How to Make the Case to Your Boss to Work Remotely

Mar 23, 2015 by Tricia Harris in remote work (7 minute read)

Why Work Remotely?

There are some real benefits to working remotely, and if you value them (like we do), then maybe the time has come to approach your boss about the idea.

One big reason employees choose to work from home is so they don't have to commute. A drive (or metro, bus, bike) into work each morning can sometimes put you into a negative frame of mind - especially extra heavy traffic, ice or snow on your car, a construction detour, or heaven forbid, an endo on your bike, for all you bike-friendly city readers (you know it happens). 

Another reason for telecommuting is schedule flexibility. If you have kids and they need to be shuffled to and from school, or your aging parents need a trip to the doctor, or even if the day is so completely beautiful and you just need a few hours to get some precious vitamin D, you can usually do all of the above when you work remotely.

This isn’t to say that you are skipping out on the work that needs to be done, you would just be shuffling it to a more productive time to achieve the same results.

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Topics: remote work

10 Tips for Running Online Meetings with People in Other Countries

Oct 16, 2014 by Chris Higgins in meeting technology, remote work (6 minute read)

We meet with international teams all the time -- our own company spans three timezones and two countries, and we work with clients around the world.

When you host international conference calls with people living in different countries, you run into special challenges. Here are 10 tips to help you plan and run international meetings successfully.

1. Use an Online Meeting Scheduler

If you live in one country but have participants from others, it gets very messy trying to figure out all the holidays, weekends, timezone "work day" overlaps, and so on.

Your best bet is to use an international meeting scheduler that allows participants to mark which meeting times work for them. Lucid Meetings includes the option to ask participants to select good times from a list; that's useful even if your team doesn't span countries.

If your meeting software doesn't support this kind of "ask the participants" function, try the World Clock Meeting Planner. It requires you to plug in the locations of all your participants, but gives you a reasonable idea of what might be a feasible time (or set of times) for your meeting.

2. Share the Inconvenience

I occasionally meet with a team including participants in these locations: the west coast of the United States, Israel, and Taiwan.

If you plug these locations into a timezone calculator, you'll see that there is no "good" time to meet. Inevitably, somebody on the team is up very early or very late to attend the meeting.

When you encounter this situation, rotate the meeting times so that each participant gets a "good" time slot once in a while.

In other words, if you're on the U.S. west coast, go ahead and schedule a meeting for 10pm Pacific Standard Time, so that the other participants will be in their offices during normal work hours. Then rotate it next time so you won't be in your pajamas.

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Topics: meeting technology, remote work

5 Icebreakers for Distributed Team Meetings

Sep 30, 2014 by Chris Higgins in remote work, tips & techniques (9 minute read)

When you run online meetings with people who are located in different parts of the world, it's crucial that you help your team make a human connection. "Icebreakers" are just the ticket: short team-building exercises conducted at the beginning of a meeting.

Because you don't have a physical way to get people moving around the same room, you have to adapt traditional icebreakers to work over distance.

Here are some practical tips for introducing an icebreaker activity into your next meeting... and a little advice on pitfalls to avoid!

When to Use or Not Use an Icebreaker

Icebreakers fit into a larger strategy of team-building and establishing team culture. Knowing your team, and knowing your plan to build team culture, is crucial to succeeding with any such exercise. Here are some scenarios in which icebreaker activities may be a GOOD idea:

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Topics: remote work, tips & techniques

The Highs and Lows of Working Remotely (+ What We’ve Learned) 

Aug 6, 2014 by Tricia Harris in remote work (5 minute read)

A few years ago, a coworker said to me, "Don’t you think it’s strange that this office is so quiet? It’s a little depressing."

I used to work for a small company in a huge office with high ceilings, no cubicles, large windows and big, beautiful plants.

We had weekly deliveries of groceries, free (really good) coffee and soda, great travel budgets and the company was profitable.

Yet, it was eerily quiet every day - uncomfortable, even. There was no camaraderie that the open office environment was supposed to promote.

It was like there was some sort of unspoken agreement that we were there to just do our jobs and go home.

The point of this is to illustrate that although you may have a great office space, you may not always be able to create a great place to work.

Fast forward to today, where even though my home office is still quiet, there is a genuine sense of mutual trust and friendship that exists among my coworkers.

We’re a virtual team, and we’ve created a working environment as good as or better than any team in an office.

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Topics: remote work

How We Work Remotely - Our Best Gear and Productivity Hacks

Feb 12, 2014 by Tricia Harris in remote work, tips & techniques (5 minute read)

Most of our blog posts center around how to best work together as a team. We thought we’d change gears a little and talk about how we work remotely and what boosts our productivity as individuals.

Occasionally we meet in the same place, but for the most part, our team works from everywhere, literally. One of our team members spent last summer working from the south of France. And why not? We make meeting software that supports this, so working remotely we’re able to test out how it works every day.

Even though we are a virtual work team, we get a lot done. Sometimes it's even a bit crazy how far and fast we move - inspiring our friend Chris to put together this sketch based on what it's like to work on our team using Lucid. And yes, Tony is a real guy who really is on a plane.

Items we *all* can’t live without

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Topics: remote work, tips & techniques

6 Ways to Make Sure People Are Listening in Your Virtual Meetings

Feb 3, 2014 by Tricia Harris in leadership & facilitation, remote work (2 minute read)

Did you know the average manager spends 30% of their time in meetings? And, research shows that 46% of meetings result in no action.

But what if you could save time and get more done? What if you and your coworkers could actually say, "that was a great meeting?"

When you have an in-person meeting, you can tell when people are engaged. However, when you have virtual meetings with a team it's more difficult - and keeping people's attention is critical.

Yet, I'll bet most of the people attending your meetings are not paying attention. This is one of the reasons (out of many) that projects aren’t getting finished, meetings go long, and you have to have more of them to accomplish your goals.

Bottom line: When you get people to pay attention, you get more done - faster!

But how, you say? Below are a few easy rules to make it happen:

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Topics: leadership & facilitation, remote work