Throughout each and every industry, businesses are struggling to stay afloat amidst the chaos that is COVID-19. But among giants like Amazon and Costco, who are projected to profit from the global pandemic, various small businesses are also looking to defeat the odds.
Just ask Christopher Gimmer, co-founder and CEO of Snappa graphic design software.
“The funny story with Snappa is that we started out completely remote. So, up until a year ago, we were basically a four person team, and we were always 100% remote,” Christoper explains. “When the pandemic hit, it really didn’t affect us that much just because, from day one, we’ve always been set up as a remote first company.
What the pandemic did was reinforce the value of being completely remote and the flexibility that it offers.”
Harnessing the Power of Remote Flexibility
With the flexibility of remote work comes a plethora of opportunities to communicate. Across the board, brands have adopted asynchronous communication techniques to keep all teammates on the same page.
“We try to communicate over Slack as much as possible and save the video chats or meetings for situations where we really need to hash that stuff out,” explains Christopher. “I’m trying to be a bit more cognizant of how this might be affecting people on a personal level. For example, one of our employees has kids, and so it’s been a challenge with having the kids being at home and juggling that with his wife and the rest of the family.”
However, the entrepreneur explains that roadblocks like homeschooling the kids or not being able to find a quiet space for a conference call don’t need to interrupt team productivity.
“I’ve just been relaying to the team that, ‘Look, these are crazy times. If you need some time off or if you need a couple of hours just to chill and get away from the computer, by all means.’ And just trying to support them in that way,” he shares.
Becoming Intentional About How and When You Communicate
In the remote landscape, there’s no such a thing as over-communication. But with many remote workers operating in an altered work environment, it’s important to be cognizant about how and when you communicate.
“We definitely try to avoid weekly meetings for the sake of having meetings,” Christopher said. “It’s funny because I’ve read a few articles about ‘Zoom fatigue’ or ‘video chat fatigue,’ where it almost becomes exhausting to always be on video all the time. And so, I feel like communicating, either through audio or text, just makes people more at ease.”
With communication already at a steady constant for the team, it begs the question: has business also remained steady in the era of coronavirus?
“We’ve been one of the fortunate companies to have benefited from the crisis in the sense that the need for our software has increased because of this. And so, for us, it’s almost like there’s a big sense of energy and motivation at the company, and so we’re really trying to double down and execute as best that we can in order to take advantage of this fortunate opportunity that we have. So, for example, we made a hire, an opportunistic hire, that we didn’t really plan for,” he shares.
Seizing Opportunities to Expand
Christopher and the Snappa team aren’t alone in experiencing an uptick in demand for their products during the pandemic. While they might not be offering the nation’s hottest commodity (Lysol), more brands are looking for high-res graphics to elevate their digital presence knowing that the majority of Americans are shopping online.
“[We’ve been] doubling down on the templates and the quality of the designs that we’re offering within the platform,” explains Christopher. “Another thing that we’ve been working on for the better part of a year has been just completely refactoring our code base, and we’re going to be launching some huge improvements to the product itself. So, again, just trying to get that done as quickly as possible and just try to take advantage of the tail ends right now.”
It seems like Snappa is riding the COVID-19 wave pretty seamlessly—could it be too good to be true?
“With the exception of a few minor impacts here and there, it’s just really weird that my personal life and our business situation really hasn’t changed almost at all,” admits Christoper. “I was already really appreciative of being able to work remotely and all the benefits that go along with that, and I think this situation has reinforced that even more than before.”
Preparing for the Future of Remote Work
With thousands of workers making the transition to working from home, how does Christopher predict the remote work landscape will continue to change?
“I think there’s definitely going to be some big changes in the future in terms of what percentage of people are working from home versus the office,” he shares. “I feel like it’s becoming way more normal to work from home and work completely remotely. And I think, without a doubt, we’re seeing a huge shift, and I think people are really starting to realize the benefits of remote work.”
And what about all that backlash about reduced productivity working from home?
“It’s always funny when I hear companies being scared of allowing employees to work from home because they think they’re going to be less productive,” Christopher said. “To me, that means either you just hired the wrong people or you just don’t trust them and you need to think about things differently. I know for us, everyone that we work with, they’re super productive.”
With confidence in his team powering Christopher’s business moves, the gang at Snappa are defeating the odds in the face of a crazy year, one impactful graphic at a time.
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