Setting Contexts

Living a Virtual Office Kinda Life

Posted in Crayon, Online Productivity, productivity, tools by jquig99 on September 30, 2008

I’ve been working with crayon for just over two months now. It’s been a significant change for me from before – not the least of which is working from home.

At crayon we use a number of web-based tools to stay organized and also to keep in touch – many I’ve talked about on this blog before.

* Basecamp – we use it for project management and have just started to share with our clients. It took a full day to reorganize the existing account when I started – I also put together a couple of screencasts for our team to learn how to use it. I’m also planning to do a couple for our clients so that they feel comfortable using it.

* Backpack – we use this as our own intranet. Anything internal (not project-based) goes here. This has been really successful in terms of adoption – everyone has been adding to pages as well as adding their own.

* Highrise – we’re using this for our CRM solution and to track our new business process. As of right now, only the crayonistas involved with new business have access.


* ooVoo – (disclosure – ooVoo is a crayon client). We use ooVoo for text and video chat throughout the day to keep in touch. I’m looking to incorporate Campfire instead – less interruptions, more work.

* Google Docs – we share docs that we use as a company – status reports, contact lists, etc.

* iPhones – most of us at crayon have iPhones for use on both Macs (me) and Windows (everyone else). I’ve written up for the team how to get our 37signals apps on the home page as well as the different productivity apps I test/use.

* Twitter – we love Twitter. Most of us are using it regularly, the other are just starting to add it into our workflow. Each of us seem to have very different networks for the most part, as well as some overlap.

These are the tools we use at crayon everyday. With a virtual company – communication and organization takes on even more importance. These services work for us today, and as a lot of these are new to everyone, it’ll take a bit of time for complete adoption and the level of comfort that I have – something to keep an eye on.


11 Responses

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  1. JGKemp said, on October 1, 2008 at 5:11 am

    I’ve had amazing success in the past getting clients to use Basecamp. The best feature Basecamp has going to make it appealing to reluctant adopters is they can participate largely from email without ever going to the Basecamp site. They simply respond to the emails and that response is updated automatically on the site. It allows them to test the waters before diving in once the value is realized.

    Another interesting note, I have been using linkedIn and FaceBook a lot more for business use. Instant Message has fallen off the radar.

  2. LtMainsten said, on October 1, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    My own little firm uses Google Docs extensively to archive and set up common points of reference, esp. since we’re all spread out over the state. For those who have a strong service orientation, I’d really recommend a virtual phone service like gotvmail. We use it for a vanity 800 number and to coordinate customer calls. It’s also online-based which helps for the virtual office set.

  3. Marios Alexandrou said, on October 1, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    Twitter seems to be the odd one in the list. Do you use Twitter to communicate with other Crayonistas?

  4. Jade said, on October 1, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    I’m starting up a new company soon. Should I register a virtual office space or should I go ahead with renting a small space first? What are your thoughts?

  5. jquig99 said, on November 10, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    We do use Twitter every day to communicate also as much as watching how each of us communicate with our networks (which are all very different).

  6. jquig99 said, on November 10, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    @Jade We love the virtual model. It works for us and we’re able to keep our overhead really low. Good luck with your company!

  7. Saverio Mondelli said, on November 24, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    I saw your blog featured on the 37signals Product Blog. If you’re a fan of Basecamp and your iPhone, you should check out our “Groundwork” product. It started off as a product for our own use only and became so useful that we figured we’d put it on the AppStore.

  8. Saverio Mondelli said, on November 24, 2008 at 1:36 pm


    I recommend getting a small space to “centralize” your business. Sometimes it just helps to have “some where to go”. Depending on your home situation, there can be a lot of distractions around.

    I recommend checking out these guys:

    You can get a 14×14 office for about $400/month with all utilities and internet included, plus (depending on the place) they are usually fully furnished.

  9. Lars Steiger said, on November 24, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    If you are still in love with OmniFocus and OmniFocus for iPhone, you might be interested in this:

    I put a little service called Spootnik ( together. It synchronizes Basecamp with OmniFocus and vice versa. It is currently in private beta. Write me if you like to test-drive it.

    Best regards,

  10. Dave Tenen said, on January 8, 2009 at 12:22 am

    Jade –

    It depends on your current business model. Just as Saverio said, there can be a lot of distractions at home.

    Office space can get a little pricey which is where Virtual Office space comes in. The office without the actual office.

    Apart from Regus, there is also Servcorp whereby you can work from home and still enjoy the benefits of boardrooms, secretary services, utilities in your preferred virtual office location.

  11. PsypeDype said, on April 22, 2009 at 9:04 am

    hmm… cognitively )

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