As a general rule, nobody at Basecamp really knows where anyone else is at any given moment. Are they working? Dunno. Are they taking a break? Dunno. Are they at lunch? Dunno. Are they picking up their kid from school? Dunno. Don’t care.
This post by Jason Fried at Basecamp touches on how we tend to work. Dan, Josh, and a lot of my other collaborators tend to live the same crazy lifestyle as me, which means that there’s often a lot of time where everyone isn’t at their desk working. In fact, I’d say a fair amount of our work gets done outside the normal office environments (i.e. airport gates and airplanes) and times (i.e. sitting at an airport gate at 5AM or 9PM).
It’s futile to try to wrangle our schedules so we’re always available to each other in real time, so it’s crucial to set up ways to make staggered work happen. Slack has become a pretty big part of our workflow, but I’ll say I’m not crazy about it. Catching up on things means wading through multiple timelines looking for insights. It’s like panning for gold. On the positive side, I like the fact we also use tools like Trello for more task-based stuff, and we continue to use good ol’ trusty email for asynchronous communication.
The last big thing to point out is how much trust is required to make this work. I love how even though we’re not able to coordinate real-time, I know that work is going to get done, and when we need to find time to talk about that work, we’ll make it happen. It’s a very fluid, fuzzy process which I think would make a lot of more traditional project managers freak out, but it works for us.