How We Communicate

As a general rule:

  • Slack channels are for messages for teams that do not require an immediate response, think 1-3 hours. (see our Slack Usage Guide for ways to manage Slack usage).
  • Texting a mobile device is for messages that require a response as soon as possible (team members are strongly encouraged to keep their mobile number on their Slack profile).
  • Email is for longer, cross-departmental conversations that should have a written, searchable record (e.g., decisions, requests to access data).
  • Google Documents are for documenting processes to share with other team members, particularly in other departments.
  • GitHub is for discussions internal to the engineering (and sometimes product management) teams. It's considered best practice to link to relevant Slack conversations or other documentation where available.
  • Video conferencing (Google Hangouts or Slack video calls) are for real-time collaboration that requires high-bandwidth communication. It's also for staying well-connected to each other! Face-to-face communication, especially for remote-only team members, is important to our team cohesion.

Slack

Most of our communication is over Slack. Given that we are a distributed team, we work to communicate availability in a manner considerate to our teammates.

We also work to make sure that important decisions are well-documented. Chat is, generally speaking, more ephemeral so most important developer conversations should occur via email or GitHub comments.

Slack considerations

  • We generally chat on public channels rather than private DMs because conversations might have value to others or to our future selves (since we pay for Slack's history retention).
  • We default Slack's do not disturb settings to be outside of work hours. Generally, if the need is urgent, we communicate via text messages.
  • If we are going to be away from keyboard (AFK) for more than 10-15 minutes, we let others know by communicating how long we expect to be gone and how to reach us in an emergency.

Meetings

We document any decisions that are made and actions that are required so that we can share them with non-attendees.

Work hours

Our company's official business hours are from 8am-5pm. However, in order to reduce the amount of time in traffic, some of our team shifts those hours around (for example, 7am-4pm or even 9am-6pm). Team members should communicate their availability with the rest of the company in order to alleviate any concerns about scheduling.

Distributed teams

  • As a partially-distributed team we work to communicate availability via Slack. For example, we say hello when we come online and goodbye when we head out for the day (usually on #dev). Furthermore, we let our team know when we're going to step away for an extended time, whether for lunch, going heads down on a project for a while, or other reasons.
  • The Nashville-located development team typically works remote once or twice a week.
  • If you're in Nashville, it is your responsibility to make sure that your meetings for the day do not require you to be physically present for them. If they do, you should not work remotely that day.
  • When working remote, it is your responsibility to request call-in numbers and/or video conferencing links for meetings in advance whenever possible.
  • Make sure you are familiar with our remote work policy. This provides details on how to keep your devices and work environment secure.