Text-based communication is great because it gives us a point of reference for important decisions and discussions – perfect if you want to review a conversation at a later date.

Emails are useful for remote teams because they’re asynchronous, meaning team members working in different time zones or at different times of day can still participate in conversations at a time that suits them. So if you receive an email outside of your working hours, you can wait until you’re back at work before replying.

Within the team we use Slack for instant, real-time communication – it’s a messaging app that acts as our virtual office. There are different chatrooms, instant messaging, and it can be integrated with a number of other platforms for ease.

Email Guidelines

  • Please send one email per subject, as dealing with multiple issues in a single email could cause delays (because you have to respond to everything) or could lead to something being missed.
  • Use a clear subject header so the email can be identified easily in a crowded inbox.
  • Always reply to an email, even if no action is required, to confirm that you’ve read it.
  • If an internal email is urgent or becomes urgent feel free to ping the recipient(s) in Slack.
  • If you address a number of different points in an email, please number them for ease.
  • If you’re emailing on Wholegrain business, ensure you use your Wholegrain email address.
  • Use of equipment provided by Wholegrain for communication should be business-related. That said, we don’t mind you doing what you need to do on the personal front, as long as it’s legal and moral.

Slack Guidelines

Slack is our virtual office and it’s where many of our daily discussions happen. If you’re at work and available, we expect you to be on Slack. Much like a physical office, there’s work chat and some fun and random stuff too.

  • Do update your status throughout the day. So if you’re popping to a meeting or heading out for some fresh air we’ll leave you in peace (unless there’s an emergency).
  • You can use Do Not Disturb (DND) mode to indicate that you’re unavailable.
  • You can turn off Slack if you need to concentrate on a project. Just let us know and ensure your telephone number is correct in case we need to contact you for something urgent.
  • Only contact somebody in DND mode if it’s really important, and don’t expect an immediate response.
  • Try to use a public channel where possible and mention the person you want to reach if necessary. This means other people can chime in and it’s easy to involve others later in the conversation.
  • Try to minimise use of @channel unless important, so people aren’t pinged all day.

Much like office chatter Slack can be distracting, especially if you’re not used to it. You may not want to hear random chat when you’re focused on a deadline. It’s therefore important to manage it carefully so it doesn’t become overwhelming. Suggestions include:

  • Favourite important channels.
  • Mute anything that isn’t important for the project you’re working on.
  • Leave channels that you no longer find interesting or relevant.
  • Remember to use DND mode if you need total concentration.
  • Bear in mind, you don’t need to keep up with everything that’s happening in Wholegrain, only the bits that are relevant to you.

Etiquette Guidelines

  • Please conduct all written communication in English, even it it’s just one-on-one, in case you need to forward or share it.
  • Keep conversations positive, friendly, real and productive.
  • Be mindful that people from different cultures speak and write differently, so tailor your communications to the receiver’s cultural background or how well you know them.
  • Proofread your messages before hitting send, especially when sending external emails.
  • Keep an eye on the tone of your emails. What you think is ‘straightforward’ language, may come across as ‘curt or angry’. If necessary, read it aloud first and consider how it could be received.
  • Nothing is confidential – you could send an email to the wrong person or it could be forwarded. Therefore never say anything in an email that you wouldn’t say to somebody’s face.
  • Constructive criticism is welcomed when delivered with respect and tact.
  • Keep messages as brief and efficient as possible to minimise reading time.
  • Avoid using ‘reply all’ unless everybody needs to see the reply.
  • If you’re playing ping-pong with an issue over email, consider if it’s easier to jump on a video call to resolve it.