Remote working has always been around; it was simply never the first choice for most companies. For most, the number of hours worked or the physical presence in an office equated to productivity. However, the global pandemic has forced companies all around the world to adapt to a more remote or hybrid approach.
The problem with forced adoption is that not all companies were ready to make the shift. While tools like Slack coupled with Notion, Trello, and Google Drive made remote work possible, it simply caused too much context switching between all these different apps.
Paired with that problem, people still tried to work like they were in an office - booking meetings and blocking time off to collaborate. The problem with these meetings is that while it is productive, it has the tendency to go overtime.
People tend to squeeze in catch-up sessions that would have otherwise happened during random watercooler chats.
Instead, teams should look into trying to work things out through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous methods.
The reality is that although the world is slowly going back to normal, remote work and hybrid work are here to stay. This article aims to help those still looking to improve communications and workflow to maximize productivity and help create a better working environment.
So here are six tips you can adopt to improve your communications and improve productivity:
1. Asynchronous by default, synchronous when really needed
Remote work made employees and employers alike rethink how to manage life outside of work. In the office, it’s easy to disconnect work and life because of the physical distance. Unfortunately, in a remote work environment, it can be much harder to draw the line.
A viable solution would be to work on an “asynchronous by default, synchronous when needed” approach. This approach respects people’s time - giving them the flexibility to set work hours while still tending to personal needs and wants.
Spaces on Rock give you the flexibility to use both async and sync methods of communication with the team.
Make use of the Chat mini-app to communicate with colleagues and clients asynchronously. Simply leave a message, and anyone you have invited to join you in the space can reply to your message when they have the bandwidth to do so.
In addition, the Topics, Notes, and Tasks mini-apps provide additional asynchronous, more documented functionality. This ensures that projects are moving forward, even when people are working across different time zones or schedules.
When really needed, you can also catch up synchronously by meeting to brainstorm ideas, discuss tasks, or simply have an informal coffee chat. The Meetings mini-app is available in every space so that you can easily schedule meetings from any space in Rock. The mini-app integrates popular video conferencing platforms like Zoom, Google Meet, and Jitsi.
2. Be deliberate
When you’re working remotely, especially when you’re working from home, it’s easy to be distracted by things you have to do or by the people around you.
To keep yourself focused, set aside a block of time to be productive. When you’re on focus time, make sure not to schedule any meetings or check messages. As a result, you lessen the context switching of dealing with messages and queries for teammates and clients.
When working alone, it’s essential to focus on the important tasks, notes, files or messages you need to attend to. The Set Aside panel on Rock can help you create a dedicated list of things that require your attention for the day. It can also be used to keep something at hand so you don’t have to search across spaces.
When it comes to meetings, one of the best practices you can do to be more deliberate about organizing them is to make sure that you have agendas set up right before. This makes it easier for people to use good judgment to determine whether or not they’re needed in the meeting because they already know the topics to be discussed. In addition, this lets people involved in the meeting prepare ahead of time.
Feel free to use Rock’s Meetings to schedule meetings in Spaces directly. On top of that, don’t forget to utilize the Topics mini-apps to set or discuss agendas ahead of the meeting. Then, you can pair it with Notes to jot down essential minutes throughout the meeting.
3. Documentation, documentation, documentation
As a remote organization, you can’t walk up to a colleague’s cubicle or desk to ask elaborate questions about a task or a project. This is why a remote organization must keep detailed documentation about things to prevent bottlenecks and project delays.
Rock’s multi-function ecosystem allows for robust documentation and note-taking within tasks or projects. For example, you can quickly turn any conversation in-chat to a topic or a note. You can also add messages to a topic or task notes. These allow for better discussions as relevant discussions are grouped according to its subject.
Topics are best used to consolidate in-depth team discussions regarding a specific topic or subject. You can also cross-mention any relevant tasks, notes, and even other topics to the topic. This makes it easy to keep track of everything in one place. Topics also help reduce the noise, as they are not as notification-heavy as the chat and only involve topic followers.
Notes are available to keep important notes, findings, and further information about the subject matter in one place. It also has its comment system within it to make it easier for colleagues or team members to give feedback on the information provided.
It’s easier for project managers and clients to create complete and well-informed tasks using Rock’s Tasks mini-app. Like in the Topics mini-app, you can also mention other relevant tasks, topics, and notes to create a better context for those assigned or following the task. In addition, you can add cloud attachments from Google Drive, Figma, and more via the Files mini-app or upload it directly from your computer.
4. Don’t be afraid to speak up or ask questions
Because remote working does not typically allow for the usual chit-chat that happens in a physical office environment, it’s okay to be a little noisier when chatting. Don’t be afraid to speak up when you have something to say about a topic and don’t be scared to ask questions if something is unclear.
Create group spaces or 1:1 spaces with the colleagues you need to speak with. Group spaces allow you to add colleagues, clients, freelancers, and other external project stakeholders so that you can freely discuss anything. If you prefer to ask someone directly, feel free to open up a 1:1 space with them and discuss things.
Some Space housekeeping tips to remember would be:
- Keep discussions relevant to the spaces you’re speaking up in so you don’t confuse everyone.
- Open up topics if you want to discuss things in-depth or when a conversation is only relevant to a few in the space.
- Set tasks and assign them to the relevant people if action plans have been made.
- Mention people if they need to be notified of developments or updates in the project. You can also mention tasks, notes, files, and topics anywhere to reduce searching costs.
Everyone signing up for Rock gets added to an All-Hands space if you’re on a corporate domain. The All-Hands space makes it easier for you to create company wide-announcements without worrying if anyone missed them.
5. Pick and choose your notifications
Notifications are essential because they ensure that assignees, followers, and mentioned people aware of developments in the tasks or projects.
Rock has a robust notification system that informs you of any updates or comments on any task, topic, note you’re part of. In addition, @mention feature allows for anyone to mention or tag a person, topic, note, or task related to the project.
Make sure to allow Rock so send notifications to your device, whether desktop or mobile. That way, you can receive notifications in case something important that needs your attention pops up.
By clicking on your profile photo in the upper-left-hand corner of the app (both desktop and web), you’ll be able to set your preferred notification options for device alerts and email alerts. In addition, you can also have a look at the activity panel, which is the bell icon on the left-hand side of the app.
When it comes to notifications in the app, you can keep track of the blue dots to see new activities within the spaces and mini-apps.This will help you keep track of developments in the spaces and mini-apps.
6. Use the appropriate tools
The tools you use at work set the foundation for the work, culture, and communication your team will have. It can help make or break the way work flows between you and your colleagues. Therefore, you must have the right technologies in place to ensure that it allows your team to maximize productivity and communication.
The proper messaging app will allow you and your team to communicate with each other despite the time difference and the lack of physical interaction. Get an app that enables you to segment messages into different spaces or topics so that everyone can follow through and contribute without getting lost in all the chatter.
Make sure to find the right project management tool so that your team can collaborate and work through projects seamlessly. Tools like Rock enable people to work independently while still being able to discuss things when needed. In addition, a good project management tool will allow project managers and task owners to add as much information to give good context to the assignees.
Rock is an all-in-one tool that combines messaging, project management, and more in one interface. It allows your team to work asynchronously to focus on the things that matter the most - doing good work and being able to make time for things outside of work.Try out Rock for free now and see the difference it will make to your team’s communication and work.