users, and a gig of storage space. So kick off a couple projects, invite some friends, family, teammates, or volunteers. Stretch your wings a little, and discover the benefits of organizing your personal projects the Basecamp way.

No credit card required. No justification required. No obligation required. No ads. No selling your personal information. It’s Small Tech at its best. It’s The Basecamp Way. Basecamp Personal is on us, for you. Check it out and claim your free account today. We’d love to hear what you end up using it for.

BTW, if Basecamp Personal sounds familiar, it’s because we used to have a Personal plan way back when. It was $25 per-project. This new one is completely free, so it’s better in every way.

Q&A: How do I win in a packed category?

Today I got an email from a fellow who asked:

I’ve been trying to think about my next B2B play but everytime I think of an idea I stop myself due to how saturated the markets are. How do you still win in a packed category? I feel like it’s a lot harder to win now than it was 10 years ago.

-J.B.

Starting something new can definitely be intimidating. Especially when there are already lots of other people/companies with a huge head start. I feel you.

But I’m going to ignore all that and focus on what I think is the bigger concern with the mindset represented in the email: This person asks “How do you still win in a packed category?”

Winning what? Winning who? Winning it all? Taking everything? That’s an insurmountable mountain of intimidation right there. Don’t do that to yourself.

How about just making something that can sustain itself? Why do you need to win it all? Why would you ever want to make it that hard on yourself?

Build something good, keep your costs low, keep your growth in check, hold back your expectations, find some customers, charge them money for your good/services, make more than you spend, and you’ll buy yourself another day, or week, or month, or year in business. Just aim to stay open, don’t aim to win anything from anyone. Staying afloat is a win for yourself.

Just start there. The odds are still against you, but they’re a whole lot better than trying to win it all.

Giving unactionable advice

One of the common dings against our books REWORK and It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work (less so with REMOTE), is that we don’t include a lot of actionable advice. It’s a fair swipe.

It seems everyone’s after actionable advice. The advice that tells you exactly what to do. Read this, do exactly that, and here’s the outcome you can expect.

Yeah, no.

Most actionable advice isn’t advice at all, it’s opinion. Sure, you can give someone advice by giving them your opinion, but when you stitch actionable to the front of advice, it masquerades as fact. But it ain’t.

Why don’t we give actionable advice in REWORK and It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work? Because we don’t know how you should act. The action required in any specific situation is highly contextual. If we guessed we’d probably be wrong most of the time.

We can’t tell you what to do. We don’t know what you should do. We barely know what we should do! And most of the time we don’t.

What we can tell you, however, is what we’ve done. In our own unique situation, our own context. From there you can form your own opinion about how it applies to your situation. It’s an input, not the input. Maybe it’s a perfect fit, maybe it’s a partial fit. Maybe it’s not a fit at all. The important part of the equation is you bringing your own mind – and your own situation – to bear. Apply that heavily, not actionable advice lightly.

Seek out unactionable advice. You’ll figure more out.