Tracey Zimmerman, Robots & Pencils

BY: Level Agency
September 29, 2021

During our inaugural Level Agency Summit earlier this year, we were honored to have Tracey Zimmerman, president and CEO of Robots & Pencils, as one of our featured speakers—and it was awesome. Read on for a high-level overview of some of the knowledge bombs she dropped on us.

And friends, this is definitely an episode worth listening to, as a written overview doesn’t do Tracey’s wisdom justice. Check out the latest episode of Test. Learn. Grow., as we gain insight into navigating the remote, digital landscape we find ourselves in.

Robots & Pencils is a digital transformation firm founded on the premise that to get great products and solve difficult problems, you must have the humanities and the sciences working together. So, within the firm, the humanities people are the designers, the artists and information architects, and so on—the “pencils.” The scientists are the engineers, the developers, etc.—the “robots.” Bringing those teams together, ensuring they’re on equal footing and contributing towards the best outcomes, creates a culture of mutual respect that makes Robots & Pencils a strategic partner to some of the world’s best brands.

With Robots & Pencil’s more than 230 employees spread across 3 countries, Tracey’s learned a thing or two about success in a remote work environment. Here’s just a few to pique your curiosity before you head over to Test. Learn. Grow for the full listen…

  • A virtual HQ, such as Slack, is a must have. Create a space for project or client discussion, company happenings and more, so remote employees feel like they’re part of a community.
  • Cultivate a culture of transparency. Driving communication in a public space, like your virtual headquarters, can encourage idea sharing.
  • While transparency and public communication can be vital, keep in mind the adage “praise in public; criticize in private.”
  • Context is easily lost in digital communication. There’s no shame in using emojis to convey tone.
  • Meetings are unavoidable, but you can be intentional with them.
    • People need to see people—do hold all-company meetings on occasion.
    • Record the meetings and put them in one of your virtual HQ’s channels for anyone unable to attend.
    • Keep meeting minutes, too—a high-level overview or summary of the meetings helps employees remember key takeaways.
    • For all other meetings, keep the number of participants to a minimum. Meetings are concentration breakers, so give summaries of meetings to anyone that didn’t need to attend the meeting but should still be in the know.
  • Consider sending a weekly email newsletter to all employees.
  • And finally, assume good intent. From employees to clients—they’re all human and complicated and innately valuable.

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