We talked to Michael Sliwinski of Nozbe on how to manage a distributed team and what communication tools and tricks can help actually, and this is what he had to say.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Michael Sliwinski: Thanks! We’re all tired and worried. My wife, my three daughters, and I are doing everything to keep ourselves safe and protect others and keep up with work, education, and development at the same time.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Nozbe.
Michael Sliwinski: I developed Nozbe in 2007 as my to-do app. People loved it, and today, almost 700K people and teams are using it. This year we launched another app, Nozbe Teams – designed especially for small businesses and groups – to help them complete projects and seamlessly manage their collaboration.
How does Nozbe innovate?
Michael Sliwinski: The company I run today hires over 20 people. We’ve all worked from homes ever since, and we try to teach people how to work and achieve business goals remotely. We believe work is a thing to do and not a place to go. We think that small teams can do great things – also remotely.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Michael Sliwinski: The coronavirus pandemic affects our emotions but hasn’t affected our company’s organization. The Nozbe team has worked remotely from the very beginning. We’ve managed to establish procedures and communication rules that let us do everything from our home offices and stay uber-productive within these years. We’ve had tools and processes ready too, so our situation was much better than what other companies had to go through.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Michael Sliwinski: Despite the pandemic and the complications that came with it, we decided to release Nozbe Teams – our new to-do app for teams. We’ve been working on it for over four years now. A year ago (having used the app ourselves for more than two years), we announced a “private beta” version. Despite the pandemic and full lockdown, we launched Nozbe Teams in Spring 2020, but without some key features. Because of that, right after the launch, we had to get down to work to add these features and fix the issues reported by the first customers. We had to take care of Nozbe Personal, too – the app’s engine needed a complete change.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Nozbe in the future?
Michael Sliwinski: We take the coronavirus seriously. We know how much fear and anxiety it generates. Trust, team solidarity, and responsibility are the fundamental values to support every team during the epidemic. At the very beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, I’ve introduced the emergency policy in our company. My employees know they can work when they can, and only as much as they can in the face of homeschooling, taking care of the close ones who are in need. Family, kids, and health always go first.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Michael Sliwinski: Our competitors are all the collaboration platforms and project management tools available in app stores. We believe our app is unique, though, and can boost many teams’ efficiency, the small ones, the remote ones, the agile ones that need flexible and light although powerful to-do app. Nozbe Teams has been designed and built based on our almost 14 years of experience with Nozbe Personal. It supports all the team members’ deep work and focuses thanks to how it lets you communicate asynchronously in task comments. All the apps – web and mobile – have the same features and structure so that users can do practically everything from their smartphones. And we had so many great features in the pipeline!