Working with WhatsApp
Several members of the FW collective will often be collaborating on a consultancy, and this means developing effective at-distance working methods. We’ve discovered the huge benefits that using WhatsApp can bring for real-time collaboration.
When do we use it?
Two recent consultancies gave us the opportunity to add WhatsApp to our armoury of online collaboration tools. We had found regular email, Basecamp, Google Docs and Dropbox invaluable for our internal communications and knowledge management, but were needing something for real-time collaborative work. Instant messaging appeared to be the answer, but we weren’t convinced about the usefulness of Skype or Messenger. We hit on WhatsApp and have never looked back!
We often work collaboratively on document and resource drafting as well as on workshop preparation, and so WhatsApp enables us to co-create in real time and at distance.
We also use it for team communications – to draw the attention of colleagues without having to wait for them to read their email or review the Basecamp postings.
How do we use it?
In our collaborative work we will often distribute the lead on different sections or sessions and work on them simultaneously. We use WhatsApp to tell the other/s when the draft is ready for their review and comments, provide a link to it, and agree a timeframe for feedback. This is usually over a few hours rather than days.
We also use WhatsApp when anyone wishes to discuss a specific point or develop an idea that they are working on whilst drafting, designing the process etc. So we know that we can quickly contact the other/s and ask for a chat to discuss it before continuing the work.
Sometimes there may be issues that arise during the consultancy that we feel would usefully be explored as a team, outside of the regular team meetings. WhatsApp enables us to set up a quick meeting for this purpose.
Setting up the Desktop version of WhatsApp makes it really easy to use whilst working on a draft document or during resource development. You don’t have to constantly refer back to your phone – the messages pop up on your screen and a quick written response takes just a second or two.
What stands out?
Looking back at the threads of communications during the two consultancies, there are three things that stand out:
- How much we express our emotions – it is not all technical points by any means. Our joy, frustrations and humour are all part of the flow back and forth between us.
- How much we support each other – in response to these emotions, or just as encouragement to keep the work rhythm going or the flow of ideas streaming through.
- How much satisfaction we get from that constant contact with each other.
A final word
Our use of WhatsApp isn’t all about work. In Framework we care for each other and we enjoy sharing our personal news, our joys and our celebrations. So we have a WhatsApp Framework group which we use for just that – to post pictures of key events, of our travels, of the spring flowers in our gardens. It keeps Framework collective alive and bubbling with energy and human warmth. I for one wouldn’t miss it for the world.