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Our lessons on Slack communication

If your remote work is breaking down, the chances are quite high that it has something to do with communication. For organizations that perform advanced tasks, it is essential that information is distributed and open source.

If you’re familiar with Goodpatch, chances are you’ve heard of Goodpatch Anywhere, our full-remote design team. Launched in 2018, the idea came about as Goodpatch Tokyo, limited by in-house talent resources, decided to offer this option to clients whose projects they would have otherwise had to turn down. Although many companies were initially skeptical about working with remote teams, recent events have forced remote work into the mainstream.

Now, a little more than one year in, the Anywhere talent pool has grown to 100+ designers from around the world. From collaboration and communications tools, to team building and knowledge sharing, suffice to say we know a thing or two about managing remote teams.

The lessons have crossed over to our studios in Tokyo, Berlin and Munich, where we communicate almost exclusively via Slack. This transition from email to Slack has made the whole company more flexible and remote work much easier. But communication tools like Slack can both enable and impede the flow of information.

Ultimately, the accumulation of individual actions determines the culture of an organization. If each team member is thoughtful about how they share information, everyone will save time and energy down the line.

Here is a list of Goodpatch Anywhere’s biggest tips for remote communication via Slack:

  • Your icon should be a photo of your face: Chat communication can feel impersonal. By having your face as your profile icon, it makes it easier to imagine who you’re communicating with.
  • Update your status: Use one of Slack’s default messages or create a custom status so your colleagues know what you are up to. This way, your team and manager don’t need to ask what you’re up to — your status keeps them informed.
Pro Tip! Zapier allows you to sync slack with your calendar to automated status updates. Once set up, whenever an event starts on Google Calendar, your status will automatically update in Slack. Learn more about how to add this hack here.
  • Keep things positive: Remote work can be isolating. Using positive expressions (!) and emojis will improve the mood of those you’re communicating with 😄 🙌
  • Keep Slack communication as open and transparent as possible: While there will always be confidential aspects of design work, limit direct messages and try to keep your online communication on channels that are visible company wide. This information transparency increases productivity.
  • Be brief and be polite: Chat conversations lack context, so try to be more polite than you would if speaking in real life and try to share information in the most concise and appropriate way.
Pro Tip! Hit the up arrow key to edit your most recent message in whichever channel you’re in.
  • Add reactions: Adding emoji reactions to posts keeps comments to a minimum while acknowledging that a message has been read. What may seem like a trivial gesture will help the writer feel heard.
  • Use the thread function: Slack communication can quickly become scattered, so return to the thread as much as possible. Having conversations around the same theme in the same thread will reduce oversight and increase search-ability.
  • Video chat when possible and keep a record: In addition to text conversations, it’s important to have video calls to reduce the hurdles created by remote work conversations. The Anywhere likes to record video conference calls as reference material. In addition to Zoom, the Anywhere team also uses Discord for voice chat.
  • If you don’t get a response, follow up: You can’t control when someone will respond and all too often, messages disappear into the void of the internet. Don’t hesitate to follow up on your message until you get the information that you need.
  • Leave a message, even if the person you’re messaging is away from their desk: All team members should manage their notifications so that when they are online, important messages are still visible. Instead of wondering, “Is she working? Is now the right time to send this message?” just send the message and follow up if you don’t hear a response. You can’t expect everyone to work on your schedule, especially if you’re working in different time zones.
Pro Tip! Choose keywords to get notified for. You are automatically notified when someone tags or mentions you, but you can also be notified whenever certain words are used. Also, if you can’t find the last post you were tagged in, head over to recent mentions in the menu for a nice list of every time someone has mentioned your name or one of your keyword words.
  • Make sure you mention people: If you’re referencing someone, make sure to mention or @them. This ensures that messages acknowledge who they are for and that important messages are not overlooked by the people who need to see them. If you want to get the whole channel’s attention, you can add @channel (to notify everyone in the channel) or @here (notifying only those who are active and online).
  •              
  • Only ask one or two questions at a time: Nothing is more confusing than a long series of questions, followed by a long response to all of those questions. Focus on one or two questions at a time to make sure questions get answered.
  • If someone is slow to respond, get on their schedule: If there is someone who doesn’t reply often, whenever they message you, try to reply back as soon as possible to continue the conversation. Waiting for someone to reply is okay, but it’s also important to communicate using more approachable timing. This applies to both online chat and in person communication.
  • Make use of Slack’s text formatting options: When sentences are long, try to break them up and/or highlight the most important information using bold, italics, or even bullets.
Pro Tip! You can create block quotes by using the ‘>’ symbol and then ‘space’ before typing your sentence.
  • Set reminders: If you can’t get to something right away, Slack has a great reminder feature. You can set reminders for personal tasks, upcoming meetings, and to give your team the kudos they deserve. You can also set recurring reminders.

Happy Slacking! 🤪

If you’re interested in learning more about Goodpatch Anywhere, feel free to email maya@goodpatch.com!

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