What is Documentation?

Documentation refers to anything written down in a place that other people can read, learn from, and further build upon. You’re reading documentation right now! It could be argued that the majority of remote work is reading and writing documentation.

Why is it so important to have a Culture of Documentation?

This simply means we must all participate in transmission and capture of important information, and that our success depends on the ongoing care + feeding of our collective memory space. We want it to be useful, tidy, and current. If there are errors, we fix them. If something important is missing, we add it quickly. Don’t forget that we operate asynchronously. The person you were going to ask might be asleep when you need an answer. Maintaining solid documentation eliminates blockers like this. Finally, a Culture of Documentation reduces noise. Noise for our purposes is any communication that interrupts a person’s personal flow and requires a response. Noise isn’t Noice. It creates friction and slows deep work. In other words, “Search first, ask questions later...” All of our major software tools have search functions built into them. If you can't find what you’re looking for, only then ask about it. A quick post in #internal-documentation is a good place to start for general queries. Let us know what you are looking for and where you've already looked. But remember, if the answer to your question could benefit others, it's up to you to make sure it is documented properly.

What kinds of documentation do we use here?

Here is a breakdown of the documentation types at Remote and where you can find them. Remember that Notion is the Single Source of Truth(SSoT) for most data, unless otherwise specified.

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When do I need to document?

Some documentation is easy, automagic even. For example, both Asana and Zendesk create detailed logs of what steps were taken, when they were enacted, and the comments and responses related to each; when you use the tool, the record is generated for you, very nice. Where we can, we strive for documentation to be this easy. But other knowledge capture opportunities aren’t as clear, so please take a proactive approach. You never know when the answer to your question will help others. Chances are you’re not the first person to go searching! So be a friend, amigo, mate, comrade! Document when:

  1. Sync Meetings - Meetings are disruptive, so be sure to make the absolute most of the premium time. Check with your team leader, as there is most likely an established way of taking notes for each team. Some teams like to create new meeting agenda pages for each meeting. Others like to have a single long document that can be referenced without clicking away. Regardless of which format, meeting notes should at least include:
  2. New Data - You learned something new that isn’t written down already. Be sure to search first. There is probably a place for it
  3. Error/Omission/Bugfix - You discovered a problem/error with a process or procedure. These in particular are incredibly important to document/bring to the attention of others.
  4. Customer Issue -A customer reached out to you with a problem directly. Hopefully they’re using Zendesk tickets, but if not, you need to make sure their needs are documented and a handoff is made to the proper Customer Experience team member.
  5. Productivity & Pro-Tips - If you’ve discovered something cool that makes your day easier, please share with the other children.
  6. Fun Stuff - We’re not all business around here. Our culture of documentation includes culture as well. Remoter suggestions, food, hobbies, etc.
  7. Document yourself! - There is no better way to practice good documentation than to document your own efforts each day. These records are not only useful for you, but become useful to your manager and team during performance reviews and feedback sessions.

How to iterate on documentation

Always work in public if you can. Start with something and iterate on it over time. Always iterate on the original page if possible - avoid creating new pages that replace old ones. This prevents us losing the archived history and reduces the number of pages that show up in search results. Talk to your team if you’re not sure where something new should go.

Before asking a question, first always try to find the answer in Notion. Also take a peek across the other software tools. If you can't find the answer, only then ask. Consider including where you've looked.

Use the established look and feel. It doesn’t have to be 100% identical, but at the very least: