Part 2 of the Declutter series. Six remote experts on how they promote clear communication in their remote workspaces
Remote is the best way to work, but only if it's done intentionally. Think of it this way: if you see clutter on your physical desk, would you let it sit there forever?
Nope, you'd get organized. In the first part of this series, six remote leaders talked about how they organize their digital workspaces.
But it turns out "organization," when it comes to remote teams, is not simply writing and sorting files. In fact, organization has an Achilles Heel: your team communication.
Even the most immaculate, clutter-free workspace won't save you when an endless flurry of random communication threads and non-stop notifications snap you out of your flow.
So let's ask the experts: How do you communicate in your remote team?
Writing is only one way to document, discuss and explain things. Using different tools can help everyone be able to add critical information to your workflow.
“We give more information recording ourselves in video than just text alone.”
Angela says, “For everything we believe video can add more context and clearer explanations to, we use our tool Claap.”
This can cut down clutter by heading off follow up questions and can make things like step-by-step instructions clearer and easier to follow with a screen recording. It also empowers people who feel less comfortable writing to contribute asynchronously.
"People like to receive information in different ways,” explains Mark. “Sometimes it’s email, Slack, Loom videos, or meetings. Everyone has their own working style.”
Rather than fighting this, metadata.io repeats information to make sure everyone can find what they need when they need it. “It’s uncomfortable at first, but you just have to repeat things and send out reminders on different tools.”
"Everyone is figuring out how to work remotely in the last couple years, so have conversations with your team and don't assume things."
This makes it easier for your team to stay on top of updates and processes, no matter what their personal workflow is. And, as Mark says, it’s vastly preferable to finding out that “things that we thought we had announced weeks or months ago” had been missed.
Chris is full of ideas, all the time. “I have tons of ideas sparking from all directions of Slite. It’s impossible –– and a bad idea –– to act on them all ASAP,” he says.
A personal doc for any and everything that is on your mind means you show up in public discussion with more direction: “Having a way to dump my thoughts and reassess my top priorities privately is perfect.”
We at remote companies spend a lot of time talking about how to make things work async. But “while async work is great and an important part of being remote-first, it's also important that you know when and how to navigate a sync discussion,” says Hanna.
Cultivating good practices for synchronous meetings can help you guide clear and concise discussions, and prevents breakdowns from misalignment.
Onboarding materials are a new employee's first impression of a company, and thus, of its culture.
“I don't expect everyone to be experts in the pet care industry, so I spend time writing out a personalized guide for each new role. It's an intro to the company and a list of week-one tasks, plus a list of resources. It gets everyone up to date and ready to jump in.”
Larger companies can use input of managers and current same-level employees to create personalized onboarding assets for each role.
This not only adds a human touch to that ever-so-important first impression, but it can also cut down extra back-and-forth communication during onboarding, which can leave a lot of digital cleanup –– threads and notifications to archive.
Managers who demand teams constantly notify everyone of their progress create an impossible-to-manage deluge. Avoiding this chaos means building better norms: “Success for employees in today's workplace is much more about the environment than it is about strategy,” says Kevin.
Rather than micromanaging, use regular, strategic check-ins and keep communication lines open for support. As Kevan puts it:
“You hire great people because they're great at what they do –– so let them do it.”
(This is part 2 of the Digital Declutter Series. Click here for Part 1.)
Lauren Christiansen is a freelance marketer with a passion for content that helps teams work better, together. While she specializes in B2B SaaS professionally, in her spare time you can find her unplugged and hiking in the woods of New England.
Clara Rua is on the Design team at Slite. She juggles with all the Slite's brand codes to make our values and beliefs come to life in illustrations, projects, and visuals, amonst other things. You can find her cycling, surfing, pottery making, jump-roping, yoga-ing from the south of France to the Moroccan west coast.