For all its rewards, remote work also has its challenges. Learning how your coworkers work best, and how to communicate the way you work, is one of them.
That’s easier to do in an office, where face-to-face meetings and quick watercooler chats can be instrumental in helping you better understand and build a strong relationships with your teammates.
But how do you learn the nuances of how people work when you may have never met them in person?
Like with much of remote work, the answer lies in writing things down.
Personal User Guides (PUG) are a way for your employees to share who they are and how they work best with the rest of the organization.
They also function as a team directory, where employees can learn more about their coworkers such as communication style, work preferences, and interests outside of work.
Log in to your Meetsy account and toggle to the Admin tab in the left sidebar. Head over to Personal User Guides and create your first template.
Encourage new hires to fill in their PUGs by adding the task to their onboarding checklist. It will help ensure that all your employees have a filled-in PUG, and it will help the new hire reflect on how to set themselves up for success at your organization from the get-go.
Some team members might think they need to portray a certain image at work, while some might simply be uncomfortable bringing their personal selves into their professional lives. Inspiring honest reflection and respecting personal boundaries don’t have to be at odds — build psychological safety around the PUG process, and ensure employees fully understand why they’re being asked to fill in PUGs and how the information will be used.
At Commsor, we explicitly state in our process: ‘This exercise is designed for team members to learn about each other’s ideal conditions for getting their best work done. We realize not everyone will be comfortable sharing information about themselves. Please use the Personal User Guide in a way that feels authentic to you. No one should feel pressured to share anything they’re not comfortable sharing.’
Set an example for how open and authentic your staff can be! Have senior leadership complete their PUGs before general staff do, to serve as examples and inspiration for how to complete full and fun PUGs.
Think about what’s important for your teammates to know about one another so that teams can function optimally. For example, if your organization employs flexible work schedules across multiple time zones, it can be helpful for employees to ask how they can support good work-life boundaries for one another.
While questions about how your employees work and communicate are important, it’s also important to recognize that they’re people with lives and interests outside of the time spent at work. Include some questions about their personal lives to help them share a holistic picture of themselves.
Personal questions needn’t be intimate or make people uncomfortable — music, books, movies, pets, and hobbies are just a few things that can help your team share a bit about who they are when they’re not at work. Remind them that these are optional too, and it’s OK not to share if they don’t want to.
Create a thoughtful PUG launch strategy for current employees to help maximize the PUGs’ effectiveness. “We hosted a fun PUG Party to kick off this program at Commsor,” says Stacey Thompson, Former Director of People. “We used it as an opportunity to generate excitement around PUGs and ensure employees felt connected to their purpose and intent.”
The team joined a working video chat — complete with great party tunes — and began the process of filling out their PUGs together. “We were able to solicit real-time feedback about what they enjoyed about the exercise, and what we could do differently to make it a better experience,” says Stacey.
“This is also a great opportunity to show the team how to do a good PUG Review, with a member of your leadership team conducting a real-time review of their PUG with the group. This level of vulnerability from a leader has the added benefit of setting the tone for psychological safety around PUGs.”