Effective Slack communication
Good communication is an important aspect of our culture at 14islands. We have offices in three different countries and a few collaborators spread across Europe (and sometimes the globe). It's easy to say that remote work is an essential part of our business.
Since we’ve shifted from a physical workspace to a remote one, it has become even more important to ensure that we communicate as effectively as we can.
Today we use Slack as our main internal communication tool. Here are a few aspects that we have been improving to make sure our remote communication stays as effective as possible.
Always say hi or bye
One of the biggest transitions we’ve seen is the lack of human interaction that we would get in a physical office space. Unfortunately, we are not all together physically (we wish!), but one way to address this lack of in-person interaction is to always mention when you are online and offline.
Did you just get online? say "Good morning" (if it's morning to you). Leaving? Say "Bye-bye, Good evening, Au revoir" — or something like that.
During the work day, if you take a break or run some errands, let everyone know. This not only helps expectations but keeps Slack alive with small updates.
Remember: you may be alone where you are located, but we are all connected online.
Format it well
If you are about to write a long Slack message, organize it into paragraphs so it's easier to read. If you are sharing a report of some sort, consider creating a "Post” so you have more formatting options. Turn words into links. Use bold or italic when you want to emphasize something. Did you just make a spelling error? Edit your message and use strikethrough to let them know what you have changed (in case somebody read it before you got the chance to fix it).
It can be difficult to go back and find particular conversations in Slack sometimes. It’s a good practice to create a thread for a particular subject. Keeping all messages on that subject in the same thread helps keep Slack more tidy and organized.
Don't be afraid to use emojis or gifs
Sometimes it be hard to read the tone in written text communication. Whether the author is serious, joking, or just having a laugh. Emojis can help. Consider this example:
"Hmmm. Let me think about that.”
"Hmmmm 🤔 Let me think about that."
Which one sounded less serious to you?
Of course, you don’t want to abuse your use of gifs. 😁
But there are a few good use cases to keep in mind. When somebody says something, feel free to react with an emoji. If you say that you are going away for a while, no need to write again that you're back. Simply react with a 🔙 back emoji on your own message so people know.
Have more channels
At 14islands, we have a few Slack channels that we consider useful. Our Slack is a living workspace that evolves with time, but here are some current favorites.
#general - General chatting. If there isn't a specific channel for the subject you want to talk about, it will probably go here. This is where you greet people and see what everyone is up to.
#music - Share music that you consider to be worth it. Everybody likes to listen to music while they work.
#life - Share about your life. A selfie, picture of a dog, food (we have lots of foodies in the company). Don't think too much if it's a good picture or not. This is not Instagram 🙂
#project-XX - Project-specific channel. You talk about the project here, share files, progress, questions, etc.
#client-XX - This is a project channel with the client in it. If you happen to be in one of these, be mindful of your tone and how you communicate. Usually, only the leads of the project are in this channel.
#random - Usually for jokes, memes, or anything that you consider to be a random subject.
As you can tell, only a few of these channels are actually about work. The rest are for setting culture.
We have even more channels at 14islands, and the only way to get to know them is to join them.
Keep it open
The nature of Slack — and part of the point — is to inspire open conversations that are inclusive. For this reason, avoid private conversations, direct messages, or talking in small groups. While it's completely fine to have side conversations sometimes, we need to keep our remote work environment alive. That small talk that you are having with somebody in private might be interesting to somebody else. We do our best to replicate the famous "water cooler" chats that you get over in offices.
Another important aspect of our culture is transparency. We like to keep things as transparent as possible at 14islands. Asking a question in a project channel might be useful for documentation, and others might have the same question. Your contribution can be more relevant to the entire community than you think.
Noise is optional
Don't be afraid to make "noise”. In fact, we don’t consider conversations on Slack to be noise, but instead as helping nurture our remote culture. It's up to each person to control how much they want to read or be disturbed. Slack provides tools for muting a channel temporarily or to avoid notifications.
If you're saying something that requires a specific person’s attention, write in the channel and mention the person with the @ symbol. Like: @MarcoBarbosa Hey dude!
There is a very useful feature that is called reminder. Simply type the /reminder when you want to be reminded or remind somebody in the channel. This is very useful when you don't want to forget something that you left for later action. You can remind yourself to get back to it later.
This simple feature is incredibly useful if you want to use good timing to deliver messages in your favor. Friday night DM? Nah, make it Monday morning instead.
Remote work is here to stay. Using your communication programs properly is not just a luxury anymore. Learn the good parts. Practice. Refine with time. Everybody will feel closer this way.