In this episode of the Domain Magnate Show, host Michael Bereslavsky sits down to chat with Liam Martin, co-founder and CMO of Time Doctor and Running Remote. Tune in to hear his thoughts on working efficiently, managing one’s time and how to succeed in your company.
Liam Martin is the co-founder and CMO of Time Doctor and Staff.com — one of the most popular time tracking and productivity software platforms in use by top brands today. He is also a co-organizer of the Running Remote Conference.
SKIP TO THE GOOD PARTS:
- 0:37 – Liam gives us a quick insight into his companies, Time Doctor and Running Remote.
- 16:49 – Liam shares his thoughts on asynchronous vs an asynchronous company.
- 20:41 – Liam talks about turning off notifications and cutting down interruptions during the workday.
- 42:57 – Liam shares a story on how Time Doctor really helped one of his employees.
- 46:23 – Liam sums up his key tips to getting work done successfully.
Michael Bereslavsky 0:11 Hello there listeners, welcome to this episode of the Domain Magnate Show. Today we have Liam Martin, from Time Doctor and Running Remote. Hi, Liam.
Liam Martin 0:22 Hi, how are you?
Michael Bereslavsky 0:25 Good. So this is the first time we’re actually speaking. So I’m curious to hear more about the two companies? Would you give us a quick introduction of what those companies are about?
Liam Martin 0:37 Yeah, I’ll give you the thirty second pitch. Basically, Time Doctor is a time tracking tool for remote teams. We are a remote first company. So we have employees in 43 different countries all over the world. And we have no offices, which I never…was probably sounded pretty weird, pre pandemic, but has obviously become the way that we work today. And then off of that, I have a conference called running remote, which is largest conference on building and scaling road teams, we had built that up pretty to about 1000 people pre pandemic as well. And then the pandemic happened, and he had to cancel all that stuff. But we’ve switched to virtual. And we have 10s of 1000s of people that come in every quarter to be able to learn the strategies on building and scaling remote teams.
Michael Bereslavsky 1:26 Nice, how does Running Remote work in the pandemic time? Do you have conferences completely virtual? Do the people still pay to attend? And are they the same speakers?
Liam Martin 1:38 So, it doesn’t work well. If anyone tells you that virtual is more profitable than in person, they’re lying to you. We had a projection of 1.3 million for 2020 by the end of the year for running remote. And we ended up doing about 350 to $360,000 for that same calendar year. But yet, instead of having 2000 people at the conference, we had almost 26,000. And the vast majority of those were free tickets, a small segmentation of them were paid. But also sponsors really are not willing to pay for a virtual experience. Even though we have way many more attendees, it really reinforces that conferences are about relationships, and building long term relationships. So to me, I definitely see conferences going back to the physical realm once it’s possible.
Michael Bereslavsky 2:33 Yeah, hopefully, in a year or two. And so that the conference for other speakers, are they people that run the remote companies?
Liam Martin 2:47 So we’ve had the founders of Gitlab, of Shopify, of Buffer, Do List, to do list is the is the task management app, you probably know of. Pretty much anyone and everyone that you can think of that applies to large remote teams, Mika, who’s the CEO of Fiverr, is speaking at this event that’s coming up. And we’re really focused on the scaling part. So how do you build billion dollar remote first teams and companies? Not necessarily, how do you hire a virtual assistant?
Michael Bereslavsky 3:29 And why did you decide to start the conference initially?
Liam Martin 3:34 That’s an interesting story. About four years ago, me and a couple of my team members, we flew all to Baraka in the Philippines where we do our team retreat. So we choose a location every single year, and everyone flies into that particular location. And we were trying to figure out how to scale from 100 to 150 people four years ago, and we were just bumping your head up against the wall, because we’re really trying to look for some strategies on how to do this properly. And there are a whole bunch of articles on how to hire a virtual assistant, or how to build a very small business remotely, but there were very few if not zero articles on how to scale to a billion dollar valuation. That’s what we really wanted to learn about. So we thought, Well, if we really want to learn about this, probably other people do, too. I had a ready fire aim philosophy, which is we just ended up booking a venue. And then we got a couple of my friends together to be able to actually do the conference. And thankfully, it ended up working okay, so it was it was one of those things that I always…whenever I started a new business, the question that I asked myself is, what conclusions…what assumptions am I making inside of my conclusions? And the biggest assumption was that other people actually wanted to consume this information because at that point, no one had run a conference on remote work like that.
Michael Bereslavsky 5:02 How long ago was that?
Liam Martin 5:05 That was four years ago.
Michael Bereslavsky 5:07 All right. And so that’s Running Remote. And the other company mentioned is Time Doctor. Can you give us some numbers in terms of employees revenues? Or other things? How big is it?
Liam Martin 5:20 Sure. So we’ve got about 150 ish people, in, as I said, 43 different countries for Time Doctor, we’re a healthy eight figure run rate company. And obviously, the pandemic has accelerated a remote time tracking tool in a much…in a pretty quick way. But that’s generally kind of like leveled off at this point. And for us, we’re just part of that remote work stack, where you’re looking at Time Doctor, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Docs, were just part of that stack to be able to make sure that your team is accountable and working effectively.
Michael Bereslavsky 6:02 Are you currently the most popular tool in terms of tracking employees?
Liam Martin 6:09 We think we are. I mean, I can’t confirm because I don’t have anyone else’s numbers. But we’re doing pretty well.
Michael Bereslavsky 6:16 Can you tell how many users you have currently.
Liam Martin 6:22 We have over 10,000 customers. And we have a couple million users.
Michael Bereslavsky 6:31 Nice. So most of our listeners are probably familiar with Time Doctor. But to explain to those who might not be, can you briefly mentioned what does it do? And yeah, like what are the main use cases?
Liam Martin 6:49 So Time Doctor is a time tracking tool for primarily remote workers. And what it does is it analyzes not only the amount of time that’s spent on a particular task, but the websites and applications that are brought in to complete that task. And then we use a lot of machine learning to be able to analyze specifically, how you are good at your job versus not good at your job. And then we can compare you to other people inside of your industry. So effectively, it’s kind of like Fitbit for work, where you can deploy this tool. And your employees can be given very specific actionable steps to be able to be more efficient in their job and more efficient doesn’t necessarily mean working longer. In the vast majority of cases, actually, it means working less to become more effective at your job.
Michael Bereslavsky 7:40 So you mentioned it can track performance and how effective people are at their job compared to others. How can it do that?
Liam Martin 7:50 So we track time websites, and applications. And then we analyze all of those variables. And we use a little bit of machine learning. It’s a little bit complicated to kind of describe in a podcast here, but there’s about 28,000 variables that we look at. And we can tell you what specific things you need to do throughout your workday to be more efficient at your job. So as an example, me as a marketer, I compare myself to other marketers in inside of the Time Doctor network. And one of the biggest problems that I have is I do not spend anywhere near enough time on my CRM in comparison to other marketers, that’s one of those things that I’m trying to do to be able to become better at my job.
Michael Bereslavsky 8:34 That’s interesting. So would probably give you an advice of, like, stop switching to your Facebook every couple of minutes or, or, you know, stay on the marketing tabs more often than you go to the other things? Something like that.
Liam Martin 8:51 Yeah, it can also show you flow through. So let’s say that you’re an incredibly distracted worker, and you’re switching between eight different applications every hour, that would probably show that you’re not able to actually focus on deep work, and you’re getting a perfect example is slack or Microsoft Teams. One of the biggest things that you can do to become more efficient at your job is shut off slack or Microsoft Teams to be able to accomplish your deep work, and then turn it on when you actually have completed those large tasks. That’s usually one of the first things that we see when we analyze organizations and figure out their workflow inefficiencies.
Michael Bereslavsky 9:32 And that’s very interesting. I personally didn’t know that that it can do that. It can really help people improve their performance. Maybe the time tracking tools have a bad rap because most people assume that that just for spying on your employees basically so you can just make sure that they work as many hours as we need.
Liam Martin 9:55 Yeah, I think there is a really stupid dialec between working more and working smart. So if a lot of the times, counterintuitively, by working less, you actually get more done. And this is the thing that not many people really recognize, unless you have the largest second or second work database on the planet, like us, where you can analyze that type of data at scale, you wouldn’t know that. And so a lot of the times, there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of things that people do in their job that are just there to kind of fill time as opposed to actually getting things done. I would probably say the average work week, if you were going to target something would be about four hours, I would work four hours on solid work related activities, and the rest of that work day, if you could give me four solid hours, and you didn’t work a minute more than that, I would actually prefer that then you working a 10 hour workday.
Michael Bereslavsky 10:58 Yeah, that makes sense. That’s what I’m seeing as well with our team. And especially with myself. Having had the experience of doing entrepreneurship and running businesses for more than 15 years, you kind of notice that just slowing down and having a work session where you can really focus on the important things is far more valuable than just doing all the things at once.
Liam Martin 11:25 Absolutely. The other thing that is the second most important variable that has to be taken into consideration for data inside of remote teams, is meetings, the more meetings that you can cut, and stay functional as an organization, the higher your productivity will increase. And that’s sometimes a very difficult pill to swallow, particularly for the managers that implement those meetings. But as much synchronous time as you can pull off of your calendar will inevitably increase to the bottom line of your business.
Michael Bereslavsky 12:02 Do you have some data as to what’s the optimal number of meetings to have, based on size of a team?
Liam Martin 12:10 it really depends on your organization. But I would say it is the minimum, there is no minimum viable dose zero would be the ideal amount of time that you should spend on meetings, if possible. So if you can communicate completely asynchronously, then that’s fantastic. A lot of the problematic — the problems for people that have recently gone remote, is they don’t recognize the difference between asynchronous communication and synchronous communication. So everyone believes coming from an office, that you should replicate synchronous communication in a remote team. But that is not correct. If anything, actually, you should be getting rid of all synchronous communication. Think about trying to run a business without actually meeting anyone face to face having a phone call or having a video call. How would you structure that business? That’s the way that you should actually do it to be able to maximize productivity.
Michael Bereslavsky 13:10 How about giving people a sense of community a sense of shared experience, the things that you get in the physical office? People see each other they chat at the cooler? How can you do that if remote teams if you don’t have many meetings?
Liam Martin 13:27 So that’s an interesting one. There is…there’s multiple schools of thought on that. Number one, collaboration inside of remote teams is a lot more difficult and slower to be able to implement effectively. But the reality is, we actually create very clear sacred spaces for that type of community involvement. So when it wouldn’t be COVID, we would have a yearly team retreat where we fly everyone into one location for one week. And we basically have a conference about the company for a week. That’s where we get the majority of that community engagement happening. Outside of that we do things like I don’t have it in front of me, but we have an Oculus quest headsets. And we all jump on Friday evenings to play games together in, in Oculus, that’s how we do our kind of water cooler, and then we do do meetings. We don’t you know, just because I’m saying you should minimize meetings doesn’t mean that they’re not required. You have to have some in order to be able to operate a business. But those are kept as short as humanly possible.
Michael Bereslavsky 14:42 So how often do you have meetings meetings, like one on one meetings between managers and directs or meetings without like team meetings and departments?
Liam Martin 14:52 So since I’m the co founder of the company, I probably do more meetings than average. I probably do about About eight to 10 hours of meetings per week, and I probably do about a 50 Hour Work Week. But the average team member inside of our company spends approximately five hours doing meetings, and we try to keep a cap of that. So effectively, you know, five to 10% of your workday should be committed towards meetings no more. And that’s internal for Time Doctor, it could be very different for you.
Michael Bereslavsky 15:24 Yeah, for us as it’s, it’s similar, it’s probably even less hours of meetings. But we also have a smaller team. So we are 15 people now. And then, maybe a dozen freelancers, in addition to that are time but like 15, full time, and an hour meetings are generally we have a quarterly all hands meeting like everyone’s together, which is really difficult because people in all the different time zones are people from Asia, US and Europe. And then yeah, we would usually have some monthly meetings between departments, and then bi weekly meetings with directs and, and measures. But also we give people kind of more freedom in different departments to how often we want to meetings. A couple of things I’ve noticed people sometimes, at least the more extroverted people in the team, they often complain that they want to be able to interact more, have more meetings, so they have kind of more things. Because people coming from an offline working experience is a huge change for them, right? Imagine spending hours every day connecting with others, and then suddenly, you are just sitting at home and doing your work. And then like you just exchange the messages on slack. And that’s the whole communication, right? have you encountered a similar challenge?
Liam Martin 16:49 People are generally wrong. They they should, they’re using it as an excuse to be able to use other people’s time inside of the company. And what they should do is they should find their own friends outside of work that they want to waste time with, as opposed to wasting the company’s time. I’m not someone who am going to pay for people to socialize for the purposes of socialization. inside of that company, just because you’re an extroverted perfect person, you need to talk to other people go find other outlets for that, I would suggest a co working space, a coffee shop, these are the places where you can get those types of connections. There is, you know that there is a lot of data to suggest that introverted people are incredibly successful inside of remote teams. Because of the lack of synchronous communication, the loudest voice usually doesn’t win, the most intelligent voice wins, because people are able to take the time to be able to respond to issues questions that are presented inside of an asynchronous meeting. And so a lot of those extroverted people generally are not going to be as successful in that premise as they are in an office. Because the variables that made them successful inside of an office environment, being able to be charismatic, think on your feet, talking with people making friends, those don’t really work inside of asynchronous remote first teams as effectively as they do in an office.
Michael Bereslavsky 18:31 Okay, that’s fair enough. So I guess that’s, like a different approach from what Google uses, or at least used to use before the pandemic there, they would just provide everything for people so that they can stay inside the company offices basically all day and all night playing. And so what does your data suggest in terms of performance? Do you see introverts performing better? Do you see people that have fewer meetings, companies thriving more?
Liam Martin 19:07 So one of the only psychometric variables that we’ve been able to track and are the outcome is we’re focusing on lifetime value as a team member and employee instead of a company is introversion. So the more introverted you are, or if you are introverted, it then extends to you actually spending more time in that company and not quitting or getting fired. As much as extroverted people. So for extroverted people, my big answer for them is don’t count on your company, to be your social network. Find other sources of socialization that are not necessarily your work environment, and you’re probably going to be a lot more successful as a remote team member.
Michael Bereslavsky 20:04 That’s a good point. And you also mentioned the synchronous communication, which is, I think, a very interesting topic. And I definitely agree that a lot of people have not yet adapted to that in remote teams. So often you might see a lot of challenges with communication, then different team members communicate and like one of them expect an immediate answer and, and the other kind of response every couple of days or so. So what what are some policies, what are some general ways to resolve those kind of things?
Liam Martin 20:41 Sure, so team members have my cell phone number. And if something is absolutely critical, and requires my response, within minutes, they can text me. But it better be something that’s mission critical to the business, ie it will burn down in the next 10 minutes, that’s when you text me. Outside of that, we do use Slack, I cut off all of my notifications on slack. So I get no push notifications. And it is not in my mobile device or anything else. It’s just on my work computer. And I also have a keyword inside of slack, which is at Liam emergency. So if you type in at Liam emergency, and you can build specific keywords inside of slack to be to have a notification that bypasses everything, and push notifies me on everything, so that I need to go back and actually figure out okay, what’s the issue here. And that’s kind of the second tier that I work on. But I also have exactly the same philosophy, slack should be treated exactly like email, it should be processed, like anything else. And to be completely honest with you a really great tool that you may want to take a look at is twist from the people at Do List. So twist is a version of slack, effectively, it’s a messaging tool that is built from the ground up with a synchronous mindset in mind. So you can’t have push notifications inside of twist, they don’t exist because they disrupt you from actually completing deep work inside of the business. So that’s an app that I can actually leave on and still get a lot of work done, and then process it when I want you.
Michael Bereslavsky 22:26 Yeah, I have personally disable all notifications like everywhere, Slack, Asana, all the tools that we use, I have disabled notifications for myself. But I do notice that like some people they prioritize like it also depends on the roles. Because for some roles, you want people to be really available. And for some roles, you want people to step back and really do their thing, and then come back to it and handle things, right.
Liam Martin 22:54 Absolutely. So I don’t want someone to disable all notifications, if they’re a support Rep. Or if they’re managing a chat bot or something like that it’s really critical that they actually succeed. And their definition of success is how fast can I get back to a customer? So in that case, absolutely. You shouldn’t be doing that. But for someone who’s a developer, someone who is a product based marketer, as an example, that you do not need to respond to a question about a blog post as an example, immediately. It’s much better if you actually write the blog post first, then look at the notification, as opposed to being constantly disrupted with all of these push notifications.
Michael Bereslavsky 23:42 So most entrepreneurs and business owners I know who don’t use all time tracking tools, they usually feel that it limits the employees trust, it makes it look like you’re acting like a big brother, and you’re spying on your employees. And that’s a very common kind of perspective that I see. Do you see that a lot, too? And what are your thoughts on that in general? And let me just add up to that, what data do you see among employees, like two employees usually like using tools like that, or do they not like it?
Liam Martin 24:22 So I think team members like using tools like Time Doctor, as much as they like using tools like a CRM, it’s, it’s an issue of accountability. So being able to make sure that you have all of your tasks in time structured in a meaningful way, is, is something that some people don’t necessarily want to do, but it is…it is something that makes the business more successful. 85% of the Fortune 500 use time tracking tools inside of their company and there’s a reason behind that, it’s because it makes them It makes the company more productive. Every single day of the week. Even just there was a recent study done by capterra, but found that 39% of SMEs use exactly the same form of technology as the as the enterprise clients. So there’s why scale adoption, I would probably say globally, about 60 to 70% of companies use this type of tool, the thing that is frustrating to me is the vast majority of those tools are installed subversively in the employee does not have access to their information. So for us, we really focus on giving the employee that information so that they can become more productive throughout their workday. And that, to me, would be the line between monitoring somebody and actually being their coach in trying to actually make them more productive at their job.
Michael Bereslavsky 26:00 Would you say that there is a direct correlation between employees and team members saying that they don’t want to use time tracking tool, and within them, maybe not being as organized being concerned that the boss would find out that they waste a lot of time?
Liam Martin 26:19 Yeah, when we look at…about 5% of employees that implement a tool, like Time Doctor are feeling feel resistant towards it. And when we look at that in a deeper way, about half of those people just don’t really know how the tool works. So we explained to them, hey, when you click pause, you turn the app off, it’s not collecting any time, it’s not tracking any tasks. So just so that everyone is very clear on that. And once they understand that, that’s fine. And then the other half of that are the category that you look at is about two and a half percent of our user base, which is they really weren’t doing anything beforehand. And they don’t want to get found out by their managers or by their bosses that they’re not actually doing what they’re supposed to be doing. And because of that, that is…that’s very good for the business owner, but not necessarily very good for the employee, obviously. And because they’re going to have to pull their game up. So that’s, but that’s also something that is really important inside of remote teams, is remote team accountability. A lot of the times people kind of just let employees do what they want to do without any clear quantitative forms of accountability, whether that’s something in Asana or getting a task done, whether that’s a quantitative measure that you need to report in daily or weekly, or whether it’s a tool like Time Doctor, to be able to measure the amount of time that you’re putting in and what you’re producing for that time. Those things are critical for a remote team to be successful long term. And a lot of companies just don’t have that.
Michael Bereslavsky 28:02 You mentioned the number that the percentage of people who don’t want to use the tool because they’re afraid of being found out that they don’t do much…what was the percentage again?
Liam Martin 28:14 I’d say about two and a half percent. I mean, it varies. That was, that was a very kind of like surface level study that we did in our customer success department to be able to figure out resistance towards Time Doctor. And as I said, about 5%, are resistant towards it, but half of that group just doesn’t understand how the application works. And once they figure out how it works, they’re they’re relieved, and they’re able to use the tool effectively. The other half are the group that you mentioned that just you know, there — they were not doing what they were supposed to be doing. And the tool is going to very clearly show that.
Michael Bereslavsky 28:53 And by the way, does everybody at Time Doctor, uses Time Doctor?
Liam Martin 29:00 Everyone uses Time Doctor inside of the company I’m tracking right now, podcast with Michael. And it’s inside of my podcast project. And then when I can after we finish this call, I can analyze that in comparison to the other 600 podcasts that I’ve done over the last two years in be able to figure out how much time did I spend. And also to there’s not just my time that’s connected to this project. There’s other team members time that’s predicted, connected to this project. So we can figure out the efficiency and then look at a generalized return on that basically return on adspend, which is the cost of me and the cost of the other team members in executing on this strategy podcasts work, which is why we continue to do them. But a lot of people don’t even have clear granularity on like, well, what things work inside of my business. I can tell you down to the penny, exactly how much money on average I’m going to make for this podcast, and a lot of other people just can’t really see that data.
Michael Bereslavsky 30:06 Oh, that’s interesting. How much do you actually make for leverage podcast? You can track that?
Liam Martin 30:12 Yeah. So on average, if I look at the first click attribution, and we also look at the branded, basically attribution connected to podcasting, we make about $1,200 per podcast. So and that boils into about an hour of my time and a half an hour of my assistant’s time. So probably it’s going to cost me about $300, to be able to produce $1,200 in lifetime value over the next two to three years.
Michael Bereslavsky 30:45 That’s pretty good. That’s pretty impressive data that you’ve been able to collect. Did it take a lot of effort to set things up in such a way that you can track it?
Liam Martin 30:56 No, because I had Time Doctor. That’s exactly how we used it. So we measure everything inside of the company. How much time, like, so many people just look at, well, how much am I Facebook ads costing me? Okay, how much of the Facebook ads costing you to manage? You know, how much time are you spending on podcasts? How much time are you spending on YouTube videos? How much time are you spending on purchasing websites, doing the back end research to be able to analyze this data that all requires…that all requires money. One of the other things that constantly blows me away, is going back to meetings. There are employees in the company that don’t have the authority to requisition a paperclip. And yet, they can set up a meeting with eight, six figure executives to sit in on a zoom call for two hours and cost the company $4,000. Where does that make sense? Right? Think of…don’t think of a meeting as something that we need to do think of a meeting as this meeting just cost me $4,328? What did I get out of it? What was the ROI of that particular meeting? And that’s the thing that a lot of people don’t really understand. And I find it infuriating when people don’t really measure what they’re supposedly managing, because if you’re not measuring it, you’re not managing it.
Michael Bereslavsky 32:26 Yeah, that’s a good point. And so how does Time Doctor understand what you’re spending your time on? Do you have to input initially with the different tasks? Or would it be able to, to know that you’re working on your Google AdWords campaign, for example, or something different.
Liam Martin 32:46 So we have categories that we we have internally, and then you can change those. So as an example, let’s say I’m on messenger.facebook.com, you would know that I’m sending messages, I’m probably for me, that’s a productive use of my time, whereas going on facebook.com is an unproductive use of my time, the vast majority of the time. So we analyze all of those different variables and figure out how they impact the long term ROI. But then we also look at anonymized, everyone throughout the network. So we can say, let’s say facebook.com is a non productive use of my time. But we’ve recognized for the average marketer, it’s actually a productive use of their time. Because there is a positive ROI from that expenditure of time, we show that as well. So it really kind of boils down to we have standardized ways that we define productive and unproductive uses of time, but then the individual organization can tweak those however they want.
Michael Bereslavsky 33:54 So what are some top, what are some biggest companies in the world that use Time Doctor?
Liam Martin 34:01 So we don’t disclose the biggest companies in the world because we have non disclosure agreements with the vast majority of those. I can tell you, governments use our technology. A lot of people in the business process outsourcing space, use our technology. And then a lot of agencies use our technology as well. That’s really where that’s the vast majority of our SMB membership is people that are trying to measure. Let’s say that you have 20 clients as an agency, and you’re profitable every single month. That’s great, but Time Doctor can actually tell you which three clients are not profitable inside of those 20. So you can actually take you can boost their costs, you can minimize the time spent working with those particular clients. So it really allows you to be able to audit the efficiency of an agency per client.
Michael Bereslavsky 35:00 Yeah, that’s a really good use case. And maybe you can mention that what are some of the, you know, for the biggest companies in the world use some kind of time tracking tools like Apple, Google and the others? Do they all track the time of their employees?
Liam Martin 35:18 Yeah, I mean, so most of them do. Most of them are homegrown. Amazon is the perfect example. There’s a reason why they’re the third largest corporation on the face of the planet, it’s because they’re really good at managing time. And analyzing all of the variables that connect to that time, I wouldn’t necessarily think that Amazon is a good general example of time tracking, because they don’t give their employees access to that data, to be able to figure out how efficient they are. But you know, other companies use a lot of tertiary variables as well. I know Google doesn’t directly track time, but they track all the variables connected to that time. So they’ll measure how long did you spend in the office? What are the general things that you did in the office? They track all your geolocation off your mobile devices. And they figure out the analysis of, well, if these groups of people get together, it looks like they’re the most successful group to be able to produce this type of outcome, that type of thing. So they use more metadata than very specific one on one data. But it’s all the same thing.
Michael Bereslavsky 36:37 And what are your thoughts on during our reporting? daily reports, weekly report, thing, teams and companies? Do you do that in your company? Do you see some data that is useful, not useful?
Liam Martin 36:54 So we do, every single team member inside of the company has a rock, which is quantitative. So we have quantitative rocks, meaning we set them every quarter. And we need to report on that weekly. And it’s usually a quantitative measure, meaning, how many subscribers do we get to our YouTube channel, the target this, this quarter was to get 1000 new subscribers to the YouTube channel. I know it’s relatively small, but we just restarted our YouTube channel at running remote. And we’re analyzing that every single week. And right now we’re off target rock turret, we’re probably going to hit about 6900 for the quarter, and I think we started at 5000. So we look at that data. And we figure out every single week, what course corrections do we need to make, because we’re not going to make our rock by the end of the quarter. And then we analyze our data inside of Time Doctor to be able to see the outcomes for that. So as an example, the person that’s primarily responsible for that rock was only spending three hours a week on the YouTube channel itself. So now we’ve said, well, let’s redirect focus here, could you spend a quarter of your work week on the YouTube channel, the next month and a half to see if we can hit that rock, and here are the other suggestions that I would make to be able to hit that rock? That’s exactly what we do.
Michael Bereslavsky 38:30 And how many rocks does each person have?
Liam Martin 38:34 It can vary. So one to five is generally what everyone should have in your rock hit rate should be approximately 70%. So if you hit three to four out of your five rocks, you’re probably doing pretty well. If you hit all of your five rocks, your rocks weren’t set aggressively enough. And if you hit one out of five, they probably reset too aggressively, or you didn’t accomplish your rocks effectively.
Michael Bereslavsky 39:04 That’s a good point. What about things where it’s really difficult to quantify on? Do you have those? How do you handle them?
Liam Martin 39:15 We do. And generally, I don’t like them to be completely honest with you. Because like, so that we have a compass metric, which is how much money the company makes. That’s our that’s the core metric that flows down to everything else. And internally, we give our team members absolutely everything we know exactly, we give everyone access to all of our, all of our metrics, all of our numbers, so everyone knows exactly where we need to go and what we need to hit. And if you’re, if your task doesn’t necessarily have a number code associated with it, I would challenge you to look a bit a little bit harder and look a little bit deeper. And try to figure out, like, as an example, let’s just go back to the YouTube stuff because I’m doing it right after this, I need to get better at delivering YouTube videos, I’m sometimes a little bit kind of stiff in the way that I communicate on these YouTube videos. And we’ve been analyzing other YouTube channels that we’ve gotten access to their back end from, and we’re seeing the engagement and we’re just, we’re analyzing all these different variables and saying, Hey, you know what, one of those variables might be leaving your little two step on video. So one of my kind of quasi rocks this quarter is to become better at delivering video content. And that’s really difficult to be able to quantify. But the way that we are quantifying it is, we need the engagement rate, ie the time on site per video to go up by 20%. That’s what we’re looking for. So that’s what I’ve set as my rock. But the real kind of like, purpose of that quantitative KPI is to say, Liam, you need to loosen up a little bit more and be less weird in your YouTube videos.
Michael Bereslavsky 41:11 That’s an interesting rock. And you mentioned that most of your team have access to the revenue data and other stuff. So how do you treat transparency? Is everyone able to access the global metrics? The people able to see each other’s metrics?
Liam Martin 41:31 Yes, so everyone sees every other everyone else’s data on Time Doctor, everyone sees our financial data, everyone sees our analytics data, the only thing that we protect is our clients, our customers. Reason being is that is an infosec nightmare. So if you had, let’s say, someone that quit, or we let go, they could theoretically grab that customer list. And that would be a huge security issue for us. That’s the only thing that we hold back from our team members. Everything else is is an open book.
Michael Bereslavsky 42:10 And Can people see each other’s salaries too?
Liam Martin 42:14 People can’t see each other’s salaries. Actually, that’s a good point. We do keep that quiet. But we did actually ask people and the majority of the employees did not want that information show.
Michael Bereslavsky 42:28 That’s fair enough. All right. Sounds good. So what would you say are the most important tips or most important things that people have received from Time Doctor in terms of improving their performance? What are the some of the most common things that we have been able to implement to improve their performance by using Time Doctor for themselves?
Liam Martin 42:57 There is one story that I’ll bring up, which I think is relevant to your question. I remember a couple years ago, there was a team member that was working for one of our clients, and their productivity started going down, they became more distracted at work. They were they were switching between applications more and more. And Time Doctor was showing, hey, this person is disengaged. And then what ended up happening is, this client ended up seeing that this guy was playing World of Warcraft while he was working, and he actually came to me and he said, what the hell’s going on here? This guy, this is why this guy is not engaged, is he’s just playing video games while he’s supposed to be at work. And I said, okay, well, why don’t you actually talk to him about it. So we ended up talking to him about it and said, what’s going on here? And he said, Listen, I think I’ve got a problem. I play video games, or I play World of Warcraft, all the time. I come to work. This was in an office, I go to, I go to the office, I work for you as a developer. And then I go home, and I turn on my home computer and I play World of Warcraft till about two o’clock in the morning, I fall asleep. I wake up at 8am and I go back to the office and I do it all over again. And it was creating very serious problems with his wife. He had a brand new child and his wife was ready to leave him. So he had a real serious addiction to World of Warcraft. So instead of just firing him, they got him a therapist. The therapist found out that he had a DSM approved video game addiction and through therapy, they were able to get him to delete his character and he returned back to being one of the most productive developers inside of the company. Now, if you had not had Time Doctor in place, there would have been no early warning system to be able to actually provide that course correction to make sure that that employee could be saved. Because what would have happened is you just would have seen more long tail indicators of lack of engagement and productivity. And you would have seen them six months later, which is, hey, this person is really not hitting their targets, what’s going on. And you would have had to let that person go. Instead, you save that person, and I believe they’re still working in a company, up until this point, that’s the kind of things that Time Doctor really shows you. As I said before, it’s effectively Fitbit for work. Everyone uses I actually use an aura ring, which is just like a little digital ring that measures all of my data. But whether it’s a Fitbit and a ring or anything else, we all measure our physical activity. And you should also be measuring your intellectual activity as well. That’s effectively Time Doctor.
Michael Bereslavsky 46:05 I have a ring as well. Yeah. It’s pretty good. Well, thank you, that was very interesting and informational. I think that’s a good point. To wrap up. Do you have any final tips for people running remote companies?
Liam Martin 46:21 I don’t actually, I think we’ve reviewed almost everything. So generally, it is communicate asynchronously, as much as humanly possible, have very clear KPIs for every single team member, make sure that everyone is accountable to those KPIs. So if you didn’t hit it, why, if you did hit it, why, and then also pull in as much process documentation is humanly possible, that’s something that we didn’t touch on. A really great resource is about.gitlab.com/handbook. And it’s the largest open source repository of process documents on planet earth as it applies to building and scaling a remote team, go check them out, everything that you do inside of the company should be documented. And then the actual company becomes the manager, not necessarily the managers themselves. That’s an old school model, I almost kind of think about it is like, that’s a horse and buggy model versus like a Model T, the company should be the manager, the company should be the one that you are held accountable to for KPIs, not necessarily individual manager doesn’t apply inside of remote companies. And I think within the next couple years, you’re actually going to see a huge compression, there’s going to be less middlemen between the owner of the business and the middle management in order to actually build a successful company. So I think organizations are going to compress primarily due to remote teams.
Michael Bereslavsky 47:53 What’s that? Can you say that? You url you mentioned.
Liam Martin 48:01 about.gitlab.com/handbook, really is the best resource, 8000 pages of process documentation. And Dimitri, who is the co founder and CTO of Git lab, encourages people to steal it, and repurpose it for their own purposes.
Michael Bereslavsky 48:23 Awesome, thank you. How can people contact you or learn more about what you do.
Liam Martin 48:31 So first off, you can go to timedoctor.com if you want to try a 14 day trial of Time Doctor completely for free. If you want to learn more about running remote, go to runningremote.com and we’re usually running events almost quarterly now as a virtual conference until we can get back to in person ones, which I’m very excited about getting back into. And then if you want to learn more just about remote work, I would suggest our YouTube channel, which is the thing that I’m promoting, and we talked about even in this podcast youtube.com/runningremote, please help me get to those 7000 subscribers because I got to make up about 100 by the end of the quarter, to be able to hit my personal target and all of our talks that we’ve done at running remote are open source and free on the YouTube channel so you can literally consume hundreds of hours of content for free.
Michael Bereslavsky 49:25 Excellent, thank you and have a good day.
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