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Posted: 14th January 2021
One thing we are still struggling with as a company whilst we are remote working is the cross-team communications. Our company has quite an autonomous culture, we encourage employees to manage their own work load, if they see a problem = fix it, if they feel something can be done better = go ahead and reinvent the wheel. In an open plan office this creates a great hub of activity and you can often over hear things being currently worked on and muck in where needed. However, working remotely has hindered this and sometimes we find that teams aren’t communicating well enough with other teams and sometimes that looses a lot of collaboration and efficiency in projects. I’m curious how other companies are coping with this?
Things I have considered:
– Team to team stand ups – all our teams have a daily or weekly stand up meetings amongst themselves but we could introduce a monthly collaborative stand up between similar teams. Our company wide staff meetings are very high level operational updates so isn’t the right forum for this day to day project collaboration.
– A project board – employees can centrally post the nitty gritty of what they’re working on, a bit an internal job ad, and other employees can volunteer to help.
I’m not convinced if either of these ideas will fix the issue but keen for some more ideas…
A specific example to illustrate what i’m talking about:
We had an employee work on automating a manual process for a number of hours to then find out that an employee in another team had also been working on the same thing which resulted in a double up of work and could have been more efficient if they were aware.
It sounds like you have a culture that most companies would be envious of! A fully remote workforce can certainly hinder that culture of collaboration and connectivity especially when everyone is still getting used to it. What you’ve considered so far as alternatives to counter this are great options. To add to this:
– Another way to look at your first option of team-to-team stand-ups is to consider a SPOC approach if getting entire teams together may prove to be difficult. So, have a single point of contact in each team and these SPOC’s help to oversee cross-collaboration between the teams.
– When bringing together the SPOC’s or entire teams together consider having a clear agenda prior to the meeting about what you want to achieve and have short bursts of 30 minute activity so you keep the interest rather than scheduling hour long sessions.
– A great example of a company that keeps its teams connecting and collaborating remotely is GitLab. They use asynchronous communication through their Slack Channel or a google doc through which geographically distributed team members write their questions and comments and trust that other team members in distant time zones will respond at the first opportunity. One benefit to this approach is that employees are more likely to share early-stage ideas, plans, and documents and to welcome early feedback; the pressure to present polished work is less than it would be in more formal, synchronous team meetings. GitLab calls this process blameless problem-solving.
When it comes to knowledge sharing, they are quite aware that with the inability to tap a colleague on the shoulder to have a question answered, knowledge ends up residing in ‘people’s heads.’ At GitLab all team members have access to a “working handbook,” which some describe as “the central repository for how we run the company.” It currently consists of 5,000 searchable pages. All employees are encouraged to add to it and taught how to create a new topic page, edit an existing one, embed video, and so forth. Ahead of meetings, organizers post agendas that link to the relevant sections to allow invitees to read background information and post questions. Afterward recordings of the sessions are posted on GitLab’s YouTube channel, agendas are edited, and the handbook is updated to reflect any decisions made.
We touched on this in our latest webinar yesterday- New Approaches to the Workplace. You can check it out here.
Please keep us posted on how you decide to approach this!
Disruptive HR Team
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