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Galactic Fed 10 min read

Why Galactic Fed Has an (Almost) No Call Policy

Dallin Porter photo

Dallin Porter

Communications Manager @ Galactic Fed

Published 04 Nov 2020

When Zach Boyette and Irina Papuc co-founded Galactic Fed, the idea of a remote-first growth marketing agency was still futuristic. Looking back, it has been crucial to the agency’s success and rapid growth. With this remote aspect came the freedom to design a framework of calls and meetings that made sense. This framework led to Galactic Fed’s (almost) no call internal policy.

In a recent podcast interview, Zach said, “Galactic Fed is challenging the status quo of the 9-5 office job and proving that large, fully remote companies can be successful. We believe great work can be done from anywhere: our employees live across six continents in 10+ different time zones. We have implemented a slew of unconventional management tactics, including a strong emphasis on written communication, with nearly zero internal phone calls.” 

Three years later, we are big believers in the powers of this limited call policy. Let’s find out why:

Minimizing phone calls improves communication

Yes, that’s right. Creating a remote company culture with an almost no-call policy improves internal communication overall. How? Well, for starters, it creates an environment where team members are deliberate and intentional with their communication. We know what it’s like when a meeting gets derailed and runs too long because your colleague got sidetracked, and the thing that was supposed to improve communication has destroyed it. 

Because we don’t spend hours sitting in virtual boardrooms, we use communication tools like Slack and Asana and can get straight to the point. At Galactic Fed, we’ve seen the benefits of having a culture of over-communication. 

Limiting the number of internal calls does not mean a decrease in communication—quite the opposite. Co-Founder & Managing partner Irina Papuc said in a recent interview, “over-communication is key, so use different media to adapt to various learning styles. Working remotely brings with it the challenges of productive collaboration without a physical office. We need to be mindful that people learn and absorb knowledge in ways unique to them, and there are endless tools at our disposal to manage this.” 

She went on to tell Authority Magazine, “encourage the team to follow certain protocols, such as making themselves available in Slack during normal work hours Monday to Friday, and be clear when and if you need a response by a certain time. Encourage the team to practice over-communication that is, assuming that what reads as a clear text to the writer does not necessarily provide all the context to the reader. Give your colleague a chance to ask questions in a Q&A doc, and answer them promptly.

By cutting out the fluff of “meetings that could have been emails,” you leave space for clear communication that is conducive to moving projects along and ultimately accomplishing more for your business.

Less calls creates happier, higher-performing employees  

One of the reasons Galactic Fe strongly believes that remote work is the future of work is its emphasis on work/life balance. Not having to work your day around back to back meetings or “can you jump on a call real quick” messages means employees can genuinely own their day. And what happens when staff feel personally satisfied with their company and work? Well, they do better work. 

A study conducted by the University of North Carolina gave valuable insight into  how meetings are related to employees’ satisfaction with their jobs (even when removing other variables such as supervision and salary.)

They found that instead of enhancing or improving collaboration and communication, meetings contribute to the opposite. The study surveyed 182 senior managers in a range of industries and here’s what they found: 

  • 65% said meetings keep them from completing their work.
  • 71% said meetings are unproductive and inefficient. 
  • 64% said meetings come at the expense of deep thinking. 
  • 62% said meetings miss opportunities to bring the team closer together. 

Then, compare these unfortunate numbers with a study conducted by Harvard Business Review who surveyed a financial consultancy three months after the managers began to rethink and reduce their approach to meetings:

  • 42% increase in employees perception of team collaboration
  • 32% increase in feelings of safety to speak up and express opinions
  • 28% increase in overall team performance
  • Employees ratings of satisfaction with work/life balance rose from 62% to 92%

It’s time to re-evaluate these routine meetings’ effectiveness and look at the data that clearly shows us that employees need a change. Take it from us, a happy team is a successful team, and having our team feel satisfied at work is one reason why Galactic Fed has been able to scale so quickly.

Fewer meetings results in increased focus 

One of the most significant downsides to constant calls and meetings is that it prevents staff from being able to focus, especially “deep work.” Deep work is a term coined by Georgetown University professor Cal Newport. This term is used to describe the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. To compensate for this, employees often find themselves coming to work early, staying late, or using time on the weekends to accomplish tasks. 

Ultimately, meetings and calls should serve as a support system to get more work done, but every moment spent in an unnecessary meeting cuts into time for solo work, which is necessary to be creative and efficient.  

Too many meetings interrupt this flow of concentration for employees. When it comes to poorly booked or unplanned meetings, LinkedIn found that “most employees anticipate these interruptions and, for their own sanity, simply don’t work on anything at all before the meeting. This pre-meeting dead time severely affects productivity and morale.”

Although many companies would agree in theory, recent research has shown the opposite. One study showed that meetings have increased in length and frequency over the past 50 years, to the point where executives spend an average of nearly 23  hours a week in them, up from less than 10 hours in the 1960s. If you’re operating in a 40-hour workweek, that leaves less than half of the time to accomplish tasks. As the renowned management consultant Peter Drucker said: “too many meetings are a sign of a bad organization.” 

In addition to our (almost) no call policy, Galactic Fed relies heavily on asynchronous communication, which is “the transmission of data, generally without the use of an external clock signal, where data can be transmitted intermittently rather than in a steady stream.” Essentially, async communication is communication without the expectation of getting an immediate response. Combining these two elements allows our team to remain focused on their work, our clients, and our ever-growing success.

Why an (Almost) No-Call Policy?

We refer to our “almost” no-call policy because, of course, there are situations when hopping on a call or setting a meeting serves its purposes and is an efficient way to move forward with a project or task. 

Whether its a weekly check-in or a one-time call to connect, there are some things we’ve learned you can do to make sure you get the most out of your calls when they do need to occur:

  • Require an agenda: when we say “agenda,” we don’t mean who is running the call or who is taking notes. We mean ensuring all calls/meetings have a clear objective and purpose that’s sent and established in advance. What is the point of this meeting? Is it a brainstorming session? Status update? New project assignment? Team building exercise? No staff should be connecting to the call without explicitly being aware of what will be taking place. 
  • Have quiet hours or days: for the most part at Galactic Fed, meetings occur Tuesday through Thursday. Mondays and Fridays are generally quiet days, where everyone has large amounts of time to work, stay focused, and cross off items on their to-do list. This also restricts having days with a single meeting that breaks up concentration and planning and keeps staff from staying online late or working weekends.
  • Consider a monthly/quarterly all-hands instead: instead of multiple small meetings during the week, consider having a larger, more extended, less-frequent all-hands meeting each month or each quarter. At Galactic Fed, we hold an all-hands meeting for our larger teams once a quarter. These 1-hour meetings allow everyone to connect, celebrate wins, update on high-level projects, and align priorities moving ahead. These meetings save everyone time, boosts morale, and enforces our Galactic Fed culture of having time to work on what matters. 

The Future of Work

At Galactic Fed, we recognize that these policies were once viewed as “unconventional” but are now imperative to finding and keeping top talent and running a thriving business. Working remotely and having an almost no call policy goes beyond a “nice to have” and has been shown to have drastic positive or negative results, depending on how full your teams’ meeting schedule is.  

By protecting employees’ precious time and calendars, you will send the message of choosing real productivity over the appearance of it. Invest in your employees and business today by making decisions that increase communication, happiness, and focus. This is the future of work, and at Galactic Fed, the future of work is now.

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Dallin Porter photo

Dallin Porter

Communications Manager @ Galactic Fed

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