Although most of Faraday's team is in Vermont, we have people spread out all over, even as far as Grenoble, France. As many of you on remote teams will agree, working with your colleagues over long distances can be a challenge.
We've been through all kinds of systems, tools, policies, and arrangements that haven't worked out. Either they were too intrusive or complicated or they didn't add enough value. The one that has stuck has become Faraday's One Special Rule™.
We call it Presence Protocol:
PRESENCE PROTOCOL * Baseline expectation: at computer 9am-12pm, 1pm-5pm in your local timezone * Absence ≤ 15min: no action needed * Anything else: mark on calendar
Here's why it works: let's say I'm working on something but I need to chat with Robbie before I can proceed. If there's nothing on his calendar and it's the middle of the work day and he's not responding, I know he'll be back in < 15min and it probably makes sense to wait. If I see on the calendar that he's gone for another hour (or 2 or 3) then I know I should move on to something else.
Presence Protocol is about as lightweight of a team management policy as you can get. It sets up a fair expectation of a virtual shout across the office getting answered while still accommodating work schedules that maximize happiness. If you give it a whirl please let me know how it goes!