Online Project Management Software and Off Peak Living

| May 21st, 2009 | ,

Online Project Management Software and Off Peak LivingI’m not sure if anyone has noticed, but the evenings, weekends, and holidays are becoming much more crowded. Parking spots are harder to find, the freeways are gridlocked, and the beaten path has extended its reach to every “secret spot” in existence. The concept of off peak living was born from this same observation by others that we work too hard. And when we are off the clock, we are still working hard at whatever activities we’ve slotted in between office hours.

We developed Intervals as an online project management tool that would allow ourselves and others to embrace a different kind of work ethic; that it doesn’t matter how hard we work, but how smart we work. And enjoying time to ourselves and to family and friends is just as important as working. Here is how we’ve incorporated off peak living into our workflow at Pelago, and some ideas on how you can do the same.

Company Culture

It’s important to have everyone on the same page when you are defining your company culture. Are you a startup looking to sell out in a few years? Or are you trying to incorporate lifestyle into your company? We happen to be of the latter persuasion, so the idea of off peak living makes a lot of sense today. We want to avoid rush hour on the freeway, go surfing when the beach is empty, and escape into the wilderness without having to wait in line for a permit. So how does online project management software help us grow a lifestyle culture?

  1. Realizing the remote office
    With broadband, video conferencing, advanced networking utilities, and web-based productivity tools, the remote office is as practical as ever. We encourage our employees to work at least one day a week remotely. Using web-based project management software allows them to keep tackle their task load while keeping track of their time, regardless of where they are physically located or what hours of the day they are working. As long as the work gets done, everybody is happy.
  2. Enabling collaboration
    Collaboration is simply the process of centralizing and distributing information to a common group of people. When a developer updates a task she shares that information with other developers, designers, and managers working on the same project. And when a project manager needs to communicate progress to a client, that information is only a few clicks away. Collaboration strengthens a team, making it greater than the sum of individuals on it.
  3. Creating a knowledge base
    It is the nature of any small business that each person usually has their own area of specialization. We’ve got one guy who is a whiz at regular expressions, another who dominates javascript, a linux guru, and an IT specialist. It used to be that when one of them took time off, he would take all that knowledge with him. It was a burden for the poor sap trying to take a vacation only to get a frantic phone call about how to reboot a web server or bring the mail server back online. Now all that information is contained in online project notes and task histories. Whenever we have a question we consult our web-based project management app first, and our IT guy gets to enjoy his poolside vodka and lime uninterrupted.
  4. Improving communication
    Embracing off peak living doesn’t require going off the grid completely. We’ll always have our cell phones close at hand. Web-based project management tools, including Intervals, have embraced the mobility of its users. Email notifications are a common feature and are useful for keeping team members in the loop. This constant stream of communication can make it easier to step away from the office, knowing that if something dire does come up, you’ll know it soon enough.
  5. Redefining 9 to 5
    When you incorporate hosted productivity tools into your work environment you loosen your small business from the grips of the traditional workday. Employees can be more flexible with their time knowing some of the communicative and collaborative requirements of their job have been offloaded. We encourage our employees to use their personal time during the day as much as they would like, so they can avoid the after work rush to the post office. We have a symbiotic relationship with one another at Pelago that has improved our productivity.
  6. Improving morale
    Giving your team the personal freedom to define themselves in the context of their careers is incredibly empowering for the individual. We’ve noticed increased productivity, more fun adventures outside of the office, and an overall improvement in morale.

What next?

First, you need to incorporate some online project management software in your workplace. We highly recommend our own product, Intervals, however, there are plenty of great alternatives out there. Second, start incorporated some off peak activities into your company culture and your personal life. Here are some inspirational ideas we’ve done at Pelago:

  • Hold meetings somewhere away from the office, like a diner, and get things done while enjoying a good meal.
  • Go backpacking for a night or two and get to know one another on a whole different level.
  • Cut out early and go to a matinee movie. They cost less and have fewer crowds.
  • Get everyone together for happy hour once a month.
  • If you work remotely one day, take it easy. Get some laundry done, or your car washed, in between tasks.
  • Instead of a lunch break, take a breakfast break. Enjoy the sleepy quietness of a restaurant before it’s woken up to the lunch hour.
  • I could go on… get creative and come up with some ideas of your own!

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Intervals is online time, task and project management software built by and for web designers, developers and creatives.
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John Reeve

John is a co-founder, web designer and developer at Pelago. His blog posts are inspired by everyday encounters with designers, developers, creatives and small businesses in general. John is an avid reader and road cyclist.
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Michael Payne

Michael is a co-founder and product architect at Pelago. His contributions stem from experiences managing the development process behind web sites and web-based applications such as Intervals. Michael drives a 1990 Volkswagen Carat with a rebuilt 2.4 liter engine from GoWesty.
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