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Insights for Working, Leading, and Learning Remotely

6 Reasons Your Team Needs a Communication Charter

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

 

Effective communication is a critical tenet of successful teams. Fully remote and hybrid teams encounter unique challenges that result from the lack of in-person cues available in fully co-located teams. These communication challenges common to remote and hybrid teams include:

  • Misaligned preferences, norms, and needs
  • Information overload
  • Overcommunication 
  • Micromanagement
  • Interruptions to productivity flow
  • Communication gaps
  • Misunderstandings

There’s no shortage of communication tools that aim to solve these communication challenges. Yet an overabundance of tools can lead to new communication problems. At Workplaceless, when we support teams who are struggling with communication, we often suggest establishing a team Communication Charter.

What is a Communication Charter?

A Communication Charter is a team agreement that establishes the norms for when, where, and how teams should communicate based on a variety of work...

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The Ultimate Remote Team Holiday Gift Guide

Updated November 29, 2021

 

While we hope you’ve been showing appreciation to your remote teams throughout the year, we've reached the season where gifts can be a capstone token of appreciation for your employees’ contributions through what has assuredly been a difficult year.

Our team has pulled together a robust list of gift ideas that are specifically for professionals who work from home or as a part of distributed teams. We’ve focused on physical gifts as well as virtual presents for teams. Since we’re a small business ourselves, we aimed to include fellow small businesses throughout our suggestions.   

 

Physical Gifts that Require Shipping

Image source: Leon and George, Canva, Deskboard Buddy, SAMA Tea, Frères Branchiaux, Tsedal Neeley

Because so many professionals continued to be physically disconnected from friends, family, and co-workers this year, it can be especially meaningful for employees  to...

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Tips and Training for Async-First Slack

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

 

It’s nearing the end of 2021 and professionals are searching for more flexible work, which is empowered by asynchronous communication. Yet employees also continue to feel overwhelmed by information, which can be exacerbated by ineffective async communication. 

Teams often look to new tools to solve their communication problems. In some instances, a shift to or inclusion of a new async-focused tool stack is exactly what the team needs. However, it’s critical to also evaluate how your team uses and is aligned on the use of their existing communication and collaboration tools in async-first ways.

One such tool is the Slack communication platform. Slack has unfortunately become synonymous with the creep into always-on and ASAP culture. Here are some ways that Slack has morphed into a synchronous channel:

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How to Identify Companies Committed to Remote

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes, 15 seconds

 

The TLDR of “The Great Resignation” is that employees are demanding greater flexibility when it comes to their work requirements, and greater ability to bring a balance of health and other priorities to their lives. In response, employers have been quick to reconfigure roles to appear accommodating to flexibility, and specifically to remote location. However, not all remote roles are created equal and when we dig into these companies and teams, we uncover inconsistencies about what remote truly means. For example, the job posting might be tagged as remote, but the HR team specifies it requires being in the office three times per week or being within 20 miles of the office.

In order to provide support for those searching for flexible or remote positions, we’ve pulled together the critical elements that a candidate should look for when finding a position that doesn’t include remote as just a buzzword,...

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7 Actions for Effective Async Communication and Collaboration

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 30 seconds

 

Organizations continue to tackle remote and hybrid work challenges like overwork, Zoom fatigue, burnout, disconnection, and interruptions. Leaders, managers, and their teams recognize that finding the right balance between async and sync communication is critical. But coming from a work context where decision-making, creative thinking, and connection all take place in a co-located office environment, professionals often struggle to shift to this new paradigm of async-first work.

Before you start to learn how to implement asynchronous communication and collaboration, it’s critical to understand both:

But HOW can teams implement impactful async communication? Here are the seven fundamental steps to implementing effective asynchronous workflows, collaboration, and communication:

 

1. Establish a Placeless...

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20 Habits of Healthy and Productive Remote Teams

 

Successful remote teams understand the need to develop the fundamental skills necessary to function efficiently and effectively in a distributed environment, but they also iterate on best practices that work for their particular organization. We reached out to fully remote teams and companies to ask “what are some habits or rituals your team uses to stay healthy or productive?”

Here are some habits they shared that we can all learn from.

 

“Schedule flexibility is key to health and happiness, and GitLab is consistent about prioritizing time away from work. Every Friday is a meeting-reduced Focus Friday; About once per month, the entire company shuts down for Friends and Family Day. 

In 2021, we piloted an experiment in Async Weeks: every sixth week, my team clears all non-critical meetings from our calendars to create space for deep work and innovation. It’s a breath of fresh air to have a wide-open calendar and all the time you need to...

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24 Tips for Inclusion on Hybrid Teams

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes, 30 seconds

 

“I’ve been doing this for over a year, I’ve got it figured out and don’t need to develop skills.” This is the 2021 fatal mindset flaw for managers of remote employees. Reminder: emergency remote work doesn’t develop the same habits you’ll need for sustainable remote work. And critically important as offices reopen, hybrid is harder than everyone working fully remote.

Hybrid teams have an increased risk of inequitable experiences between in-office and remote team members. Establishing policies, practices, rituals, skills, and benefits that actively level the playing field and focus on inclusion will prove critical to the health and success of hybrid teams. Here are important themes and helpful ideas to get started.

Craft policies with clarity and intention.

One attendee referenced the quote “Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.”

1. As we emphasize in our Placeless Playbook,...

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Async vs Sync: Balancing Remote Team Communication

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 10 seconds 

 

Communication is the exchange of messages—in the context of work, communication is how ideas are generated, expectations are shared, connections are made, and work gets done. At a general level, communication modes can be divided into two types: synchronous (sync) and asynchronous (async). 

What comes to mind when you hear the term asynchronous? Pre-pandemic our team would receive blank stares when bringing up the concept during conversations. However, 2020 saw a significant rise in the term as asynchronous communication and asynchronous learning began to play a larger part in our daily lives. 

With BCG’s Decoding Global Ways of Work study reporting that 89% of professionals would like to work fully or partially remote in the future, async communication is going to be critical to success. But what exactly is async communication, what is it not, and why is it so important? A common definition of...

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More Effective Virtual Meetings in 9 Easy Steps

For remote teams, meetings are essential to building relationships, communication, and collaboration. But virtual meetings can also be one of the biggest time-wasters for remote teams. 

Which of these situations sound familiar?

  • You're at a meeting that you probably don't need to attend, but attendance is mandatory.
  • All anyone is doing at the meeting is presenting updates.
  • There is no interaction between meeting participants.
  • One person, or a couple of people, dominates the discussion.
  • The meeting runs long.
  • There is no clear agenda.
  • By the end of the meeting, people are confused about next steps.

Virtual meetings don’t have to be this way. 

Our recent Networkplaceless conversation focused on building and facilitating more effective virtual meetings. Mark Tippin of MURAL, Waikit Lau of RemoteHQ, Megan Eddinger of Workplaceless, and all of our attendees shared experienced advice. Here are some critical steps you can implement today to make your virtual meetings...

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Creating Virtual Celebrations with Purpose

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes, 40 seconds 

 

As we approach the 2020 holiday season, many of us will not be celebrating in our traditional ways or locations. The realities of our current distributed working situations are forcing us to rethink our previous ways of gathering, like coming together in one physical location for holiday parties, and adjusting our plans to a virtual environment.

Our Networkplaceless community came together in November to share ideas about celebrating virtually. Thanks to everyone who attended, we walked away bursting with new ideas for connecting with our colleagues. The framework for this conversation came from Priya Parker’s book The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters (you can also watch her excellent Ted Talk here.)  

In the process of considering what makes a gathering meaningful and impactful, attendees shared ideas related to three topics highlighted in Parker's work: purpose, environment, and...

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