The recent changes in our world have not only transformed the way we work, but it has also made us challenge what we previously accepted as a “normal workday”. With more people working from home than ever before, and this number is only expected to rise, companies have quickly adapted to making the WFH experience as productive and engaging as possible. Yet not all of it has been positive. Zoom fatigue, while not officially a formal diagnosis, has been on the rise. Many individuals have seen a spike in the effects of endless hours of “zooming” or virtual conferencing, so much so that the Stanford communication researchers have created the Zoom Exhaustion & Fatigue Scale (ZEF). On the flip side, can you imagine doing your day-to-day work without using Slack, Google Drive, Notion, or any of your favorite tools? Tools for remote collaboration have played a crucial role in this transformative time by streamlining the way we work across departments and within teams.
At Match, we work as a remote asynchronous team working from all corners of the world. We are firm believers in collaboration and supporting one another but given the lack of sharing a physical space and working across time zones, we rely heavily on tools to facilitate this process.
In this installment, we will take a closer look at why we have chosen Notion as our main tool for establishing our knowledge base, project management, and encouraging cross-functional collaboration.
More Tools Does Not Mean More Productivity
It is important to note off the bat that while tools are great assets to encourage teamwork, it is even more important to create an environment of trust, with shared company goals and values, which are supported by open-communication streams and feedback loops. Only once this foundation has been established can technology be introduced to facilitate the parallel process of project management and collaboration. For companies operating in a fully remote environment, it is crucial to establish a knowledge base, serving as a single source of truth and accessible to all employees. In order to avoid misunderstandings and poor project management, documents should contain all the information relevant for collaboration and decision-making. Another thing to consider is the roll-out and adoption of tools. Problems arise when multiple tools are rolled out simultaneously or quickly without proper onboarding. This often happens at the growth or transformation stage of a company. Companies might struggle to onboard the team correctly and then the use of the tool is either inconsistent or superficial. While the intention of the plug-ins and integrations are meant to automate and ease the process, if not done properly it can create more chaos. This chaos results in important information being scattered all over the place or alternatively can cause a divide in the use of adoption. Meaning that some of your team members are not able to use or access the tool. This, in turn, leads to a team that is not working off the same information, hindering effective collaboration and decision-making. The important thing to remember is that it is not about the more tools being implemented but rather being selective in your tool selection for those that really add value to your team and can be adopted for the whole company. This is why we have chosen Notion, for us it is both versatile and easy to use.
Documentation and Knowledge Sharing Provides Transparency and Accountability
Since the beginning, we understood the value of documentation more importantly the need to centralize it in one place, making it accessible to all. Never underestimate the importance of keeping track of things, especially at a growth stage. It is essential to capture ideas and notes to look back on and understand the process and the learnings that came from it. Whether you are keeping meeting minutes, onboarding a new team member, or reiterating process and procedures it is vital that there is “one truth”. Here is where Notion is our leading tool. Having a centralized place for our one-truth provides access to all team members and aims to build any knowledge gaps across the team while at the same time providing transparency on business operations. The documentation and division of tasks also empower ownership and accountability across all team members. At Match, we use Notion to record our internal guides and processes and store all documents from all departments. Below are some specific ways in which we have incorporated Notion to store and grant access to strategic information in order to improve transparency and accountability.
One truth for our company’s future: Our mission, vision, company announcements, KPIs are all stored within Notion for everybody to understand what the company has set for the future. All team members can review this at any time, to see how their projects and day-to-day are aligned with the company’s overarching goals. Providing access to all the company information establishes a single source of truth and avoids information being lost in one-to-one/triangular communication.
Ownerships and Accountability: Each team has its respective area to record and store all relevant information to avoid documents or files getting lost across different platforms. From our company’s Notion page you can access our employee handbook, onboarding resources, sales playbooks, brand guidelines, and everything in between. Having proper documentation and centralization of resources facilitates collaboration as it provides the ability to easily access, share and work on information across departments. Even if we work with different applications the overall process is still being tracked in the platform. In these spaces, teams can store files, manage their projects, and document the process. More importantly, this helps showcase ownership and accountability and provides visibility to each team.
Naming conventions: Naming and organization of folders are intuitive to facilitate navigating the workspace. We use descriptive naming conventions and tiered a folder set up in the sidebar that is reflective of the content inside. This makes it very simple for the team to navigate their way through the platform and understand which content belongs to which department and can be found at each level.
Accessibility to all: At Match, all of the content is available to everyone. They have access to all documents from different departments but also higher-level strategic resources. By not restricting team members' access to any business-unit-related pages we aim to increase transparency and accountability.
Knowledge sharing: By making information accessible to everybody in the company we aim to help explain processes and tasks from an outsider's perspective. This exchange of knowledge not only helps people understand the bigger picture of our end-to-end business process but also ensures that knowledge transfer is not limited to the people working in the respective business units. Furthermore, Match’s business process typically involves a wide range of different stakeholders, being able to share and store project-related information in Notion, helps us establish and maintain a smooth project execution while sticking to a cross-functional team approach.
Note Taking for Async Remote Collaboration
At Match we work in an asynchronous manner, meaning that we break down projects into smaller tasks so that they can be tackled by different team members across multiple time zones at different times. For this to be successful we need to ensure we have async communication and action. This all starts with note-taking, writing out steps and procedures to keep one another updated. This improves time management and optimizes productivity. It sounds simple but this form of documentation doubles up as communication for us as our teams are not able to always update one another in a “live” manner, so we rely heavily on detailed notes.
Note Sharing: Notion is not only very convenient when it comes to note-taking and organization, but it also lets you share them and interact in the document in real-time. One of the unique features of the tool is its tagging functionality which allows you to invite your colleagues to specific project pages. This is particularly great if somebody is not able to join in on a meeting. By having somebody record all relevant information that is said and discussed during the call, absentees can be kept in the loop of the process and project updates and knowledge gaps are avoided.
Collaborative All-Hands: Previously, our monthly all-hands had been prepared and presented by our top management at Match. But with the introduction of Notion, we opted for a more inclusive and collaborative approach, with each of the business units taking over the monthly reporting preparation and presentation. Our all-hands now are prepared prior to the meeting by each team member working in the same document in real-time to give their bi-monthly updates.
Databases for Project Management and Boosted Productivity
Notion as an application is composed of different components including databases, notes, kanban boards, wikis, and calendars, and is a great solution for setting up a company’s project overviews. The tool has integrated features that facilitate collaboration with in-app functions to improve project management. At Match, we invest a good amount of time in our sprints, quarterly planning, and goal tracking and have set up a system that aims to maintain transparency and provide a clear breakdown of the process. Virtually brainstorming, collaborating, and working together on projects with different stakeholders and a wide range of deliverables in a remote-first environment can quickly become chaotic and intransparent. Often, misunderstandings can arise when no clear responsibilities are assigned, progress is poorly tracked and projects are missing information. To avoid this from happening Match leverages Notions database functionality for all of its project management. This can either be accessed in a high-level overview or can be very granular.
High-Level Strategic Planning and Goal Tracking
At Match, high-level strategic planning starts with brainstorming, and then it is broken down into goals, projects, deliverables, and tasks, all within Notion. This is usually done by using a combination of notes for the planning phase, tables and lists for project breakdowns, and Kanban boards for keeping track of ongoing initiatives that contribute to the goal attainment.
Project and Task Breakdown and Tracking
Similar to strategic planning our teams use Notion as their project management tool. Each project and deliverable is broken down into specific tasks, which in turn are assigned to the respective owner to ensure clarity and accountability throughout the process. Over the course of each project, it is important to keep that page tidy and clean so that it is truly a living document and not a content dump. As such, Notion not only serves as a knowledge base for Match but actually enables the team to execute and complete projects in an efficient and collaborative manner. Here are some examples of how this collaboration looks like:
Content Sprint Planning
Project outline: Each content piece is assigned an owner, the respective channel through which it is distributed, and to which specific content pillar it belongs. Like this, everyone involved knows where the content will be shared and what theme the content piece will have. Providing as many details as possible on the project outline encourages cross-functional collaboration and makes it easier for anyone joining the project after it has been kicked off to get up-to-speed.
Tagging: Collaboration can also be smoother by tagging (new) contributors. This is often used when new team members join the project at a later stage and need to catch up on what has already taken place. Or you can also invite a specific person to review or provide feedback at a specific stage of the project.
Centralized communication: Live commenting is another way to ease the collaboration process, as the comments can be provided in real-time and implemented once the project owner is back online. This way the exchange is seamless and centralized in one place, rather than having to go back and forth between other tools, such as email or Slack.
Multiple views: Notion also has the functionality of providing customized views. These database views allow the user to get a better overview from a time management perspective by using options like calendar or timeline. Some viewpoints, like a kanban board, are
great to quickly have an overview of the status of the project and track the process.
One Tool, One Truth: Notion is an All-in-one Solution for Collaboration at Match
Notion launched itself into the market as an all-in-one workspace and for us this could not be more accurate. Notion proves to be much more than just a note taking platform but rather a tool that centralizes our work while simultaneously facilitating team organization and project management. We personally have seen positive changes in our teams’ collaboration ever since making the switch to Notion. This form of real-time collaboration allows us to exchange ideas, provide updates on projects, and collaborate as a whole team while challenging the constraints of time and space.
We are curious to know what works in your teams? What tool(s) have transformed the way you work? Let us know in the comments if you too are using Notion to promote cross-functional collaboration or have any special tips or suggestions.