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Adam Higgins

By: Adam Higgins on March 27th, 2020

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Virtual Pro-Tips from our Tech Team

remote work | virtual office

Suddenly working from home for more than one day out of the week? Are your office hours blending with your personal hours? Are you finding it difficult to focus in the midst of kiddie chaos? We hear ya.

Luckily, HighRoad was doing "remote" before remote was a thing. For over a decade, HighRoad has been spinning up products, providing consultative  and innovative solutions, and evolving our clients' digital stacks  straight from our home offices. You'd be surprised at the productivity and ingenuity that can happen in PJ bottoms.

That's why we happily bring you our Virtual Pro-Tips Series. For the next few months, we're going to share our virtual practices with you, all coming from different disciplines and perspectives.

Here are some remote tips from our tech team...

Tip 1: Establish a dedicated work space in your home
Choose a space in your home where you’ll set up your home office. This could include a desk or table, your laptop/computer, and maybe a second screen if your work requires one. Once you step into your dedicated work space, it should feel like a mental shift: you’re now at work. This means that the opposite should also be true: when you leave your work space, you’re at home. 
 
Tip 2: Identify and implement the right remote-friendly tools 
Your tech stack is one of the most crucial elements to productivity and operational efficiency. Make sure you choose the right tools (and, of course, lean on us if you have questions) and then ensure they're a fit for your organization. The tools are only as good as the people using them. At HighRoad, our tech team relies on some core tools to stay connected, organized, and collaborative, including:
  • Asana: for project management 
  • Dropbox: for meeting notes, shared files, and project collaboration
  • Help Scout: For client and tech support
  • Lessonly: for internal LMS 
  • Outlook 365: for email 
  • Slack: for internal team chats
  • Zoom: for videoconferencing and phone conferencing 
Tip 3: Structure your day so that it works for you 
One of the major advantages of remote work is that you gain back the time you once spent commuting. This means you can utilize those early morning hours to get a jump start on emails or small projects before many of your team members are online. At the end of your day, utilize those last 30-45 minutes to prep for the following day. 
 
Tip 4: Establish “Office Hours,” especially if you work in a support/tech role
Utilize your Outlook or other online calendar to block off specific times during the day when you’re available for questions and internal discussion. Your team members will know that, during your office hours, they can chat you or block some time to call you to discuss questions they have about product features or other issues. 
 
Tip 5: Set aside time for tech innovation
It's easy to get wrapped up in day-to-day operations and tasks, particularly when clients always come first. That's why it's important to carve out time for ingenuity when it comes to product development, product enhancements, and visionary thinking. Consider blocking out time on your calendar (start with 1-2 times a month so that you commit) so that you can focus on proactive versus reactive initiatives. 
 
Tip 6:  Over-communicate even if you don't think you need to
It's easy to start over-assuming and under-communicating when you can't get up and walk over to your work neighbor's desk or office. While most tech teams are innately independent, resourceful, and sometimes introverted, under-communicating can become a challenge. Particularly when you're running multiple projects in parallel.
 
We, at HighRoad, address this through sprints, a weekly meet-up to discuss our work dashboard over a given period of time.  We then scrum daily, discussing only the items in the sprint. If there are major barriers, interdependencies impacting timing, or questions, all is hammered out during that time period. All the tasks discussed are managed in a queue (backlog) and then we burn-down the backlog based on resource allocation. 
 
Tip 7:  Balance accessibility with focus
When you're in a client-facing position, it's a balancing act between carving time out for client interactions, and doing the actual work to support the client. When you're remote, this line can get even more blurry because, suddenly, you're always at your desk with access to all of your client communication tools. You're not leaving your desk or office for internal meetings or external conference calls in meeting rooms. You have uninterrupted time with your laptop and all of your apps. Make sure you designate both client-facing time and work/think time. There are always going to be more urgent scenarios where you need to interrupt your work time but you need to really identify when to pull the trigger on those and when to maintain your focus.
 
Keep an eye out for more virtual pro-tips from our marketing team next week. In the meantime, if you have questions about stacking your organization for remote work, feel free to reach out to us for a conversation.  We're happy to help in any way that we can.