Remote work is hard.
People have different communication styles, work methods, and feedback preferences. Especially when communicating complex or multi-step ideas, it can be hard to share context in a way that does justice to an idea. It makes you realize how great face-to-face conversations can be.
That said, some people are great with Zoom meetings; others are masters of email; I know plenty of folks who are simply best via Slack, text or WhatsApp. And I haven’t even touched project management tools.
I think there’s always a balance between the expressiveness and inflection of things like Zoom/phone calls, and the asynchronous, detail-oriented (albeit time-consuming) nature of methods like email or Slack messages.
After two years of remote work, I’ve found a great way to share complex ideas in a minimum of time: voice notes.
Why voice notes? For a lot of non-technical work, they hit that perfect sweet spot between the expressiveness and inflections present in video, without the need to align schedules or join a call. They can be replayed over and over, transcribed, and saved for compliance purposes.
After months of using WhatsApp’s voice note feature, I was delighted to see Slack recently roll out voice notes. In addition to the standard ease of voice notes, they get automatically transcribed, which means they’re searchable, and can be scheduled in advance!
The only downside is that I now spend a lot of time replaying my most recent sent messages, wincing when I hear my every “um,” “well,” and “y’know.” But — silver lining! — I’m that much closer to sounding like Ira Glass on This American Life.
Obviously, voice notes aren’t perfect for a lot of purposes or roles, but I’ve found them to be a great way of quickly sharing an idea, request, or a note. The closest corollary would be, perhaps, the casual-ness of an interoffice phone call, but without the recipient needing to be there at that moment.
And, come to think of it, perhaps this whole post could have been a podcast.