Working With a Remote Designer
A torrential downpour in the Pacific North West left our office down a designer today, despite the fact that our offices are in Bozeman, MT. His absence is one of the few challenges we sometimes experience with a remote employee, particularly one who lives on an Island-bound farm. It isn’t all bad. In fact, our office has found a variety of ways to make it a productive, positive experience and eliminate collaboration challenges. Here are a few ways we work with our designer digitally, so that even though physically he is a thousand miles due-west, it is often as though he is sitting at a desk in the room with us.
Open Skype connection — Because we are a small team, it is possible for us to keep a computer in the office with an open Skype connection with our designer in Washington. Website projects can be easily discussed by rolling our chairs around his screen. That way, we can talk through artwork as it is being created in front of us. It is also easy to pull his Skype connection over to our own computers for quick input.
Chat — Another great office communication device is a chat application, such as iMessage or Adium. Through chat, we can communicate small details quickly without interruption, no matter if the person is across the room, or in our case, across the country. If he is away from the computer, our remote employee also posts a message that includes the time of his return so we know when to expect him back at his desk.
Morning meetings — Our office holds a daily morning meeting, called Stand Up, a part of the Scrum process (learn more about productivity in web development with Scrum). This 15 minute meeting is especially helpful with a remote worker as we can check progress in congruence with the rest of the team.
Task management — Another attribute of Scrum is our use of Jira, a task management program which allows us to organize and view our progress as we complete websites. Having the team collaboration documented digitally helps us to keep track of individual employees’ work, even though working remotely.
In the end, it’s all about clear and immediate communication amongst team members, including those working remotely. Having a designer in a different state has not been a huge burden on our office because we’ve found ways to make it work.
Do you have an employee working remotely? If so, how has your business benefitted or adapted to the challenges that come with it?