Helpful Practices when Working Remotely

While all of us have the opportunity to work remotely now and then – we might not have the opportunity to do it for an extended period of time. 

Here are some simple guidelines that have helped me out in the past when working, months at a time, on a distributed team.

Put your back to a wall: unexpected disruptions can often creep up behind you – but if you can manage to work with your back to a wall – you can easily switch your focus from your terminal to the situation in front of you.

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It often helps to have something nice to look at behind you – you’ll often see me in front of a large painting. If it is a window, just be sure you’re not a silhouette where us colleagues can’t see you because of the glare.

Get dressed for work: other than “no pants fridays”, EV had a policy that we all dress in “professionalisms tech” while we were in Slack (our primary connector.) The benefit is psychological as well as practical – when we had a call with a client, we were prepared … 

Have your camera on: as living beings we have an amazing ability to adapt to our environment – this is assisted (and in some cases, compensated) by our senses. Adding more opportunities to ingest information connects us and supports us. So keep those camera’s on! And, btw, this will keep you engaged in a call …

Pick a messaging platform … and stick with it: Skype, Teams, Slack … oh my? as household bandwidth may be stressed – try reducing your piece of the pipe by picking one platform to live on. You can communicate that by letting other know, in your non-used messaging platform notes where you can be found! 

Robust status updates: At another tech company – even though we all worked in the same cube farm – we always communicated through IRC. A habit we got into was being extra communicative with our status: BRB, WTD (walking the dog), TAB (taking a break), RME (Resting my eyes), HDDD(heads down, don’t disturb), ROTFLSTC (just kidding) were all status updates that communicated away states. People can see you in a mtg  – but what if you went for a bio break?

Speaking of breaks – take them! “Visit the water cooler” remember to get up and out of your chair – we might not have those fancy rising  desks at home – so get up and stretch. At Sony, our 3pm “magic hour” was as an opportunity to get up, stretch, do some eye exercises, grab a coffee, and, eventually, walk up 15 flights of stairs. When we worked remote – we were sure to still participate it in ( and have an excuse for the vertical exercise)

“ON AIR” Communication: Talking on a conference call and having your partner start up the Vitamix isn’t a fun experience. A way to ensure that you’re “live” is to have an “On AIR” indicator. For me it is a vase of flowers – if it is on the left of the laptop – the person seeing me has the “Right” to do what they do. (remember my back is to a wall) If it is on the left, I need to own the “airspace” – prob until the top of the hour.

You’re solution, esp with kids, might not even be this. In the picture above (or attached) the better choice might have been inclusion – and that would have made that situation go viral for a way better reason.

Finally, Also, does anyone have the creds to actually create a “team” in Teams? If so, please share – seems like an opportune time to adopt this in lieu of Skype …