I have always been struggling with the goal of constantly improving the communication inside our development team. We always followed the idea that team is always more effective than any number of individuals. Since the team has grown to 15+ people and a few of us are in different physical locations throughout Poland, we had to find a way to communicate and share knowledge effectively.
We have tried couple different options:
Yammer - enterprise-focused twitter clone. Sluggy, overbloated and not effective for us at all - you don’t want to use a tool that you have to remember about and you find it hard to use!
Campfire - 1st choice for people that find IRC not being up to the modern web. A lot of ways to integrate great tools. A lot of great mobile and desktop clients. We used it for over a year and it played well - but it’s a massive distraction generator. We’re using it right now mostly to get notifications about git commits being pushed to our repository.
IRC - freenode or grove.io, every option had same problems as Campfire - you don’t want to get distracted by seeing an message and not knowing whether it’s important or not.
Jabber group chat - yes, we tried even that one. I won’t comment it.
Thanks, Captain Obvious!
For couple months we’ve been using Facebook groups to share links (and funny pictures, yeah).
Stuff that’s not important to making your job done. It’s a tool that you don’t have to remember about - basically every member of our team uses Facebook, and even ones that weren’t before, have to - simply because we’re building software for / integrated with the Facebook platform (not exclusively, of course, but we still do a lot of it).
We use it to share some cool hacks, tools that improve our workflow, interesting gems, backbone.js libraries, design resources and even to remind about using the water filter in a polite way.
It’s great because it doesn’t break your workflow. It’s easy to use. You don’t have to remember about it - you’re probably using Facebook in your spare time anyway. Think of it as a digital watercooler - a place where people meet to get a few minutes of rest and have a chit-chat - simply because everyone drinks water. And if you’re the guy that brings his own water to work (or do not use Facebook for whatever reasons), you are aware that you’re missing some of the social goodness. And it’s a water cooler that you can bring home along with the people around it. And access it from your iPad. And Android device. And a feature phone.
Important is important!
Don’t get me wrong. We still use an group email to share updates about the office issues, absences etc. We use jabber and email (not mentioning project management tools) to communicate about day to day work. But in this case, when we get an email or an IM, we know it’s the important stuff - noise separated, achievement unlocked.