It’s March. Officially one year into a pandemic. While there is a light at the end of the tunnel, the way we work has changed — and will likely continue to evolve for the foreseeable future. We asked Backbone Co-founder and Executive Chairman Matthew Klein for his thoughts on navigating this new normal.
What is the key to collaborating virtually?“At Backbone, our company value proposition has always been collaboration from anywhere on any device. We also strive to practice what we preach. The key to this is compassion for each other and scheduling meetings with a purpose.”
How do you effectively lead a team from afar?“Leading from afar definitely can test the culture and work ethic of any organization. Being fully remote over the last year made me realize just how important our core vision, mission, and company values truly are. Great leadership is contagious and that has always been my philosophy. Inspire those around you to inspire those around them. Whether it’s a new feature we are pushing or a new customer we are signing, we always know everything we do here at Backbone takes the entire team’s involvement.”
What practices, tools and processes can you implement to ensure efficiency?“Efficiency comes from knowledge about our core business, our customers, and most importantly where we are going. To put it simply, it’s about getting everyone on the same page. Once you have buy-in from within, everyone becomes excited about creating efficiencies. We use a cadence of KPI goals, All Hands meetings, and cross-functional communication. My motto has always been you can’t over-communicate in the early days of a company’s growth cycle.”
How do you keep team members inspired — especially those with creative roles?“My leadership style has always been to inspire others to do great work, and then simply get out of their way and let them execute. As an organization, while we align and commit to business goals, it’s really about getting out of the way of each other and letting everyone run at their best. I have always found that this freedom leaves space for creativity.”
What about office culture?“Office culture for me falls into the “vibe” category. Yes, it’s important to have a fun and energetic office filled with snacks, etc. but company culture that starts with values creates long-term success for organizations. We miss being in the office together but know those days are just around the corner. We also have found ways to recreate things we missed about the office by making them virtual, such as virtual coffee meet-ups, colleague lunches, lunch and learns, happy hour events, etc.”
Where do you envision the office / WFH balance netting out, say, one year from now?“I envision a new normal that encompasses blended elements from both office and WFH culture. I believe people should be where they do their best work. If that’s at a coffee shop, home office, or our HQ, Backbone we will support that for our team.”
What aspects from this time do you anticipate sticking? Which do you see going away?“A major factor in the creation of Backbone has always been liberating creators from desks and allowing them to work from anywhere. While we didn’t expect a global pandemic to be the impetus for adoption, we’ve seen cultural norms shattered in the last 12 months. Now we see more alignment with our vision of creators working from their most inspired positions, whether that’s their home office, a beach, or right alongside their team. Really, we hope there’s a sustained adoption of working remotely as a great expansion of the workplace with improved productivity and culture. That said, we can’t wait to be able to safely get our team back together in one spot for the social and emotional boost we’ve all been missing.”