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Communication guidelines

Don't say hello in chat

Also see Async communication is in many ways the reverse of sync communication, and this is true for niceties as well. While it's important to be cordial and friendly, you can often invert normal social conventions and put information up front and chit-chat afterwards instead of the other way round. When a conversation takes place over hours or days, then:

Hi John, could you share that widget we discussed last week with me
(hi, by the way - how are things)
... wait
Hi Mary, here it is
(going great - how's there? Looking forward to the weekend tomorrow)

is much more efficient and respectful of each other's time than

Hi John,
... wait
Hi Mary, how are you?
... wait
Good thanks. How's there?
... wait

Share information as widely as might be relevant

Normally you'll be in a few different Slack channels. If your name is John and you are working on projects for Acme and BravoInc, you'll be in channels like


You might also have DMs with Sarah and Gareth and other people. While you're always welcome to DM anyone if you feel uncomfortable sharing specific information with the people in one of the shared channels, always default to putting information in the biggest channel that is relevant.

To avoid three way conversations, always include anyone who might be relevant from the start. People in async environments are bottlenecked by responding to information, not by reading it, so there's no need to worry about disturbing anyone. Sharing information as widely as possible keeps everyone in the loop and provides context that might be important.

It also helps finding information. Some people at Ritza are in dozens or hundreds of Slack channels, and when searching for a specific message they will start at the top and work down (#ritza-team -> #ritza-<customer> -> #ritza-<writer> -> DMs).

Finally, by sharing information with more people you are more likely to get a response sooner as often someone else can help you out even if it's not the person you originally thought would be able to.

Don't reply to old Slack threads

We use Slack threads to group relevant conversations, but if you reply to a Slack thread or message from an earlier day it can be hard to find the message again. A good default is that threads only last one day. If you need to add a message to an older thread, check the 'also send to channel' option to refresh it and make it easier for people to find by scrolling.

Make it clear when you are owning a decision or expecting someone else to to own it

'Shared' responsibility is inefficient and often people have strong opinions over small things. Be prepared to own certain decisions, deliverables, or conversations and don't spend excess effort getting to consensus (bias for action).