Bold.dev guide to communication
Communication is the single most important thing for us. That is why we would like to guide you on how it works in Bold, how we use different tools, and how to make your own work and life easier.
General philosophy: Communication is our oxygen
If it doesn’t work nothing else will work either. Poor communication creates more work and stress for everyone.
Below you will find rules and principles we try to keep in mind at Bold when communicating with teammates, clients, internally and in the public.
- It doesn’t have to be crazy at work – Stay calm. Protect your own time and respect people’s time. We don’t like words like “ASAP” and don’t want to be distracted every five minutes and surrounded by chaos. Urgency is overrated, ASAP is poison.
- We think remote – Even if you work in the office, you should communicate as if you were on a desert island and use all the tools and principles we have described here.
- Be honest ASAP – This is the only situation where we like “ASAP”. The worst truth is much much better if it’s revealed immediately as any problem occurs. Together we can solve every problem.
- Polish vs english language – We do most of our work for english speaking clients so whenever you write something that could potentially be used by a client or there is a chance you will pass such information to a client at some point, it is much easier to write in English. In our internal conversations english is not required and you can use polish. All comments in source code and all project documentation have to be english.
- Less meetings, less calls and video conferences – We rely on long-form writing if you need to explain something important or articulate anything that is important to you and shouldn’t be forgotten. Chatting on Slack is our default way of instant communication, but you need to remember that everything on Slack disappears forever quite fast. Meeting is not the first option, it’s the last one.
- Real time reaction – Never expect or require someone to get back to you immediately unless it’s a true emergency. The expectation of immediate response is toxic. BUT if you receive and read any message from teammate or a client, no matter if it’s an email, slack chat or basecamp comment, you need to leave visible sign of you reading it (like simple “ok” answer on Slack, or emoji, or “got it, will answer you tomorrow”).
- Writing helps everyone – Speaking only helps who’s in the room, writing helps everyone. This includes people who couldn’t make it, or future employees who join years from now. It works the same with clients. If for example someone wants you to train them on using some tool, just write it and you will never have to do it again – you will simply send a link to existing tutorial.
- Make it clear and simple – If you have to repeat yourself, you weren’t clear enough the first time. Make things simple for your teammates and our clients, not just for yourself.
- Respect the time of others by giving them context – Example: if you want to discuss with your teammate a project/task/document – send a link to it first. If you want to point out some specific elements in a project – send a screenshot, code snippet, or a video.
- We don’t talk if you are upset – Emotional conversations never get to the point and never helped to solve any problem. Calm down (as long as you need, if you aren’t sure – sleep on it before saying it) and discuss the problems, facts, and solutions then.
- There is no “RIGHT NOW” – You can never expect your teammates to get back to you immediately or leave their current task and focus on your problem unless it’s hiper urgent and big disaster (this almost never happens).
- What is the most important information – Where you put something, and what you call it, matters. When titling something, lead with the most important information.
- Write at the right time – Sharing something important at 5pm may keep someone at work longer. You may have some spare time on a Sunday afternoon to write something, but putting it out there on Sunday may pull people back into work on the weekends. Early Monday morning communication may be buried by other things. There may not be a perfect time, but there’s certainly a wrong time. Keep that in mind when you hit send.
- Where to write – Consider where you put things. The right communication in the wrong place might as well not exist at all. When someone relies on a search to find something it’s often because it wasn’t where they expected something to be. Check the “Our toolset” section below for more details.
- The right thing at the right time – Communication often interrupts, so good communication is often about saying the right thing at the right time in the right way with the fewest side effects.
Communication with Clients
- Client is our Baby Yoda – It’s our tiny little treasure. We need to make him/her feel safe, understood and taken care of.
- No silence allowed – if we receive any message from a client there has to be a visible reaction as soon as you see the message. The reaction does not equal a full response. Most of the time short answers like “ok got it!” or “confirming receipt, we will get back to you tomorrow/next week/after the weekend” or “we need to discuss it in the team and then i will get back to you”
- Use simple language and simple words – Don’t ever try to sound fancy, just use simple words and simple sentences to describe everything. Use easy to understand examples and remember that you are the technical person and most of the time it’s easy and obvious only to you.
- Try to avoid emails and always convince clients to use Basecamp for production work
Most of our internal and external communication happens inside Slack and Basecamp.
Slack is our daily chat tool. Our idea of Slack is to replace talking in real life (especially in remote work). We use Slack to start a quick chat, short discussion, to write something not very important. Everything on our Slack disappears within a couple of days from publishing it. Just like it works with real-life face to face talking. Slack can not be used for sending access data like logins and passwords.
Example use: Every morning everyone you should say “Hello!” on #general channel as the first thing when you start a day. On Slack we send links, ask questions to teammates, discuss minor details of projects. Slack is also the place where developers perform morning standups. Slack is also integrated with different apps and systems that are providing notifications (new commits in the source code, new invoices etc.)
Slack could also be used as a voice or video call tool when you need to talk to one teammate only.
Basecamp is our main production tool where we create tasks, discuss projects in detail. We also invite our clients here so they can collaborate with us on the project – this is the way to avoid emails.
We use Basecamp for all clients work as well as for our internal projects and organisation of dev team’s work (like projects estimations, tasks priorities, internal communication between PMs accounts and developers)
Every important piece of information should be written down as a document or sheet within our Google drive storage.
This is our default tool when it comes to video calls with teammates and clients.
E-mail is the last and least favourite way of communicating with teammates and clients. We try to not use emails for any production work. E-mail is allowed for initial communication with clients as well as for sales, offerings and in general for business type communication.