This is the second in an N part series of short, succinct articles about Remote Work that I'll be writing.

All Remote Articles

Faces Matter So Use Video Conferencing

I know that the idea that your co-worker is a fellow human is obvious but I actually think that it is fairly important. When you are a remote worker, so much of what you do is relating to people through labels, an email address, an instant message handle or a username. These text based labels are inherently dehumanizing and that makes it much, much easier to engage in bad types of online behavior – trolling, flaming, etc.

The simplest way to humanize an online interaction is to simply see a real, live face – not a stylized avatar but an actual face and that's why I strongly recommend video conferencing as a key communications tool for remote work. Not only will video conferencing increase the overall "humanity" of your worker to work interaction but it will also clue you in to people's overall mood – because faces tend to inherently show emotions. And if you are a manager of remote workers, knowing if they are happy on an overall basis (anyone can have a bad day) is a key management tool because, generally, happy workers are better workers.

My Remote Work Background

In 1996 I started my first experience with remote work when I ran an engineering team with these characteristics:

  • 25 people
  • 5 locations (Massachusetts, Albany, Ohio, Colorado and Leiscester, UK)
  • 3 time zones
  • A lead engineer who was remote
  • 2 core engineering team members who came into the office so infrequently that they were officially characterized as Remote

And ever since then, I have either been remote myself or managed remote workers or both. When I was lead developer of AppData, we took that to over $3.1 million in aggregate revenue with a fully remote development team.