With more organizations closing their offices due to coronavirus, and continuing work from offsite, I want to share the most important insight that we have learned building a distributed global team of 50 over the last 5 years. It is “Focus on communications“.

The main issue we face continually is effective communications when there are no natural watercoolers or coffee machines to exchange information casually. Limiting online channels keeps us on top of the continual stream of information. We have selected one for asynchronous chat (Slack) and one for in-person meetings (Zoom). We use email for external communications only.

The old proverb “Out of sight, out of mind” holds true here too. We have best practices and one important one is that everyone is on video in our zoom meetings. Its a game-changer – to the point that when we have our frequent gettogether we don’t feel like we’ve been apart.

Because the vast majority of communications leave a digital record, we use our own software to understand communication patterns and whether we are communicating well. The below network visualization shows an overview of our Slack messaging network on a typical week, which is very insightful in real-time. Maybe I should spend some more time with the big blue “Team Leader”?

With many people working remotely for the first time, cybercriminals are bound to take advantage of this opportunity (and thus our names are removed from the above). We’ve already seen an uptick in phishing emails so be careful not to be the next catch. If you don’t have it yet, develop a robust cybersecurity policy, train everyone to be alert and monitor communications. Like who is that “Other” in the network map above … ?

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