Tips on remote work

Use video chat.

Don’t worry about how you look.

Be yourself, embrace a bad hair day. Video chats increases engagement. Its professional, and subtly keeps you in focus. Others will listen to you more- use this as an advantage. When the attention is on you, you can display your leadership skills more. Popular services include: Zoom, BlueJeans, UberConference, and RingCentral.

If you really want to step up your game here, a professional camera, light, and microphone will make you look and sound great.

Dan Mall and Paul Jarvis have great setups.

Wireless Headphones.

I recommend getting a wireless headphone setup if you’re not using a professional setup like Dan or Paul. Hands free is great, and headphones like AirPods (with dual beam forming mics) make you sound better. Do your co-workers and clients a favor and sound good.

Reassess your internet setup.

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This includes WiFi router and modem. Use speedtest.net to determine your speeds, and increase your bandwidth if necessary. If your modem and Wifi are 5+ years old, it might be worthwhile to invest in a new setup.

Crappy video calls aren’t doing anyone a favor- mostly yourself.

The Wirecutter has a few great tips on the best modem and routers to buy in every budget range.

Window Management.

This is a huge productivity hack.

If you’re used to using a large monitor, and now are constrained to a laptop, you’ll screen real estate use becomes more important. I love using Magnet for window management. I can quickly resize and position windows. Might be the best $1.99 app ever.

Whenever I see someone painfully rearrange windows on video calls, and not utilize proper screen real estate I cringe.

Take Notes.

A good, proper note taking setup will be your friend. Do this deliberately and with care.

Don’t scramble down words in an app. Don’t use text edit, or even Pages. Create a system and use templates if you can.

I really like Notion. It’s a database, which makes it easy to organize notes. For example, I have a running notes list for each client, and each meeting- such as 1:1, sprint planning, and various others. At Slytrunk, we use it to help manage and maintain processes, and recently setup a table for school closures from Coronavirus.

Write Well.

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Remote means communicating differently. There are no “hey can I ask you a quick question?” Interruptions like these seem innocent, but they are huge momentum and productivity blockers.

Remote workers communicate differently. We have to be clear and concise. If you can master this you’ll be infinitely better off at everything else you do. Three books I highly recommend you have at your disposal:

  1. Elements of Style
  2. Revising Prose
  3. On Writing Well

General Happiness.

Stuck at home might make some go stir crazy. Getting out for a walk, practicing yoga or calisthenics will definitely help. Take 15 min 2-3x/day will greatly benefit your overall health and well being. I love taking calls on walks when I can- it actually boost your brain activity.

I love doing a few hill sprints, pushups, and pull-ups in my backyard.

The folks behind Basecamp have literally written the book on working remote (four of them actually).

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