Making remote work more actionable

Why Acapela exists

How it began

My Co-Founder Heiki and I had the idea for Acapela in early 2020. And we started working on the project in a remote setup.

Being in different countries and time zones opened our eyes to the benefits of remote work.  We believed that it creates more freedom, flexibility and free time for the people who do it right. We wanted to make it easier for other organisations to do remote work well.

And then the pandemic happened. Twenty years of technological adoption happened within a span of weeks, as millions of people started to work from home. That came with a lot of good. Many people realised they could still do their jobs outside of the office. But with more flexibility, more time with their kids and zero time spent commuting.

At the same time, this new working environment was far from ideal. Trying out a new way of working against the back-drop of a terrifying health crisis, lockdowns and school closures wasn't ideal.

But an equally pressing issue was the way most companies went remote. While they might have been working remote, they were doing it in a synchronous, office-lite way. They copied and pasted the same work practices they had in an office into a new remote setting. And that didn’t work.

Zoom fatigue became a thing. Employees burned out. Worse quality of work eroded any quality of life gains.

The need for better remote workplace tools moved from nice-to-have to absolute necessity. Millions of people’s working lives depended on it. We knew that this was more of a pressing need than ever before. And we set out to create a solution that improved people’s remote working lives.

We didn’t know exactly what the product should look like at that time. But we believed in a few core principles:

  1. Remote work is here to stay. The pandemic opened Pandora’s box and there is no going back. Millions of people had a taste of no commutes and more time with their families. People are spending higher percentages of their work working from home.  And many have started fully-remote positions. Remote work is an everyday reality now.

  1. If a company isn’t office-based five days a week, then they need remote tools.  Not all companies are remote, but not a single company we have spoken to is back full-time in the office. It’s now the norm to let employees work from home at least one day a week from work. And one person working from home one day per week means your companies need to adjust to them. Otherwise, remote employees feel excluded and collaboration breaks down. Hybrid work is just another form of remote work.

  1. Remote work is best when it’s asynchronous. i.e. it’s done without the expectation of people being glued to video calls and Slack all day. This allows people to focus, get into deep work, be more proactive and feel more fulfilled. Remote tooling should enable this.

The challenges of remote work can be overcome with the right tools and processes. And that's what we set out to create.

Acapela v.1

Our initial focus was on helping companies move away from synchronous office-like practices. Zoom fatigue had become a huge issue during the pandemic. We heard time and time again that employees were in too many video calls and wanted out.

Listening to our users, we built a tool that lets people do their meetings asynchronously. Fewer Zoom meetings, more time for focused work.

It soon became clear that although meetings were a pain for some, this was only a small part of the wider problem. The much greater and prevalent pain was coming via the tools people were already using to work from home.

Tools like Slack, Notion and Google Docs made digital collaboration possible. But they weren’t built to enable the ideal remote working environment. They were made for a more synchronous world. They didn’t empower users to be their most productive selves.

Busy channels and incessant notifications made it easy to miss important requests. Gathering feedback from colleagues would take days rather than hours. Decisions took forever to make and descended into endless comment threads.

On a personal level, people felt frazzled by having to be on top of their notifications. They felt frustrated by not feeling like they were able to do as much as they wanted to.

For companies, missed messages and unclear actions blocked team members and caused delays. These delays wasted resources and were bad for morale. They were struggling to default to action.

Making remote work actionable

The latest version of Acapela makes remote work more actionable. It does that in a few key ways.

  1. It sits on top of your existing tools

Companies are already using collaboration tools for their remote work. Acapela isn’t trying to replace these tools. We're enabling them for a remote working environment.

Acapela isn't another tool you add to your stack that you struggle to get employee buy-in for. It acts like a collaborative layer that sits on top of your existing tools. It’s not there to replace them but to make them more effective.

  1. It adds a layer of accountability to everyday work

Remote work is messy. You can try to dictate strict processes for your team. But the reality is that tools like Slack are where people make requests and collaborate.

Acapela acknowledges this messy reality. It focuses on bringing accountability to these existing tools. That way, action items never get missed or forgotten. Whether it's:

  • acknowledging you've read an important message;

  • gathering feedback on a document from a group of people;

  • getting a decision made without a lengthy Zoom meeting;

Acapela makes it easy for your team to turn these requests into action items. And it does it directly from the tools they use every day like Slack.

Every important conversation becomes accountable. Everyone knows what they need to do next to push things forward, without needing to chase people. It organises the everyday requests that help drive effective collaboration forward.

  1. It’s lightweight and easy to use

Project management tools are great for organising large team projects. But you need strong systems and processes to make them work. All it takes is one person not updating their tasks and the whole system starts to break. And the everyday actions that push projects forward often get made in tools like Slack anyway.

Acapela is lightweight and easy-to-use. It’s focused on one thing and one thing only: action items. It makes it simple to capture these and flag the importance and urgency of a task. It then organises and prioritises these action items in a simple dashboard, so you know what to do when. It works in tandem with existing task managers and project management tools.

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The result? Teams default to action. They make quicker and more effective decisions. They ship things faster. And they're able to spend more time getting into flow.

More focused and less frustrated employees. More productive teams. Better remote working.

Interested in trying us out? Acapela is currently in beta and we’re looking for early adopters to help us shape the future of our product. If you’re interested in making remote work more actionable, then you can book in a demo call with our team. We’d love to hear your thoughts!