5 Team Chat Tips for Remote Teams

March 12th, 2020
Chat through a tin can

Is your nonprofit, foundation, or social good team going remote?

While we have a home base in Brooklyn, NY our team has been remote since our beginnings in 2007. As a result, we have learned a thing or two.

We use tools like Slack to stay connected and in-tune with each other. Slack is a team chat application which is great from remote teams to stay in contact with each other. Here are some tips and ideas about using Slack or any team chat app.

I hope you find them useful.

  1. Setup a #standup channel. Each morning team members post a list of the things they are working on. This is a nice way for project or team leads to see what each team member is up to without having to have a meeting. We use this and don't post anything else to this channel. Have lots of teams or departments? Create a #standup challenge for each.

  2. Consider a #watercooler channel. Make sure and encourage some time to connect in a lite social way. Make sure there is time to be human and not all work robot.

  3. Share love! Whether using emoji to give a 👍 or a ♥️, make sure to give lots of kudos. It's a small thing that has a notable impact.

  4. The greatest challenge is for managers. Team chat can be quite distracting and disruptive if not careful. A quick "@" to a teammate is so easy to do in chat. That would be analogous to going to tap on someone's shoulder while they are working. You need to explore a management style that works for you and your team. Some like to do a daily personal checkin at the end of the day or team checkin via a video chat to talk about work. Some have team members post quick regular updates about what they are working on to an appropriate channel. This allows a manager to take a peak and see if all is well or to suggest a check in.

  5. Direct Messages are your friend. Most team chat tools allow you have a private chat with an individual. Often these are referred to as direct messages. It is not uncommon for us to start a conversation in a channel that leads to a lot of back and forth. That back and forth can dominate a channel that is shared by many. We can say it. That is annoying. Don't hesitate to move that conversation to a 1-on-1 through direct messages.

If you have any other questions about remote work, please don't hesitate to contact us via email or better yet reach out via twitter. Have a tip you'd like to add to this list. Please share that forward as well.

Seth Giammanco
Principal, Strategy and Technology

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