Working in the 21st century involves a huge amount of digital team communication tools.
Have you ever sat back and really thought about the tools you use?
Here’s a quick run-through:
Those are only the general ones that most everyone on your team probably uses in some way or another.
And then it gets more specific depending on your job function. You have software tools to do your specific function, whether you’re a programmer, designer, HR manager, accounting or administrative. If you’re remote, you may have even more software tools.
Even with those tools, you layer on strategies to keep everyone together. Think about OKRs, goal setting, employee reviews, and feedback.
Again, even with the traditional tech stack of a knowledge worker, there’s a vital component missing that became even more important for remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those immediate questions gave way to a strategic one: How can we connect when three traditional forms of informal and grapevine communication have dissipated?
It’s confusing. The cues of synchronous communication that in-office feedback relies on disappears in a remote setting.
What does synchronous communication involve? More than you think.
• Quick back-and forth-, “got a second?” discussion with coworkers
• White-boarding, roadmapping, and brainstorming sessions
• Catch-ups with colleagues around the coffee machine or in the break room (watercooler conversation)
In these interactions, you also have body language, gestures, tone of voice, and emotions for insights too.
Though those cues and chats are often helpful, they do not have to be paramount. Work retreats, Zoom sessions, and even occasional co-working visits for localized, but distributed teams can also be beneficial.
Slack and Microsoft Teams do help, but they’re not the end all be all.
Could there be easier ways to communicate besides the old way?
When things go back to normal, it will most definitely be a “new normal” no matter how cliche that sounds.
Let’s introduce a paradigm shift that combines a few of the tools you already have, without adding yet another workflow to what you’re currently doing.
Friday offers a planner, automated work routines, and ways to connect with colleagues without a lot of meetings. And it all works with Slack and Microsoft Teams.
An important workflow for localized or remote teams is a daily update or standup. Many organizations host a daily standup or huddle for 15 minutes to connect and get on the same page. Others use Microsoft Teams and Slack as an asynchronous way to do this.
Lots of organizations have daily stand-up channels within Slack and Teams. These usually answer 2 or 3 questions such as:
The problem with Slack or Microsoft Teams is that these answers get lost in the noise and may be quickly forgotten.
Yes, a daily standup in Slack or Teams is better than not having one at all.
Friday takes it to the next level.
Create a routine for a Daily Standup, ping each person on the team to answer it, and then their results are recorded on a day by day basis. You can even gauge how members of the team are feeling, giving you a quick pulse of what your colleagues may need.
• A record of the goals for each day that you can compare to the day before
• Quick understanding of your team’s status
• Enable multi-media features like photos and GIFs to share more about their work and/or lives...this is a great way to engage remote teams
“How is Project XYZ coming along?”
If you’re a manager, that’s an easy question to ask in Slack or Teams. And once you get a response, you’ll know the answer.
Sounds obvious, right?
But will you remember that answer the next day or a few days later? What about a week? Are you asking the same question to your team repeatedly? That’s no fun.
Slack and Teams provide immediacy, but they are not built for longevity.
Sure you can search old channels, but can you see trends and patterns among your team? Can you connect the work you’ve done to the goals you’re trying to achieve?
In fact, the more your team uses Slack or Teams, the noisier and more disheveled the channels become. It becomes harder and harder to organize it.
Friday provides a structure to your team that layers on top of Slack, Teams, and other tools like Trello that you already use.
Work with your team on goal setting, and then connect your work via project management tools. You can measure and track your goals each week or month, and add progress updates.
Organizations may include channels in Teams or Slack for watercooler topics, randomness, quizzes, or get-to-know-you questions.
But often this feels *separate* from the actual work experience, and there’s no real record of who participates and who doesn’t.
In Friday, ice breaker questions get sent to each team member. They share and colleagues get to know each other a little better.
Not that icebreakers have to be mandatory for teams, but it can be a reflection of employee engagement. If you notice a team member never participates in any questions or activities, that also gives you an insight that you may want to follow up on.
Friday also has a Kudos feature that lets you thank team members for their contributions, either publicly or privately. You can form a habit of gratitude and regularly thank employees for their work. This becomes even more important in a remote working environment where random thank-yous are easier to do.
It could provide more value than just an engagement or NPS score for your employees.
A great aspect to Friday is that you can add Icebreaker questions directly into your daily stand-up or weekly updates. This makes it a more natural part of the workday, without extra effort.
Friday is not a replacement for Slack or Microsoft Teams. Far from it. Slack and Teams are both more comprehensive team communication tools.
What’s great about Friday is that Slack and Microsoft Teams integrate with it. Friday enhances some common tasks that many teams already perform in Slack or Teams. All automated routines in Friday can be pushed into a Slack or Teams channel. This will open up more conversation outside of Friday on standups and regular routines.
You can still utilize Slack and Teams for broader conversations, brainstorming, and direct messages.
Of course Friday has a few other capabilities besides just being an addition to Slack and Teams. It’s a whole other way to arrange your workday beyond tasks and communication.
With the Friday planner, you can link your calendars, see what’s on tap for the day, and jot down a few quick to-do’s. You can connect your task management tool right inside and plan when you will do those.
In the Friday dashboard, you’ll see your team updates (such as the Daily Standups), set your own personal routines (like a Morning Plan) and keep an eye on your goals.
The Focus Time in the Planner and Chrome extension prevents you from going to the websites you visit most so you can work. Block out Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or news sites that you may visit during your workday. Then you can concentrate on the work that matters most to you.
When you combine Friday with the robust functionality of Teams and Slack, you have a great communication stack for your team to truly stay in the loop with one another.