Rose Barrett

@@remoterose

About Rose Barrett

Rose Barrett is a community person at heart. Co-founder of Grow Remote, a non-profit with a mission to make remote work local. With dreams of finally finding the time to get the kayak back in the water, she can be found rambling about remote on Twitter @remoterose

Smart Slack hacks ultimate guide
COVID-19

The Ultimate Guide to Slack Hacks

Slack is one of the most popular communication tools for remote teams. With the ability to coordinate conversations by a specific theme, within a team or company-wide, there is great power in this platform. Long popular with remote teams, here are some tips and tricks that you might have missed. Use these to make the most of your time and communication efforts.

Slack is one of the most popular communication tools for remote teams. With the ability to coordinate conversations by a specific theme, within a team or company-wide, there is great power in this platform.

Long popular with remote teams, here are some tips and tricks that you might have missed.

Use these to make the most of your time and communication efforts.

We will cover:

Notification Management

Pin important messages

Keyboard shortcuts

Polls and surveys

Star items = quick list

Slackbot Reminders

Include posts

Keyword Notifications

Find mentions quickly

Search Smarter

Quick link to previous posts

Bookmark location in a channel

Formatting for Impact

Deep Work Time – DND

Customized Emojis

Integrate! Apps, bots, and workflows

Notification Management 

    • You may not need notifications for all activity within a channel. Adjust your notification requirements by selecting the settings icon (cog) at the top of the channel on desktop or using the drop-down menu (3 dots) on mobile, then settings, then notifications/notification preferences.

Pin important messages

    • You might want to pin the most current update of the project you are working on or your guide to using the channel. You can pin up to 100 messages per channel, but keeping it to crucial information is better.

Keyboard shortcuts

    • You can use keyboard shortcuts to navigate around the Workspace, mark a message as read or unread, format your messages, and more. Saving time and giving flow and process to your time in Slack.
    • When all the pictures and GIFs are making it hard to follow the conversation type “/collapse” into your text box, which will leave text only within the chat and reverse this type “/expand.”
    • To see the list of shortcuts hit “ctrl” and “/.”

Polls and surveys

    • Want to get some quick feedback from the team? Or trying to decide on meeting times? Use the command “/poll” and follow the instructions to call up the “Polly” app. Both powerful and fun.

Star items = quick list

    • Click “Show starred items” or use the keyboard shortcut “crtl_shift+s” for a quick list of all your starred messages. This hack can be useful to quickly review essential items and help you to come back to something you might not have time to handle at the moment.

Slackbot Reminders

    • Use the “/remind” command to give you a personal reminder, or to remind someone else on your team. An example is “/remind @Jeff of meeting at 2 pm”, your reminder will be sent at 2 pm to Jeff about your upcoming meeting.

Include posts

    • Where you need to share longer-form content, you can include posts in your Slack messages. You might want to share project plans, or quickly link to your code of conduct, vision, and mission statements.
    • Create a post – (On your desktop). Select the attachment icon (paperclip) → “Create new” → “Post.” From here, you can share your post, edit it, allow others to edit it, format the article, and add images to it—further instructions via the Slack help section

Keyword Notifications

    • While you will get notifications if you are tagged or mentioned, it can be useful to get a notification. Likewise, when someone uses a specific keyword. Go to preferences, then notifications to set up your desired keywords. You will receive the notification, and the channel will display a badge.

Find mentions quickly

    • You can use the @ symbol on the top right on desktop to show, or hide, mentions if you are looking for a recent conversation (or you’re drowning in notifications). Or use the keyboard shortcut “ctrl” + ”shift” + ”m” to show and hide your mentions.

Search Smarter

    • Use modifiers that help you to search smarter. “From:user”, “in:channel”, “during:March”, or “has:emoji-code”, this one is particularly useful if you follow a specific process of emoji usage within your Workspace. You can find a complete list of search modifiers here.

Quick link to previous posts

    • Using the timestamp (time beside your name above a post), you can copy this as a link and paste into a new post, bringing old posts back into the conversation quickly.

Bookmark a location in a channel

    • Some channels require more attention from us than others, if you need to read everything in the channel then use “Alt+click” on the message where you are leaving the channel, it will mark all subsequent messages as unread. On mobile, this should be a long press/hold on the message.

Formatting for Impact

    • Need certain parts of a post to stand out? Then use formatting. E.g., using * either side of a word will embolden it i.e., *here* now becomes here. Or traditional keyboard shortcuts also work. You can also add formatting like inline code or block quotes, very useful to help faster communication of crucial information. More on formatting your messages from Slack.

Deep Work Time – DND

    • DND – You can type in “/dnd” into the text box and then set a time, or use the bell icon to the top left and select a time frame. Stopping you from receiving any sounds or notifications in the time frame you specify, and your co-workers will see a sleeping symbol beside your name.

Customized Emojis

    • Emojis can be useful to speed up communication within your team or to help strengthen branding and team identity. You can add the custom emojis from the drop-down menu on the top left and choose “Customize Slack.” Admins have the power to limit who can edit these.

Integrate! Apps, bots, and workflows

      • Slack supports integrations with 100s of apps. Here is a list of some of the most popular ones. See the Slack help center for details on each and a full list of apps available, follow this linkZoom for SlackStart a meeting, join a meeting and make a call with Zoom phone. Remember, you must register your Slack and Zoom accounts with the same email address.
      • Trello for SlackManage cards on your boards from Slack, add conversations to cards, and update due dates.
      • Asana for SlackCreate new tasks and turn your conversations in Slack into to-dos in Asana
      • Salesforce for SlackSearch Salesforce records from Slack, configure Salesforce alerts for Slack. Send Slack messages to SalesForce, or send Salesforce records to Slack.
      • Twitter for SlackYou can set up mentions on Twitter to feed into a channel that the team can keep an eye on. Follow similar businesses or your suppliers.
      • Google Calendar for SlackView your full schedule and have your status update when you are scheduled in a meeting.
      • Donut for SlackDonut helps to improve team-building; there are prebuilt connection programs in Donut, one of the most popular functions is virtual random coffees. Help to encourage cross-organizational bonding.
      • Loom for SlackMention @person or #channel directly in your Loom videos, and they can watch the clip without needing to leave Slack.
      • Polly for SlackThis Polls and surveys bot lets you get quick feedback. Use pulse surveys directly in Slack.
    • Greetbot for Slack.  An onboarding assistant for Slack. Customize welcome messages and schedule follow-ups.
    • You can also create custom integrations, build your bot, create automated workflows, and much more, read more on this via the Slack help center here.

 

Do you have a workflow or trick that works well for you in Slack? Then please share it with us over on Twitter @Turingcom.

By Mar 31, 2020
COVID-19

A Collection of the Best Guides for the Suddenly Remote in the Time of COVID-19

At Turing, we’ve been focused on remote work for years. To help you out during the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve begun curating the best and most in-depth guides to help you navigate this new and confusing reality.

With so much information out there right now for the Suddenly-Remote, it can be hard to know where to turn or which information is reliable.

At Turing, we’ve been focused on remote work for years. To help you out during the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve begun curating the best and most in-depth guides to help you navigate this new and confusing reality.

We will continue to add to and update this list as additional high-quality information becomes available. Keep in mind that the majority of these guides were written for the immediate application of remote-work basics. They are not intended to provide the detailed information, skills, and best practices required for sustainable remote work or for new companies that are adopting a remote-first paradigm from day one.

With that in mind, here are our initial picks for the best guides to help you and your company deal with the need to go Suddenly-Remote during this very challenging moment in time.

GitLab’s Guide To Remote Work

https://about.gitlab.com/company/culture/all-remote/

Gitlab is the world’s largest all-remote team. They know what they are talking about. Gitlab’s guide is one of the most detailed guides out there and includes the company’s “Remote Manifesto.” They cover:

● How & Why

● Getting Started

● People & Values

● Management

● Hiring & Learning

You can jump into the sections that are most relevant to you and your team and share the link with others throughout your organization to help get them up to speed on all things remote.

Zapier’s guide to working remotely

https://zapier.com/learn/remote-work/

Here is another remote working heavy hitter. Zapier is 100% distributed, with over 300 employees spread across 17 countries.

The Zapier guide includes an AMA for those new to remote, which is available at the start of the page. This guide consists of the following seven areas:

  1. Automation for remote work
  2. Teamwork on a remote team 
  3. Remote work for managers 
  4. Remote work for employees 
  5. Remote workspaces 
  6. Remote work tools The state of remote work

Zapier has also added a recommended reading list. Their guide is downloadable as a file for ease of sharing.

Remote Work Guides from Twist

https://twist.com/remote-work-guides

Twist is a communication app from the wonderful people at Doist. Doist is a remote company with 68 team members spread across 25 countries.

Their guide is a collection of various remote working guides curated in once place. The guides available are as follows:

● The Future of Work: The Guide to Remote Work

● Remote Setup: The Remote Guide to Logistics

● Remote Projects 101: The Remote Guide to Project Management

● Scaling Your Remote Team: The Remote Guide to Hiring

● Leading Distributed: The Remote Guide to Management

● The Art of Async: The Remote Guide to Team Communication

● Designing Without Whiteboards: The Remote Guide to Product Design

There is a great depth of information here, including thoughts from various remote work experts throughout the guide.

The ultimate guide to remote work from Miro

https://miro.com/guides/remote-work/

Miro believes in helping teams to collaborate. Their remote work guide covers:

● Introduction to Remote Work & Collaboration

● Is Remote Work as Great as it Sounds?

● The Most Important Remote Work Statistics

● Guide to Hiring Remote Employees

● How to Onboard Remote Employees

● Building Remote Work Culture & Why It’s So Important

● How to Manage a Remote Team

● Engage Your Remote Team to Keep Productivity High

● Complete Guide to Remote Team Meetings

● 15 Best Team Building Activities & Games for Remote Workers

But what if you need more than a guide? The extraordinary team at Slack has you covered there, too. Simply click this link: https://calendly.com/slack-customer-experience/remote-consult?month=2020-03 to schedule a remote team consultation.

As more quality information is released, we’ll be updating this meta-guide to help you easily find the best resources from one centralized location.

By Mar 19, 2020
COVID-19

Remote Now! A Quick Guide to Remote Work Best Practices

In a world where so many are going suddenly remote there are things we can learn from those who have been working outside a traditional office. While there are differences in circumstances, job types and personalities, there are also many commonalities for those of us working remotely.   Here is an outline of some best practices to help you, and your team, make the most of remote work. 

Note: This is the second part in our series on Remote Now, a primer for employees and companies that have been forced to become suddenly remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Stay tuned for additional posts over the next few days!

In a world where so many are going suddenly remote there are things we can learn from those who have been working outside a traditional office.

While there are differences in circumstances, job types and personalities, there are also many commonalities for those of us working remotely.  

Here is an outline of some best practices to help you, and your team, make the most of remote work. 

We will cover:

  • Communication
  • Social interactions
  • Trust
  • Online etiquette
  • Remote work boundaries

Over Communication is Key

Quick Wins:

  • Have agreed communication processes & schedules
  • Embrace the remote way of communicating
  • Use video in meetings
  • Batch communications where appropriate
  • Edit and review messages before you send them
  • Over communicate = assume nothing – give context and give some more
  • Strong documentation as a rule 

This is the number one challenge for most people going remote.  When working in an office we become accustomed to being able to “swing by” someone’s desk to ask a question.  Communication in a remote role forces us to be more deliberate and think ahead of time what we might need when we send a message to a colleague.

It also forces us to not “scratch the itch” straight away.  You might like an answer from your colleague straight away, but if you are using asynchronous communication then you need to get comfortable with waiting for a response.  But having agreed times that people respond by will help the team to know, and meet, expectation.

And batching communications will help you develop better communications hygiene.  Don’t send off a message every time you have a query, put them into one post and edit and review before sending.  Ask if you could make your message clearer, or do you need this level of information?

Documentation is a huge part of keeping your team and projects moving forward.  Make sure to prioritize good documentation and agree on formats and processes for keeping documents up to date, while ensuring version protection and data security.



Quick definition: Synchronous = real time e.g. phone or video call  vs. Asynchronous Communication = you send the information not expecting it to be picked up straight away e.g. email, messages via Slack.

Social Beings and Trust

Quick Wins:

  • Schedule social time with the team
  • Have the trust talk with team members
  • Set expectations around check-ins
  • Encourage two sided feedback
  • Ensure team members feel supported
  • Build serendipity into the team

We are social creatures which helps us to create bonds, growing trust and improving communication and collaboration as trust is developed.  Without social interactions this can be greatly slowed down on a remote team. Build some serendipity into how the team interacts, using tools like Donut via Slack helps to bring some randomness into team interactions and encourage the creativity and the social strengthening that happens in unstructured situations.

Therefore making social interactions part of your work week is hugely important.  Make time in your daily standup to include time to chat about life in general, while it might feel like a “waste of time” there and then, it is actuallys an investment in improving the team’s effectiveness in the long run.

Schedule in virtual chats, run ice-breakers and when appropriate, organise in person meetups to help your team to bond.

Managers should start open conversations with team members to ensure they feel trusted within their work.  As a manager you may need to “check-in” on a team member, but make sure it’s clear that you’re not “checking up on them”, this can feel like unnecessary monitoring.  Build clear expectations around when check-ins happen at the team and individual level. Schedule them in, use a format like a daily stand-up to help everyone know where they are on a project, what their next steps are and how they are progressing so far.  For individual check-in, ensure that team members know that these are about finding out if they are enjoying their work and feel supported. Make it about you both sharing information and have equal sharing of feedback.

Key to all of this is trust, it can be hard to help people new to remote work to feel like they are trusted.  This is vital in helping that person to flourish in a remote role and should be a core part of the management team’s goals.  Having the conversation about trust helps, also recognising someone when their work is good is very important.

Online Etiquette and Boundaries

Quick Wins:

  • Use video for conference calls
  • Use an agenda
  • Everyone is remote for the meeting
  • Either set specific “office hours” or a set cut off point for work
  • Create rituals to help you start and end the day

Because of the nature of many of the tools we are using we need to be extra deliberate about how we an online meeting.  It is much easier to mistakenly speak over someone in a video conference call than in a physical meeting room. Create habits that help to ensure people are engaged and feel involved.

If you have a hybrid team and are running a conference call, treat everyone as if they are remote.  Having some team members in a room, while your remote colleagues are struggling to hear the conversation happening on site isn’t good meeting etiquette.  Have all team members at their desks and dialling in as if they are also remote. This helps to level the field for communication and gives the in office team members a clearer understanding of what is good practice for an online meeting.

And finally boundaries.  These are important to ensure people don’t burn out.  A struggle for many remote workers is continuing to work late into the evening, or working through lunch.  This becomes a matter of diminishing returns, you are no longer as effective and it can take days to come back from burnout.  Agree a set hours of work where possible, and suitable, or set yourself certain boundaries like “I don’t work after 8pm on a week day” will help to avoid burn out.  It also helps you not needing to wonder if you are ok, or if you could fit in another hour, which is one more decision you would need to make. 

The issue is often being able to switch off after a days work.  You might have just hit on an amazing idea but now it’s “home time”, using rituals to finish (and start) your day helps you to get into the right mindset and wind down from your work brain.  Things like taking a walk outside, listening to a certain type of music, exercise or scheduling a call or coffee with a friend or family member can help to draw the lines around your work.

We all find our own ways of working and are always learning from each other.  We’d love to hear what works well for you and your team. Find us on Twitter and let us know your remote working best practices!

By Mar 16, 2020
remote work policy
Management

How to create (or review) your remote work policy

Many companies are finding themselves in position of having to go remote with a very fast turnaround.  We wanted to make some of that process easier by giving some guidelines on creating (or updating) a remote work policy.

Many companies are finding themselves in position of having to go remote with a very fast turnaround.  We wanted to make some of that process easier by giving some guidelines on creating (or updating) a remote work policy.

Here you will find the following:

  • What is a remote work policy?
  • Why should you have one?
  • What should it contain?
  • Creating the policy
  • Free Resources

What is a remote work policy?

This is a HR agreement between the company and an employee on when and how they can work outside the office.  It is also a checklist of expectations and guidelines.

The policy should outline the legal rights of employees that are working remotely and who are eligible to work remotely.  

It should also contain best practices, therefore making the transition easier and reducing uncertainty.  A policy such as this can be temporary or permanent.

Why should you have one?

It’s a legal requirement.  The documents you require will be different depending on local laws, make yourself familiar with what you require and don’t be caught out.

It’s protection for a company from breaches of employment and equal opportunities legislation and helps employees to know what the correct procedure is to follow.  It is recommended that you review your policy at least once per year.

In a great article by Laurel Farrer she outlines these 6 areas in which a company can unknowingly be outside the law regarding remote work:

  1. Work contract – scope of work must match the documentation
  2. Occupational Health and Safety Standards
  3. Information security
  4. Employment and labor laws
  5. Tax regulations
  6. Immigration laws

Also, it helps employees to know:

  • How to handle communication
  • Steps to keep data safe
  • Their legal rights
  • Advice on wellbeing
  • How their interactions with management might change
  • That their career won’t be at risk by being remote

What should it contain?

The contents of the policy should help make it clear what expectations there are for both employee and employer.  While the document is there to protect both sides legally, it should also help in the smooth operation of the business and help the employee to understand how remote working might differ from them doing their role in office.

  • Working hours
  • Legal rights
  • Insurance
  • Cybersecurity requirements
  • Tools
  • Expenses (if applicable)
  • Strategies
  • Termination

Creating the policy:

Before you start to craft your policy take time to consider the following:

  • Audit current work practices
  • Include employees in the process 
  • Use clear language
  • Update the policy regularly

Work alongside HR, legal and financial departments in creating a remote working policy.

  • Outline how different roles will work remotely
    • Different requirements for HR vs a developer
  • Clear rules about working from home
    • Consider various scenarios and plan communication tools and processes for each:
      • Team all-hand meetings
      • Client kickoff meeting
      • Manager 1:1s
      • Performance reviews
      • Employee learning and development activities
  • Supply employees with the right tools
    • And ensure they are comfortable using them
    • Will you offer a stipend or reimbursement so they can purchase equipment?
    • Tools and software have both communication and engagement implications, as well as cybersecurity aspects
      • Tools to include:
        • Team communication
        • Video conferencing – hardware and software
        • Collaboration software

Things to consider:

  • What are the legal requirements around remote working in your jurisdiction?
    • Legislation differs from country to country
  • Is the role suited to remote?
    • If not, how can you adjust to suit this role via remote
  • Are management prepared?  Will they require further training or support?
    • If a manager has no previous experience with a remote team training is advised
  • Are there implications to taxes or benefits?
    • This differs across states and countries.  
  • Give guidelines on the use of Wifi and VPNs
    • Ensure these are tested
  • Make space for work relationship building and maintenance in the policy
    • Have a virtual water cooler and help management with improving engagement remotely
    • Schedule this monthly, quarterly and yearly
    • Ideas to use:
      • Office hours
      • Video hangouts (non-work)
  • If an employee is 100% remote ensure all other relevant policies are also signed, like their in-office colleagues

In a great article by Macy Bayern of TechRepublic she outlines 10 rules for your remote work policy:

  1. Eligibility
  2. Availability
  3. Responsiveness
  4. Productivity measurements
  5. Productivity measurements
  6. Tech support
  7. Rightful termination
  8. Physical environment
  9. Security
  10. Client confidentiality

Free resources:

Remember that your remote work policy should be tailored to fit your company.  Use these resources as guidelines in crafting the ideal policy for you and your employees:

A Sample Remote Work Policy for Employers from Remote.co

Crafting Remote Work, Flexible Schedule, and Working from Home Policies [+ Templates] from Owl Labs

How to Make a Remote Work Policy Work for Businesses and Employees from Smartsheet

Guide to Writing a Telework Policy from The Telework Pilot Project

Telework policy and process from University of Washington HR Department

Telework Guidance from Telework.gov, official website of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management

Resources for companies embracing remote work from Gitlab

Remote Working Policy Template – Local Authorities, United Kingdom

Telecommuting Policy Sample from EnterpriseSeattle 

Handbook of Operating Procedures – Telecommuting from The University of Texas at Austin

The policy is only one part of going, or having, a remote team.  Things like trust and deliberate communication are key in keeping your remote team engaged and productive. 

Ensure you give time to these other areas of how you approach remote, and help relationships and communication to be front and centre of how your team operates. 

By Mar 12, 2020