How to work in a UX team that is totally remote

culture

#1

I was chatting with @Natalie_Eustace about topics of interest and she raised one that resonates with me so I thought I’d kick off a discussion.
[B]How to work in a UX team that is spread across different time zones and locations (and not get lost in emails). [/B]

This is close to my heart because I’ve been working in a series of remote digital roles for 7 years now. My day job as a community consultant is for a company based out of the UK. We’re a fully remote team spread across the UK, US and NZ (me) My colleagues are either 6 or 12 hours behind me. My second job (this one) is for company based in Melbourne, Australia, and the rest of the team are 2 hours behind me. To make this even more complicated, I work strange hours (5am - 3pm) in order to accomodate being a full time parent of young kids.

Challenging!

There are a few things that I’ve learned that help lessen the difficulties.
[LIST]
[]We use Slack and Hipchat to communicate. It cuts down on emails, keeps the conversations relatively brief, and means that we have visibility of ‘who’s online’ (so you know whether you’ll be waiting for hours for a response or not)
[
]I turn my Slack to DND when I finish work for the day, partly so that people know whether I’m around, and partly so I can maintain my focus on the kids when I’m off the clock. It’s important to me that I do both my career job and my parenting job to full capacity, rather than being half-assed at both (excuse the term)
[]Working slightly unusual hours works well for me because it means that I have crossover with other time zones
[
]I make sure that I schedule lunches and drinks with other remote-working friends frequently, so I don’t feel isolated
[]We have at least weekly (usually twice) meetings via Skype, to stay connected. At UXM we also have the occasional ‘Xmas bbq/drink’ via Skype, which is fun. In my last job I used to Skype in to the office for Friday pizza lunches.
[
]I’m flexible about out of hours meetings, provided they don’t impact on my family
[/LIST] What practical tips do you have?


#2

We’ve got a lot of different tools that we use, which I guess is also part of my issue of trying to keep on top of everything. We have emails, we also use slack but have a few different channels for different purposes, we work with Jira and confluence and also Invision for feedback and showing designs, and then we use Skype as well. I’m now flying somewhat regularly up to Auckland to give support and have some ground time with our wonderful UXer and team up there, which is great (but makes for long days).

One thing I’m not so good at, that sounds like you have good rules around Hawk, is the turning off communication after work. I have multiple of these communications downloaded onto my mobile too so even if I don’t touch my work laptop, I still get notified and tempted to look and respond through my phone. One thing I’ve been told is to either not have these on your phone or to turn them off so you don’t get notifications out of hours (but I am a little lazy in regards to this)…

I’ve also tried a filing system with my email, so I move emails from my inbox into different folders when I’ve actioned or read the emails in question, but it does take up a huge chunk of time, and then finding those emails again can sometimes be a lost cause.