Future of Work — 7 October 2016

Why measuring “what people deliver” is driving revenue and winning awards in Germany

It’s a bold new world we’re adjusting to, with some work place habits harder to break than others. And whilst remote working or working from home (WFH) are becoming commonplace in our culture – how is it actually improving efficiency, and how much is just a case of the boss doing the team a favour? We’ve certainly heard anecdotal cases of the latter.

What if your company decided to scrap the office altogether?  In fact, what if they decided to remove the concept of the normal working day entirely? Deciding instead that the business would be better off without the barriers of 9-5, four white walls and physical desks? Suddenly working from home (WFH) is less of a perk, and more of an essential.

Welcome to the world of KAVAJ; an ecommerce start-up from Germany that’s done just that.

KAVAJ designs and sells genuine leather products on Amazon.  They’ve got ten employees, but no office, no official working hours and their entire IT is in the cloud.  The product is designed in Germany but manufactured in China, and, as they told us, as they’re selling online – what’s the point in taking on the costs of renting and maintaining office space?

But, has the model worked? Well, each member of staff works remotely, from wherever they please, at whatever time suits their family or lifestyle, and so far, KAVAJ has generated 19 million Amazon sales, with a turnover of around 4 million Euros a year. What’s more, they’re being recognised for it too, this year the company was nominated as one of the most family-friendly German companies of 2016.

In a recent interview with Drop Everything, the two founders took time out to explain how it all started.

“In 2011, we were working for Amazon in Germany and we didn’t know how to make an iPad case, we just knew we couldn’t find one we liked for our own, original first-release iPad,” says Kai Klement, co-founder number one. “We used personal Dropbox accounts before the business was launched, so we were keen to look into an Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS) solution for KAVAJ right from the start.”

Co-founder number two, Jorg Kundrath told us they signed up to Dropbox Business for a number of reasons. “Without any formalised office structure, it was essential for us that the EFSS solution would work on all devices without any IT service requirements.  We needed content to always be synchronised but at the same time, version history offered a great backup in case of accident. Making documents centrally available takes an enormous amount of communication effort out of the daily workflow. Features such as Dropbox Paper also allow the entire team to collaborate on blog posts, agendas, protocols and briefings, almost as if we are in the same room.”

Interestingly, one of the few unassailable problems facing cloud providers – that most are blocked in China – still hasn’t affected their use of Dropbox as a business.  “Even though we’ve had to build a private cloud in China, where we have one employee who needs access to folders, we still prefer to use Dropbox Business everywhere else.  It wouldn’t be an option to replace Dropbox with our own private cloud because it doesn’t work nearly as well as Dropbox Business does.”

Seamless integration with other useful cloud products like Evernote, Slack and Zoom means KAVAJ has the flexibility to operate exactly as it needs to, regardless of location or device.

When it comes to other businesses thinking of taking ‘KAVAJ plunge’, Kai has this advice. “We are living evidence that a successful business can be born in the cloud, and can thrive in the cloud too. Providers like Dropbox, that integrate their services with other providers, become essential partners when starting up a business.”

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