Warm working relationships are still a crucial factor in attachment to workplace for many employees. But these days it is harder than ever to maintain the feeling of community:
It is where the challenge of finding proper internal communication tools comes up. If you haven't figured out the right communication toolkit for your organization, take a look at what we use at Stiltsoft👍. We hope that some of our ideas will give you a little inspiration.
Zoom serves us as the closest alternative to face-to-face meetings. For us, it is also a helpful tool for team-building activities in addition to business-related calls. We can suggest you something interesting when it comes to a less traditional way of using Zoom.
Before we found ourselves cooped up at homes, our favorite team activity was to play pub quizzes. You are probably familiar with these increasingly popular mind games that rack your brains but at the same time give you much fun. This game is a great way to get to know your colleagues better outside the workplace. Where else could you know that your superior is a fan of the Marvel Universe, and your desk partner knows all the songs of Taylor Swift? Quiz checks your outlook on a variety of topics.
It's us playing a pub quiz in 2019:
Of course, 2020 made well-known adjustments and moved this activity to Zoom.
It's us playing a Zoom quiz in 2021 along with our pets😸:
A cooking class via Zoom is not the most predictable thing you may use this tool for. But our girls don't lack creativity. The Stilsoft ladies arranged a cooking party to learn how to cook a chocolate fondant. Isn't it an unusual way to get with teammates together to gain new experience and then eat the fruitful results?
To spend time with a book is always a good idea. But let's face it, how many times did you promise yourself to start reading? Or does your booklist only tend to expand? It seems like you always have something more important on your to-do list. Since we have so many book lovers on the team, the initiative to create a book club was a predictable scenario. This community helps us stick to our book goals and facilitate the quality of reading. Like every club has its rules, ours is not an exception.
Here they are:
👉The first rule of
F ight book club: no influencers. Every book has even chances for picking.
👉We vote not for but against a book. You have five hate points to ban it.
👉We ban a book only if it gets eight hate points.
👉You can restore your points only if you read a book till the end.
👉If reading a book is a pain, we label it as a 'fiasco' and move on.
We are team players at Stiltsoft. For us, the book club is a great tool to boost togetherness and learn to listen to each other.
When it comes to brainstorming, we use Miro. Gone are those days when we gathered together and used whiteboards along with sticky notes to generate ideas. Miro is that tool that made brainstorming even more effective than in-person collaboration.
Usually, we use the Stickies Packs template for brainstorming ideas. Before we start, each participant chooses the color of the sticky notes they will use. Then, we specify a topic, categories to group ideas, and the timeline. Typically, each session lasts 10 minutes. When the initial conditions are set, we start producing ideas.
That is how the Miro brainstorming looked like when we were generating ideas for Apptoberfest 2021.
When the time is up, we use emojis for voting and summarizing the results.
A helpful hint from us is to try different techniques of brainstorming. For example, the Six Thinking Hats model 🎩 helps us look at the problem from different perspectives. Besides, this playful activity allows people to hang loose and switch to creative thinking mode.
The chances are that we stick to Miro even after coming to the office. A huge advantage in online brainstorming is that you can get back to the board much later and ensure that all the ideas are still there. You can always reflect on them and take the robust ones from the backlog to use in the future. Also, it helps more quiet team members to speak out and prevent other people's ideas from redirecting your train of thought.
At Stiltsoft, we use Slack as a tool for instant messaging. Slack is indispensable when you promptly need to reach out to your colleagues. We have many Slack channels for business discussions, handling organizational issues, or voting. But, our favorite ones are where we share jokes, memes, funny photos from personal life, generally anything except work. As a result, it hugely stimulates friendly relationships between staff members.
This diversity of Slack chats might be confusing, especially for newcomers to our team. This is why we created a Slack etiquette guide. The guide familiarizes you with the purpose of each chat and outlines nonintuitive features of the app. For example, did you know that it is possible to set a personal reminder in Slack? Or to activate it on specific messages to get back to them later? In case you didn't, here are a few tips that might be handy for you.
The following sequence in the message line helps you keep up with your to-dos:
This set of actions shows how to turn on a reminder in Slack for an important message. Be sure that you won't miss on it in the flow of never-ending tasks.
Another helpful tip is to connect Slack to Google Calendar. With this add-on, you can arrange upcoming meetings right in your private chat with Google Calendar. It will notify you shortly before the event begins and invites you to join Hangout, Zoom, Webex, or Microsoft Teams meeting directly from Slack.
Also, it automatically updates your Slack status as if hinting to stay away from you for a while.
Another feature that we use to maintain friendly relationships online is Slack custom emojis. Sometimes, one little picture can express thoughts better than a wordy message. Never underestimate the power of inside jokes. They are part of corporate culture as well as formal rules.
Here are a few examples of some popular Slack custom emojis we use:
Since teams in our company work separately, sometimes communication in teams gets stuck in a loop. Even though Slack helps us stay tuned, a netspeak is not always suitable for some situations.
Our corporate blog serves as a place where everyone can express their ideas or pain points, send a shout out or kudos, invite to upcoming events, make important announcements, share reports, and deliver your message to all organizational levels. Besides, it helps newcomers become familiar with corporate culture while keeping the veterans up-to-date. A rule of thumb is that the internal blog is free of style, size, and topic. Generally speaking, for us, it's a hub of our collective experience.
We find it convenient to arrange content on the corporate blog page with our Handy Cards app.
We develop apps that can take work in Atlassian products to a new level. Of course, we use our apps to manage many processes within our company. For adding comments in Confluence, we use our Talk-Advanced Inline Comments for Confluence app (hereafter Talk). The app provides a greater range of commenting options and is especially helpful when we want to be more specific discussing certain points on Confluence pages.
At Stilsoft, we have a content writer who reads our blog posts before making them public. The Talk Suggestions feature makes things a lot easier for our writer when it comes to our text revisions. We also love this feature because it helps you avoid manual editing of content. The revisions are applied automatically once you accept them.
CoP, or Community of practice, is a widely known concept in the professional world. It's a group of people eager to share experiences and proven knowledge in a free-format way.
When we adopted this practice at Stilsoft, it solved the problem of keeping the successes of other teams tacit. Also, it's a way to ensure that teams don't reinvent the wheel all the time. But it's not only successes that are worth sharing. It's also our failures that can significantly pitch in other teams' efficiency. After all, we're in the same boat, guys.
In the bigger picture, the workflow in our teams is quite similar. But it might differ in frameworks, approaches, technologies each team uses. Through translating and discussing the experiences, we learn, grow, and generate ideas together. When education happens informally, you perceive information better. Also, it helps people to express themselves more freely.
The performances are always held voluntarily in a friendly atmosphere, partly thanks to the Friday after-lunch schedule of CoPs. They became sort of a good tradition to gather together after a long time.
Undoubtedly, it's hard to find a one-size-fits-all formula for all businesses. But we believe that the suggested practices can be applicable for a team of any domain and size.
If you have helpful tips on communication tools or techniques in your organization, feel free to tell your story in the comment line👇. We are always open to new ideas. And as it might be one of your takeaways after reading this article: by sharing ideas, we reciprocally grow and develop.
Irina Belaya_Stiltsoft_Marketplace Partner
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