As a distributed company we should be mindful of how we communicate.

Timezones

Use UTC for times

Unless explicitly stated otherwise, communicate times in UTC. This allows each team member to remember just their offset to UTC and makes communication around timezones less error-prone (e.g. misremembering your own offset to a collegues timezone) and more efficient. Exception: When communicating to meet in phisical locations, the timezone of that location will be assumed as default.

Time of day

A 24 hour clock is assumed in time notations like 10:00, when referencing a time in the afternoon either use e.g. 15:00 or explicitly 3 PM.

Meetings

General guidance

Each meeting should have an agenda. This allows potential participants to prepare and decide whether attendance is required. Any partipant can add items to the agenda, please prefix your item with your name or initials to communcate who's going to talk and lead the discussion. Adding new items to the agenda while the meeting is started is good practise and can be leveraged to keep the currently discussed item focussed and on-rails.

During the meeting

Meetings start on time by the person with the first item on the agenda, verbalize and discuss the item. Once done, hand over to the owner of the next agenda item.

During the meeting notes should be taken in an inline fashion. Non-participants can then read the agenda after the meeting and are up-to-date without having to scroll to a notes section.

Coffee calls

Coffee calls are social of nature and thus are the exception to the rule that each meeting should have an agenda.

Asynchronous communication

Slack

When using Slack, prefer to keep discussions in a thread. This reduces scroll back, and focusses channels.

Note that knowledge in Slack is empemeral, it's not a great storage of information. As such knowledge on a decision made in Slack, or elswhere, should always be recorded in the GitHub issue or Google Doc on that topic to keep a log that also works for asynchronous communication.

Standup meetings

Standup meetings are hard to scale across multiple timezones. To make standups async, we're using Geekbot. Geekbot will trigger each workday morning at 9:00 local time, when online in Slack. Everyone who's a member of the #standup channel in Slack will be prompted.

Pro-tips:

  • When a questions doesn't need answering, fill in - to skip
  • When you want to report earlier that day, message Geekbot report

Current meetings

Wednesday Team meeting

Weekly a meeting is held to announce company wide updates, get to know each other, and share things you want to share both professionally and personally.

The meeting starts with announcements and reporting on key metrics These should be written down in the agenda as participation is not required. Reading the agenda the day after the meeting should be enough to stay in the loop on company updates. Announcements and work related topics are timeboxed to the first 15 minutes of the meeting to allow plenty time to talk about other topics.

Personal updates don't have to be documented in the agenda, but please do keep a list of names in the agenda so everyone gets the opportunity to share.

Node-RED community interactions.

As an employee of FlowForge, when we interact with the OSS Node-RED community we must be mindful of our position. For example, when offering advice on the Node-RED forum or the Node-RED slack, the first answer we offer should be how a solution can be achieved using Node-RED. If a native Node-RED solution is not possible or the user would benefit from the advantages that FlowForge offers, then, like any other person or company, we can offer FlowForge as a potential solution.

Feedback & Thanks

In FlowForge, we strongly encourage the sharing of feedback and thank you's. We have a custom-built SlackBot (built in Node-RED and hosted in FlowForge of course), that enables users to message @Feedback with:

  • /give-thanks @to_user <message> - for short thank you messages
  • /give-feedback - to be prompted with a more formal template, within which you can provide structured feedback to a particular person. This template contains sections for "Keep Doing", "Do More Of", "Do Less Of" and "General Comments", of which you can complete, and send, the relevant sections.

All feedback is then sent directly to the relevant user via the Slack App, meaning that feedback and thank you messages are all nicely stored in a single place for future review.

1:1 meetings

Each employee at FlowForge will have regular one to one meetings with their manager. The primary goal of this meeting is for the report to set the agenda and tone. It's important to understand what's going on in ones life, how they're feeling, and what their challenges are.

An agenda is kept for this meeting to which both parties can add items to discuss. It's advised to add to the agenda throughout the week, and only filter content during the meeting.

Further, the document should include an "Action Items" list to track what needs doing, and when.