New era of work management: How Kantree by Digicoop is shaping the world of work

Even before the Covid-19 outbreak, the workplace was becoming more digital and remote. Traditionally-structured work environments began giving way to more flexibility, distributed teams, and collaboration-based management models. The new normal is here to stay.

Here at Digicoop, the startup behind the work management and collaboration platform Kantree, we have been operating as a remote-first team since the beginning, i.e. 2015. While we don’t expect that all companies will adopt the fully remote model, we believe that a more flexible work environment is not only possible, but beneficial to companies of all sizes.

It’s evidenced by the fact that since the coronavirus outbreak, we have seen a 30% increase in Kantree Enterprise users, i.e. those companies who have adopted our platform as their go-to solution for organizing and managing cross-functional projects. For them, Kantree has become an essential part of the switch to remote work during the pandemic.

Workplace post-coronavirus: more digital and distributed

Working remotely has been a staple in the tech industry and it often associated with Silicon Valley companies. However, 2020 has shown that a flexible workplace is not reserved for startups. Prior to Covid-19, managers in traditionally-operated companies often hesitated to relax the structure due productivity concerns. But the sudden shift to the digital office demonstrates that (1) remote work can be beneficial to more organizations than previously believed, and (2) workplace flexibility leads to higher productivity rates and job satisfaction.

Lots of research supports these observations:

  1. A two-year study conducted by the Stanford University found “a 13% improvement in performance” from employees working remotely. Further research by economists from Stanford shows that the pre-coronavirus stigma associated with remote work has diminished following the widespread adoption of the digital office.
  2. According to a survey by remote talent platform Upwork, one-third of hiring managers in the US report an increase in productivity, while 61.9% say their workforce will be more remote going forward. Research by videoconferencing company Owl Labs found that remote employees are 13% more likely to stay in their jobs long term.
  3. Prior to the Covid-19 crisis, studies already indicated the new era of work management. A 2019 report by Upwork found that 73% of teams would include remote workers within a decade. It cites more Millennial managers as a key factor in the switch, as they are more likely to prioritize remote work, flexibility in the workplace, and online collaboration tools.

New tools for more digital and distributed teams

The future of work and in particular the post-coronavirus workplace — more distributed, digital, and agile — requires a new breed of collaboration tools. The lack of the right solutions means that companies are still stuck with spreadsheets, post-it notes, time-consuming status meetings, and over-reliance on email. This situation hinders the emergence of self-organizing teams, where work processes are not pre-determined by upper management.

At the core of working with partially or fully-distributed teams is the following combination of digital tools: asynchronous (such as email, discussion boards) where team communication takes place at different times, synchronous (e.g. chat, video conferencing, white boards) for real-time interactions, and work management platforms for collaborating on projects.

A successful adoption of these tools across the company requires the buy-in of everyone in the organization. In order to avoid confusion, employee frustration, or reverting to a system where not all work is digitized and accessible, there needs to be an active effort to make the transition smooth. This may involve putting together clear guidelines for using the tools, training sessions for both employees and managers on the new processes, and a mindset where the learning of new digital skills is a priority for all, regardless of their experience.

How Kantree democratizes the workflow

As a truly powerful and flexible collaboration platform, Kantree introduces a new ecosystem to unleash collective intelligence. Thanks to plug-and-play project templates and the most advanced customization options, teams are empowered to organize their work as they wish, without the need for tech assistance. Whether they are product developers, SCRUM masters, human resource managers, in-house marketing teams or agencies, Kantree allows them to take full control of their workflows to efficiently plan, track, and collaborate on projects.

That being said, digitizing all aspects of a company may be a daunting task. It should not be expected to be done all at once or the right way on the very first try. Kantree is made to let teams digitize their processes by themselves, without the need for investing in several custom solutions.

In our own company, Digicoop, the intention from the start was to create a work environment with more autonomy and a shared responsibility. Our founders wanted to create products that would empower individuals, not just managers, and have a positive impact on organizations. We operate as a worker cooperative (i.e. a company owned by its employees) and Kantree’s functionality is driven by our co-op values: collaboration, flexibility, and self-management. We believe that with this freedom offered by Kantree, teams feel more assured and deliver better outcomes, allowing companies to fully benefit from their skills.

New management approach: more collaborative and transparent

In the new era of conducting business, work needs to be digitized and accessible to all, regardless of physical location. But it’s not enough to provide these solutions, which many companies began doing during the pandemic. The changing workplace also calls for creating an environment where teams are empowered to take control of their processes.

At Digicoop, our team is distributed around France and we occasionally work from other locations. We have the flexibility to come to the office or work remotely. There is no fixed start or finish time, what matters is that work gets done. Each team member has the ownership of his or her projects, there is an emphasis on self-management, collaboration, and accountability, the core value in a worker cooperative.

This approach can equally benefit teams in more corporate environments. It’s an opportunity to create a company culture where employees feel more connected to their work, and therefore more likely to stay in the long term, lowering your turnover rates and costs. By giving them more autonomy, encouraging to self-manage, and showing that you trust them to do their job well, you empower them to be productive and deliver their best work.

Based on our experience, we strongly believe that forward-looking organizations must rethink the way they operate to make room for more flexibility, transparency, trust, and employee involvement in order to stay competitive in the global market post-coronavirus.

About the author: Pola Henderson is the Content & Community Manager at Digicoop, a remote-first cooperative (employee-owned) company in France that develops collaborative online tools for teams, including the work management and team collaboration platform Kantree.