One of the most important skills you can develop when working remotely is the ability to communicate effectively online. This is not as easy as it sounds, and throughout the world of remote work you’ll find people who can communicate to a greater or lesser degree.
A large percentage of communication is non-verbal (the figure commonly referred to is 93% and while this may not be entirely accurate, it’s still a lot). When we communicate through text alone we lose a lot of nuance. This means you need to both be thoughtful about what you say and how you phrase things, and also sensitive to what other people say.
This doesn’t mean flattening out communication to bare facts but just being aware that things can be lost in translation. A good approach is to assume that people are acting in good faith, even if a turn of phrase or sentence structure is jarring.
Please ensure that you have read through the communication guidelines so that you know what is expected of you and what isn’t.
At Human Made we have multiple approaches to communication and use a number of different tools.
We have a number of tools in place for text-base communication. There are a number of advantages to text-based communication. Firstly, it means that we have a searchable archive of any discussions and decisions. This is useful for people who are unable to attend a meeting, and to look back at the history at a later date. Secondly, it facilitates asynchronous communication, which is particularly important for global teams.
For real-time, instant communication we use Slack. Slack is a messaging app for teams that combines chatrooms, instant messaging, archiving, and a bunch of integrations. We have a large number of Slack channels, including project-specific channels and client channels. It’s important that you make Slack work for you, and you can read some advice about that here.
For bigger discussions, we have a network of P2s. The most active of these is Updates, where we post weekly updates and any company-wide news or info. When big decisions need to be made, it’s best to post about these to a P2. By doing this, you an ensure that everyone in the company has a chance to see it and provide feedback. It’s easy for discussions to get lost in Slack which can result in people feeling cut out of the loop. We have a large number of P2s which you can read about here.
We do use other tools, including Trello for project management, and email for some client interactions. You can check out our Tools page for other tools you can use.
Voice and Video Chats
Throughout the week there are voice and video chats relating to your projects that you should participate in. The current schedule for these is usually pinned to the sidebar of the Updates P2.
Every two weeks we have an all-company hangout and we encourage as many humans to attend as possible. This takes place on Zoom and can have anything from a handful of humans to the whole team present. We have discussions, and people will often demo what they’re working on. It’s a good chance to catch up with what’s going on across the company and to say hi in person.
You will have regular 1-to-1s with Tom and with another member of the company. This is an opportunity to chat about what you’re up to. Do use this an opportunity to share any concerns or problems that you’re having, either at work or issues at home that may be affecting your work. It’s also a good idea to have video or voice chats regularly with any other humans that you work with.
No matter how good our tools, nothing replaces meeting up in person. Every year we have a company retreat where you’ll get to hang out with the whole company. We also encourage you to go to meetups, conferences and other events. While you’re there, you can spend a few days co-working with your colleagues, for which Human Made will cover your expenses.