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Communication and Transparency

The best way for you to make a decision about what’s good for Clef is to have all of the information about what’s going on at Clef. The same is true for everyone else you work with, so it’s important that we’re all up to date about what’s happening, even with the areas of Clef that we’re not actively involved with.

Transparency may seem like a passive process, like "don’t hide anything," but it’s actually a big challenge to keep everyone up to date and on the same page, especially on projects they’re not working on on a daily basis, even for a company the size of Clef. These are some of the policies we use to make information more accessible, but our work is ongoing.


Friday #Updates

Every Friday, everyone on the team posts an update in the #updates channel in Slack that includes:

  • What they accomplished this week
  • What they hope to accomplish next week

This makes it easy to keep in the loop on projects and also keeps everyone at Clef accountable to everyone else to do their part.

Pro-active checkins

When we're all in the office, it's easy to see when a teammate is around or available. When an individual is out of the office, this visibility immediately drops to 0. When we're working remotely, it's our responsibility to let our teammates know when we're around and available.

Doing this is as easy as posting a message in Slack to say when you drop in or leave.

It's also a good idea to be proactive about letting teammates know what you're working on and how it's going. 18F has a great paragraph on this:

Proactively communicate. As Kate Garklavs, a content designer who lives in Portland, puts it: “Because I'm remote, I've taken to sending short, proactive progress updates to my teams ("Hey, all — wanted to let you know that I finished writing XYZ and sent it to so-and-so for approval — should hear back by Friday."), even when daily standups aren't required. By sending these short updates throughout the day, I hope to keep folks in the loop with regards to what I've been up to.”

With increased individual flexibility, since we're all working at the same time less, it's important to go above and beyond in letting people know when we are around.

Calendar Updates

If you're working remotely or from home, you should put a calendar event indicating where you are working from for all the time you are out of the office.


Slack Names

Slack names are an easy way to communicate where you are located and when you are away from your desk. If you are working from home, taking PTO, or sick, you should update your Slack last name to reflect name to reflect this.

Slack Status

There are 4 states in which a teammate can be in on Slack:

  1. Active (green). Similar to when someone is sitting at their desk in the office, they are considered available and can be expected to respond in the range of a few minutes to an hour.
  2. Do not disturb (green). This teammate is at their computer, but focusing. Expect a response when they are done with whatever they are focusing on, but don't wait for them.
  3. *Do not disturb (gray). *This teammate is away from their computer and off work. Expect a response the next work day.
  4. Away. This teammate is off work or temporarily away. Check the #office channel — when a user goes away, whether it's during their work day or when the day is ending, they should post a message letting the team know they are stepping out. If they posted a message in #office saying they were stepping away but coming back, expect a response when they get back. If they posted a message saying they were done for the day, you should expect a response the next work day.

Obviously, edge cases exist, but it's important that on both ends of our communication (both asking and responding) we uphold these expectations so that everyone on our team can plan their work effectively.


Public Slack Channels

Almost all Slack conversation should happen in public Slack channels where the rest of the team can see it. You may not subscribe to or pay attention to every channel, but conversations that happen in public channels are searchable and readable by the whole team, so when someone wants to know how we decided on some course of action, Slack gives them a place to look back at the conversation.

Not every ping or question needs to happen publicly, but when in question, you should err on the side of posting publicly. Currently about 60% of our conversations happen in public channels, which is a number we hope will keep growing.

Public Calendars

Work calendars should be shared to make scheduling meetings really easy and also to let the rest of the team see where we’re spending our time. Personal calendars often have sensitive information, and should be kept separate. Work calendars are documentation of how we’re budgeting our hours and are useful for the rest of the team.

Open Stats

When we measure something, it should be visible to everyone on the team. Our stats will be great sometimes and disappointing others, but when we hide or silo the hard stats, fewer people can help fix them. We’ll try to keep the most critical stats posted in the office, but any data that we’re collecting should be open to everyone.

We Succeed Together When We Trust Each Other

Communication and negotiation among groups of people is difficult, but the more honest we can be with each other, the easier it will be for us to trust one another and work together as a team. Openness and honesty will be critical to our success, which is why this is one of our core values, and why it’s a mantra we repeat in many conversations.