Working from home: are you a Slacker?

  • Posted: 6th April 2020
  • Written by:

    Sean Burrell, SVP Business Development & Global Alliances

First, let’s not be disparaged by the predicament many of us are currently faced with, which means many of us are working from home. We are lucky enough to be living in a world that has never been better connected; offering some distinct advantages. A big one is that we are now likely to be getting fewer impromptu interruptions. In the office it is so easy to walk across to someone’s desk and ask them if they have a minute.

According to a University of California Irvine study, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task.” after being distracted.

Having moved from the UK to Boston, Massachusetts a few years ago, I was forced to learn a few things really quickly.  These included; what a white out was, what it means to have an ice dam on your roof, and how to still be effective when working from home.

When it comes to the latter, the best application I have to support me is Slack. I know there is a good chance that many of you have access to Slack or similar solutions (Mio’s latest workplace messaging report found that 65% of companies are using the tool, with Skype for Business in second place with 61.5%), but I still thought it would be useful to share some of the tips I have learned from using Slack whilst witnessing a ‘white-out’:

  • Be respectful & efficient with your colleague’s time
    •  Interactions should still be relevant and respectful to your colleagues. Try to keep messages concise and, if you’re asking for something, be clear on what that is and when you need it by.
  • Choose the channel
    • One of the key things about using Slack or another collaboration platform outside of email is clarity in when and how to use it. You should define how each platform is used, and avoid switching between channels and email when discussing a subject wherever possible.
  • Consider individual vs group (channel)
    • You can send a message to an individual or a group (channel). Try to consider who needs to be included in the comms to avoid having to switch between the two.
    • You can also ask a specific question to an individual within a group, so that only they are prompted to respond, but everyone in the group gets to benefit from the answer.
  • Status & availability
    • If your organization works multiple time-zones and locations like ours, handy features in Slack lets you see if your colleagues are online or available. Statuses can be used to share your availability with your colleagues – you can let people know when you’re out for lunch, on a call, remote working or on annual leave.
  • Jump on a call!
    • As a group it is general practice that you will need to connect via meetings. While you may have WebEx or Zoom, it’s just as easy to join a Slack call or video chat and share screen in the same way. What’s useful with using Slack is that other members of the organization can see those colleagues are on a call by a phone logo next to their names; hence you can see when they are unavailable.
  • Empower colleagues who are more introverted
    • One of the most beneficial business benefits that we have seen as a result of using Slack is giving naturally introverted people across the organization the opportunity to input and communicate where perhaps they wouldn’t have done before. A great example of this is when you have a client Slack channel open when engaging with a client. Not everyone wants to have a speaking part, but it doesn’t mean that they don’t have some exceptional ideas that someone else can share.  
  • Keep your organization socially connected
    • Now more than ever it is important to keep everyone in your organization close to one another, virtually anyway. Setting up other channels that allows everyone to communicate holistically ensures everyone goes through this together. In our case it has allowed us to compare notes on how each of our governments are responding to this pandemic.
    • Someone in our team had the great idea of doing a virtual team lunch today. Whilst it was not quite as good as being there in person it was a wonderful way of catching up with one another and reminding us we are all human and in this together. And yes, that is a lightsaber.

It’s is obviously not the same as being in the office with the team in person. But for anyone who has not tried it, or is wondering what all the fuss is about, hopefully you now have some ideas you can try.

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