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How to Survive Remote Communication

Communication has always been the key to our success and our survival. This is true for our species and is just as true for our businesses: companies live and die by how well they communicate. So how do we foster productive relationships in a workplace that spans the globe?

“REMOTE” HAS NEVER FELT SO CLOSE

At Lookback, we embrace the distributed workplace. Working from home, the office, the park or the beach, being a night owl or an early bird, the lifestyle freedom is amazing. I once did a trip from Amsterdam to Egypt, and then China to Kuala Lumpur, to Singapore, to Australia, to Fiji, to the United States and back to Amsterdam, all still on the clock. It felt like a honeymoon with my laptop. Seriously, people say this a lot but you have to experience it to understand just how empowering it is to be the only person calling the shots in how you work.

THE RIGHT TOOLS FOR THE JOB

Building this culture is fundamentally about attitude, but there are tools out there that can help you create this awesome new environment.

This is what we use at Lookback:

  • Flowdock for direct and threaded text chats including quick file sharing.
  • Github for social coding and we’ve recently been experimenting with using Github Issues as our internal forum for discussions lengthier than we have on Flowdock.
  • Trello to organize projects and tasks for our weekly product improvements and current releases.
  • Sqwiggle to video chat and simply see each other during our work day.
  • Google Drive for writing and sharing documents or those darn TPS reports.

While these may work great for us now, our communication needs may change. We are always looking for better tools, better ways of bringing us closer together while maintaining our freedom to choose how we work. Currently, we use some separate tools to facilitate different modes of communication and collaboration, but perhaps there could be one single tool to rule them all? We haven’t settled on one definite and ultimate way, and I think that’s a good thing; stay hungry, stay foolish, as the bard says.

EXPERIMENT AND BREAK THE CYCLE

Working remotely is not without its challenges. The ability to work from anywhere can be a pitfall if you don’t allow yourself NOT to work from anywhere. By experimenting with different workflows, I discovered that breaking the cycle is one of the most important things to do. By breaking it I mean stop doing what you do and do something else for a dedicated amount of time, something unrelated to work. Daily exercise breaks (like running or yoga) combined with an occasional trip away helps you overcome inactivity and isolation.

The key to addressing challenges is to have that right culture, to establish an energy within the team where we strive to connect with one another, both at work and socially. There’s no substitute for group conversation and just shooting the breeze with your workmates; it’s what we are born to do, and it’s what we need at the most fundamental level to be happy. On top of this, you need trust for a distributed team to work: we are all adults here, and we trust each other to make the right decisions. That means we help each other when we see there is a need, and we never hesitate to reach out if we need a hand. That’s the kind of environment that empowers me; that’s how I will survive and thrive this remote adventure.

Originally posted at https://lookback.io/blog/how-to-survive-remote-communication

I'm a Business Operations Lead at Mapillary. I've been working remotely since 2010 with great companies like Buffer, Automattic, and Lookback.

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