Join Drew Bridewell for an in-depth discussion in this video How to win when working remote, part of Practical UX Weekly.
- Do you work from home or need to work remotely on a weekly basis? Working remote can work and in this week's episode, I'm going to share some tips, tricks, and best practices for getting the most out of your work from home days even if you're a full-time employee who works remotely. It all starts and ends with your mindset. It takes a unique individual to overcome the difficulties of working remote but there are things you can do to help prepare you for this adventure and for me, it all starts with building better relationships.
Now there may be a perception amongst your coworkers that since you're not in the office, you may be disconnected from your peers. Until working from home is mainstream, this is likely to be a misconception that you'll have to work through. Which means putting in more effort to build better relationships with your partners and peers is essential. This way when you make your occasional trip to your company's headquarters, it feels special and the connections you have been cultivating will grow stronger. So make time for better relationships.
Relationships can connect to many other traits that'll help you during your day, like building trust. Trust, to have a firm belief in another person that they can be reliable, truthful, and fall through on what they say they're going to do. Being known as a trustworthy worker is a basic expectation but it can take some effort to maintain while working remotely. This will not only help you in your life but in your career longevity. Keep in mind since you're not physically present and teammates might be, they still need to feel your presence.
So sure, it might seem pretty obvious that building relationships and building trust is essential but these are not just buzz words, they're pivotal to you sustaining this role. Just like being consistent. Consistency is needed so your teams can anticipate your behavior over time. This plays to your long term success in making this work. This also ties into doing what your say you're going to do and to strive to not slip. For example, as a remote employee, take it upon yourself to always send your daily stand up to your team.
Daily stand ups define what you're doing today, what you did yesterday, and if you have any road blocks. It's a quick way to get alignment with your team and touch base. This not only helps you know what you're doing but it helps the rest of your team feel your consistent presence. Communication, the next item I want to call out is how you communicate and the frequency of your touch points. In some earlier episodes in this series, I go into how to build solid partnerships with engineering and product managers.
And those tips should still apply even if you're working remote. Set expectations with your team and when would be the best time to sync and let them know when you're available. Build that commonality over time as it will make communicating with your team easier because each of you will be able to have a good sense of how to best connect. You'll also know how and when to find each other. So here's a pro tip for those of you who work remotely full time.
Negotiate a frequency with your manager to visit headquarters or other offices closet to you so you can continue building those relationships in person. Nothing can beat bonding over a meal with your team or hanging out over a cup of coffee or tea. Try to set up a system of support for doing this as often as makes sense for your particular situation. It's not just about how often you communicate with your team but sometimes we need help to have better communication skills. Luckily, we live in a world where we have an amazing technology to help assist.
We have tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Skye, G Talk to name a few. These tools are getting better and better everyday and can help you bridge the gap between you and your team. Speaking of tools, invest in a good quality web cam and a headset. Luckily our MACs and PCs are getting better and better camera hardware built in every year but be aware that it can be a distraction for your team on the other side if they hear crackling, sound cutting in and out and other odd noises.
However, it's not just about sound. You'll want to frame your camera so you have fewer distractions behind you. It's common courtesy for your viewing audience. If they see a bunch of toys, a big flat screen TV in the background, or anything else moving, even your pets. It's likely all these will become a distraction. So set the stage up front. Another primary tool you can leverage from working remote is InVision. You might of heard me talk about InVision before but it's an amazing tool to help you share, collaborate, and manage your designs with your team no matter where they're located.
I use InVision every single day and for our remote employees, it makes sharing a breeze. To learn more about InVision, check our course InVision for UX Design. So when it comes to technology, use it to your advantage and strive to be adaptable when it comes to new products that might pop up that can help you be more connected. So here's some other qualities. Tools are great but as I said earlier, it takes a unique individual to successfully work remote.
Some qualities that surface up that you'll want to focus your attention on consist of being proactive, engaging and a participant in your role. Being out of the physical space requires a high level of attention to these qualities because of the perception. You can change this perception by building a reputation of delivering on and exceeding your daily responsibilities. This doesn't mean work 10 hours a day. It just means work smarter, have fun, and connect and reflect.
When it comes to reflecting, you can reach out to your peers and your manager that work inside the office to get feedback on how things are going but don't feel like you have to wait six months out to get that feedback. Add this topic to your weekly or biweekly one on ones that you might have with your manager and if you're not having one on ones, suggest to your manager that you try it out for a little while. So you can cover topics like these with consistency. One pro tip, set some daily or weekly milestones and be sure to celebrate your wins.
This can help you stay positive and keep your spirits up. Hold yourself accountable and strive for good self discipline to get your work done. With all the distractions you could potentially have at home, it's imperative to your success to make yourself some space to get your work done. Discipline is a mindset and prioritizing your time as a remote employee is essential. You'll want to set quality time with your family and yourself. Which could also include making time for working out, cooking food, or re-watching your favorite episode of Game of Thrones.
Don't deny yourself these life essentials or you might go a little bonkers. So we talked about tools and qualities that can help you win when working remotely but there is one more topic that can help you feel connected to your community outside of your work. Just because you're not in the office doesn't mean you can't engage in other industry related events. Consider making time to attend conferences that inspire you and connecting with other professionals from your community that share common beliefs or work remote.
You could also use Linkedin to connect with professionals in your area or find some meet up groups in your region. The amazing thing is that working remote is becoming more and more mainstream for designers and professionals across the world and there is a strong community of people who are sharing best practices on how they win when working remote. Each individual who decides to go this path is uniquely different and these are the tips and tricks I've learned over the years working remotely on and off and I hope you find some of them useful.
If you'd like to continue the conversation or have more questions about working from home, then I'd love to discuss them with you. Find me on Instagram @abridewell, Tweet at me @abridewell, or you can post a question on our Practical UX Weekly Linkedin group. Thanks for watching and I look forward to seeing you next time.
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