How to communicate and collaborate effectively when working remotely

Molood Ceccareli on how to communicate and collaborate effectively when working remotely

Molood Ceccareli

Molood Ceccarelli from Remote Forever  holds a regular summit, a six-day online experience, where in 2020 was the 4th time. From the very beginning, the mission of the summit has been to bring remote working into the world of Agile. So in 2020, inspiring educational, and memorable stories from all these experts who have been working remotely for over 10 years, and all of them have been working in an Agile organization.

Simplicity is the art of maximizing the amount of work not done. When you’re thinking about your tool stack in a remote setup, simplicity is maximizing the number of tools not used. 

When we’re working in a distributed organization in a distributed team, we need to really understand that communication device in two different types. One type is synchronous communication, and that is online meetings that is chatting with someone that is you say something I say something. We engage in a conversation in real time.

The next one is asynchronous communication. asynchronous communication is when I see something, and I wait and you get that information, you consume that information. Whenever you’re mentally, physically and emotionally available to consume that information.

There is a fundamental difference between these two different types of communication. In synchronous communication, meetings, chats, real time, The speaker says something or broadcasts the information when he or she isn’t ready to say it. Regardless of whether or not the recipient is ready to receive it. Whereas in asynchronous, the speaker says the information broadcasts the information when they’re ready. But the recipient is given the freedom to receive the information when they’re actually ready to receive it. It might sound like it takes a lot of time, if you rely on a asynchronous more than synchronous. But, what it does is that it actually brings is a peace and sanity to the collaboration. So, if you are working in a remote team in a distributed organization, you really need to get comfortable with asynchronous communication and default to asynchronous communication. As the founder of Basecamp says, write it down instead of chatting it up. And the reason for that is when you are writing things down to be consumed at a later time at someone else’s convenience. You actually think through what you want to communicate, you really cook the idea before you convey it. While in chit chat in meetings, there are so many half-baked ideas that get exchanged. And at the end, you might not even actually make your point come across as you intended it.

So having learned these concepts, the difference between synchronous and asynchronous and how it’s important to default to asynchronous. Take another step and look at the tool stack that you have. How many tools do you use for synchronous communication, and how many do you use for asynchronous communication?

Remove much of the synchronous ones and the default to one asynchronous. Do you use a task management system, do you use Trello, JIRA, Asana, Basecamp, whatever that is, that is a communication tool. Keep your work organized and really see it as a communication tool. If you learn how to simplify your processes in one tool, chances are you don’t even need a chat tool. 

The idea is there to really default to one asynchronous tool that can help you synchronize come together and really convey information that needs to be conveyed.

When you’re working remotely, you really need to fundamentally change the way you think about communication and collaboration. 

Synchronous is great for quick synchronization, and is good for quick decision making. It’s important and essential, unnecessary for conflict resolution. And it’s also very helpful for coaching. 

Asynchronous is good for collecting data, collecting ideas and opinions. It’s for sharing information or broadcasting information. And it’s also very good for basically gathering any kind of information that needs to contribute to a decision making. 

Choose whatever tool you have, create a board for that retrospective of the sprint, send it to people in the sprint planning or at the beginning of this friend and ask them to add data to the board as the sprint is going along. So, when you come to the retrospective, you start with checking, and then you have all the data already. So the time that you have booked for people to spend time staring at this square in front of them, which is not a very pleasant most of the time. It can be used for effectively connecting and having really productive conversations. Your retrospectives will magically become a good thing, rather than a frustrated thing, followed by a discussion that people dread or would rather not engage in. 

People communicate to collaborate.

That’s the purpose.. We collaborate so that we can co create.

How can I bring that deep level of connection that I could have with people in a collocated setup into only chat: you need to combine different methods, different levels of bandwidth for different types of communication. You need to develop the ability to choose what you’re communicating, and choose whether you need, you know, chat, audio, video, or colocation. Then think about what it is that you need to convey, and then choose whether you should have it asynchronous or synchronous. So the combination of these two dimensions is really the key skills and the key habits that we need to learn to adopt in order to become better at remote working.

It’s really possible to start a relationship in chat, it’s really possible to go deeper in the connection in chat. But you need to learn how to do that.

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