Companies exist to make communication more efficient - seriously, read about how firms reduce transaction costs and information asymmetries here. As a firm, we're literally organized to optimize communication.
As a distributed firm, we face challenges and opportunities unlike in-person companies. Stellar, intentional communication is critical.
At Trinsic, we use these principles to guide our communications with the team.
- Over-communicate: There are no one-size-fits-all rules we can implement that will ensure you always know the who, what, when, where of communication. Therefore, when in doubt, choose to over-communicate rather than withhold. This leads to more transparency and stronger team cohesion. That being said, we strive to be concise and avoid superfluous meetings or clogged chat.
- 2-minute rule: Should you respond now or later? The 2-minute rule is a rule of thumb that states "if you can get it done in less than 2 minutes now, do it now." On a standup call, for example, if your question can be answered and/or idea can be shared in ~2 minutes or less, feel free to share it; otherwise, write it down or resolve it after the call. The 2 minutes should include switching costs incurred by changing your focus.
- Attention ownership: As a remote worker, we each must learn to be masters of our most precious resource: our attention. That means if you want to focus on work, OR if you want to focus on family and NOT on work, you should keep your notifications off. If somebody messages you at 3AM and wakes you up, that's your fault for keeping your alerts on, not theirs for messaging you. It is also essential for engaging in deep work, an important part of Trinsic work culture.
- Embrace serendipity: In an office setting, happenstance interactions occur frequently, for example, VP of Engineering and a Marketing Intern getting a snack at the same time. Through these chance encounters, ideas, feedback, and knowledge is shared in a way that no scheduled meeting could ever accomplish. We should employ policies that facilitate this type of interaction even in a remote setting.
- Write it out: Complex, important, and imperfect decisions are made daily at Trinsic. It's impossible to gather 100% of the information needed to make an informed decision, so decisions with complex trade-offs are made with imperfect knowledge. It is costly to spend time researching decisions and costly to revisit decisions after they've been made. Spending time to write down the intent, information used, and context of a decision is valuable because it helps the team know when decisions can/should be revisited (ie, when intent or context changes, or new information is available). It also helps communicate to the rest of the team. But most of all, the act of writing is tremendously beneficial for the decision maker, as it causes them to structure their thoughts in a coherent way. After all, why do you think I’m writing this document about communication? 😊