No, really, don’t chuck everything in Slack: communications for distributed teams

This is a personal story. It does not claim to be rooted in statistical analysis or scientific rigour, and the evidence presented is anecdotal. But it might be insightful to anyone joining, leaving, or interacting with a remote team.

From 2011 to 2017, I ran a company that had no office. Everyone worked from home, and apart from an annual one-week face to face meeting, all our communications were remote. In 2017, I sold my company and integrated my team into a company that had previously been working exclusively out of a single office. As one would expect, the integration was not without friction (they never are), but what emerged from the experience was a better understanding of the challenges that come with a mixed office/remote work environment, and some rules to address them. In this talk, I’ll cover:

  • Typical misconceptions that remoties have about office-workers, and vice versa

  • Using the right tools for the right type of communications: interactive chat, email, wiki, issue trackers, Kanban boards

  • Timezones, and communications around scheduling

  • The 5-paragraph format, a simple tool I habitually use to make sure everyone is on the same page

  • Follow-up and follow-through, and how to make sure neither you, nor your team, nor your boss loses sight of what needs doing.



Florian Haas

Florian runs the Education team at City Network, and helps people learn to use, understand, and deploy complex technology. He has worked exclusively with open source software since about 2002, and has ...