Not just for remote-work… everyone should ask these questions

Many of you may have noticed that there’s a new “perk” or “category” that’s been popping up in job listings a lot more l…

Source: 6 things to ask when interview for a remote job — Medium

The gist of this article is that remote-work requires a certain amount of dedication and thoughtfulness. The truly interesting part is that your co-located work (i.e. what most people think of as work) should be asking these same questions. To paraphrase and revise this list then (skipping #1 which is purely about remote-work):

  1. How do you typically communicate with your team? If you don’t have a strategy for communication it will devolve into a morass of emails that don’t quite reach everyone or hallways conversations which are guaranteed to miss someone. Have a strategy, evolve the strategy as your organization changes, and understand which tools work and which don’t. Hint: email is not it.

  2. How much does the team use Slack/HipChat on a daily basis? Good teams communicate. The tool itself doesn’t matter as much as the fact that everyone understand how to do asynchronous communication (i.e. when you don’t need an answer right away) vs. synchronous. In the old days when we needed an answer we’d call someone. Now you can use Slack, HipChat, any of the various IM tools out there, or even text messaging if needed. But the team needs something. Hint: email is not it.

  3. How do you work through ‘collaborative problems’? This list notes that doing this on a whiteboard means someone is left out. That’s true in a co-located office as well because 90% of the time someone is sick, on vacation, in another seemingly-endless meeting, etc. In other words 100% of the people who need to be involved won’t be. So you need to capture the heart of the discussion and outcome and communicateCapturing this could be a quick photo of the whiteboard + notes. Or it could be using a nice wireframing tool like Balsamiq. There are many techniques but the key is capturing the information and then communicating it. Hint: this might be a decent use for email but probably better for a shared server/Dropbox or similar.

  4. What time do people usually sign off for the day? Every culture is different. Developers tend to come in late and stay late. Others come in early and leave early. That’s okay. Have a known rhythm and stick to it. Fire-drills should be rare and not repeated (i.e. fix the problem so it never repeats). Death marches (this is when you command a team to work nights, weekends) are a function of poor planning and bad executive management most of the time.

  5. How many tools do you use with your remote workers? What are the tools you need? Have they evolved with the times and your business? Does everyone have access and does everyone know how to use them? Are the tools a sensible part of the workflow; if they aren’t you will never get adoption. Hint: you need some combination of shared storage (Dropbox, Box, Git for engineering teams, etc.), asynch communication (email, forums, Slack, Yammer), and synch communication (IM, Slack, HipChat, etc.). Beyond that the tools will vary between designer tools like Adobe/Sketch or source code tools or project management tools (Smartsheet, TeamGantt, JIRA). Know what these tools are and make sure you are evaluating new tools.

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