Less is more—if you have the right systems in place.
One of the most common work pain stories you’d hear—especially pre-COVID—was about how employees spent too much of their time in meetings and catching up with endless email threads. Information exchange and verification took an enormous amount of time, and it left precious little time for deep work.
From a leaked email by Elon Musk, his boiled down recommendations include: fewer meetings, direct communication, and common sense.
Seems simple, right?
The more effort it takes companies to chase down details, the less they have left for truly differentiated work.
That’s why, when I founded Lawtrades, it was important to me to come up with a model for more effective asynchronous work.
We use a number of tools, but the crown jewel of our asynchronous system is Notion. We’re a small but mighty group: 15 full-timers and 6 contractors supporting a platform over 2,000 remote legal professionals and $10M in annual revenue. Keeping all of our most current information in one place is how we stay so lean.
Here’s the Lawtrades Notion schema
Our Notion system is divided into three interrelated parts:
1. Public Wiki. This is a document that anyone can access. It includes our founding story, investor updates, the members of our team, our product roadmap, and open positions.
2. Lawtrades HQ. Lawtrades HQ is a level deeper than the public Wiki. It includes high-level narrative elements—mission, vision, values—as well as HR-type documents, like the employee handbook, team directory, PTO policy, and any updates to these. Lastly, it has a meeting log, where minutes from all meetings are archived for anyone to view.
3. Compass (with OKRs). The Compass breaks Lawtrades up by teams, lists specific objectives per team, and tracks the progress of each objective. It then correlates these objectives to overarching company objectives.All objectives are stated and measured in terms of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). OKRs let us set specific objectives and have up-to-the-minute progress tracking. For example, our sales teams objectives is to hit $3.4M in revenue this quarter; we can track how much we closed against that overarching goal.
Benefits of using Notion as a central knowledge base
- Eliminates confusion. When our people have a question about anything Lawtrades—from how we started to who’s on what team to how we’re tracking against our key metrics—they know exactly where to look. Everybody refers to the same information, so it’s nearly impossible for there to be multiple answers to the same question.
- Fewer meetings. There’s also a “task” system where any user can assign anyone else a specific job. When someone assigns me a task, it shows up in an easy-to-see action dashboard and eliminates the need for a lot of communication that used to take place in meetings.
- Better onboarding. With Notion, we can enable a new employee’s access controls on the day before they start, and they immediately get all the information about our company that everyone else has. Their supervisors can direct their attention as necessary, but everything a new employee could possibly need is in one place.
- More transparency. Our Notion system allows us to be more transparent about who we are, why we exist, what our goals are, and how we’re tracking against those goals. It completely eliminates the information gatekeeping that exists in more hierarchical organizations and makes everyone feel more connected to our cause.
- Enables more deep work. What most of us have started doing is setting aside a chunk of time each day to address all of our “tasks,” and then using the rest of the day for deep work. This works much more efficiently than having to constantly monitor email or Slack, where notifications are nonstop, at all hours of the day. It gives people more control over how and when they work deeply.
Overall, having a system in place that allows your team less meetings, direct communication, and encourages common sense is a necessity. We personally use Notion. But you can use any tool (i.e. Google Docs or Asana) as long as it allows two things: 1) All info is centralized and not spread over different platforms 2) The entire company buys in. It just so happens that in a world where everyone wants to leverage the benefits of remote and asynchronous work, Notion has been a huge help.