Cantilever is remote by choice. To be effective as a remote team, we have clear standards for how we communicate. Our Toolkit includes several platforms on which communication can occur, and lists the specific use-cases we expect to use each one. This document outlines our general philosophy of communication, regardless of tool.
As a default, our communication is asynchronous. This means when you post a ping or message, you are not expecting a response right away. In a culture where everyone is working different schedules across many time zones, synchronous communication is simply unreliable to begin with. Better to treat asynchronous communication as the default, and harness calls and texts when helpful. Internal communication should be answered within 24 hours. This means that if you need an answer on something before 24 hours from now, you might need to text.
<aside> ☝🏽 Exception for New People
New team members, especially technical and design staff, will always need a little extra help getting up to speed on Cantilever methodologies, and should not feel guilty about asking for more synchronous communication at the outset. When possible this communication should take the form of Zoom calls with invites, but if you’re new and you are stuck until you get an answer, it’s much better to try a text or quick call than to waste time. If you’re working with a new person, expect more synchronous communication than normal.
It’s also natural that new people will need an adjustment period to adapt their planning and communication style to our paradigm. Managers should help new team members understand this exception and when to stop leaning on it.
Checking your email or software tools constantly is discouraged. This mentality promotes a “Latest and Loudest“ working style, where whatever just came through the door gets more attention than perhaps more important work that hasn’t been as recently front-of-mind.
Receiving an email or message from a colleague is NOT a request for urgent response. Emails and messages should be dealt with at your own pace.
Having extensive notifications is also not required. Our work requires focused blocks of time to oneself, engaging meetings with clients, family time, and time to breathe and reflect. Everyone likes their notifications differently, so we don‘t discourage you if you work best with frequent pings, but it is certainly not required. By default, keep push notifications off.
With all this not paying attention to inboxes, we do need to plan well to make sure we’re hitting deadlines. Have a 7-day view of your calendar at any given time, don’t get surprised. Our Toolkit contains tools that will allow you to see this.
That said, we do run into emergencies from time to time, and need the phone to handle them. You should expect calls and texts rarely, but they are important and you should answer them as quickly as possible.
Here is what we expect of a typical team member at Cantilever:
Client Strategists and Legal/Finance officers have higher communication expectations. If you are leading a team, we do ask that you answer calls or texts when convenient even outside your normal working time, to enable the team to solve problems with your insight. We also ask that you answer client calls whenever possible, and reply quickly to texts when they are urgent (something is gravely broken). Most bugs and “emergencies“ can wait the standard 24 business hours to reply. The definition of “emergency” is subjective.
Everyone has a right to be completely off the grid whenever they’re taking time off. For most team members this is just a matter of setting an auto-responder, and letting the team know. For client contacts and legal/finance officers, you must also ensure that any emergencies while you are off can be handled by the rest of the team.
For Client Strategists that means ensuring your client knows who to contact during your absence in case of emergency, and making sure that person is up to speed on the project(s). For Leadership, this means continually ensuring that access to all critical business functions is available to more people than you, and that any scheduled activities (payroll, contract review, etc) have been delegated in advance.