It’s not possible in all situations obviously, especially among organizations with direct service programs. However, for a large number of staff, ranging from the front line to the executive level, remote or hybrid work is the new normal.
Imagine you’re starting a new, fully remote position. You’re super excited, but wonder how you’ll connect with your teammates. In a physical office, you can pick up clues from their work habits, photos they keep on their desk, their personal style, etc. When your team is spread out over multiple states and time zones, it’s a LOT harder to pick up those vibes. It’s easy, even typical, to feel isolated and lonely. And to think that two-thirds of us could be working remotely forever? It’s a complete cultural shift, a radical workplace revolution, and it’s happening really quickly. The technology is there- it’s up to us to apply.
How do you successfully make the switch?
Communication is key to your team feeling connected to one another, and in turn, to the total success of your organization. Unfortunately, 21% of employees feel that team collaboration suffered as a result of remote working.
In nonprofits especially, collaboration is essential to the creative and realistic implementation of new ideas and solutions to existing issues.
Working remotely is a skill just like marketing or fundraising, and it is your Executive Directors' responsibility to cultivate a culture of growth, communication, and accountability among your team.
Slack as a lifeline
If you're one of the few non-profits out there not using Slack, let me just say, STOP go here and apply for a free account. There is a review process and as long as you meet their eligibility guidelines, you should be good to go.
The idea is so simple and Slack describes itself best:
“Slack brings together people, conversations, data, and your favorite apps all in one virtual place. It’s a collaboration platform designed to get you out of email and meetings so you can do your best work, stay connected to the people who matter most, and give you back time to do the things you love."
Organized Team Communication
Work is organized by channels. Channels bring order, clarity, and open communication, you can create them for every project, topic, or team. They can be public or private. A topic channel provides your team with a shared vision for the work that is being done. You can work in sync and easily share files or start an actual conversation using their Huddle app. As your team uses the channels, they become a historical archive- that becomes even more useful over time.
Did you know?
Slack is actually an acronym.
Searchable Log of All Communications and Knowledge.
After using Slack for a week, email becomes unimaginably slow and inefficient. A relic. On average, people spend 3.1 hours/day in the workplace sending and receiving email. That adds up to 15.5 hours/week and a shocking 20 weeks per year.
Our Slack workspace feels like “digital headquarters” - we’re all connected and productive, while thousands of miles apart. We are working on projects virtually, while also building informal relationships and trust through collaboration.
Speaking of collaboration, if text isn’t your thing, Slack has released a newer feature called Huddle. This allows you to have audio conversations with entire channels or just specific team members. You can even share your screen with them! It’s a great way to build rapport and camaraderie in the same way as you would in a physical office.
Slack offers a ton of integrations, including my favorite, Karma. Karma’s tagline is “True bonding for remote teams. We simply help people to say ‘thank you’ more often and connect with each other.” You share cutely animated micro-feedback instantly, with custom praise and messages. While our team just uses it for fun, you can add actual real-life rewards, and even set up a points system for larger prizes (think gift cards). This is all while engaging with your team and gaining valuable insights into how they work together.
Perhaps most importantly, Slack and Karma both assist in reinforcing long-term vision and goals, and cultivate a culture of openness and inclusion. They are tools to make communication not only easier and more effective but fun. You want your employees communicating- not just about work, either. Organizations run on relationships. The point is to build camaraderie and community among a workforce that may never have the opportunity to be in the same physical space together. When you build inclusion, you build trust. Employees who trust each other are more likely to discuss issues in advance and with each other, and feel comfortable bringing matters to your attention when needed.
Upgrade your organization’s communication style.
It’s free for nonprofits! Your email inbox will thank you, and workflow will never be the same. Thank goodness!
Need assistance with other tools to help your remote teams? Want to discuss your technology strategy or lack thereof?