Mar 20, 2020

Thoughts and Advice on Remote Work from the ISA Team

ISA has been a remote company since its founding 15 years ago. Our team works remotely from all over the United States: California, Oregon, Illinois, and Michigan. We took some time this morning to record a video session in the hope that our experience and insights might help those who are struggling to quickly adapt to a new working reality. It is short, conversational, and full of tips from remote office pros.

Tips on Remote Work from ISA

  • Ian

    • Ian’s workspace and thoughts on working remotely for more than a decade: 01:55

  • Kelly

    • Kelly’s workspace: 03:55

    • Tips on remote work: be aware of your surroundings on video calls! 07:30

    • Tips on remote work: creating structure and a routine 09:13

    • Tips on remote work: designated work space 09:45

    • Tips on remote work: use digital tools to keep track of your thoughts and tasks 10:27

    • Challenge of remote work: potential interruptions 15:45

  • Sam

    • Sam’s workspace: 05:10

    • Tips on remote work: write down every task 11:00

    • Tips on remote work: protect your boundaries, and be mindful of others 12:30

    • Tips on remote work: use a password manager 14:06

    • Challenge of remote work: make a conscious choice to “leave” work at the end of the day 17:20

ISA Recommended Tools and Platforms

We have made every effort to provide resources with a free option, where possible.

Project Management: Basecamp

At ISA, Basecamp is a central part of our client workflow. We use this platform to connect as a team and with our clients, to host thought-provoking discussions, to share and request documents, to post meeting dates and location/dial-in information, to assign tasks and communicate deadlines, and more.

Unrestricted access is $99 monthly, and teams smaller than 20 needing fewer than three separate projects can make use of the platform’s free option.

Conference Calls: Zoom and UberConference

For video conferencing, our team uses Zoom. Non-video conference calls are typically held via UberConference, a platform that supports dialing in by phone and by computer.

If you organization is Google-based, Google Hangouts may be an effective option. For smaller teams with few video participants, Whereby is a platform that supports private video meeting rooms on its free plan.

Team Communication: Voxer, Slack, and Loom

Informal team communications can get lost in remote work settings. The ISA team has made use of Voxer, a voice memo app, to send quick thoughts and requests. Slack is an option for organizations that prefer a text-based chat, and separate “channels” can be set up to allow conversations to be organized around certain topics or projects.

For occasions where it would be easiest to explain a task or idea by sharing your screen, Loom is a free platform that allows for a screen recording with voiceover that can easily be shared.

Call Scheduling: Calendly and Doodle

Depending on your organization, when you move to a remote work environment, you may notice an increase in time spent scheduling calls and meetings.

Calendly is a tool that syncs your existing calendar (Google, Outlook, iCal, etc.) with any parameters you choose for a certain meeting type. You can then send invitees a link, where they can choose the time that works best for them from your availability. The ISA team uses Calendly to schedule 1:1 calls, like qualitative research interviews.

For group events, we typically use Doodle, a platform that allows users to create a poll with time options to schedule meetings with many participants (like steering committee meetings). Doodle allows us to easily coordinate Ian’s calendar with the varied availability of a large group.

Password Managers

The benefit of password managers like 1Password or LastPass are twofold: they allow for the use of very secure passwords (and the secure sharing of passwords among teams) while also being great timesaving tools – passwords are automatically filled in with just a few keystrokes or clicks, and lost/forgotten passwords are a thing of the past.

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