-“Hey, Karen? How was your weekend? Did you catch the basketball game?”

-“Great game, huh? How is that project coming along?”

4 weeks ago you could check the status of a project while hanging around the watercooler. Today, that watercooler is your fridge.

So what do you do? As a remote-only company here are some things that have worked for us at Zipdev.

  1. Establish guidelines so everyone has the correct expectations on what remote communication looks like at your organization. Does everything happen on slack now? Do we use ZoomHangouts or Skype? What about email? At Zipdev, we use slack for written communication, hangouts for video calls (cameras are always on), and Trello for project management.
  2. Response times need to have parameters. All Zipdev team members are expected to respond to communications within 15 minutes during normal business hours. This would be the same idea as if someone walked to your desk and asked you for something.
  3. Download the messaging apps, like slack and google hangouts, to your phone so you can be reached if someone were to “walk up to your desk and ask you a question”.  This way no one misses any messages that are directed to them.
    • Set up your audio notifications for chat to only sound when you get @mentioned or DM (direct messaged). You want your team to be able to do their work without getting interrupted by group chat from other threads.
  4. Communication frequency is finding that perfect balance where you’re not interrupting their work but at the same time not letting go of that much-needed face to face time. Here are some things we do to make sure we are getting enough “water cooler talk”.
    • Daily Huddles – We have a daily quick 10-minute call and each team member gets 3 minutes to update. We talk about any important/good news, what are the 3 big tasks for the day, and then we let everyone know if we are encountering any bottlenecks.
    • One-on-ones – Check in with your team. How are they doing adjusting to remote work? Are they having issues staying focused at home? Each team member gets a 30 minute one on one with their manager. We discuss accomplishments from the previous month, the worst thing that happened to them, and what they are looking forward to in the next 30 days.
    • Team Video Call – We have a team video call scheduled on the 2nd Thursday of every month. It’s 15 minutes with the entire team and we cover new company policies, open positions, new hires, and then open it up for sharing.
    • Lunch and Learns – On the 3rd Thursday of every month we have a 30-minute lunch and learn video call. This is around new technology, product, or service that someone has used.
    • Book Club – The newest activity we rolled out with our recruiters. We decided on a book called “Mindset: The new psychology of success” and each week we read a chapter. On Friday we have a video call and discuss that chapter. It’s casual and so far it’s been great because we are learning something new and now get more reason to communicate with one another.
  5. Over-communication now more than ever is extremely vital. Be transparent, responsive, and be available as much as you can.

“Good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity.” – Nat Turner