Once a week I submit a list of work week actions to my boss. From that sheet, we meet for about an hour to discuss what has been going on from my end and how this affects goals and the company’s needs. The twist is, I am based in San Francisco, and my boss is based in New York City. Due to our varying role priorities and tasks, my boss and I often find ourselves worlds apart. Yet despite all of this we have found that our own platform, Huddle, helps us to keep in check.

Huddle as a platform has passive audit abilities where users can check as needed the history of a task or content. On each workspace, an activity feed shows what other users have recently done. It puts this information in a permissions-oriented workspace, where selected users who have access can review this information. This system keeps everyone honest and up to date.

Nothing can fully replace-in person discussions or meetings. That said, SaaS and cloud solutions offer not a replacement, but liberation of sorts with choices that both managers and employees can benefit from. Huddle offers auditing and version control so users can review the history of the document. This allows team members and managers to take others to task on what users said they will do and when they will do it. This sort of system, a trust but verify system, forces users to be honest due to the almighty timestamp and audit trail. My boss knows when I am late on a report or forget to add something to finish a task. He can do this from wherever he is in the world, and I can respond seamlessly in kind.

This is a brave new world beyond email chains and phone call histories. Employees are finding themselves no longer chained to their cubicles. It is truly liberating, but at the same time carries risks and responsibilities. The risks include mixing more play than work, lacking clear oversight, productivity results, and a loss of team identity with lack of in-person face time.

I often find myself straddling time zones between my company’s offices in London, Washington, DC and New York City, and San Francisco. Huddle’s task and document audit/version control trail allow me to push and share information as needed with my coworkers. Internally, this allows Huddle to dog food its own application; we live and breathe what we are promoting to our customers: secure external collaboration from various locations around the world.

As needed, my coworkers and I will get on a call to talk about something specific, and this helps to eliminate wasted meetings talking shop, allowing us to be much more focused on calls. Plus, when we do get together at various office functions we really cherish the time. In fact, this sort of in-person scarcity makes us want to be more direct when concentrate on work in person, and I find we get more out of in-person meetings because they happen on scheduled weekly cycles rather than every single day.

There are a lot of sayings out there about how the best managers let their subordinates do their job. Micromanaging often makes relationships difficult and shows a trust deficit between manager and employee. Huddle’s audit features help to mitigate such issues, and allow the proof to be in the pudding. From an employee perspective, it means that not only can more easily demonstrate what you're doing, you can help keep your manager accountable. "Yes, I sent that for your review" is a much stronger message when it's clear to everyone that you in fact did so.

Bryan Vanetten

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