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Someone I follow on Twitter recently wondered if twittering might be useful at work, as a means of communication between coworkers within a company. It struck me at the time as a very, very bad idea. Many companies are hesitant to use enterprise messaging applications because they fear worker distraction. Company use of Twitter would obviously put even more of a strain on the attention spans of readily-distracted employees.
Now there’s a service that aims to provide the benefit of regular status updates without (one hopes) the productivity-killing distraction inherent in Twitter or Facebook, for example. It’s called Remindo, and it provides you with a bare-bones company network for free. The company network is organized by email address. In fact, the service is so based upon email addresses that I had trouble figuring out how to sign up when I initially visited the site.
Apparently, you start by “Joining your company network”, which may or may not yet exist. Being a freelancer, I of course signed up using my work email, which is a MobileMe address. The result? I now belong to the Me.com top-level user group, of which I think I am currently the only member. The email address limitation I can see as being both Remindo’s greatest virtue and its single biggest undoing. On the one hand, it keeps out the riffraff, making sure that a company network can only contain company employees. On the other, it makes it rather difficult for the tool to be used by more loose affiliations, like freelancers engaged in coworking, or a project team made up of independent contractors.
Once you’re logged in, you’re presented with a home screen that has a Twitter-like “Talk” pane on the left, and a menu along the top through which you can navigate Remindo’s different features. There’s “Messages”, “Files”, “Milestones”, and “To-Do” and also your profile page. You can also create groups to control access within a larger company, so that your Sales department, for instance, won’t be unnecessarily distracted by what’s going on in Engineering.
Messages and Files are pretty straightforward, allowing you to do just what you’d expect, share messages and files with coworkers and group members. Milestones is a nice and simple project goal tracker that operates via a basic calendar interface. You can add titles to milestones, set deadlines, and set those responsible (although only one individual per task is selectable, which could be quite limiting).
You can also create as many To-Do lists as you want, and then optionally attach them to Milestones. To-Do list items are similar to Milestones in their simplicity, allowing you to add a title, and assign a person responsible. Items themselves don’t have associated dates, but by attaching them to Milestones you can make sure they’re time-based.
While I wouldn’t recommend it for freelancers because of the email restriction, Remindo is a good alternative for small companies who aren’t looking for a costly, full-fledged content-management system or corporate intranet, but who would like some of the productivity tools that come along with such a solution. It’s free, it’s easy to pick up and learn, and it is simple enough that the possibility of distraction is suitably lessened.
Have you tried a Remindo or a similar system? What did you think?