Jess Ostroff is no stranger to the stresses of a distributed team. Her aptly-named Marketing Services and Administrative Assistance firm, Don’t Panic Management
, has team members spread across every U.S. time zone. The nature of their business—supporting the diverse marketing management needs of multidisciplinary customers—requires them to be as well-coordinated as circus acrobats, and as nimble as ballet dancers. Her terrific staff of both contractors and full time employees prides itself on providing instant, 24-hour support to happy clients across the U.S. and around the world.
Sococo lies at the heart of Don’t Panic’s internal communication strategy, and increasingly, their business model.
“We started out as a distributed organization and didn’t think we really needed anything outside of phones, video, and text chat to support our clients the way I envisioned. When we tried Sococo, I realized it solved a problem I didn’t know we had,” shares Jess. “I ran into a client of mine at a conference and she showed it to me. It looked promising, so I set it up for myself and two other employees. We checked it out together and loved it immediately!"
Adopting Sococo As a Team
At first it amused the team as a shiny, fun new toy—but Jess quickly realized Sococo could be incredibly powerful if the entire team used it daily as their primary workplace. When Jess asked her team to adopt it, they got on board pretty quickly. She was impressed with how easily both her part-time contractors and full-time staff absorbed Sococo as part of their everyday workflow. These days, 90% of Jess’s staff uses Sococo regularly and consistently as their workplace.
“Generally, it takes time to gain traction with contractors for new tools, but Sococo had a much easier adoption process from the start. They found it not only useful, but pretty cool and kind of fun, too!” Jess laughs.
Experiencing Productivity Benefits
“I have amazing contractors on my team. I want to respect their time and availability, all while making sure we’re coordinated and they have everything they need. It’s tricky to set meeting times with them without feeling like I’m infringing on billable hours. I’m very careful to be aware of that.”
She emphasizes the importance of her casual interactions with her team. "Being in Sococo just makes me feel more comfortable engaging with everyone, and saying 'hey, how’re you doing?' The fact that I can spontaneously check in with any of our contractors without the overhead of scheduling individual meetings, is now critical to how I engage with them.” The overhead of juggling weekly status and progress meetings to gather client updates from contractors is a thing of the past for the DPM team.
Her clientele enjoys 24 hour support and tip-top accessibility. “We pride ourselves on being available instantly to our clients, and able to respond quickly to their needs. Using Sococo I can locate the right people at a moment’s notice, identify the client’s need, and create a plan on the fly. This gives us an edge that our customers really appreciate."
Improving Culture and Morale for Distributed Teams
Jess is also fond of the more social, team building aspects of Sococo and how it helps her team maintain culture. “Every company has introverts, and Sococo makes them feel more comfortable talking. There’s less of a barrier to entry than picking up the phone and waiting for the other person to answer. They’re in control of knowing if and when others are available, and that raises the comfort level of interaction.” Her team is simply more efficient in their internal communication than ever before. “It’s a platform that adds social interaction to the daily life of a professional distributed team,” she adds. "It allows the team to naturally come together to get work done."
It’s not all work all the time, though. High morale is critical to a healthy work life, but it can be harder to achieve when a team is not co-located. Jess says it takes extra work to keep spirits consistently high.
“It can get really lonely, so I make sure I pay special attention to how everyone is doing personally. What’s great is that the team has established social norms in Sococo, such as our monthly happy hour. We even had a virtual Halloween party!” she exclaims.
“That sense of togetherness
that is so important to company culture is already in place for new team members. When we welcome new people aboard, they become comfortable working in Sococo quickly. I’m lucky to have a great team that creates and maintains such a fun, high performing culture!"