IT office jungles are filled with computer forests, cable lianas, and rivers of coffee. The temperature varies between 24 and 27, depending on who keeps the conditioner remote control. The sunlight mainly comes from computer screens and lightbulbs. Developers are working like bees: they take the pollen of code and create honeycombs of apps. It is a beautiful environment filled with the magical power of innovation, creativity, and agility. However, this ecosystem only works if there is one more component. 


This component is communication. 


Channels of communication in the IT workplace

Despite the stereotypes about typical software developers, communication is everywhere in the IT workplace: from requirements discussions to advising each other on how to fix a bug faster and more effectively. It affects everything, starting with the overall environment and ending with how well we meet deadlines and resolve problems. The more open our communication is, the more productive we are. For that, we have different channels of verbal and written communication, apart from occasional talks with a neighboring teammate. 




Meetings are an effective way of discussing different development aspects and sharing experiences. They allow software creators to understand the big picture rather than only focus on a specific task. Depending on the development stage, the meetings can have different aims. 


  • an initial meeting with discussion and explanation of projects’ requirements;
  • tech meeting where we choose technologies and tools;
  • planning meeting with the outline of each teammate responsibilities and deadlines to meet;
  • daily brief reports of the completed tasks;
  • the retrospective meeting helps to take a fresh look at the finished assignments and analyze what accelerated or disrupted the work.


Our project managers usually perform one meeting per day. For example, our PM Lina gathers developers together on a couch daily. They discuss the work done and in progress. Devs can say if they are stuck on something and obtain valuable advice from their teammates. Based on all this information, it is easier to plan further actions and keep the client updated on real progress. 


Video Conferences. 


In the mids of the pandemics, face-to-face meetings became a rare luxury, and video-calling apps replace them more with each day. However, online conferences were a thing long before that because of many software development companies throughout the whole world. Daily or weekly online meetings keep the product owners updated about all processes and allow developers to specify some of the requirements. It results in better and faster results. Wonder what software it is better to use? Let’s ask SapientPro clients about their experience!


“We keep in touch mainly through Telegram and track progress through Redmine. Our project manager works nonstop and is always ready to jump on a call when necessary” – Pepijn Middeldorp


“We managed the project internally. We used Slack, Jira, Zoom, and GitLab”- Peter Topor


“We used to Skype, but now we usually use Slack. Even though they’re far away, are in a different time zone, and speak a different language, they’re always available” – Jasper Budel


Group Chats 


A great solution to drive small interactions between the company members and keep updated about the progress on different projects. Group chats are a place where every developer can refer for help and instantly obtain feedback concerning their task. They serve as a team-building channel, as often enough the whole team discusses recent news or shares some entertaining content. It glues people together in strong team relationships, which improves overall productivity. 


How SapientPro uses group chats to improve communication?


1) We have separate chats for different projects. Here we discuss work, report progress, and get feedback from managers. For example, as a copywriter, I obtain different types of information from Copywriting, Social Media, and SEO chats. It helps to structuralize information and feel freer to refer for help in specific problems. If I don’t know what keywords are better to use, I’ll write straight to SEO chat instead of the common Copywriting. Same with developers and their group conversations. 


2) We have one group chat for all company members: those working in the office and remote. It’s a place to communicate about organizational matters, discuss news, and share company updates. We also use this chat as a team-building channel, conducting different quests and sharing results there.




Explain how something works and tell more about your project! Here are some slides and a tablet with text. Only don’t forget to keep eye contact with your audience from time to time. You need them to feel united. You need them to care about what you say. 


Yes, presentations are a practical way of informing and influencing people. Only think of TED talks and how they’ve mastered the approach to public speaking. You can have it at your company, too! Presentation is a way of letting your employees express themself to other members of the company. It is a tool for conveying important information to all people working with you. Requirements presenting, training, brief instructions – all of it benefits if you add some presentation tools to it. 


At SapientPro we had a tradition of holding presentations. Each week, before the quarantine, one team told all others about their projects, highlighting the challenges and insights they had. This way, we created a positive environment for our devs to share experiences.


Small talks


Kitchen. Three people in a queue for the coffee. An awkward silence and only the pouring water is heard. There’s only one way to fill in the blank space – by referring to small talk. So many of us hate it, yet so many feel unsoothing without it. 


However, small talk is also one of the powerful communication channels. Once the strain of initiating a conversation fades, it helps co-workers to be on better terms with each other. Small talks are also a way of accomodating the newly recruited people in the company. It’s how we get to know each other and become a real team. 


To improve communication in the workplace it is necessary to remember different boosting strategies that we will tell you about slightly below. Some of them we adopt intuitively. Others we learn the hard way – mostly because there often occur communication barriers.


Communication barriers in the workplace

Sometimes even the two most open and communicative people don’t come to terms. It’s never a coincidence, but rather a cause and effect link. The factors preceding the conversation came into action, and – boom – we have a conflict, a misunderstanding, an offense, or just a lack of sense. These factors are grouped into five barriers.


Communication barriers

Sometimes even the two most open and communicative people don’t come to terms. It’s never a coincidence, but rather a cause and effect link. The factors preceding the conversation came into action, and – boom – we have a conflict, a misunderstanding, an offense, or just a lack of sense. These factors are grouped into five barriers.


Physical barriers, or noises and distances

Every time it is hard to decipher what you hear because of the repair works/loud music/chatter, we talk about physical barriers. Usually, though, the IT workplace is designed to be a highly convenient place with everything encouraging to focus on work. This way, noise won’t be an issue unless you have very chit-chatty colleagues (yes, this happens among software developers, don’t forget to break stereotypes). Physical barriers are the easiest to reduce. You only need to talk louder or find a quieter place.


Psychological barriers, or moods and emotions

No matter how open-minded managers are, the office is for work, and we need to focus on tasks and collaborate. In the wrong mood, however, other people may irritate. The problem with emotions is that person can come to the office already feeling (a negative) one. The problem with people is that they react differently to emotions. Let’s say Jim will distract from anger with work, and it won’t influence how he talks to other people. Meanwhile, Jane will think about the reason for her sadness all the time, getting annoyed every time someone asks her something.


Language barriers

If people have a different level of language acquisition or use dialectal words and jargon, it may disrupt the understanding of the overall context. It often occurs among Junior developers who don’t speak English well and need to communicate with clients from foreign countries. We at SapientPro solve this problem by hiring teachers that come to our office each week.


Also, language barriers may occur in the IT workplace due to software development slang words. For example, SapientPro developers communicate in Ukrainian in the office. However, the development lexicon they use in English. So they don’t translate into Ukrainian the words like a meeting, call, debug, live, production, deploy. For Junior developers or those who enter IT from other industries (HRs, copywriters, designers), it is hard to understand what they mean. Here’s an example:


“Our newcomers often have these weird looks on their faces when you tell them to write a standup” – Ihor.


Standup is the daily reporting message about a person’s progress. However, those who are not familiar with this context may, in horror, try to recall all hilarious jokes and situations. Language barrier in action!


Attitudinal barriers, or conflicts and lack of motivation

Interpersonal relationships are so hard that even with the best applications, it would be hard to understand all aspects of it. What we know is that sometimes people don’t get along due to the difference in tempers or attitudes, and it may result in conflicts. Jim understands what Chloe wants him to do with this task, but he just can’t stand her! This way, consciously (or subconsciously), he will disrupt their conversation. Unfortunately, it is a recurrent phenomenon in all types of workplaces. 


Perceptional barriers, or a different view on the same problem.

Remember the picture where two men stand on different sides of a number written on the floor? One sees 9 and the other, naturally, 6. Each of them thinks it is he that is right. Well, such situations often occur in the workplace as well. Front end developer may think his issue is more urgent at the moment than the one that occurred on the server-side. Back end developer may disagree. PM may consider this task will take 1 day. Developers understand that even 3 days won’t be enough. 


How to overcome these barriers? 

There’s an irony with miscommunication because only by openly discussing the barrier – mood, conflict, or attitude, it is possible to reduce the strain and improve collaboration.



Strategies that boost communication

Communication improvement seems to be not as challenging as defining algorithms or writing code. However, when you talk to an angry PM, I think you wish you would fixing bugs at the moment. The thing is that while speaking with each other, we often have to guess. What is the reason he does not want to talk to anyone? Why is she responding abruptly? Is it me, or is it something happening outside the work? That’s why the first communication booster we will consider is clarity! To not let the power of “guess” mislead, be open!


STRATEGY #1. Talk openly

Open communication unlocks many doors, especially those you would otherwise try to kick down, losing much time and power. If you confess that the task is too complicated and you need more time, instead of sitting days and nights feeling miserable, you’ll get help or the deadline prolonged. If you tell your colleague you don’t like all those jokes he makes about you, instead of being annoyed with him all the time, you’ll finally get the chance to collaborate. 


STRATEGY #2. Be logical and coherent. 

Unclear requirements and documentation are the most terrifying torturing tool in software development. If the communication with the client is poor the team will never understand what’s wanted from them. That’s why it is vital for the PM to carefully decode the client’s words into the software development terms. Afterward – do visa versa: explain to the product owner what the team has done in less technical words. The better the developer/designer/copywriter understands the task, the better the results will be. The better the client understands the progress, the more precise requirements will he or she be able to create in the future.


STRATEGY #3 Respect boundaries

It’s not news that each person has his or her boundaries. Let’s say Jim does not want to talk about his personal life, and Kate doesn’t like to be hugged. Pete does not tolerate deprecating jokes, and Chloe hates being distracted when the deadline is just about to happen. 


If you ask Jim about his girlfriend, hug Kate, mock Pete’s way of sitting and try to chit-chat with Chloe while she’s on-call – you are crossing those people boundaries. It is a pre-requisite for many conflicts and miscommunication. When someone says “No” to talking about something, especially to matters that have nothing to do with work, well, it means “No”.


STRATEGY #4 Know how to give feedback

Software development teams often communicate by means of giving each other feedback. Every piece of advice or critics is a step for both project and team success. There is no problem with giving and receiving positive feedback. It is a mood-lifting experience. However, when it comes to negative feedback, some issues may emerge. Focus on the facts and situations without making assumptions about a person’s qualities. While pointing to mistakes, you can be firm, however, do not forget that you talk with people, not emotionless machines. Giving negative feedback is not a reason to cross personal boundaries. 


It is especially important to remember while giving written negative feedback. The thing is that while talking face-to-face, people decode many non-verbal cues. With body language, it is possible to make the critics less hurtful. In written form, however, we have to guess what the person’s intentions were: to explain, only in a firm way, or to humiliate. 


For example, I was once asked to give feedback to another writer based on two texts. There were some issues that I noticed. I decided to give this person feedback I would want to obtain – with explanations from A to Z. However, as it later turned out, while clarity was the strong point of this message, empathy was not. Needless to say, the writer got offended. Of course, I felt bad afterward and started to learn how to give good feedback. 


It is vital to treat people well, even if you write to them about their mistakes. There is a “sandwich method” when you include praise in between critical points. You can try reassuring a person that this feedback does not influence anything about your relationships and attitude. There should be a glimmer of light in every dark place and a glimmer of positive feedback in the negative one. 


STRATEGY #5 Listen and be present

Ironically, the best communicators in the world are not the people who talk a lot, but those who listen. It helps teammates not only understand better what their managers want from them but show that they genuinely care about the task. Listen, don’t interrupt, and only then answer. Being fully present both at requirements discussions and teambuilding parties will pay off later when you suddenly understand: you work in a positive working environment with open communication.