UX Newsletter: The World Goes Remote
Not near, but far, wherever you are, you’re here
I think Fifth Harmony said it best when they sang:
You don’t gotta go to work, work, work, work, work, work, work
But you gotta put in work, work, work, work, work, work, work
We can work from home, oh, oh, oh oh
We’re all adjusting to a new normal because of the impact of COVID-19. Our entire workforce has felt the impact of this virus, including the dramatic increase in the number of us who are now unemployed according to claims filed in March (from 1.4M to 7.1M). [source]
Whether you’re working from home full-time, freelancing or job hunting one thing is clear: we will all be working remotely for some time. Unfortunately it’s becoming clearer each day that we won’t truly go back to normal until a vaccine is created and distributed. Knowing this, we’re starting to see companies begin to train businesses, classrooms and individuals on how to work remote. We’re even seeing people use the internet differently. Slowly but surely, we’re all acclimating to this new normal, but there are inevitably some speed bumps along the way.
Everything from not knowing you’re unmuted to children running rampant to coworkers, bosses and clients seeing your home and personal spaces up-close has made video conferencing an anxiety-inducing prospect. The time to adjust (if you haven’t) is now: we need to make plans, and find solutions so we stop working 8 hours from our couches while hunched over our laptops in dimly lit rooms.
I’m hoping this newsletter can help guide you to useful practices and resources that help ease your remote-life adjustment from discomfort to productivity. Since this is a UX newsletter, most of the features will focus on working in the product and web space, but there are some that seek to be helpful to anyone who is living the remote life now.
I wish you all the best. Stay safe and stay home and don’t forget: we’re all in this together,
First time for everything
We’re a few weeks into this pandemic and you’ve probably begun to notice things that work well for you as you work from home and things that are incredibly frustrating. Early on I was struggling to focus, so many messages hitting me in a constant barrage. It was impossible for me to stay on track with my prioritized tasks without interruption and the constant context switching exhausted me. In this helpful (and short!) article “Working Remotely for the First Time? These Seasoned Experts Have Advice for You to Follow” by Cameron Albert-Deitch, he polls his remote-veteran coworkers at Inc to learn all the best ways to stay productive, feel in touch with the team, and take care of yourself. As a bonus, here are 23 tips from the same publication on staying productive while working remotely.
Learn from the experts
Invision’s Podcast, “Design Better Co” really went above and beyond to get bonus episodes of their remote and work from home podcasts out as quickly as possible to help all the people currently in need of their knowledge. Invision is a fully-remote company, so they know all the pitfalls and pains that come when your team is scattered to the four winds. In this very helpful episode, Aarron Walter and Eli Woolery interview remote-veterans Jennifer Aldrich and Stephen Gates about their transition from an office setting work style to a fully remote life. They do a great job of digging into the nitty-gritty from: how do you set team expectations for availability? How can you avoid miscommunication and feeling left out? They have even added more bonus episodes all about remote work for you to enjoy!
Can you hear me now?
As people who work on digital products, we’re always ideating and discovering new opportunity spaces and pain points within our users’ journey. The best way to kickoff a track of work, or dig deep into a problem is to collaboratively partner with your team and stakeholders in a workshop. Normally, this would be pretty simple – face to face, some post-its, a white board and you’re already on your way to some great ideas. Now we have to force everyone to stare at a screen and ask them to be engage from 2 – 4 hours. Yikes. Thankfully, Kyle, the Head of User Experience Design & Insights of Dept Agency wrote this extremely helpful and clear guide: “10 quick tips for running remote UX workshops” on some best practices for running a remote workshop. He emphasizes knowing what you want to get out of the session and recommends some really helpful tools that can ease the pain of digital separation. Before you start planning your next workshop, make sure to read through these helpful tips.
But what about the user?
In all the chaos and upheaval of the past few weeks, it’s really easy to get overwhelmed and forget the most important stakeholder in our products: the user. Now more than ever, it’s imperative we are listening to what they’re doing, how are they using X, and what more or less do they need? David Renwick of Optimal Workshop has created an incredibly helpful list of remote user research options called: “15 guides for remote UX research“. This list can help companies both big and small stay in touch with their user and react to their ever changing needs. From unmoderated studies to remote-cardsorting, Renwick has created a list that’s staying in my bookmarks for a while. Enjoy!
Featured FREE UX book:
Remote Work for Design Teams
If I haven’t stressed enough how amazing Invision is being at this incredibly difficult time, let me overemphasize this: they added bonus episodes to their DesignBetterCo podcast all about remote working to help all of us in need AND they released their book Remote Work for Design Teams FOR FREE. You can download this book or read it online. If you do read it and enjoy it, don’t forget to give the authors and Design Better a shout out on your social platforms for all the good they’re doing.
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Feature Image is a collage sourced from various images found on these Pinterest Boards.