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This article was published on October 26, 2011

WorkSimple infuses your office with elegant solutions that truly matter

WorkSimple infuses your office with elegant solutions that truly matter
Drew Olanoff
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Drew Olanoff

Drew Olanoff was The Next Web's West Coast Editor. He coined the phrase "Social Good" and invented the "donation by action" model for onlin Drew Olanoff was The Next Web's West Coast Editor. He coined the phrase "Social Good" and invented the "donation by action" model for online charitable movements. He founded #BlameDrewsCancer. You can follow him on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, or email [email protected]

Agile work environments aren’t just for developers and engineers anymore. Project management software has been a mainstay on the web to handle teams in different locations and handle projects with many moving pieces.

More and more mainstream companies are looking to the web for management tools, and WorkSimple has built an elegant solution to handle tasks, goals, communication, and employee feedback.

Tracking the progress of a task is simply too boring to keep employees involved, so companies like WorkSimple and Rypple are gamifying management by letting colleagues praise you for a job well done. WorkSimple does this well, and has more project management features than Rypple does.

The company calls itself “The Social Goal management Company”, and I’ve found that the platform would be great for any type of collaborative goal tracking. Recently, WorkSimple released an app for its platform called “Praise”. The praise app encourages positive feedback on tasks and goals, with a familiar social network effect within a team when someone is praised.

The standout feature of WorkSimple is “WorkStory”, which shows all of your tasks and goals in a timeline, and allows the employee to publish goals and achievements to LinkedIn.

I interviewed Morgan Norman, CEO and founder of WorkSimple about innovation to better the workplace:

TNW: What is lacking about the workplace that leaves so much room for innovation?

Morgan Norman: Today’s employee is asked to more than they ever had to do. The pace of work has changed. Employees and managers need new ways to have better conversations around work, results, and simply what’s going on.

Employees and coworkers need to feel better about their contributions and accomplishments. Both need to get and give recognition when it matters. But much has shifted in the modern workplace, priorities change daily, new goals arise.

Goals are no longer heavy, top down, annual or quarterly. They are agile, lightweight, easy to change easy to update, and flexible.

This is where WorkSimple comes in, picking up where performance management left off. Performance management tried to help the conversation between manager and employee — but it didn’t work or engage.

We help employees share their good efforts and work. Employees can showcase both shorter-term goals and long-term goals. While goals can be assigned, the system is designed from the bottom up — which allows for self-organizing and helps engage the workforce vs. top down models.

For companies that choose to go this path, they ultimately acquire a more engaged workforce that finds a greater meaning in their everyday work. To make goal sharing engaging and useful, employees can use an application that looks familiar to other consumer applications such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.

TNW: Is surfacing this information making Managers jobs easier or harder? Meaning, more data, more work?

Morgan Norman: Certainly, it’s making managers’ jobs easier. The hardest thing to do is helping everyone share, track and communicate what they are not just working on, but what they are trying to accomplish. It’s easy for managers and employees to forget about the priorities of the team.

Most managers are switching focus, trying to keep up and can lose track of: What has changed? What new requests does the team have? What did we accomplish last week, last month?

What other teams are working on that impacts your success. This is where WorkSimple comes in and provides value to the manager and the coworker. WorkSimple is driven by employees vs. top down. When employees set goals, everyone is alerted on their activity stream, through daily digests, and reminders.

Workers today can’t simply keep everything at the top of their mind. WorkSimple shines here and helps everyone know what’s coming next and what we are focused on. WorkSimple keeps that information at the forefront.

TNW: Are companies actually able to spend their time on better projects because of WorkSimple?

Morgan Norman: Not only are companies able to spend their time on better projects, but suddenly they see projects running that they didn’t know were going on. We find that that is one of the biggest gaps in how managers evaluate employee performance today — they forget about the other 90 percent of work that employees are doing everyday to keep their companies running. We want to surface and recognize those efforts.

TNW: Tell us about your team and why WorkSimple does it best

Morgan Norman: Like many of our customers, we have the same challenge internally. We have two primary locations with multiple secondary locations. We have to coordinate teams without conference calls and team meetings — with single updates and priority changes.

We had a relentless focus on making goals and work meaningful and collaborative for three years now. This means a design that works for the broader employee community vs. a platform design for tracking workers like many systems out there. Our ultimate goal is to help every employee remember his or her accomplishments and get recognition.

Feedback and Recognition is a wonderful thing in the workplace, and we are the first to make goals lightweight, employee-oriented vs. big heavy performance reviews and management tracking systems. It’s all about the employee — and finally they have a system that is designed for them. Part of what makes us well suited for this is that we have a free product (which will continue to remain free) that you can use with unlimited users.

The difficulty with any service like this in the workplace is getting everyone engaged and using the system. It’s probably a good idea to test WorkSimple out with a smaller team or department within your organization, and then share your successes with the higher-ups.

Getting started with WorkSimple is free, with pricing models based on extra features ranging from $5 to $9 for each employee. The free version will be more than enough for you and your team to get comfortable with the base functionality of WorkSimple.

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