Cutting Down on Emails–The Basecamp Way

The average person spends approximately 2.6 hours each workday reading and responding to email, according to a McKinsey analysis. Now amid the coronavirus pandemic, this number has likely increased for many business owners. For an employee, this is simply an annoying aspect of work life. For an entrepreneur, this is a crucial time that should be spent focusing on higher priorities. 

Communication among team members is more crucial now than ever as most employees are teleworking and face-to-face interactions have temporarily been replaced with a flurry of digital correspondence. There are many project management tools available for streamlining communication among organizations. Today, we would like to introduce you to one that we use daily at TechArk: Basecamp 3.

Basecamp is a private, shared space and collection of tools that help teams work together more efficiently. The program divides workloads into separate projects where all the components of that project–the people involved, the related discussions, the documents, and due dates–are predictably organized by default. In other words, no more rummaging through email folders trying to remember which team member sent which document on which day. 

There are six tools available in Basecamp:

Campfire

Think of it as a group chat. Campfire is used for quick questions or sharing information and feedback on work in real-time. Users can type the @ symbol before a username to directly address a team member.

Message Board

This is a place to communicate about more long-term items that you may need to reference later on. Users can create posts about announcements, proposals or ideas so that teams can work better together.

To-Dos

Say goodbye to Post-Its and endless lists cluttering your workspace. All tasks can be easily accessed here and scheduled with due dates. Multiple listings may be created for different projects. Users start by clicking “Make another list,” assigning it a name and then creating a to-do. It’s important to assign the to-do to someone on the team and add a due date. Otherwise, the task may never get done.

Schedule

This is where team members can set deadlines, schedule event dates and times and keep track of what responsibilities are due and when the deadline is. To-dos containing due dates show up here as well. 

Automatic Check-ins

Consider the amount of time it takes to email your team each week to ask for project updates. This step can be eliminated with the use of Automatic Check-ins where users can schedule a regular question for teams to reply (daily, weekly or monthly). Simply type your question, determine which team member(s) you want to send it to and schedule when you’d like the question to be asked. For example, each Monday morning you could ask what your team members are working on. Each Friday afternoon you could ask if anyone is experiencing any “roadblocks” that could be resolved before Monday.

Docs & Files

No more searching to remember which document is the latest version. Keeping all documents and files in one safe location where teams can comment on and edit to add new versions ensures everyone is up to speed and cuts down on saving multiple versions of the same file. 

But wait … there’s more.

Pings are the equivalent of instant messages. Use these when you want to have a private discussion with a team member or a group.

 

Hey! is a notification bar that shows any new to-dos assigned, reminds you when a to-do is due and alerts you on any recent comments.

The TechArk team has been using Basecamp for over four years, and we have found it to be successful in helping us to communicate efficiently and stay on task. We’ve created a tutorial to introduce the tool to new hires during their onboarding process and show them ways in which they’ll utilize it to prioritize tasks, communicate with project teams and organize projects. After all, the tool is only as effective as the employees using it, so it’s important to ensure that everyone on the team understands the program and is using it in the way that you have intended.

From my perspective as a business owner, Basecamp has cut down significantly on the number of emails I receive (15–16 on average daily). Because we use Basecamp effectively, there is no need to use emails for internal communication, cutting back on hundreds of emails that would otherwise be sent back and forth daily. 

Basecamp also decreases the amount of time we spend checking in on the team. With a quick glance at my Hey! notifications and a browse through the latest communications on the Message Board, we are instantly in the loop and able to move on to the more essential tasks of running our business. 

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