Scribd has had some remote teams for almost a decade but only recently have we needed to be 100% remote which ended up being a very new concept for many employees. With our teams working from different locations all over the world, we rely heavily on video conferencing and Slack to keep team members connected and collaborating effectively. Over time, we have identified a variety of best practices for folks who are working ‘remotely’ - meaning not in the room with their colleagues.
With the Team
- Talk about it! Don’t assume that everyone works best the same way. Have discussions with your team about what works well for you and what’s challenging. Some teams may have established more explicit guidelines already.
- Set expectations about how people can get your attention - Slack tags, direct mentions, email, etc
- Check-in periodically about what’s working, what should change
- Respond promptly during working hours, even if only to let people know that you’ll get back to them.
- Use ‘Away’ and ‘Do Not Disturb’ functions to indicate when you’re unavailable, such as on PTO/vacation or outside your working hours.
- Use the Google Calendar/Slack plugin if you want Slack to automatically indicate when you’re in meetings.
- Some groups have expectations to know when people are on lunch or otherwise away from keyboard for a while, so check in with your team(s) and negotiate.
- Set your working hours through this setting in Google Calendar.
- When you are out of the home-office, block your work calendar. This helps people understand when you are and are not available for collaboration.
- Have a solid connection
- Be mindful of your bandwidth, computer processor, etc
- Internet connections/bandwidth in shared spaces are unreliable; be mindful about taking meetings in new/untested environments
- Be visible
- Light your face! Pay attention to if you’re backlit and look like a silhouette
- Video on, unless there are connection problems, or another really good reason
- Be audible
- Invest in a good microphone / headphones
- Mute if there are problematic background noises
- Be present
- Avoid multitasking
- Speak up / contribute to discussion
- Meetings like All Hands are recorded and can be watched on demand; usually for a couple of days afterwards.
- Your coworkers will sometimes make mistakes when scheduling meetings! Always assume best intentions, and be vocal in requesting rescheduling when they fall outside your working hours.
- Prepare for asynchronous work communications, ensure you have unblocked type of work when the other office is off hours.
- Prepare for others to be ending their day before or after yours. Set alerts to ensure you have time to communicate in advance.
Across the industry there are those with plenty of remote-work experience sharing their tips. I encourage you to consider them all, discuss with your team, and piece together what practices are going to help you stay effective while we all stay home.