Our post about mental health in a remote working team garnered several positive responses from people saying this is a good way of keeping in touch with each other.
It’s nice to hear that people outside of Jago think this is a good idea – however, our main interest is in how members of the team are getting on with the initiative. After all, there’s no point in implementing a new approach if it doesn’t work for everyone.
Adding new emojis
When we first came up with a list of emojis, we had around 10 of them. After a while, we realised that nobody could remember so many emojis with different meanings, and it might become a pain in the neck to have to check a key every morning before setting a Slack status. We whittled the list down to four, all weather-related, so that they would be easy to remember and use.
After a couple of weeks, the subject came up in a team meeting and we all agreed to add an additional emoji featuring both a sun and cloud. This allows for those days when we don’t quite feel “sunny” but we’re also not quite feeling “cloudy” just yet. Our Senior Designer Charlotte commented:
We don’t want the emojis to become prescriptive of our mood; if I have to choose between “sunny” and “cloudy” and I choose the cloud, I might feel like I can’t have a laugh and a joke through the day. It’s putting a label on me that doesn’t quite fit and could easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
A useful daily self-reflection
As we noted in our original article, as well as showing the rest of the team how we’re feeling today, this is a useful tool for self-reflection. When setting our Slack emoji is the first task of the day, it means we start by asking, How do I feel? – instead of sitting down and rushing straight into emails and work. Staying in touch with how we feel can play a major part in our wellbeing; it’s something that can be beneficial for all of us. Our Business Leader Ryan says:
Doing this helps me to reflect on how I am actually feeling on a day-to-day basis, and to be self-aware regarding how I project this state of mind onto the team, based on how they might be feeling.
Although our team members are all miles apart, we are close and have video calls most days. One thing we hadn’t anticipated is that when one person sets their emoji to “stressed” or “cloudy” it becomes an opportunity to offer support. This worked well when our social media intern Jess was feeling homesick:
I moved to the UK from South Africa and had been in the country less than 2 weeks when I began working at Jago. I love it, but sometimes I do get a bit homesick – I’m not used to it being so cold! When I set my Slack emoji to “cloudy” I was surprised to find my team-mates sending me messages to see if there was anything they could do to help.
Video calls are great for being able to see someone’s face during a conversation and gauge their mood and reaction. They are our preferred method of communication – but we also don’t want to waste an hour every morning having a meeting just to see how everyone is doing. It would be nice, but we probably wouldn’t get much work done! Using Slack emojis then is a good way of quickly checking in on how team members are doing. It’s also a good way of telling if someone’s mood has changed based on an interaction – as our Business Leader Ryan found out a while ago. During a team meeting, he made a comment which he later realised he could have approached differently. After the call he noticed that Charlotte’s emoji had changed to a cloud, he then contacted her and asked if all was alright. They were able to discuss the meeting and resolve the miscommunication immediately, without it causing any long-term upset. Ryan says:
The emojis have been really insightful to see how individuals are feeling. It’s helped me to understand the times of the week when people are at their best, and when they might need a little more support. It helped me to identify when I had made Charlotte feel negative in a meeting and because of the immediate emoji change I was able to recover this very quickly without making it a bigger deal than it needed to be.
When you’re feeling stressed or down, it can feel quite isolating. It’s easy to imagine that while you’re struggling to tick things off your to-do list, everyone else is happily plodding along without a care in the world. We’ve had a couple of stressful days lately, where project deadlines have been pressing down upon some team members as we worked hard to make sure we didn’t let clients down. At these times it was reassuring to see that others were struggling too. Digital Marketing Executive Dovile says:
When I’m feeling stressed with deadlines and work, it can be heartening to see that other people are feeling it too. It feels more like we’re all in this together if I can see other tornados on a rough day and we can all help each other through.
Mental health is an important aspect of every workplace, since we have no single workplace we have had to adapt. The addition of Slack Emojis has been successful and we will continue to work using this system to better understand our team on a day to day basis.