This is the third post in a blog series about keeping the work efficient while working remote.
Many companies use Slack on a daily basis for communication and file sharing. This is a perfect tool for collaborating and exchanging ideas in a persistent way. If you spent lots of time in Slack when working at an office you will notice a big difference when working remote. You will spend more time in the chat and on calls. With some small changes you can achieve a better experience for yourself and the team.
Make sure that everyone has a real profile image of themselves, and preferably one that is representative. This gives a more personal connection to everyone in the workspace. If you have a new colleague starting during this time it is extra important for that person to get to know everyone. Having a real profile image helps with that.
Try to use video conversations when possible. This should not be underestimated in terms of how much it can help with social connection within your team, and it adds a more personal touch to meetings and things you do together. It’s always refreshing to get a face to the voice, and it creates a social connection that is hard to get any other way.
One small but effective thing to add to Slack is to set a color theme for your workspace that matches the brand of the company. For example I have a theme for our Digitalent Slack workspace and another for our client Dahl where I'm currently at assignment. This gives a look and feel to Slack that adds some kind of connection to the company and group of people in the workspace.
Under normal circumstances you would probably use the built in statuses "Working Remotely", "Out Sick", "Commuting" etc. This doesn't really apply when working remotely. But you can edit those or set your own status. When everyone is working from home it's extra important to set up expectations for when a colleague will answer you. Slack should be asynchronous by default but when everyone is working from home it's more fair to expect quicker answers. By setting new statuses like "AFK" or "At lunch" it will be easier for everyone to get an expectation on time to answer.
Speaking of expectation on getting a response, be careful with the use of @here and @channel in Slack, and know the difference between them. @here pings all active users in a channel, while @channel pings all users in a channel regardless of status. Do you really need to get hold of the colleague who is on vacation? Use them only when the message is important and urgent.
Since we're Swedish we don't want to give up on our fika. So we have recurrent meetings for fika every day. This is a great way to take a break from what you are doing and chit chat with your colleagues. Also to see everyone as close as it gets to a face-to-face conversation. You could take the opportunity to give people a tour of your living area.
There are also Slack apps that help you schedule lunch setups with a random colleague. This is a fun way to hang out with colleagues and get to know each other better. At Digitalent we use the app Donut to arrange this.
When working remotely, communication is one of the most important aspects. Think about how you are communicating and explaining things. Usually it is a good idea to write things more thoroughly than before. Over-explain things and be more active. If you are not participating in conversations and meetings you will be more of a ghost during this time. Share thoughts, ideas and code more frequently than before. For this Slack is a perfect tool.
Lead Consultant at Digitalent