src=”https://buffer.com/resources/content/images/2022/10/chris-montgomery-smgTvepind4-unsplash-1.jpg” alt=”How We Set Communications Expectations As A Fully Remote Team”>
Our remote team is made up of over 80 people. How we communicate is crucial to our ability to work together, share information, and create a strong remote culture. Clear communication is key to building trust and a culture of kindness. We aim to communicate clearly with our team and as a company, what the expectations are for communication best practices so that everyone is on the same page.
Communication expectations weren’t always clearly defined. It was something that I learned from others when I joined Buffer in 2016. We had a document that shared how we approached conversations with customers. It also outlined how we communicated to one another. It was written down by us in recent years to clarify unspoken best practices, and to help us when we are onboarding new colleagues who don’t know our communication practices at Buffer.
Below is an excerpt taken directly from our internal Wiki with our communication expectations for Buffer colleagues. It’s worth a look, and we would love to hear your comments on Twitter.
Please ensure that your email filters and notifications are set up for your role, the tools you use, and your local needs.
1. You can check out our top communication tools either daily or weekly.
There are many tools that we use to communicate. While it is important to establish boundaries for notifications as a remote team member, it is also crucial to be aware of how communication works and to check certain tools on a daily basis.
Tools to Check Daily
- Slack: Please log in to Slack each day you work and update your status and name to indicate if you are on vacation or sabbatical or family leave. Also, please check Slack if you are out for any unplanned reasons such as illness or a personal day.
- Threads: We use Threads as our primary communication tool. Please check in at least once per day and mark Threads to be followed-up.
Depending on the role you play:
- It might be a good idea to check Trello, Jira, Paper, and Notion daily depending on your team. If you are unsure, talk to your manager or the People team.
Check your Weekly Reports with Tools
- Email: Although email isn’t essential for all roles at Buffer it is crucial that you regularly check your email to respond or forward any messages that may come your way.
- Notion: HQ is the central hub for project work. To keep track of project progress and make any updates, visit the dashboard for your team.
Depending on the role you play:
- It might be a good idea to check Trello, Dropbox Paper and Jira weekly, depending on who you are in your team.
2. When you are tagged, respond quickly.
Slack responds the same day.
Slack allows you to @ mention you or DM you. They can expect to receive a response by the end your normal working day (assuming that you are actually working).
Respond to Threads in two days if your tag has been sent, or one week if you have not.
If you are mentioned in a thread, you should reply within two working day. If you are still waiting for a reply from someone, and they do not respond within two working days, feel free again to ping them.
If you aren’t specifically mentioned and the response is not timely, it can take up to one week.
Some threads do not require a reply, but only acknowledgement in the form emoji. These response times don’t apply in those cases.
All other tools (Dropbox Paper comments and Notion comments), Jira, Trello, Trello, etc. The expectation is that you will receive your order within two business days.
3. Be aware of when to use synchronous or asynchronous.
Although we encourage asynchronous communication, we also communicate asynchronously at Buffer.
If you have an urgent matter, or if multiple people are involved, communicate using synchronous channels. These include:
- Potentially, you could text or call someone if they are not available.
You can communicate with us asynchronously if something is not urgent or time-sensitive.
- Dropbox Paper
4. Keep your calendar current.
To avoid double-booking, make sure your Google Calendar reflects your work hours.
If you have to cancel a meeting, please give at least one day notice. We know that life happens and sometimes it isn’t possible to plan ahead. Please give us as much notice as possible.
Communication Expectations for Tool
- You are responsible for managing your downtime. People should be able to talk to one another even when they are not there. We give the freedom to the rest of our team to communicate however they wish. The message should be dealt with by you when you are ready. Tip: Mark unread, star or click “remind” to remind yourself of any items that you have not yet taken action on.
- Use public channels as default: If in doubt, post a message so everyone can see it. Don’t keep private information from others!
- Use your profile and status to communicate availability: To let people know when you are sick, on vacation or deep in a focused period, share your status. Buffer’s Slack profiles provide lots of useful information, such as time zone, sign-on/off times and Calendly Links. To help people communicate the best with you, make sure you have one. Also, check out others’ profiles as you interact with them.
- Take care of your notifications. We recommend Slack’s suggested notification settings, which include only direct messages, @yous and highlighted words. This will eliminate the possibility of your phone or computer crashing with unimportant conversations, and you won’t miss important messages.
- Communicate proactively: Give the person you’re pinging all the context they need to get back to your. You don’t need to send “Hi Joel!” Wait for a response before you add more. Include links, docs and your deadline.
- Thread when possible: The use of threads to respond to specific points allows us to keep up with the conversations that we need.
- Quit/modify slack when it is time to focus: When you want to concentrate on something, you can put yourself away or activate Do Not Disturb. Set your status into a focus mode to avoid interruptions.
- You don’t have to check messages in chat every day. Just because you haven’t read a message on Slack, doesn’t mean that you should. You can let others do their work and you can get on with your own. You can save message-checking for times when you are not in your zone of focus.
- @channel, or @here? Using @channel to notify everyone in the chat room will notify anyone else. However, @here will notify only those who are online at the time. Use @channel for non-urgent announcements. Using @channel in a message will notify everyone that is in the chat room, but @here will only notify those who are online at that moment.
Use threads primarily to announce, update, and make decisions.
- Follow-up functions are available. Note: You are expected to not leave a thread marked for follow up for longer than it takes you to respond. If you want to be able to reply later, mark threads as for follow-up. Be sure to respond to threads that have been marked for follow-up. This makes the thread’s other members uncertain about your response.
- Mark a comment as a decision using the “Mark as Decision” feature. This will make it stand out in the conversation. Anybody can mark a comment to be a decision.
- Only join spaces with people you are familiar with. Spaces should be relevant. You can view Threads by clicking on the headlines of the weekly Recap Thread. This will allow you to skip “joining” spaces that aren’t as relevant.
- Send an Out of Office reply when you’re not available. This will let anyone who is reaching out know where to send their question and when they can expect to hear back from you.
Send emails to that are not meant for you but come your way.
- You can set your working hours. Let your colleagues know when you are available to meet with them. This is how you can add your working hours into Google Calendar.
- Add a link to Zoom in all meeting invites. Zoom should populate automatically when meetings are created using Google Calendar. If this is not the case, reach out to the People team.
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