Remote working

Posted by kdow on Aug 4, 2017 10:41:00 AM

I’ve spoken about this a few times. Here, on Twitter & at public speaking events. But the basics are easy; I manage a global team, consisting of colleagues in the US, Europe (Dublin & Berlin) & APAC (Sydney, Singapore & Tokyo). That’s a highly distributed team!

Photo by Goran Ivos on  Unsplash

It also means that, for the most part, a large part of my team is remote at all times. I travel a fair bit for work (but have cut that down in 2017 compared to 2016, and will continue that trend in 2018), so I get face-time with people. This is important for working out hard problems, having tough conversations and allowing access to people to me, and vice-versa. But no matter where I am physically located, a huge swathe of folks are remote for me. Even in the location I might be in, some percentage of the team might be remote because my company allows for that.

With remote work in mind, here’s a few tips I’ve come up with along the way, as well as some (possible) solutions to problems:

  1. Make sure the technology allows for remote work. We use Zoom for conferencing because it works best across large distances (namely Sydney-to-Dublin at worst) compared to Google Hangouts, Webex or similar.
  2. Make sure you’ve planned your location for a meeting. Coffee shops are cool spots to get shit done, but noisy environments when you’re talking to colleagues.
  3. With that in mind, make sure the place you’re located in (home, an office block, coffee shop, train station) has good wifi. Don’t plan a meeting at 10am when you’re commuting on the subway to another place!
  4. Don’t do sensitive conversations when you/the other person are in a public space. It’s awkward and no fun for anyone. On a wider note, you should never have a sensitive conversation sprung on you, so let the other person know this is coming so they can plan their location (and sensibilities!) beforehand.
  5. Get used to that mute button in team catch-ups. If there’s lots of noise, the meeting gets derailed. Don’t be that guy.
  6. Report what you’re doing. I know, no one really checks-in on what work is being done when everyone’s in the office. But when you’re remote it’s easy to be online while playing PlayStation. Make sure your manager/colleagues know you’ve got a productive space to work in.
  7. Be available in normal working hours. You might be remote, but if your “home timezone” is GMT, for example, make sure you’re up in the morning with colleagues, having lunch at the same time and winding down at the same time. If you’re remote and off-schedule, you’re isolating yourself from your colleagues.
  8. If you’re working remote on a more permanent basis, know that you’re remote. Opportunities for managerial promotions and what-not are less likely if there’s a team in an office somewhere. That’s the main caveat to working remote.
  9. Don’t be a dickhead. If you’re lucky enough to work remote, and you’re on a beach in the Canaries, don’t rub people’s noses in it. It’s easy for colleagues to be resentful if you’re remote.
  10. Be flexible. This works both ways. If you’re the remote worker, or you’re working with someone from the office when they’re remote, there’s going to be some flexibility needed. Lag on a video chat, timezone cross-over, etc. all rear their ugly heads.

Anyway, I hope this is helpful to someone. Feel free to email/Tweet me with suggestions, tips or questions :)