The Supercool team are scattered all over England, Scotland, and Wales. It's great! We get to work with people we couldn't if we had to limit the team to a specific geographic area. But being in different locations means it can take longer to get to know each other. And we have to work at it.
As a growing team who all work remotely, it’s so important we make an effort to get to know each other.
We meet every morning for a quick 'What I'm doing today' video call. Then there’s Friday Afternoon Games – also via video call, where we play all kinds of online games together. And we have several Slack channels for sharing playlists, film recommendations, gifs, pet photos, and other fun/random stuff.
But it’s not the same as being in the same room.
And – particularly for those of us, including yours truly, who aren't super-outgoing – there are certain things it can be tricky to find the right time to mention, or talk about, or explain. Things like how we like to work, to help us do our best.
'Working with me' docs
There're as many different ways of working, and preferred forms of communication, as there are people.
(If you're unfamiliar with Notion, it describes itself as an all-in-one workspace – for notes, tasks, wikis, and databases. We use it as Supercool's knowledge base.)
We already had a Who's Who section with everyone's name, role, location, phone extension, and photo. That section now also houses everyone's 'Working with me' docs. Sometimes called a User Guide or Personal Manual, the document can include all manner of information about each person, how they work best, how they prefer to communicate etc. We generally stick to a template covering: what I'm good at, what I'm not good at, how to work with me, and facts about me.
In that last section, Facts about me, we particularly encourage folks to include their height. It’s one of those unexpected quirks of not being together in person – you end up with no idea how tall people are. It can be a surprise when you meet IRL!
… we particularly encourage folks to include their height. It’s one of those unexpected quirks of not being together in person – you end up with no idea how tall people are.
A chance to stop and think
Several of the team have said that writing their doc was a great opportunity to stop, to properly consider and articulate how they like to work. (Rather than it being a vague concept floating around in their head.)
It's also been a good reminder that not everyone thinks, works, or communicates in the same way.
One thing I do want to stress is that it's entirely voluntary. Not everyone wants to share this kind of thing. And that's a-okay. Folks can write as little (including nothing) or as much as they're comfortable with.
We've only been doing this a month or so, but it's already proving useful and insightful. It's helped us get to know the newest team members more quickly – and revealed some super-interesting facts about the folks we've been working with for ages.
Here's an abridged snippet from my own doc:
Working with me: Katie
What I’m good at:
- Writing, editing and spell-checking
- Spotting details and patterns
- Working by myself
What I’m not good at:
- Being the centre of attention
- Working or meeting in busy, noisy environments
- Asking for help
How to work with me:
- Ask me questions in writing, and expect a written response
- Give me time to think things through
- Nudge me (gently!) if I take too long to do something
- I won't always ask, but please share any ideas you have about improving our marketing, inclusivity, diversity, and sustainability.
I’ll save most of the facts about me for the Supercool team but will divulge … I’m 160cm / 5ft 2in.
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