Remote working is our new normal. While many have been happily working fully or partially remote for years, for many more this new reality was thrust upon them.
First some perspective. People who work from home are happier. Many employees switch employers to gain this perk.
- No commute. Saves 30-120min/day alone
- Temperate is always right
- Less office distractions
- And now not exposed to coworker’s germs or the public-transit traveler’s germs
Best Practices to Become an Efficient Remote Worker
Work must go on. If you have never worked remotely, it is a new fish-out-of-water experience, as I learned when I started working partially remotely in the 90’s. For new comers to work-from-home, and for managers of remote workers, here are some changes to implement:
- Track output, not hours
- Get super clear on priorities
- Have Teams meet minimum weekly on Zoom
- Set expectations, write it down, and how to complete them
- Document processes to move work forward. E.g. approval process
- Set and track milestones. Make work visible.
- Continue to do postmortems on projects
- Plan communications, don’t use an adhoc approach
- Communicate intentionally. There is no water cooler where you would normally overhear discussions that impact you and/or your project
- Communicate more: Tell people “what” (you’re doing) and “why” (you’re doing it) much more often. Don’t make your team guess.
- Match your Slack channel to the message & purpose of the content you post
- It takes longer to discussion issue via chat. Know when to jump to video call
- If you don’t have dedicated space: ensure your family knows when you’re not available.
Must Have Tools
- Collaboration apps. E.g. Gsuite. I love Google Docs, where multiple people can simultaneously edit the same document
- Must have a team chat tool. E.g. Slack or MS-Teams
- Must have a video conference tool. Zoom is the best!
- Project management app – Github. Non tech projects – Trello (these are recommendations to me, I’ve never personally used)
- Online training
Communicate in Real Time
- Setup channels for projects and company news. It’s hard for news to travel informally otherwise.
- Have key posts consistently labeled “Decisions and To Dos”
How to Run Effective Online Meetings
- Be on camera. We are a social species and it’s more important as we’re not in-person. Otherwise we can’t see facial expressions which is important in human contact. The first times will be awkward. If you’re in an office still, don’t share a laptop. Reasons: 1. social distancing, 2. individual group members are too small.
- If you are not on camera, add an avatar. Nothing worse that seeing screen of black boxes.
- Call out individuals specifically for questions. Calling them out will make them feel part of meeting
- Allow silence
- Be careful what you share on your screen. Easy to share other screens or content on screen they you didn’t expect to. My practice is to close all apps/tabs I won’t need during the video meeting.
- Ask attendees to mute their mic if not speaking
- Use headphones to block out outside noise if you don’t have a quiet zone
Remote Working Etiquettes
- Let your colleagues know if you are not available. e.g. Use Slack’s Do Not Disturb
- You don’t have to respond to chat immediately
- Put your work away when not working
- Recognize that not everyone has dedicated space at home for remote working. During your video call you will see the cat, hear a dog bark, and see someone walk by. No big thing.
- Don’t let go of your company rituals and customs because you’re remote (e.g. send cupcakes on someone’s birthday or have a virtual coffee instead of meeting at the coffee shop)
- If you have an open-door policy, setup Virtual Office Hours (plenty of calendar apps for others to schedule time with you) or leave your Zoom open and your Zoom ID posted.
Once you’re started working from home, you won’t want to give it up totally anymore.
I provide Open Office Hours here.
In May we attended the Collision Conference 2019 in Toronto. Now in its fifth year, Collision is the fastest growing tech conference in North America, and for the first time, in Toronto. Over 25,000 attendees from 125 countries, 730 speakers, and 1100 startups. I learned a lot. Now that the dust has settled, I distilled my previously posted top daily summaries (found in my LinkedIn account) down to the top-3 things learned each day.
- Snap (Snapchat): The community created 400,000 lenses which were used 15B times in the last ~8months. Their goal is to have the right lens available at the right time
- Amazon – To get developers to join your company you have to demonstrate you have an “awesome idea”
- “(it’s now) easier to broadcast, harder to get heard” – Dan Gardner
- Now coining the term “Virtual Talent” (under perpetual employment with you, but 100% remote) instead of “freelancers”. The Future of Work prezo by Taso Du Val @ Toptal
- “We haven’t taught (citizens) how to learn new skills (to stay update in today’s employment climate).” – Daphne Koller @ Coursera
- Darren Hendler of Digital Domain (they worked on latest Avenger’s movie) asked us to guess which of 6 people (shown) was not human, but CGI generated (hint: none). The Digital Human technology will soon allow a digital version of you to speak autonomously, using content you didn’t necessarily generate. The “you” speaking will appear 100% authentic. Imagine where this could lead…
- “The war for talent is over. Talent won”. – Sarah Nahm, CEO, Lever
- “Invest in your (company’s) culture early” & “Culture is not won & done” – Max Mullen, Co-founder, Instacart
- “70M US jobs to be impacted by AI by 2030” – Leagh Turner, President, Ceridian
- “Ensure your people understand their impact (on the business)” – Leagh Turner, President, Ceridian (couldn’t not include this 4th item)
Below is an actual stack of biz cards that I collected over a few years. It represents unrealized opportunities.
I recently un-buried myself from all the business cards I’ve collected over the past few years. While filtering through the cards, two ~equally sized piles emerged. The first evolved into two categories of connections:
- People whom I’ve stayed connected with, and,
- People I see a potential future relationship
The latter is what I call “loose connections”. These are people I intend to stay connected with.The second consisted of connections that did not evolve, I could not identify joint opportunities for us, nor did they. Any potential relationship has seemingly ended. Didn’t get to 2nd base.
But what does this mean? It’s not necessarily a bad thing, just reality of the networking world shaking hands around us.
While taking a second pass over the “did not evolve” stack, it became clear that many simply did not state the value of its owner, just name and coordinates, a mystery novel left for me to unravel.
How do you succinctly communicate your value prop on a biz card? How do you ensure that after the customary exchange of personal identifying rectangular coloured paper has long since past, that someone will actually remember you, what you do and what value you can provide?
Isn’t that what’s it all about?
What are my business card preferences? Beyond the mandatory name, company name & website, and email address, my preferences are:
- Your Twitter ID
- Clean and easy to read
- A logo or style that resembles or embodies what value you provide
- LinkedIn URLs on the card if your profile is not easily identifiable , otherwise it’s clutter.
- White space on your card so I can scribble notes on it. I need to write the date, location, and why & where we met. Dark cards or glossy cards that prohibit that.
- Unique card stock size format
- I don’t need your street address or fax number
Through Silicon Halton I receive many business cards. How will you help me remember you? My job is connecting talent to employers, people to people, and business to business. I can help you if I clearly know who you are. Don’t write me a mystery novel.
I often hear from LinkedIn citizens that they’re pestered by recruiters about jobs, how they find it a huge annoyance, unprofessional, spammish, and they won’t reply. But what if recruiters were not contacting you?
Having a recruiter contact you is an affirmation that a) your skills are in demand and b) you can be found. Without both, the professional-you may be approaching the end of it’s shelf life.
Unlike our parents era, no one is looking out for you and your career. This is now your responsibility. You could be tapped on the shoulder tomorrow, or while you’re reading this, that your services are no longer required.
LinkedIn has democratized human capital. Virtually every one in every vertical should be on LinkedIn, whether you’re a professional commercial painter, electrical supplies salesperson, or work in technology, you’re doing yourself a disservice for not being on LinkedIn.
By not being on LinkedIn and/or not sufficiently describing your skills:
- You’re losing track of solid connections that could help you find your next job (and vise versa)
- You’re losing track of key connections that would provide references during the hiring process (and vise versa)
- You’re unable to share your industry, technical or business knowledge to your inner circle, and learn the same from your network. A great way to keep you, and them, up-to-date
- You’re keeping your salary depressed.