Tag: remote work (page 1 of 8)

How to communicate remotely

I’ve worked from home for almost a decade now and still find posts like this incredibly instructive. Not only does Olivier Lacan go through gear, but also how to set it up.

In addition, there’s a few useful tips in here about remote etiquette and when to jump on a call instead of continuing a back-and-forth via text.

By definition being remote means not being there. But feeling present goes a long way. A simple look can trigger a strong reaction and a sense of shared understanding. A slight change in intonation can convey doubt or excitement better than a paragraph. Cameras can’t magically make your expressions visible when light isn’t bouncing off your face. Backlighting or contre-jour for example is a very common mistake that I see very smart people make over and over again, even during important video calls featuring very important people you’d assume would have staff to assist them.

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The one-stop-shop doesn’t exist quite yet, but I can tell you from experience that you can already communicate remotely with higher fidelity than the majority of office workers through the world did even before the pandemic. While your three-dimensional presence will never be replaceable, it’s possible for two-way communication to have an unprecendented amount of subtlety.

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It’s the responsibility of employers to deploy the kind of budgets already allocated toward in-office communication to remote work equipment. It’s also the role of folks like me (and you) to help educate IT departments and business leaders on hardware solutions that already exist today.

It has become quite absurd to argue that remoteness has to mean becoming a less visible and valued contributor to your organization. I hope this post can help you convince anyone who might still believe that communicating remotely still has to be a pain.

Source: High Fidelity Remote Communication | Olivier Lacan

What exactly is ‘hybrid work’?

‘Future’ is a new publication from the VC firm a16z. As such, most things there, while interesting, need to be taken with a large pinch of salt.

This article, for example, feels almost right, but as a gamer the ‘multiplayer’ analogy for work breaks down (for me at least) in several places. That being said, I’ve suggested for a while that our co-op meets around a campfire in Red Dead Redemption II instead of on Zoom…

Remote 1.0. The first wave of modern “remote-first” companies (including Automattic, Gitlab, and Zapier) leaned heavily on asynchronous communication via tools like Google Docs and Slack. This involved a fundamental culture shift that most enterprises could not — and didn’t want to — undertake. It didn’t help that video conferencing technology was clumsy and unreliable, making frictionless real-time communication unfeasible. When collaboration happened, it was primarily through screen sharing: low-fidelity, non-interactive, ineffective. Rather than paving the way, technology was in the way.

Remote 2.0, the phase we’re in, more closely approximates in-person work by relying on video conferencing that allows real-time collaboration (albeit still with friction); video calls are much better now, thanks to more consumer-friendly tools like Zoom and Google Meet. Millennials and Gen-Z-ers, who are more comfortable with multimedia (video and audio as well as multi-player gaming), are increasingly joining the workforce. But while this phase has been more functional from a technical standpoint, it has not been pleasant: “not being able to unplug” has become the top complaint among remote workers. (Especially since many teams have tried to replicate a sense of in-person presence by scheduling more video calls, leading to “Zoom fatigue”). As context diminishes, building trust has become harder — particularly for new employees.

Remote 3.0 is the phase ahead of us: hybrid work. The same challenges of Remote 2.0 are magnified here by asymmetry. The pandemic leveled the playing field at first by pushing everyone to remote work; now that it’s feasible to work in-person, though, hybrid work will create a “second-class citizen” problem. Remote employees may find it much harder to participate in core company functions, to be included in casual conversations, and to form relationships with their colleagues.

Source: Hybrid Anxiety and Hybrid Optimism: The Near Future of Work | Future

Remote workers clock up more hours, says one study

It takes time and/or training to transition fully to remote working. If it’s not something you’ve chosen (say, because of the pandemic) then that’s doubly-problematic.

really enjoy working remotely. I miss travelling for events and meetups, which I used to do probably 10-15 times per year, but the actual working from home part is great. As I type this I’m in my running stuff waiting for the Tesco delivery. Work happens around life, rather than the other way round.

This article talks about one study, which I don’t think is illustrative of the wider picture. What I do recognise, however, is the temptation to work more hours when you live in your workplace. You have to be strict.

Ultimately, it comes down to control. If you’re in control of your time, then eventually you spend it productively. For example, I work fewer than 30 hours per week in an average week, mainly because I don’t attend meetings I don’t have to.

Early surveys of employees and employers found that remote work did not reduce productivity. But a new study* of more than 10,000 employees at an Asian technology company between April 2019 and August 2020 paints a different picture. The firm uses software installed on employees’ computers that tracked which applications or websites were active, and whether the employee was using the keyboard or a mouse. (Shopping online didn’t count.)

The research certainly concluded that the employees were working hard. Total hours worked were 30% higher than before the pandemic, including an 18% increase in working outside normal hours. But this extra effort did not translate into any rise in output. This may explain the earlier survey evidence; both employers and employees felt they were producing as much as before. But the correct way to measure productivity is output per working hour. With all that extra time on the job, this fell by 20%.

Source: Remote workers work longer, not more efficiently | The Economist