We met in person for the first time and debunked a few remote tips.
We read about it all the time. Some of it is good, some of it is so-so. And if we're honest, some of it doesn't always make sense to us.
So when we met in person for the first time, we had a conversation about the remote advice we hear about, versus the way we really work.
Here's how it went👇🏽
At some point it became acceptable to sit alone in a home office, look into a laptop, and drink alcohol at 8:00 am—all in the name of teambuilding. At least that's been the case here on the West Coast.
Tricky to coordinate across timezones, virtual team building can take on other forms too. We've had success with trivia, gaming, even gnocchi-making with a pasta coach.
Being remote means working in a candyland of distractions. Luckily, there are apps to mitigate our feeble focus skills—clean, beautiful-looking software (ahem Slite) in addition to a handful of productivity apps.
Face it, you're human, you're going to get distracted. Getting help on setting healthy boundaries doesn't make you a crappy person.
Here's what can happen on a video call:
1. The call starts and you begin to scan the other person's background.
"Wow look at all the nice plants he has. Is that a bedroom or a home office? Don't see a bed, must be his home office. Wait, maybe that's a futon."
2. You look at yourself.
"Eesh, I have rings under my eyes. What if I angle the camera this way? There, better. No wait, that makes me look pale. I'll turn a lamp on. Nope, too bright. I'm changing rooms."
3. You look at yourself again.
"So this is my working face. Interesting."
4. You look at yourself some more.
"Let's see if I can fit both my head and my shoulders into the frame. There, perfect rectangle. Sorry, what were we talking about?"
On most remote calls, there's no eye contact. Instead, there's a moving mirror of yourself that shows how you look when you talk to other people. That's why sometimes, audio can feel more liberating. It frees your eyes to focus on the topic, take notes to absorb more info, or just save time on grooming your hair. Because when comms go virtual, focusing on visual cues can get exhausting.
"If you can sit in a room with a computer and complete a task, you can work remotely." —Alex, senior support
Thanks Alex, sums it up quite well 😂
There are two kinds of people in the world: those who would consider putting an intravenous line of coffee in their arm, and those who wouldn't. I'll bet the first group doesn't function too well first thing in the morning, never mind saying a meaningful good morning.
Jokes aside, it may be wise to make the good morning ritual optional for remote workers. Sometimes people just aren't in the mood, while others say it even makes them feel like they're clocking in, factory-style.
"Dress for success."
"Dress for the position you'd like to have."
"Clothes are the best way to say who you are, without having to speak."
We've heard them all. But have you heard this one?
"Dress as if you were at home. Because surprise!
You're in your house."
Dress the way you like to dress. You'll probably feel better, work better, and communicate more like yourself.
Focusing on a headquarters makes it harder to make everyone feel the same way. Because when you have remote staff, the HQ runs the danger of prioritizing one location over another—favoring some people.
Stocking freshly-squeezed guava in the fridge for staff? If only a select few can enjoy it, you could be harming your inclusive culture.
"If you work on things that matter and you enjoy doing them, people are going to notice." —Alex, senior support
Because remember: trusting people by default is way more powerful that prodding someone 5'000 kms away.
We had a little fun with this one. We know that over-communicating is a key part of building trusting work relationships with others. Because remote work doesn't offer the luxury of peeking over your computer to see Mandy hammering away at her keyboard. Or making sure that Harold made it back from his lunchtime run.
Check in with your team to tell people what you're working on. It builds trust and just lets everybody know that you're okay.
"My grandma thinks I'm not really working. She sees me on my laptop and thinks I'm goofing off on YouTube." –Anthony, grandson & senior growth engineer
There may be a hint of truth to what Anthony's grandma is saying because if we're honest, we're all still figuring out the the best ways to work remotely.
It's a journey we're passionate about, and we're here to write about. Sign up to our monthly newsletter to see what we'll discover next...
Marc Cinanni is a creative writer who's fascinated by the emergence of remote as a new way of life. His pieces are punchy, absurd, and often personal. He writes for remote teams, managers, and people interested in feeling better about the way they work. Follow him @marccinanni.