Communicate Effectively

Use the tools that make it easy and natural.

Communication across remote teams is probably the most challenging aspect.

It’s easy to see the difference in how co-located teams communicate versus remote teams. It's even easier to see the effects within a small team or start-up.

For big corporations, the teams are siloed and distributed in such ways that the communication challenges may resemble those of a remote team. Communicating with a person from another team might require changing floors, buildings or even traveling. Video conferencing and other forms of telecommunication become the default practical solution.

As a start-up leader, it’s actually smart to start with a remote-first culture. As the company scales, it’ll be easier to communicate across teams in new cities and countries as the market expands.

In this section, we’ll review some of our tools for synchronous and asynchronous communication. 

Asynchronous Communication

The Tools We Use

Slack

Slack makes up the core of our written communications. You probably already know what it is and how it works. Here are some quick tips/features/practices we’d like to share:

  • Each team has a channel.
  • Each topic has a channel. (#analytics, #sales, #algorithms, etc.)
  • Some important channels have the prefix “important” and we’re expected to read and acknowledge content in such channels ASAP.
    • #Important-news: Company-wide announcements.
    • #Important-shipped: New products, campaigns or brands that have shipped.
    • #Important-away: Announcements of our time off.
    • #Important-KPIs: A feed with KPI digest provided by Metabase.

We make moderate use of chatbots and other slack integrations to get notifications about website chats and other relevant product action feeds, as well as engineering website monitoring tools and commit alerts.

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Google Drive Documents
(or confluence)

This hub is for centralized, relevant information and documents.
As a tech start-up, you might find some of our processes relevant:

  • Usability test results, documented and archived.
  • Value test results, documented and archived.
  • Analysis of product and growth marketing experiments documented and archived.
  • Business operations templates and processes, documented and archived.
  • Relevant resources (templates, cheatsheets, guidelines) for marketing, sales, engineering, and other operations, archived.
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Email

Emails are only for external communications and forwarding. Depending on the role, it almost goes without use (some engineers barely need to use it).

Our sales and marketing team uses it heavily, mainly for cold outreaching.

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WhatsApp (Messages)

WhatsApp is our backup chatting tool. It is for urgent communications, as you’ll see in our SLAs template below.

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Trello

This is where most of the magic happens for the product, engineering, and marketing experiments.

As a team based on our CEO’s product development framework, Experimento, we use kanban boards to follow and track our work. These boards also keep track of engineering chores, bugs and shipped cards.

You can download our experimento framework or copy our product experimento board.

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See our product roadmap template

Synchronous Communication

The Tools We Use

Zoom

Most of our real-time communication used to happen through the video conferencing tool Zoom. We’ve since migrated to our own video conferencing tool, Tribe (in private beta).

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Tribe

Tribe is a video-conferencing tool for remote teams.
After connecting with Slack, you’ll be able to see almost real-time feeds of your colleagues (or their blurred feeds or avatars, if they prefer more privacy) and their availabilities.

By centralizing video-conferencing and availability to a single, real-time tool, we’re able to know if we can have a quick chat with a colleague and get on a video call in as little as a second.

Group calls can be created and rooms are available for recurrent meetings (Coruscant is our daily stand-up room and Cantina Band is a place to hang out when taking a break).

It is currently in private beta, but since you’ve read so much already, I’d be happy to extend access to your Slack team too. Click here to connect.

Full disclosure: Tribe is a tool developed under Alex’s leadership and owned by the emma holding, owner of Torre*.

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WhatsApp Calls/Phone Calls

As full-time Torrex, we’re expected to be available at all times for emergencies or time-sensitive purposes. WhatsApp calls and phone calls are reserved for instances where immediate communication is mandatory or alternative channels are down.

We take this rule very seriously, so calling without it being a time-sensitive matter is a big no-no, as our fellow Torrex will drop anything they’re doing to attend calls.

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SLAs

With our previous comments in mind, here are some SLAs (service-level agreements) we have at Torre:

Slack: Expected to be answered the same business day.

Important Channel Acknowledgments: Expected the same day.

Email: Expected to be answered or acknowledged within the week.

Comments on Drive Documents: Expected to be answered within a week, as soon as possible.

WhatsApp/Messages: Expected to be answered within 30 minutes.

WhatsApp/Phone Calls: Expected to be answered immediately, if unavailable, as soon as available again.