April 8, 2020

Remote Tips

Document important information in a public place.

Sharing knowledge

Remote group collaboration can be tough, and sometimes key info gets lost in DMs, private channels, email chains, and quick phone calls. Make sure you’re documenting critical decisions and sharing them in public channels. To ensure knowledge doesn’t get buried, use the pin feature in Slack, or document process in shared documents like Google Docs. (If you’re shared on a doc and asked to contribute, make sure you take the time to digest the info and contribute to the conversation!)

Digital stand-ups

Additionally, digital stand-ups can be a really effective tool in starting your remote day. Aligning on the day’s priorities with your team in a public place not only helps you and your immediate team understand your priorities, but it can be an effective way to get alignment with your collaborators and other members of the org!

Trivia: Did you know Slack stands for Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge”? 🚀

Facilitate your meetings effectively.

Remote meetings challenge us to speak up over others. This can lead to some tough situations where meetings end without all voices being heard. If you create a meeting, make sure you facilitate and call on people to contribute. (Pro tip: this works in person as well!)

If you have trouble keeping things on track, challenge yourself to come to every meeting with a clear agenda. When things get off course, gently remind the team of the meeting’s purpose and guide everyone back to the current topic. Don’t move on from that topic until everyone has had a chance to contribute.

Need an agenda template for meetings? Use Paper!

Use Slack like a pro.

Slack had a ton of awesome integrations: Hangouts, Calendar, Dropbox, and more. (To start a hangout with an individual or group, just use the command /hangout in your DM or channel!) Since every team is different, I won’t explain all of my favorite Slack workflows, but feel free to explore Slack Apps for more integrations and slash commands.

Allow for deep work.

Deep work is defined as: Professional activity performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that pushes your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.”

Instant communication is awesome, but in a remote setting, it can have the same effect as walking up to your colleague and tapping them on the shoulder. This pulls them away from their current task and can focus their energy on something that could be answered at another time, or by other members of the team.

If you have a question for someone that isn’t immediate, consider using a public channel vs. a DM.

Tip: If you need focus time, snooze notifications or use a Slack status.

Communicate feedback appropriately.

It’s oddly easy to get used to the quick transactional communication style that tools like Slack and Email are great at facilitating. While they allow us to move quickly and efficiently through knowledge sharing communications, they are not the best way to have emotional or tough conversations.

Choose your tools wisely when working remotely. If you need to have a tough conversation, consider hopping on a phone call or a hangout. (Pro tip: if you choose a hangout, use video! There is nothing worse then getting tough feedback while staring at a blank stared avatar of your manager.)

If you’re giving positive feedback, consider using emojis! 🚀 The opportunity for emotions to get lost goes both ways. Use these tools to your advantage to make sure your feedback is felt the way you intend.

Build culture remotely.

One thing that is often lost in remote work sessions are the small culture building actions we take on a day to day basis. We forget to share what movie we watched the night before, or the new restaurant we ate at over the weekend.

These types of conversations and activities are critical for our teams to feel like they are in a community of individuals who they can trust and relate to. Utilize channels like #random to continue building the empathetic culture we have built in person.

Take care of yourself!

More than anything, take care of yourself! Cabin fever is the real deal. Here are some quick things you can do to stay sane.

  • Get dressed every day. We all love wearing sweatpants, but your environment has a great deal to do with prepping your brain for different types of scenarios! Signal to yourself that it’s time to work by maintaining your daily routine for getting prepped for work.

  • Take a walk. If you’re feeling low on energy consider taking a walk. There are studies that say taking walks can boost creativity and problem-solving. Also, the weather seems to be nice. 🙂

  • Talk to people with your voice. It’s easy to go a full day without speaking to someone. If you find opportunities to speak to someone one-on-one with your voice it might be helpful to keep your energy levels up. (This is especially true for extroverts!)

I originally wrote this for the team at Buffy when we first went remote, but thought it would be helpful for others. Feel free to share and add your own tips and tricks.

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