90+ Employee Team Uses Notion

90+ Employee Team Uses Notion

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Hello everyone, welcome back to keep productive YouTube channel its Francesco here I’m joined by Alex Emden who is in San Francisco. Thanks for joining us today Thanks for having me happy to be here Yeah, so we we first met at the well, we sort of knew each other from the the notion group Right and then we did the mini meetup in San Francisco at a lovely like tea lounge, but we had beers it was like contradictions It was everything yeah, it was good and we got to sit down with a bunch of notion experts and Endorsers and yours, I think particularly interested me because I get a lot of questions on key productive and through the notion group and a lot of people ask How do I use notion in a big team and you’ve been able to do that? With medic mobile and that’s obviously something that I want to dig into So yeah, first introduce yourself and a little bit about where you work My name is Alex Emden. And I am an Operations associate with medic Mobile medical mobile is a non-profit technology company based here in San Francisco But we actually have about four people in our San Francisco office these days. We are a team of 90 overall and we have offices in Nairobi and Kathmandu in Nepal And then we have other than our teammates are spread across 11 countries and 33 cities So we’re very distributed. We’re a team of developers of data scientists All working to build software for health workers and last mile settings brilliant, and and I think what I was so interested about so your notion and also how you and your team use it is that It is so distributed How many people are in your team roughly? Yeah, so it’s exactly 89 people. I retired yesterday for you and It’s 89 teammates and so everyone is in notion we have about 91 people in oceans because we currently have two consultants as well We’ll have consultants Joe and our our notion Wednesday. I start with medic anyone with a medic mobile domain Can click into notion it ends in a way that we haven’t set up amazing and I remember you briefly explained but What made you choose notion above the other applications wiki’s out there? Yeah, definitely. It was a bit of luck of stumbling upon it a lot of googling and so we previously worked in a It was like a Google wiki and we knew we needed a better system it was really hard to update files and keep it up to date and just wasn’t that visually appealing we have our team as designers and developers and people who are really UI and UX focus and so I think that definitely Platform that’s more visually appealing has major benefits for our team and so And I don’t remember exactly where but some googling ended me up with notion and I was able to test it out I saw their base in the Mission District here in San Francisco I was actually able to visit their offices as well they’re about 4 blocks away from our office, which is great and It has a very similar interface to slack I think that’s a lot of our team’s primary communication being so distributed occurs in slack and When as soon as I signed on and saw that it’s a lot of the same kind of Emoji use type interface all of those things were pretty similar In the experience helped push it forward and decide that this platform wasn’t right, especially but pulling from Google Drive pulling from other tools we were using and it’s Yeah, it was a good fit lovely jubbly. Fantastic well I think it’d be a good time to dive into your notion account your team’s notion account And and we’ve got a few questions prepared on the side. So I’ll ask you as we go but yeah, take the reins and Gets through how you guys use notion great. It’s gonna look pretty similar to you Saw a couple months back not too many changes occurred of neurons or mainly the updates We do mostly linked updates and minor text updates are pretty happy with the overall format, but this is our homepage. So So surprising to some people but the notion can handle gifts So we have this this gif of our work some of the sites that we work in rotating through our front page We have our team picture at the top And if you scroll down just quick links into all of the pages that are hosted within our notions You can see here. Just as a quick overview we have Things like our org charts our yearly goals our travel guidelines Internal communications guidelines for how we work and things as simple as how to order new t-shirts And then overall going more in depth about training and work tools for being productive in this dispersed remote environment, so just continuing in a bit to show some examples of the format’s I take advantage of pretty much every Type of template the notion has to offer I think it’s really fun to play with them and switch it around especially once you get into the database templates I use gallery view a lot. I think it’s it’s pretty visual visually appealing and so the example here you do We just have even our office locations clicking into it. You can see Where the address is who the office admin is and things like that? You get a little bit of a sense here as well of where our team is around the world When you first draw in it’s it can be overwhelming to have join a team of 90 so spread out so it’s really helpful Especially to point to notion when team it’s our first joining With medic mobile to get a sense of where teams located what what we do Who the other teammates are when you’re not meeting them face to face in that first week that first month? Fantastic a question there is when because obviously you’re the sort of main contact for notion of the team Do you find it quite easy and to onboard people onto notion from distributed situation? Yeah, definitely To mostly get a handle of it I walk people through is actually part of our onboarding process is a scheduled walk through with myself of going through notion all of our onboarding resources are on On this page are on a collection of pages mainly medic education and so just pointing out all all first teammates experiences are with the call with me saying here are the links to go to here’s Where I recommend you start this resource is available. It’s constantly evolving definitely utilize this platform and save these links Fantastic. Yeah, that’s that’s pretty handy Yeah, it’s actually I think it’s some people to know stuff before is those people onboarding to medic mobile and then there are resources That are useful for for teammates, but unless fewer pages are applicable After your initial six months or so. Yeah, that’s a convention and and Maybe I’m jumping the gun. But how do you get it? So that people are right invited to the correct pages and you know Obviously the I guess you’ll you want it to be fairly accessible to everyone but and do you have me like limitations for certain people? access wise Yeah, definitely. That’s a great question. I think that’s one of also the benefits of notion is that you can set those different limitations It’s last limitation isn’t it’s more relevancy. So for example our teams on Africa Asia and our US everywhere else team has Each have different administrative policies and a little bit different guidelines. And so Rather than setting sort of access levels. It’s allowing pages groups based on What team they’re on so notion is really great. We really utilize groups So, for example, we have these Asia groups African groups just based on teammates who are in Who information will be relevant to them? So we just want to really make sure that where the access level is everyone up in the organization They’re having they are able to have access to relevant information It’s not looking at maybe that Asia travel policy if you’re on Africa team That’s it. Yeah, just so that they see a bit of a cleaner Oshin experience as well. Yeah nowhere to go Yeah, definitely and we do use a lot of shared pages. So it’s not like higher-level access. It’s just shared pages for some of those Items that are less relevant to across the entire team and We I lock a lot of pages. I think that most pages don’t change too heavily there’s some other administrative folks that go in and do quarterly changes and quarterly updates across the whole platform but I lock a lot of pages just because it’s really easy to especially just clicking into this format just change the field instead of the text and we’ve had that happen over and over again when we started back in May 2018 is a lot of folks were changing the database fields by accident and it was getting really confusing to track changes Notion hadn’t set up as good of an undo or page history scheme yet So notions helping us to with that But blocking pages has been really great. And anything that we know is going to sit for a while brilliant and And when when it comes to like planning stuff, do you go about doing any sort of project management or planning inside of notion? We don’t do as much I do some personal and I love notion for personal use as well I have my own totally separate notion for my personal life and for project management we Typically use we use a lot of other platforms. We use Salesforce We use asana for different reasons and it’s really based on preference if notion works best for an individual We’ve encouraged them and I’ve gone through a couple walkthroughs on How you can use Kanban boards for that for your personal task management? And here’s some some templates for that But we’re really flexible on what folks use as an organization. This is our internal Wikipedia but for your personal task management pretty flexible Fantastic, and and I see I member you show me a little bit about the conference as an event site because that’s a core part Of the expense and he takes through how you use that inside a notion. Yeah. Definitely. That’s one of my favorite pages. It’s I think that the calendar and database pages are awesome for teams. They’re very interactive Tagging people is great setting reminders is great especially at this large team so folks don’t have to continue to sign in they get sent these emails and they know to click in that they’ve been tagged to This to this conference or this event So conferences event right now, I typically use a calendar view of this I Switch back and forth one of the great things that we do is switch So for an event, you have the events date you have that when the abstract is due for us We’re submitting a lot of objects to these more scientific conferences Then you have the registration deadline. So flipping back and forth in these calendars is Really helpful for our partnership team to figure out. Okay, where do we need to submit abstracts? We have these coming up we get set on planning We timed the relevant teammates in we have conversations in here in the in the comments of the event on yeah This is interesting. I think this teammate would be interesting tied this he made it. So it’s really an interactive interface specifically for this page, you can see we set Calendar reminders for the abstracts due to get notified a week before. Um, we would like to customize That dates to maybe two weeks before but that it’s not possible yet but a week before spine right now and we track the relevant teammates and then once you’re attending It’s also really helpful. Just keeping track of so many teammates of Seeing for example just got tagged on this one today and it was He’ll be attending and now we’re accepted. So just changing the status and we have about 70 mates very actively attending conferences on our partnership teams across all regions Regularly updating and regularly looking at this page fantastic and You mentioned this is one of your favorite pages. Do you have any other pages that you Like to shout about and enjoy using as a way to keep coordinated Yeah, definitely, I think there’s Let’s see. There are two I have so many things So one of them is as I mentioned because we’re so spread out and we’re just trying to keep track of when you destroy and who everyone is say you’re about to visit a regional office and You want to know people’s faces before you’re there. You want to have a general sense of who you’re visiting and who’s on the team? This is a really helpful page we built out with a more casual version of our website pages for context and so this has People’s positions where they’re based down and then some hobbies so beyond a little more casual than just the website team page where you can see, um, Something’s really cool a partnership scheme all really enjoys bird-watching across regions and that was awesome to see and just have these people a lot of our interactions or work focused and I want a lot of what I try to do is help make that a little more casual and help people build relationships Beyond just the black conversations Yeah, definitely. That’s quite nice Set a way to approach it. I like that. I remember you showed me that and I was like We’ve got to do that internally as we build our team Yeah Definitely, it’s great just to have people’s faces group together and it’s not in the website. It’s separated by region now, it’s my department So it’s just a really great way to organize I get to use a gallery of you here as well I find with gallery view. Sometimes people don’t necessarily know to click in and I wanted to have the information fully available So I chose this view for now. Maybe I’ll switch to gallery at some point. Later lovely another Favorite resource this medic education page is one of my favorites so as I mentioned with onboarding This is a really helpful resource for us and it has we use a ton of mcgrevey abbreviations in ml even at health as an abbreviation, so We are constantly using abbreviations and a lot of what I what I point people to when they first start is checking out the glossary abbreviations We have onboarding literature links to documents about Community health about what is about why global health about who it what is a community health or who are they? What is their role and these are guiding documents for why our organization exists why we do the work we do And are really helpful for folks to point them in the right direction and we also have and here It’s fun a virtual library Which we’re working on building out now But I don’t think this existed when when we met up previously and that’s the car I come over this Yeah, so this is anytime someone recommends This happens a lot on slack folks are recommending books and they were kind of disappearing in slack history So this is a really great way it tags it goes in from global health to work life to management and leadership and you can do tags and this is when teammates joy and I appoint them to this page and say hey here are some books that our team is Recommended for the industry and for remote work culture if you’re looking for a new book Perfect. Yeah that looks really good sort of library virtual library literally and and when it comes to I I think some people probably watching and going this looks fantastic as a resource to be able to find stuff obviously It seems like it’s a really strong internal wiki for you guys but What are the things you would say the notion lacks at the moment? Just for the sake of helping someone may like work out whether it’s a right tool for them Yeah, definitely. I would say the flexibility of anyone more locking databases and locking pages really really helps with I’m Accidental edits that was a big issue with with us when we first got started It’s a little bit Not as intuitive To where you’re supposed to change how easy it is to accidentally edit something when a page isn’t locked or when that the access isn’t Set right So making sure you’re pretty careful on on sharing settings and making sure that you have that set up correctly would be Would be my main thing. Otherwise, I’m Pretty happy with notion. I think we’re really waiting on some some key Integrations and so for example is app here we use all the time. It’d be great to have Slack and ocean talk to each other a bit better for an admin side. I use slack You can slide a notion does have a slack integration right now You can’t limit what’s sent to the channel. So it ends up a little bit spammy, but I use it to check where folks are making edits and where I should be jumping in to help support and so I actually get every Change that anyone makes on notion in a slack channel. That’s private Yeah, it’s it’s intense but it’s helpful because if someone changed something and maybe that shouldn’t have been change Especially in the early adoption stages. It was helpful Maybe know what team a made the change and go point to them and say hey I know you thought you made this change. Actually, this field would be a better place for that or maybe like this This is how you actually should revise this database And the thing is as well because slack you’ve got that slack message You can forward it on to that person and say this is a specific, you know The identification screenshot the all updates page and ocean for that. Yeah. Yeah I think I think that we’re waiting on some a couple of key integrations and I got a little bit more of that different interfaces we use to talk to each other but It’s been a really great great platform for us. We we don’t have you don’t have too many issues with it I would say it takes folks a bit to learn formatting. I’m Really focused on making pages as visually appealing as possible And so I do a lot of reformatting but from a general inserting contacts perspective. It’s been really easy for a team to grasp Well, that’s what I think they I think like when you’ve got a team of ninety and you come into an application like this It’s it it’s about making it as least daunting as possible for them So the visual appealing thing actually does come into play really well And you’ve done that a lot with the new iconography as well obviously branding it. And is it called white labeling? I don’t know like yeah when you customize things – yeah. Yeah, we use into an application We’re a software company as well. We have a ton of icons. We have the whole icon library of ourselves I love using the logos and using you can see a couple of these are our personal icons And it’s fun to see that our team’s influences here and like inserting the gifts and inserting We have some screenshots of the application deeper into the into the pages Fantastic. Well, I I’ve just got one final question and that’s I was chatting with Someone just before the coup Sean and he was setting up notion for staff. And I think there’s sometimes Like a few questions when it comes to creating team pages and if you take yourself back to when you first started with this Do you have any advice for like somebody setting up something like this? That maybe would be helpful for them at that stage Yeah, definitely. I think my main tip would just be really focused on what already exists and it can get most of the things in most of the text you want for this new platform already exists somewhere else in your organization to some extent and so once we got that existing Documentation we had we are at all these lives in Google Drive All these at this information. We didn’t create anything new and I think that made it a lot more manageable of focusing on Okay, here’s what already exists here’s what we have Now that this looks awesome. We built this out Let’s figure out what we might be missing and where the gaps are and then create those pages Because it can be a very daunting project being like we need a whole new Wiki let’s go so I’d say just using language reusing Anything that RT exists you already have the formatting the most difficult part is kind of setting up the structure of What you’re going to include but if it’s a wiki? a lot of this is is almost like a template almost of what’s down the side here you have Okay, when our holidays and meetups, what’s our travel policy? We’re working on merging our handbook into internet fully into notion based on a great example. We saw in ocean ocean pages And so also really looks an ocean pages and obviously Francesco’s resources as well you have some great tools for getting started and Just getting ideas, I think I got a lot of the names of these pages from looking at a ton of other people’s notions Yeah, that’s it, like bringing stuff together. I like I like the advice on the fact that you bring in stuff you already know because a lot of people just want to create stuff that doesn’t exist yet and then that can you know Ya know that’s a really good idea No, thank you. I would say one more thing is just to have a partner in it It’s really kind of daunting to be the only at the organization building out one of these resources and so our HR people operations team anus works really closely with me a lot of the content that she’s building Ends up on notion and so She’s the one who I do those quarterly check into it and just review the whole platform and it’s really helpful to have that kind of extra motivator to UM Have someone on your back making sure you’re updating and making sure you’re you’re keeping up with what you say. You’re gonna do Yeah, that’s really nice. Yeah, and one final question only cuz it popped into my head again is when when it comes to like a big change inside of notion and Do you go about like making a slack post about what’s happened or do you like? Like like how do you communicate the changes and locations of things? Yeah, definitely. So we have a slack channel called general which is important announcements across the organization and so if we’re moving say this is a month out for us, but if we’re moving handbooks up to the shared workspace well post to the slack channel an overview of what it is and then as well as a Link to the page and a person to go to if you have questions or feedback Whether that’s myself or or Britney if it’s more in her realm of HR people operations, that’s brilliant No, that was a that was really really helpful Alex Thank you so much for taking the time out to dive into this and where can people find you and medic mobile afterwards Yeah, definitely. So medic mobile. I actually have a page for this. Oh So all of our Constitutional media is here actually in this in this nice shared notion page You can see our Instagram Twitter. We’re on every social media platform And then my email is Emden at medic mobile org and i’ll just type that here This is this is dangerous, so you’re gonna get too many notion questions That’s okay, I definitely especially starting with I’m really excited about helping Nonprofit organizations get this started. I know it’s it’s daunting especially and that kind of organization a lot of the structure an Organization Falls a bit to the back end and I’m happy to to help it field any questions Thank You Alice well, thanks for taking the time out and this is really really helpful so Thank you so much Yep, definitely great to talk to you great to catch up. Hope to see you in San Francisco again soon Yeah, I’ll ask the cove over again and go for it. We’ll go for a coffee this like it

8 comments

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  2. Great real life example of use of Notion. Will definitely get Notion for our company. Thank you.

  3. Thanks for sharing. It would’ve been even more awesome if you all were to go into further detail about how her notion team is structured. Like is their non-profit paying $8/ per member, or are all 90+ members of their non-profit able to use the platform for free as a non-profit? — I was actually hoping they did project management within their as well because I would love to know how to manage projects in Notion with a growing team! With the permissions being a bit difficult to manage, it’d be nice to get an idea of how to work around it. I also think Notion would benefit from allowing groups/designated members the ability to input data in a database, but not necessarily change any of the databases properties, or custom settings.

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