We’ve been working in a fully remote or hybrid remote environment here at Good & Gold since day one (#humblebrag), so we’ve learned a thing or two over the years. First, the truth is that “working from home” looks different for everyone, so not all these tips and tricks will work for every team or every worker. But we’ve embraced a few key best practices that we think can make a difference for any business that is planning to make remote work work for the long-haul.
A chat platform is a no-brainer for remote work. But if your Slack workspace is a loosely organized free-for-all of chatter, then it’s more of a liability than a benefit. To help control the unnecessary noise and distractions, we recommend keeping the following in mind:
Segment your channels. You might benefit from more channels than you think! Rather than one “general” channel, segment by department or project or whatever makes sense for your company. This also makes it easier to go back and find previous conversations and helps reduce unnecessary noise.
Set a status. Most chat platforms allow you to set a status to notify others if you’re available or away from your computer. It’s easy to tell at a glance if someone is available or at lunch or out sick.
Embrace the fun! In the absence of water cooler hangs and coffee chats, Slack can also be a great place for non-work related banter and building camaraderie. We have a variety of “fun” channels, which team members can easily mute if they are too distracting. A few of our favorites we think you should try:
Check your integrations. In this day and age, most platforms integrate with other platforms pretty seamlessly. In our case for example, we integrate Slack with our project management software, Asana, to get real-time notifications when tasks are completed or team members need help.
Be clear about what it’s for—and what it’s not for. Having clear guidelines around how communication channels should be used is key. It’s easier said than done! For example, you might decide that urgent issues should be resolved on Slack because they get too easily lost. Instead you might decide that any urgent issues that need to be addressed immediately should be communicated via email, or on a video call. Set up guidelines that work best for your company, just make sure those expectations are clear.
In a similar vein to your chat platform, a trusty project management system is a must for remote work, but consistent guidelines are essential. To make sure your chosen platform operates like the well-honed tool it should be, create a set of conventions or guidelines for how your company uses your project management software that anyone on your team can reference.
Here at G&G, we live and die by Asana, and our “Asana Conventions” include everything from a detailed breakdown of task settings, how to use custom fields, expectations around due dates and timelines, and much more. We then make sure team members can ask questions or provide feedback if any of our conventions aren’t working so we can stay flexible. These conventions also serve as a great training tool for onboarding new employees!
Having a templated system for submitting requests and creative briefs can be a giant time-saver in a remote workplace. We leverage Asana’s forms feature for everything from creative briefs for paid media campaigns to website bug reports to detailed analytics requests.
Providing team members with a pre-made form makes it easy for them to request what they need while ensuring that project managers gather the information they need to keep the work moving forward. If you have an automated way to do this (via a project management software or something similar), all the better. But even if you can’t automate it, having easy-to-use templates and a clear system for submissions is a great place to start.
The systems above are great when your team has a clear idea of what needs to happen. But what if you don’t? What if a question, request, or idea requires more ideation and out-of-the-box thinking? For those situations, we created a standard framework for problem-solving that helps get us started on the right path. We call this “Solution Architecture,” and it can be used for solving all kinds of problems—essentially, it ensures that we have a clear, shared understanding goals, and that the right people are designing the right solutions for the right problems.
This could look a variety of different ways depending on your team and business, but our approach pulls from three existing frameworks:
We may not know the solution to every problem, but with our Solution Architecture framework, we always know where to start!
There are so many tools that are great for getting work done in a remote world, but they can also lead to being constantly available and “at work.” You can’t shut your office door in an online environment! Sometimes, you have to fake it. We’ve embraced “blocked time” as a means of getting work done amidst the distractions of remote work technology.
Plan in advance: put blocked time on your calendar to hold yourself accountable and to let team members know that you won’t be available. Then shut it down. Turn off your notifications, silence your phone, and close out your inbox to ensure you have uninterrupted focus time to get work done. Most importantly, it works for Good & Gold because we’ve created a culture of respect around blocked time. We all benefit from uninterrupted time to dig deep into solving a difficult problem or power through a long task list. Enjoy that sweet, sweet productive silence!