Ever wondered where's best to share your ideas? Here are some guidelines, and they are only guidelines - how you communicate is up to you.
Status (instant messaging)
When to use
- Should be used for discussions that resemble a casual chat during the working day.
- Works fine for discussions that require no permanent referencing, i.e. day-to-day or throwaway discussions.
- If a topic is likely to remain useful and others may want to search for it in future, or if it turns into a longer discussion that the whole of the organisation is likely to want to see, move the discussion thread to Discuss.
- Consider always when writing in a private channel whether this discussion could be had in an open channel. Default to transparency wherever possible.
- We work in an asynchronous and distributed environment, so we should not expect that Status conversations take place in the moment. Allow time for your co-contributors to get involved in discussions and decision making.
- Each person has their own cadence, so this part is intended to give guidance to those unsure how to prioritise Status comms. There are no rules around your responsiveness. As a guideline, you might aim to:
- Respond to a DM within 1 working day,
- Read higher priority channels within 1 working day,
- Read lower priority channels 2-3 times per week.
- If you need time to focus on some deep work, feel free to switch off Status.
- When kicking off a ping, it’s helpful to give full detail in your first ping, versus potentially disturbing someone’s concentration by sending “Hi” then following up with your details (during which time the person you ping may have given up on whatever they’re working on to wait for your follow-up).
- It’s helpful to start a DM by giving some anticipation of the urgency of your request, e.g.:
“Hi! [non-urgent ping], can you let me know XYZ when you get a moment? Thanks!”
- Please bear in mind that Status has no way of displaying a person's availability/status, so don't expect an immediate response to your DM (e.g. someone may be away from their laptop or doing some focused work).
- Consider that not everyone that might benefit from following a discussion will be in your chosen channel. Consider moving key topics to Discuss for a wider audience and for better/easier future discoverability.
- Make full use of the formatting available in Status for greater clarity.
- Consider that DM pinging may imply some urgency for the receiver. If it’s possible to remove urgency from your communication, use Discuss.
- Most Status channels are public (i.e. open and accessible to the wider community). Private channels are still in their early stages, and don't guarantee confidentiality. At this point in time, you may want to make use of emails when discussing confidential information with other contributors. Avoid sharing the following sensitive information in open channels:
- Personally Identifiable Information, aka PII (finance, HR, recruiting info etc.)
2. Security vulnerabilities that threaten our network
3. Marketing/business/partnerships under embargo.
- Don’t feel bad for not being able to read all channels all the time. There is a lot of information and the best we can do is skim it for relevance. Get a good understanding of which channels are critical to your work, and don’t worry so much about following closely the rest.
- Consider establishing a Status-free day in the week with your team, where everyone can focus on deep work. You may want to nominate one person each day to keep an eye on Status channels for any urgent pings.
Have a discussion with your team about how each of you uses instant messaging and what your expectations are. Try to reach a consensus about response times and urgency of pings.
When to use
For discussions that are:
- Long-form, or
- Important for future reference; or
- Interesting to a wider, channel-agnostic audience.
- No urgency is implied in a Discuss thread. Discussions can go on indefinitely. If you need responses by a certain date, please specify that clearly in your post.
- If you need a particular person to read your post, consider @ mentioning them in the post so that they receive a notification.
- Consider that Discuss is an open public forum and your posts can be read by anyone. Be careful not to share any confidential or sensitive information.
- Try to keep your threads concise and on point for easier readability.
- Tag/categorise to your post for easier searching. Some people will have set up email notifications based on activity in certain categories, so the more clearly you can signpost your threads using tags and categories, the more discoverable they'll be.
When to use
- Sparingly. We should avoid falling back to meetings as a way to generate outcomes. Although discussions can be resolved quickly in a meeting, they are by nature exclusive of the wider community and should only be used where really necessary.
- If the aim of a meeting is to work on a deliverable, consider whether this can be done asynchronously using collaboration tools. Meetings are ideal for team bonding, detailed discussion of topics, or reaching consensus on complex topics.
- Avoid meetings that involve basic status updates, these are often best shared via standup.
- Recurring meetings should be kept to a minimum to avoid filling up calendars.
- It’s ok for meetings to spring up spontaneously between people if they’re all available. If possible, leave enough scheduling time so that all participants can attend.
- When proposing a meeting, consider the timezones of other participants, and give meeting times in UTC for universal conversion.
- It’s often easier to maintain an updated calendar and direct people to book in a free slot versus spending time going back and forth discussing availability.
- In the interests of transparency, try to share notes from each meeting in a Notes/Discuss post, so that others can follow along or comment. These don’t need to be super detailed or well-written, just rough notes will do to minimise the time needed.
- Where possible, add meetings to the Status Calendar with a clear description and agenda, that way others can drop in and participate openly.
- Speak slowly, clearly, and with a high quality mic for clarity.
- You’re free to use video or not, the choice is completely up to you.
- Try to have an agenda for each meeting to keep the discussion on point. Share the agenda and take notes as the discussion progresses so that everyone has an agreed record of what was discussed.
- If a team member in a remote timezone is frequently attending an extremely early/late recurring meeting, consider rotating the meeting time to give them a chance to attend during their regular working hours from time to time.
- Try to be inclusive and give everyone a chance to talk equally.
- Be aware that as a native speaker you may have a tendency to dominate discussions.
- Invite participation from everyone by asking open questions.