Working, Feeling and Thinking Out Loud

Posted on Jun 17, 2022

Here are three Slack conventions we find really useful while working as a primarily remote team. They work really well for us, but obviously that is just one team in one particular context. If you give them a go and you find them useful, or don’t, I’d love to hear about it.

WOL - Working out Loud

What is it? Posting a message in the teams slack channel about what you are currently working on prefixed with WOL

What does it look like?

@tom: :WOL: Just setting up my local environment for working with the webhook processing lambda. —[In a thread] —@sarah: Ah, I did that setup yesterday, there is a bug in the setup script, let’s jump on a call and I’ll show you.

Why is this useful? What we found is that by having regular updates on what people are working on it provides many more organic opportunities for pairing or for other team members to give context or support on something. It also gave greater visibility to team leadership about how peoples days are progressing between standups.

TOL - Thinking out Loud

What is it? Posting a message in the teams slack channel about something you are thinking about, prefixed with TOL

What does it look like?

@tom: :TOL: I wonder if we need a new layer inbetween the database and our models.

Why is this Useful? It promotes people to share their thinking out loud in the channel, so people can contribute to the discussion, rather than just keeping it in their head.

FOL - Feeling out Loud

What is it? Posting a message in the teams slack channel about how you are feeling, prefixed with FOL

What does it look like?

@tom: :FOL: Feeling pretty down today. Might be keeping a low profile on calls.

Why is this Useful? This one came into it’s own over the Covid lockdowns where often people would be feeling down or outright depressed. In a physical setting, you can often tell someones mood through body language, but you lose that through Slack. Sharing emotions in a professional environment can be daunting, and often people would be thinking to themselves “I feel shit, and I want people to be aware so I don’t come across as rude or something, but I feel weird just posting about it in the team channel.” By setting the convention of FOL, we established as a team that we do care about how you are feeling and we understand that you want to share that without any specific expectation from us.