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Individual Responsibilities for Alignment
Common questions covered here
How do I stay up to date as a remote employee?
How do you avoid feeling in the dark when working from home?
How can you stay visibile as a remote employee who works from home?
Handbooks and Q&A spaces are only valuable if individuals actively use them. Greater autonomy brings greater individual responsibility and the need for self-management, requiring workers to be proactive and work independently, staying aligned, informed, and unblocked.
Some recommendations that remote workers can adopt to make this easier include:
Read the Updates
Build a habit of reading the company, departmental, and team updates. To do this, we recommend setting aside some time on your calendar every week or two, and avoiding any distractions so you can focus on reading. Even better, you can respond to the author with questions that will help you understand the update better. This also demonstrates interest and helps you build relationships. If your company uses mailing lists for updates, take some time to organize your lists with labels in your inbox so you can batch them together. If there is too much to get through, prioritize the updates that will help keep you in sync.
Contribute to Shared Knowledge
Help your team, and your future self, by documenting processes and procedures you know about in the company handbook. It takes a village to keep the company informed. If you figured something out that isn’t documented or created a new process, write it down! Don’t assume someone else will write it down for you. Effective distributed teams are communities, and maintaining organizational knowledge depends on community participation.
Participate in Q&A
When you participate in Q&A spaces, you’re hanging out by the virtual watercooler. You learn information that used to be the equivalent of hallway conversations. If there’s a forum, you typically can configure it to send you a digest of topics you follow on a regular basis. If your company uses chat for this instead, it helps to set some time on your calendar every week to catch up; it can be the same time you set aside to catch up on regular updates. If you can, help answer questions, as this benefits everyone. If more people are available to answer questions, or navigate the org chart to find answers, then the workload of keeping others informed is distributed among more people and individual efforts are lowered. Helping others answer questions for themselves, by showing them how to navigate the handbook or understand the organization, can also help lighten the load.
Research Before Asking
“Lazyweb” is the practice of asking for answers on forums or social media rather than doing research. This can be effective when you have a captive and knowledgeable audience ready to help provide you with information. It can also be a very effective way of annoying your co-workers, because it can communicate that you’d rather have other people do work for you. Before you reach out to the office oracle or tap someone’s shoulder in Slack, consider spending some time searching the handbook and available knowledge bases—like chat logs, forum topics, and any existing documentation—for the answer to a question you have. If you use Google Docs, your organization may have cloudsearch enabled, which allows you to search across shared documents, presentations, calendar, and even email.
importantNo matter what tools you use, it’s helpful to spend 10–15 minutes trying to answer your question before you post it. The opposite is also true: it makes no sense to spend hours looking for something that may be answered by others in a forum. As long as this information is not time sensitive or urgent, you can ask away and let the async oracle do its work while you work on something else.