It used to be that communication was too slow and there weren’t enough options. Snail mail, calls, and faxes used to be the norm.
Now, we have reached the extreme opposite and we seem to have a hard time keeping up. Incomparable speed and too many (well-intended) options bring their own set of challenges.
Whatsapp, Slack, Facebook Messenger, Email, Calls, WeChat and the list continues. You send an email but don’t get a reply fast enough, send a message to a group chat but then forward a file that was sent to you on Slack and all of the sudden you have all your important information and resources spread across 4 different platforms. On top of it all, this is 1 out of 11 different conversations that are happening within the same time frame with the exact same M.O.
When it’s time to collect all the information, what are the chances we miss an important detail?
Good communication is the difference between a smooth project and a nightmare of a project. Mistakes and setbacks happen but if all the information is clear and out in the open, they are a lot easier to anticipate and fix. Not to mention the difference in your anxiety levels. Anxiety is not a friend, don’t feed it.
If it serves a high rank within a traditional organisation, then within a remote work structure it should be queen. There’s no last resort speed run to your coworker’s desk or last minute meeting to share each other’s work. If you are working in different time zones, your coworker may be asleep when you need him or her the most. But if you are organised, if your communication is streamlined, then you can easily fix any problem you have or workout any doubts you may have by yourselves without having to waste someone else’s time.
It’s never gonna be a perfect system, it never is, but there are a few things you can do to protect yourselves and increase your company’s efficiency.
Here are our two main lessons learned after a decade of working remotely:
Centralize your information
Ideally we would have one app/website/platform that does it all. But if a human can’t, we can’t expect the same from technology yet. However, this doesn’t mean you need to have 100 different ones, especially when many of them may overlap features and over complicate your system.
1 main short-form communication platform:
We are talking about IM platforms that let you have a quick conversation to clarify any doubt, idea, etc.
Most companies use one platform well to communicate but then forget to conclude the conversation properly. Once you have finished your conversation, regardless of whether or not you have shared documents or images, formalize what was decided.
1 long-form communication platform:
Good, Old faithful email: at the end of the group chat or one-on-one chat, send an email to the those involved – or anyone else who should have been involved – with all of the decisions that were made and the information that was shared.
If any of those translate into tasks then it’s time for a project management tool. It’s all you need, don’t complicate it.
1 Storage Cloud / FTP Server
Link your project management tool here or save what is shared here.
Keep it organised and have a folder for old forgotten ideas. So they don’t create clutter and slow down your process.
It’s the only way you won’t waste time and effort, if you are:
- thinking about and creating solutions to problems that may have already been resolved or
- working on ideas that may have no room to grow
Let people know, keep a document wherever your main information is for everyone to see, edit and update if necessary.
With our teams, we try to keep things as simple as possible. Google Docs has been a great addition allowing multiple people to review a document in different time zones, mark off what has been completed, and update new tasks. It is basic, but after trialing many different task management software, this was our favorite most reliable system. Every month we have new companies with the latest greatest software trying to get us to try it. For at least the last 5 years Google Docs has been our go-to platform, and we don’t see us changing that anytime soon.
This is how you survive – and enjoy – working remotely. What are some of the techniques you use?