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Tips on Working Remotely

Hop Studios is a small five person company, with two principles and three employees, one of whom works with us from Boulder, Colorado. Having team members based from different locations is a common occurrence amongst many tech businesses these days, and it can be a tricky business to keep everyone connected and engaged as a team. It’s been a good learning experience for us and so we’re passing on our list of tips about working remotely:

  1. Keep the team connected through daily check-ins at a set time via video chat—we use skype. The purpose is to get a sense for what everyone will be working on for the day, to make sure the workload is manageable, or if input is needed to complete tasks.
  2. Communication throughout the day often happens through chat programs so make use of the presence of your IM client to be clear on availability. If you’re away or don’t want to be interrupted, make sure everyone knows.
  3. Be aware of the limitations of long distance communication tools because they can’t work as well as face to face. It is really important to take people’s words in emails or over video chat at face value rather than reading into a tone that may not be there.
  4. Don’t be afraid to over-explain things. Be really clear with the information you are trying to impart to your coworkers and include as much info as you can.
  5. Use an online project management tool everyone has access too. In Hop Studios’ case, we use Basecamp to manage all of our projects and to communicate with clients.
  6. Try to work in the same time zone as the rest of the crew, or at least as much as the time difference will allow. In our case there is only a one hour time difference between us and Justin, so there is a long overlap during the day.
  7. Make sure there are tasks you can plan to do without assistance when the overlap time with others isn’t available.
  8. If you use ichat or video chat leave it on to get a feel for what is going on at the main office. Imagine the silly things you can potentially overhear. 😉
  9. Maintain an online schedule everyone has access to. We use google calendar.
  10. Don’t forget about personal communication amongst coworkers, like sending music, or sharing a non-work related site you find interesting.
  11. Make sure you are using the same tools as the rest of the office—file formats and online tools.
  12. Meet in person at regular intervals. Face-to-face time cannot be beat.
  13. Say good morning when starting for the day and good night when signing off. Don’t just disappear at the end of the day.
  14. If you have anything further to add, we’d love to hear your ideas.

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