In this episode, Joe chats with Aydin Mirzaee, CEO of Fellow App, about the role that great talent and employee retention play in better workplace collaboration, company growth, and customer loyalty.
A Little Background
Like some of the other guests we’ve had on our podcast so far, Aydin identifies as a lifelong entrepreneur with business endeavors starting back as early as age thirteen. Before making his way to founding Fellow App, he started another company in the online service space called Fluidware, which after being acquired by SurveyMonkey, led him to his current venture.
Aydin mentions that the acquisition process of his previous company is relevant because that’s what led him to the core idea behind Fellow. “There was a software for every walk of life, except for one solely dedicated to managers. It didn’t exist.”
The Need for New Tools in the Remote World
Now, this episode was originally recorded pre-Covid and before the year of essentially mandated working from home, but even then Aydin was focused on producing tools that optimize the remote working experience.
“The more technology evolves to support the [remote work] model, the more it actually starts to happen.” For the past few years, we’ve seen more and more companies creating products to help relieve a lot of these common friction points that exist with asynchronous or remote collaboration. Most of the factors that prevented companies from being able to efficiently run distributed teams are now starting to disappear. This is a big win for professionals of all types.
Even in the traditional office format, many companies will find these tools beneficial, especially high-growth teams who go from needing one row of seats, to filling out two floors, to then needing a whole other office building, etc. all within the duration of a few months. Businesses might not always be able to count on an in-person roundup or a spontaneous team standup in the kitchen space. There need to be tools in place that can streamline this process and make communication efficient and collaborative no matter where the individuals are. This is where tools like Fellow (and Zight (formerly CloudApp)) come in.
Fellow has found success by addressing a few of the issues that quickly become apparent when working on a distributed team.
The first one being the various schedules of people in different time zones that don’t always make for the easiest of communication. For instance, instead of someone on the West coast thinking of a question at 5 pm PST that they’d like to ask a colleague about on the East coast, but then not being sure if they should reach out because that person likely isn’t working at 8 pm EST, they can make a note in a shared agenda with Fellow of points that need to be addressed in their scheduled meeting the next day. This saves both individuals time and maximizes productivity.
Keeping communication respectfully asynchronous, while still top of mind and efficient, is a solution for a major pain point for those who are not historically fans of the remote work model.
The future of advancing distributed teams is all about capitalizing on these use cases, that while seemingly minute, can build-up resulting in a significant decrease in productivity. Apps like Fellow capitalize on these instances and encourage businesses to make remote work more prevalent.
Smoother workflow = happier, more efficient teams.
The Case for the 1-on-1
In a traditional working environment, Aydin says that employees occasionally bring up that they don’t feel that 1-on-1’s bring much to the table since they are likely having the 1-on-1 with someone with whom they are working next to and communicating constantly throughout their workday.
Aydin is not one of those people. He heavily stresses what is in his opinion the absolute importance of having an allocated regular time in your work schedule to speak with colleagues as individuals. This goes doubly so when working remotely. “There’s really no excuse to not meet with your directs weekly or bi-weekly.”
All of the little nuances and conversations that occur and build rapport when working side-by-side in an office are absent in the distributed work format, which makes it all the more essential to actively set time in your day to meet and communicate with your teammates. Managers have to make an effort to go out of their way to form these bonds and build trust.
At the End of the Day, It’s All About the People
In the remote world, a lot of effort is needed to get the most out of your employees, but it’s not impossible.
People working remotely have to solve problems faster, be scrappier, and operate at a higher level of communication efficiency from the get-go. There are many strategic advantages to operating as a distributed team and the best companies in the world will realize that if they haven’t already.
We’re still operating in the fairly early days of the remote work structure, but as systems evolve and employees adapt to using new tools, Aydin predicts that people will have the opportunity to work as efficiently as ever, and with higher professional satisfaction.
Listen to the episode here.