The ATÖLYE Way of Being Remote

Published in ATÖLYE Insights · 9 min read · April 16, 2020

How to love and work in the time of remote work

Author: Deniz Yazıcıoğlu, Academy Project Coordinator, ATÖLYE Editors: Melissa Clissold, Özgür Arslan

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."

— A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens)

The COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, which has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), has prompted us to reconsider how we work and keep connected due to the global public health crisis that we face, and the ensuing travel restrictions that have followed. In a time of global uncertainty, we are working on developing ways in which these alternatives can go beyond temporary adaptations and give rise to new and more efficient ways of collaborating and staying connected.

In light of this, we have outlined below some recommendations based on the ways in which we connect, share, collaborate, organize, and love each other at ATÖLYE during these times where remote work has become a reality within our lives.


🔗 Connect - Communicate

📂 Share - Work alone

🤼 Collaborate - Work together

✅ Organize - Assign tasks

❤️ Love - Get together

🔗 Connect

The most important aspect of remote work is not to communicate - but to over-communicate! Don't shy away from asking questions to your teammates, mentioning people so they get notifications on Slack, Asana, or whichever tool you're on, and resorting to emails on questions that require not necessarily urgent attention, but more care and thorough thinking.

🧂Zoom and Slack are the new salt and pepper

We use Zoom for meetings with more than two people and Slack calls for duos. Explore what sorts of tools you would like to use for your meetings and for messaging with your colleagues. There are plenty out there now, each offering different features. See what works for you and your teammates.

Typing is the new black

Writing up tasks and briefs, giving feedback, asking questions, and setting intentions are great ways to organize your thoughts and streamline what is indeed necessary to communicate. Speaking can be spontaneous, unplanned, and sometimes lead to more uncertainty. But writing, if used well, can be kept compact, organized, and is a great way to follow up on your responsibilities.

Check out the Basecamp Guide to Internal-Communication that we are a fan of, for how, where, why, and when to communicate.

📞 "Do I need to hop on a call?" Checklist

Translating everything online doesn't mean that we should carry habits into a new medium that has never served us well. I would like to highlight two rules outlined in the Basecamp Guide to Internal-Communication:

#3: "Internal communication based on long-form writing, rather than a verbal tradition of meetings, speaking, and chatting, leads to a welcomed reduction in meetings, video conferences, calls, or other real-time opportunities to interrupt and be interrupted."

#5: "Meetings are the last resort, not the first option."

Here's a terrific check-list by Owl Labs to decide if you need to meet or not.

📂 Share

They say sharing is caring - and that is exactly why we use Google Drive! Keeping an organized file system has never been more relevant, because, during this time, it may not be that easy to ask for the share link of a folder by nudging your nearest colleague. Even if you use another file management system, keep it organized! Your friends might have missed a meeting and might not be able to find the most up to date file, and so to avoid confusion, always be diligent with your housekeeping.

🤼 Collaborate

Doing collaborative work online is not a foreign concept to us. We all use G Suite, Mural, Miro, Milanote and InVision to share, create, and think together. For holding workshops internally or with clients, you can consider using Google Jamboard. With Google Jamboard, participants can sketch ideas, drop images, add notes just like an online whiteboard everybody can interact on!

✅ Organize

Asana is in the nucleus of the organism that we call ATÖLYE. Everything we are working on must be on Asana in the form of projects, tasks, subtasks, and if possible, timelines too. Asana will enable you to keep your whole team on track, search and find older tasks for reference, distribute and collect work and update everyone at the same time. You may be using another tool for project management in your organization, but a well-organized system rarely fails.

A well-written and thorough description for assigned tasks is the best practice to ensure you have given a solid brief and set expectations. Adding the amount of time you think the task should take can be quite helpful for the other person to self-organize and arrange their daily schedule. A well-kept project management tool means that you are able to be transparent whilst also being kept accountable for your workflow.

❤️ Love

You might feel lonely and isolated when working remotely. Getting dressed, going out, having a coffee break with our teammates usually motivates us one way or another, and makes us feel less lonely.

Thankfully, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web and everything has changed since! We can all meet in cyberspace, build and maintain relationships, share knowledge, memes, more memes, music, and much more!

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary of English, a ritual is "a formal ceremony or series of acts that are always performed in the same way." Like in every culture, including cyberculture, we need rituals to stay connected with ourselves and the world and gives us a sense of control and meaning.

Here are some easy rituals you can adopt to stay connected, on track, and less alone.

🌞 Daily Morning Zoom Check-ins

Set your calendars and wear your favorite shirt (pants are not necessary) and get ready to hop on a call, camera on, to see the beautiful faces of your teammates.

Don't forget to follow "online etiquette" so that everyone can be on the same page. Check your camera and microphone beforehand, mute yourself when not talking, please look at the screen and your teammates - rather than yourself, no PJs please, adjust your background when needed, and that is it!

Keep the meeting less than 30 minutes, but hey, maybe someone may need some emotional support so exceed the time limit if necessary.

Start with a few "how are you feeling?" check-in questions, continue on with what you are doing today and ask if you need any help from your teammates. You can also check out this page for icebreakers which are especially useful for remote teams.

Examples of check-ins:

🧠 What I have in mind...

🏃 ‍♀️ What I am working on

🆘 I need help with...

👐 I can help with...

📅 Weekly TO DO'S

Scheduled to repeat every Monday, hop on a Zoom call with your teammates to go over the priorities for the week. Note down every intention your teammates set for the week ahead. This meeting may longer than usual but it will be worth it!

🔽 Slack Stand Downs (SSD)

Sharing your daily accomplishments through your team's Slack channel or equivalent tool, will be able to provide a time for daily reflection and will allow you to align with your teammates daily.

🎊 Friday Recap

Assign one person from your team to become the reporter of the week and ensure that they share the most important things that your team has accomplished all week into a single Slack post to the rest of your team. Do not go into too much detail, and be selective about the things you want to highlight. This is not a weekly report, it's a way to motivate your teammates and share your team's accomplishments with everyone.

🍴 Mid-day Alignment

If you are working with other practices, mid-day alignments ensure that everyone is on the same page during the day. You wouldn't want to learn from the digital stand-down that someone worked on something completely off the whole day. Again, assign one person from your team to remind everyone what everyone should be on top of and don't shy away from asking questions.

🕔 Intention Checks

Your weekly priorities may become irrelevant during the week and waiting until Friday's stand down to announce your personal decisions might be too late. Assign someone to carry out "Intention Checks" on Wednesdays to look back at every teammate's intention for the week that they had set during the Weekly To Do's Session and ask them to insert the relevant emojis to signify whether or not the task is being done, is on hold or has been canceled.


🛑 = I stopped doing this/I've had a change of plans.

📝 = Working on it right now.

✅ = Done.

🎪 Grand Meetup

Your teammates are not going to be the only ones you will miss. What about the rest of the people in your organization? Ask someone from HR to set up a team-wide Zoom call and facilitate the session for the ultimate alignment call! Definitely make room for fun and games with some added break-out room activities.

🙏 🏻 Appreciate 🙏

Everybody wants to be appreciated, even if it is just through a Slack message. Please spread your love and appreciate your teammates whenever you feel like it. There is no limit to sharing love!

🍸 Cyber Happy Hours

Translating in-office social activities can help us develop a sense of comradery and keep us close during these interesting times. Enjoy your wine with whoever dials into the Zoom calls on Friday nights, and try playing some drinking games through Zoom!

👋 Life goes on...

There is always a silver lining to everything; this also goes for forced remote working. During this period, you will be able to experience the importance of clear and concise communication, the power of organizing through writing, translating rituals into cyberspace, and self-management! Slow down, breathe in, and relax. Now is a great time to rethink our interdependencies, what we take for granted, and how to stay agile and practice what we preach - which is to be flexible in times of adversity.

If you are looking for ways to help your teams build systems that will allow inclusive and effective means of collaboration and co-creation, or if you are seeking a partner to develop remote learning systems for your organization please contact Mert Çetinkaya ( the interim Director of ATÖLYE's Academy.