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High-functioning remote teams

There was a Twitter thread discussing some learnings about how a good fully-remote team works. There are some really interesting ideas within that thread that I want to discuss more.

Direct messages


We almost never DM! We have a team channel that’s just the 9 of us and we use it to talk about work and also socialize a bit—--like a mission-focused group chat. Any observations or questions get put to the group, reducing knowledge silos

I've found that this is one of those things where a fully-open culture can be extremely helpful so long as there is a culture around it. I think that focused team chats make a ton of sense, and using them for a mix of uses makes sense as well. I need to get better with starting conversations in the open. I have had trouble reducing the feeling of "bugging" everyone when I post something within a team channel, so that should be a goal of mine for the near term.

I think that I can set a goal for myself to not use any DMs except when they are actually intended as a "private" message.

Written records


This goes back to our written communication being very important. Because our communication is asynchronous, written records matter a lot. [...] Like DMs, meetings that only two people know about are not encouraged. If two people set an impromptu meeting to discuss a feature or bug fix, they post about it in main chat so others can join to learn or offer advice. Attendance is optional though—--we want to avoid zoom fatigue

I pride myself on having written records, but my written records are not the best that they can be. I know that I need to improve my concision and targeted communications to the audience. I will have plenty of opportunities for that in the coming months. With respect to meetings, there aren't too many times where there are only single meetings. I feel like most of them are pre-planned and scheduled with the entire subteam. I think that one thing to try would be using Slack Huddles, which gives the notice to everyone else that the meeting is going on without being intrusive to their work.



Our meetings have a bit of optional time at the end to socialize and catch up. We’ll also occasionally have a “coffee hour” in someone’s meeting room just to chat. Like all meetings that aren’t on the calendar, these are optional. But they’re nice

I've really liked the built-in social time in recent recurrent meetings, as well as some of the ad-hoc chatting. I've felt like it has helped a lot in improving my connection with the team, and I've always enjoyed taking part in them. I wonder if there are other ways in which I could have fewer boundaries to other people socializing with me, which would get around some of my mental hurdles.

Closing thoughts

There are other remote work and culture discussions around the place, and I probably have a handful saved that could be rolled into this one. It takes more deliberate effort to have a good culture in a remote-only environment, which means that I need to be deliberate about it as well.

Last update: December 5, 2021
Created: December 5, 2021