by Josh Verrill

8 Ways to Stay Connected in a Suddenly Remote Environment

Each day we’re learning more about the global impact of the Coronavirus;and the steps each nation and individual is taking to alleviate its widespread impact. Right now, social distancing is our best bet, so how can we do that and stay connected?

One of the benefits to the way the NuoDB team operates is that even under normal circumstances; we’re built to be productive and effective as a distributed workforce. We already had the tools and processes in place that enable us to stay connected as a company even as we do our parts as individuals to help alleviate the virus's impact. Essentially, that means that our distributed workforce is even more distributed, because everyone on the team is working from home offices and following best practices for social distancing.

Stay Connected

We’ve implemented a few new plans to make sure our team stays connected during this sudden change for many of our employees.

  1. Confirm working phone numbers for all employees and contractors in case of emergency.
  2. Every leader in the company is speaking to every member of their team every business day. We want to be aware of any health concerns and ensure that we’re doing everything we can to support them.
  3. We’re encouraging more participation in Slack. While many of our teams already use Slack daily, we have new groups and have helped everyone to join the platform as a way to connect. Our latest channel is #photosfromthehomeoffice, and it features plenty of cute pictures as we share our current reality. Can you relate to any of the home office challenges below?
    slack poll home office
  4. We licensed GoToMeeting for everyone in the company. This means that we can meet and see each other face to face with a universal video-conferencing solution. Now we see people in remote locations more than ever, because they’re sharing video!
  5. We now have a weekly 45 minute meeting on everyone's calendars to do a regular check-in, update, and answer questions with the full team.
  6. Many of our teams have added a daily stand up to check in on projects and priorities that we would usually do during the course of the day.
  7. We’ve gone virtual with culture events as well. Every Thursday, our team in Cambridge has 30-60 minutes on the calendar for Wine & Cheese (or beer and snacks as preference dictates). We now have that on our calendar as a more casual (and optional) virtual event. We’re also adding one for virtual coffee hours, much like Snyk has done. It’s different, and will present different challenges, but also gives us casual time to connect.
  8. For those who use Spotify, we have a NuoDB Playlist that we use at events (like wine and cheese). Our team can listen to the playlist and add to it, so we have a great mix of music. Something for everyone!

Tips & Tricks for Slack

While the COVID-19 quarantines have created some challenges and forced us all into new routines, we have seen some excellent interaction and communication happening across the company with Slack & GoToMeeting. There are a lot of options for communication tools for remote teams, and most of these tips apply to them as well.

Here are some tips and tricks for Slack that might be helpful for those who are new to it:

  • Slack divides conversations into channels. You can subscribe or unsubscribe to any channel at any time. Create a new channel if you need one for your discussions. Try to use channels for discussions rather than using direct messages to individuals. If you post via a channel, everyone can benefit from what is being discussed.
  • Think of channels as news feeds. You don’t need to keep up with the conversations in all of the channels all of the time. (That can lead to information overload and cause a lot of interruptions to your work flow and concentration.)
  • Slack is often best for quick questions or discussions. Don't post a dissertation in Slack. Lengthy content should be sent via email, and if you’re collaborating on content, we’ve found Google Docs to be an excellent resource.
  • If you need a response from someone specific in a channel, make sure you 'mention' them by typing @ before their name. They’ll get a notification about that message.
  • Slack has a mobile app, so it can stay with you wherever you go! It’s easy to set up and use - and it’s a lot easier to share photos from your mobile device.

We recognize this is a challenging time for everyone. Productivity may be impacted as individuals and families adjust to new short-term norms. Kids are home from college unexpectedly, school aged children cannot attend school, and day care may no longer be an option. For NuoDB, while we’re dedicated to continuing to serve our customers and work closely with our partners, we also prioritize the health and safety of our employees and their families.

Shout out to everyone dealing with a new version of reality this week and for the weeks to come! Stay healthy and connected. If you have more suggestions, please share them in the comments and we’ll update the post.