May 26, 2020

Bring calm to your remote team

Are we really busy? Or our mind is too disorganized?

It was 3 PM and I just need to get through my last meeting. I feel nauseous as I jump to the other meeting. I juggled between Slack channels while having a discussion with my team. After the meeting, another question suddenly pops as I wrote it on Slack. My head is about to blow up.

I was overwhelmed and so does my team.

I asked myself, “Is this too much? Or my mind is too disorganized?”

buditanrim meditation illustration

As the remote working becomes a new normal, I realized I have to be mindful of how we communicate. If I keep throwing questions or chat every few minutes here and there. I don’t set a proper environment for my team to get things done and produce outcomes. If you feel the same, you can try a few things I have experimented:

Aware online meeting is totally different from face-to-face meeting. It requires more cognitive load because it forces us to focus more intently on the conversation. We’re no longer look at the sign from body language, we’re looking to the mute symbol and voice from your headphone. This is known as zoom fatigue Just know that is different. So what we can do about this?

  • Commit to 3-5 minutes break in between meetings
  • During that break, do whatever relax your brain. For me, short meditation and focus on my breath helps

Asynchronous communication whenever possible. Slack is a great communication tool. But you can easily trigger other’s people attention and distract them from an endless chat.

  • Ask yourself: Can I replace this chat discussion into an email discussion?
  • Ask yourself: Can I replace this meeting into an email discussion?
  • Write down all questions or discussion points. Send them at once later

Set crafting time. We need to get things done no matter what our title is. It’s important to protect our time to think as a manager or time to make as an individual contributor. However, in order to do this, the whole team needs to be agreed upon the rules and respect each other’s crafting time. A few action items:

  • Block 3-4 hours of crafting time
  • Quit Slack or whatever your team communication tool
  • Avoid any in-between meetings to reduce context switching

Set open office hour time. Just like crafting time, we need a time to reply messages and be responsive. This is the time where we will be the most responsive of all time. It may sounds counterintuitive, but having this scheduled and make everyone on the team aware about the schedule can set expectation.

Slow down. Don’t rush, we all want to get things done. But if we keep do busy works, will we get anything done? If you’re in a leadership position, this is a great opportunity to set gameplay. Here’s my email to my team.

( 🎹I’m still writing… Stay tuned for more… )

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