Our company, Growmotely, was founded via voice memo. That fact alone is worth sitting up and paying attention to.
Voice memos – sometimes called ‘voice notes’. What are they – really? And why do we love them so much here at Growmotely? And: how can we use them to shape our company culture – and quite simply, our lives – for the better?
What we’ve found is that they (1) enhance our capacity to be more productive, (2) allow us to create deeper connections with the people we are working with – which is especially important for globally-distributed teams, and (3) present a unique opportunity for us to step away from our computer screens and get some work done in nature, in the car, or even in the bathtub. (!)
Let’s dive in more to what makes ‘the voice memo’ just so special…
(1) Voice memos bring a unique tool to our productivity toolbox.
Taylor Jacobson – Founder and CEO of the virtual co-working platform, Focusmate – shared via a post on LinkedIn in January a breakthrough moment he had had with voice memos. He had made a commitment to himself to keep the number of meetings he participated in to a minimum, so when an entrepreneur reached out to him about a potential partnership – despite the fact that “everything felt right” – he hesitated on moving forward as he wanted to keep the commitment he had made to himself, and setting up this meeting risked breaching that commitment. He eventually suggested voice notes, and this worked brilliantly for him, as he was able to keep his commitment to himself, but at the same time explore the opportunity in question with the entrepreneur.
Voice notes are incredible in this capacity because they give us – as leaders of teams – more freedom and flexibility over our schedule. Taylor “listened and responded [to this voice memo] from the comfort of [his] bed“. Voice memos give us huge flexibility over the when and the where. By contrast, set video meetings or calls (as necessary as they are at times), limit our flexibility over the where and eliminate all flexibility when it comes to the when. And, as those of us with full-to-the-brim lives know, any one minute we can gain in flexibility is cherished. Our Founder and CEO Sarah Hawley famously dislikes meetings (when there are too many of them in her calendar that is), and one of her claims to fame on this front is that she and her incredible Executive Assistant – Nayeli Cruz – have conducted a grand total of two video meetings over the course of their four-month relationship…and the rest of the (voice) communication has been done via async voice memo! (Feel free to read a bit more about their fruitful relationship here.)
Voice memos can also offer us a chance to be a bit more thoughtful in our responses. Whereas real-time exchanges – without any doubt – offer unique advantages, voice memos inherently invite a more drawn-out, reflective discourse. If you haven’t used them in this way, we highly recommend it!
(2) Voice memos allow us to cultivate deeper connections with the people we are working with.
As you will know if you follow our journey, here at Growmotely, we deem it of the utmost importance to consistently express the gratitude that we feel towards our teammates. We have found that this practice is key to maintaining a thriving company culture. In addition to our official gratitude culture tool – that you can read about here, which involves sharing gratitude via the written word – we also have noticed that expressing gratitude via voice memo takes the authenticity and power of the message to a whole new level. Receiving a voice memo from someone on your team, letting you know that you’re doing a great job, can go a long way, and – unlike a real-time call – can be saved (and replayed) for posterity!
Voice memos present an equally wonderful opportunity to accelerate relationship-building with teammates with whom you don’t work on a regular basis. For example, although I’ve never sat in any official meetings with our Community Guide, Koko Edih, (outside of Growmotely’s monthly all-hands meeting) we have exchanged voice notes now and again, and therefore she has come to life for me in vivid ways thanks to these voice notes. This allows us to collaborate together in more effective and thorough ways on Basecamp, our project management and team communication software. And as Taylor shares in his LinkedIn post, these voice note exchanges are “intimate and easy“. Isn’t teamwork – and co-creation – more successful when we feel like we know each other better?
(3) Voice memos present a unique opportunity for us to step away from our computer screens *and* get some work done – in the same breath.
I was taking a walk at my local arboretum the other day (in a small city in the American Midwest), and voice-memo-ing at the same time our Chief Brand & Marketing Officer, Theodora Gatin – who is based in Romania. The weather was beautiful; the birds were chirping; it felt great to move my body. She sent me a voice memo back a couple of days later – relaxing after a hard day’s work in her bathtub! Meanwhile in Scotland, a potential service provider for our benefits marketplace listened to a voice memo – whilst walking with his coffee – that I had recorded for him a few days prior. And let’s not forget the time I voice memo-ed our (at-the-time) Community Manager – whilst wearing a mask at the airport (so my voice was a bit muffled!), right before boarding a plane from Chicago to Paris – weighing in with some feedback on the remote working skills course that she was putting together. (The airport was packed; there was no room for me to set up a proper workstation, therefore a voice memo was the perfect – if not most creative – solution.)
You get the picture. We can move forward projects and express ideas in a whole slew of places – we don’t have to be in front of our computer to do this. And sometimes – the quality of our listening and the quality of our thinking is increased as a result of engaging in relaxing activities such as walking outside…or taking a hot bath! (David Allen – one of the world’s leading experts on personal and organizational productivity – often asserts that our capacity to be productive is directly correlated to our capacity to relax. Given this, the future feels bright for the voice memo!)
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Here at Growmotely, we want people to be able to step away from their computers whenever they feel called to do so. And we absolutely want people to have as many productivity tools as possible to draw on. We also deeply believe that work is more meaningful, when we do it with people who we know well. And, of course, we want people to found companies!
What’s a sure-fire way to take a step closer to all of these things? Well, perhaps it’s to start exchanging more voice memos with your team members.