June 4, 2019

How remote communication works

If it isn’t documented it didn’t happen.

cc gallery flickr.com/photos/wocintechchat/

Remote reliability: Follow your own schedule

One of the perks of working remotely is creating your own schedule. This is no easy task because your work hours affect your communication with the rest of the team–or client.

Choose your favourite hours range and stick to it for a while. Tell your coworkers what’s going to be your availability beforehand, so everyone knows when they can count on you. Routine is a remote worker’s best friend.

Think about these two scenarios:

👉 Remoter A worked 10 hours on Monday, 2 hours on Tuesday, no hours on Wednesday and 12 hours on Thursday and Friday. Each day started at a different hour.

👉 Remoter B worked six and a half hours from Monday to Friday, from their local 1PM to 7:30PM.

You had hired both in the past. A and B are equally qualified for the craft. Who would you hire again? For starters, only one of them can be easily traceable. Is not that you can’t trust Remoter A, it is more about reliability: If I connect at 2PM I’m sure remote B will be there.

Manage your remote conversations and save everyone’s time

Remote communication is asynchronous. Working with people located in other time zones is part of the beauty.

Teach yourself new ways to interrupt others less.

If you have a question, try finding the answer on the Internet or company documentation. You’ll spend the same amount of time than waiting for an answer, but you won’t spend somebody else’s time. Of course, if you can’t find it, ask directly to the person in charge of that decision.

Try to imagine the entire conversation and display a closed list of options to your interlocutor.

Let’s say you need to schedule a meeting with Sarah. You both need to agree on a day, an hour, a channel. Sarah lives seven hours away and your schedules rarely overlap.

Scheduling a meeting

👎 Hello Sarah. I need to talk to you about the design system project. When will you be available?

👍 Hello, Sarah. We need to prioritize the next three months task list for the design system project. Could you talk about it on Monday or Tuesday, at my 5PM, your 10AM? I think it will take around 30 minutes.

The latter can be scheduled right away. If Sarah is equally efficient, she’d agree and add the meeting to the team calendar right away, as she already knows your availability.

Remote to-do lists: don’t stop your workflow because you don’t have an answer right away I usually write all the questions and comments I have during the day and send them all together in a single list. When your colleagues are in answering mode they can answer everything at once. Don’t interrupt anyone unless necessary. Being focused isn’t a constant.

When planning your day, have in mind you may encounter some questions. Have a Plan B to-do list and you won’t depend on someone else’s feedback to be productive. I usually have a list of big brainy things and a list of small tasks for this kind of situations. Add documenting to your list.

Documenting is key for remote teams

Write down, register and catalog whatever you are doing and reasoning. It takes a little time at first but saves you thinking about the same thing twice. Make the information retrievable for you and everyone on the team. Make sure everyone on the team share the same cataloging method.

Sometimes you know the context and premiss of your projects because you have been working on it for a while. Don’t assume everyone else have the same amount of information. That’s one of the good things of regularly document your work. You can get back to your own thoughts and reasoning in case you need them again.

Remote irony doesn’t work

Communication shapes your persona when working remotely: chosen words, tone, regularity, etc.

Avoid using irony or double meaning sentences. Written text doesn’t have intonation. I know you are thinking d’oh!”. It is obvious but not everyone remembers it. Tweets are constantly misinterpreted. This study about irony in Twitter shows how you can only detect irony if the user has previously tweet the opposite opinion.

Remote irony only works if the other person knows you very well.

Emojis are your remote face

Gestures and micro expressions don’t exist for others unless you tell them they happened. If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

How others perceive us is directly linked to what we share with them. There is no need of sharing everything you do, but don’t forget to be a person.

One of my mottos for remote communication is: Let others know how you reacted to non-work-related issues. In other words: every cat picture needs its heart-eye emoji.

Emojis or animated GIFs are perfect to acknowledge others’ interests and display your own. They help shape your character.

Summary: Six tips for remote communication

  1. Choose a schedule and stick to it. Be reliable. Even when freelancing, you are not alone in the world.
  2. Remote communication is asynchronous.
  3. Interrupt others the way you’d like to be interrupted.
  4. Document, document, document.
  5. Your remote persona is shaped by your communication. Avoid being misinterpreted.
  6. If you are happy and you know it 👏
remote communication
June 3, 2019

Maintaining sanity and social skills when working remotely

The need of an artificial water cooler experience

Photo by Dan Gold

Working remotely is my default status, and even I forget sometimes to interact with humans in real life.

I once started a job where I was going almost everyday to a physical office after six years of working only remotely. First five days in, on Friday afternoon, my voice got hoarse. Five days of good mornings and a hundred questions had made my voice vanish for the weekend.

To be fair, I hadn’t enjoyed a lot of social life for almost a year for medical reasons. Nevertheless, I decided I would take more care of my social skills in the future.

This is my personal reminder to never stop training my social muscle.

The artificial water cooler experience

When you work in an office, you take for granted lots of everyday things. If you drive there or use public transportation, you’ll look at some other person’s eyes, navigate the space to avoid crushing, and eventually have to talk to somebody.

Discussing projects at meetings, going for a coffee with a coworker, standing by the water cooler or just getting to the office and say Good morning makes you interact with your peers and exercise your social skills.

Although speaking with others is the most visible way of social interaction, there are automatic actions that are also forgettable social skills: waking up in the morning, taking a shower, getting dressed, not farting in public, covering your mouth when you sneeze, etc. is part of any functional social being.

It’s all part of those natural habits you think you won’t forget. But, as shown in this tweet by Tyler Feder, the freedom of working remotely in any clothes you want is also a chance to abandon yourself to the wearing-whatever-is-clean circle.

If you think you need to meet one person a week, make it two

Having freedom of schedule could mean you will meet with friends or family almost whenever you want, because it isn’t constraint by a strict work schedule anymore.

This is one of the tricky parts of working remotely. Almost everything needs to be decided by you and only you: location, schedule, meals, meeting friends, meeting family, physical activity, etc.

One of the things I mentioned in the post about my personal tips for remote workers is to meet with more people that you think you need.

We underestimate how much our social skills are constantly trained at a physical office. Some remoters like to work in co-working spaces because of this. Unlike commuters, remoters need to also decide this. What co-working space do I like?, do I like where it’s located?, can the activities —including noise — in this co-working office fit with the way I work?

Set up a schedule in sync with your peers

Creating a schedule similar to the city you live in makes it easier to meet with others or attend all kind of events.

I meet with friends for lunch two or three times a week. The rest of the week I eat at a similar hour so the day I meet with them I’m not that hungry I can’t listen to what they are saying.

Being aware of the importance of exercising your social muscle is the first step for a good social life.

After being given the freedom of choosing your working hours, it’s normal to experiment with a different schedule to the normative office one. I sometimes wake up super early because of insomnia. Those days I adapt my schedule to my needs and start and stop working at earlier hours. Being aware of the importance of exercising your social muscle is the first step for a good social life.

Once you have chosen fitting social routines for you, you can skip them whenever you need. Test your social needs for a month and iterate over the results.

Being productive welcoming silly puns

During my last job interview I described myself as a remote worker who manage my schedule and save other’s time. I’m used to effective asynchronous communication. The thing I disliked the most about open space offices is that you could be interrupted at any time and not everyone had an urgent matter to discuss. I think others’ time and lives are as important as mine and asynchronous communication works better when you communicate only really important things.

Even if we joked about things sometimes, I’m now working with people who think exactly that, which is great. Conversations are short and highly productive. It was great for a few months, but alas a new coworker came in and spread cat pictures all over Slack. 😻

That little gesture suddenly created more personal than job related conversations twice a week. After months of really productive conversations mixed rarely with silly puns I realized I missed relaxed talks with my interesting coworkers. Something I only experienced when we met each other in person.

Photo by Dario Valenzuela

Since then I’ve learnt of some remote friendly companies that have a Slack channel only dedicated to non job related conversations.

It was interesting how a couple of cat pictures a week enhanced the artificial water cooler experience. Conversations about small things randomly pop up more and more. Maybe I was the only one feeling that productivity was the only goal, maybe I was being too Leslie Knope. I’ve seen the importance of a silly pun and I now share more personal conversations privately and in public with the rest of the team.

Meeting whomever you want

Actively socializing when working remotely takes effort, isolating yourself doesn’t.

When your social interactions during the week are limited to one office bubble, you talk only with your coworkers. This is not a bad thing per se. I like chatting with my coworkers and do it happily every week. But I also like being in touch with people chosen by me.

Choosing who to meet, where to meet them, and what for — a coffee? lunch?— , takes time and effort at first. As with your schedule or your productivity, when working remotely you decide how many people you meet or who you meet. The freedom of choosing who to talk to is also the action of deciding not to isolate yourself.

Actively socializing when working remotely takes effort, isolating yourself doesn’t.

Not all social activities need to be done with people you know. Maybe you want to expand your circle, maybe you are in a new place. Here are ten social activities I like to do:

  • 👭 Meeting with friends, family, or other peers to have lunch.
  • 👩‍💻 Meeting with other remoters to work together.
  • 📆 Attend events related to my job: good to meet new peers and get a hold of the pulse of your profession in your area.
  • 🖌 Going to events unrelated to my job: good for changing your conversations once in a while.
  • ☕️ Working from a café, or the office of a friend.
  • 🍜 I sometimes share an hour with someone outside my bubble. I write an email to an interesting person who I’ve met, for example, at an event, to have lunch near their office.
  • 🏃‍♀ Exercise classes: also good for your body.
  • 🧘 Yoga class: perfect for introverts, as you don’t need to talk with anyone.
  • 🍯 Have a social hobby: better without screens, like pottery or archery.
  • 🚶‍♀The easiest and cheapest one: Going for a walk. Walking with no goal, losing yourself in your area is one of the key points to abandon the crazy multitasking life, as described in the book On Doing Nothing.

As with any other routine, it takes a bit of time and effort at first. Hopefully, after a couple of months, you’ll get used to getting together with who you really want to see.

( Happy socializing! )



December 4, 2018

A UX journey from a copy confusion to a new header

Thanks to the heuristic evaluation, customer journey insights, and other work done in the past few months, we now know more about our users behavior, goals, and problems than before.

Our journey to a new header

One of the problems we identified is the confusion between User and Account. A DNSimple User can have multiple Accounts. That dependency has confused our users for a long time.

Being a solid business we don’t want to make big changes just because, and we often look for the tiniest possible adjustments to solve problems. In this case, we were asking the wrong––or incomplete––question. We were wondering why User and Account weren’t clear enough concepts.

Asking the right question

Instead of immediately trying to answer why isn’t the copy clear?’ we started digging on our database to learn our users behavior towards this feature. We wanted to know how our users are using that feature.

As an eight year old product we have access to the real usage of our features through time. Thinking about how to solve a problem is easier if you know the potential impact of changes.

Data informed design, not data driven design

I’ve based the new design on the data we extracted from our current users, but not only that. We can’t forget we only have quantitative data, not qualitative. People are biased by their context and some user’s behavior could be influenced by the application itself.

For example, we could say people don’t edit their Facebook Privacy Preferences enough and therefore they aren’t interested in privacy, but we also know that Facebook Pirvacy settings are currently overcomplicated and hidden. Data driven design would only listen to the first argument, while data informed design considers specific data and context together.

Looking at DNSimple account feature usage we discovered Anthony, the CEO, is the user with more accounts at seven. We also learnt 96% of our users have only one account. How could users tell the User-Account dependencies when they have only one of each and by Internet standards both words are used as synonyms?

Designing for the most probable scenario

A useful design is expected to serve at least 80% of the users. Good UX design is thought-out for the most probable scenario, not for all possible ones.

{:.excerpt} Good UX design is thought-out for the most probable scenario, not for all possible ones.

Changing the header is not an aesthetic decision, but a functional consideration. Form follows function.

If we look at the current header, this is how 96% of our users see it––96% have only one account––:

Old one account header

We read from top to bottom. That’s how we perceive dependencies. In the current UI we display Account over User, when User is hierarchically over Account.

The lack of color and size differences don’t help differentiate them either.

We also had a link displayed as a button: User Settings is not a button because it doesn’t trigger any action. If I’d fixed just the link, we would had ended up with an even more homogeneous menu.

Form follows function means we need to see what’s needed, how much of it is needed (bigger things look more important or higher in hierarchy in our minds), and what’s not, and then we can decide what shape it will take to make clear the concepts we want to display.

If almost everyone sees only one account, why don’t we display that account integrated with the rest of the app, with a displayed hierarchy––parents on top of children––?.

Creating two headers

I started thinking about doing only one header, but it was made to fit the content of the 4% of our users. The rest will have an extra unnecessary row. We weren’t letting 96% of our users view the best version of the app for them.

These are the two versions of the new header: the first one is shown for users with one account, and the bottom one for users with more than one account.

New one account header DNSimple New multiple account header DNSimple

Simone, CTO, asked me why don’t we follow Google design and include an Add account’ button right next to the account: that button is already easy to find and rarely used. Google and other products have an Add account very handy because their main product––or differentiation value––is having accounts. It’s also because of their constraints. Google has to display that kind of dropdown menu and account selection in one hundred places, so they decided to create the less bad option. They use a design system throughout a wide array of products. For example, because the design system must be useful for very different products, if someone wants to delete an event from the mobile calendar, they have the user tap on a dropdown menu with just the Delete option. I’m not saying we shouldn’t look at Google designs, rather that Google’s context is very different from ours.

Getting rid of the drop down menu

We shouldn’t use drop-downs for less than three or four options if we could display the options right there, or even better, in their context of usage. We should spare one step–or one click–when we can and it fits our purpose of a better user experience.

We have made this change in the past, in the Records page, changing a two item dropdown to two displayed buttons.

Dropdown to buttons DNSimple

The default will still be a two rows header. I’ve designed the third one to fit the content for the 4%, including us.

Changing colors

We don’t have a three row header anywhere. I needed to create a third row. If I’d followed our current style, the three lines would have been white.

We can show hierarchy of content using size, white space around it, color, etc.. I’ve chosen color because it also helps closing” visually the top of the page.

Chrome top using light gray

Design is made in context, not in a void. Most browsers have a light gray top bar. That means our app blended with the browser’s menu. A darker header makes it clear for the eye when does this page starts’.

Color also helps users separate the header from the rest of the page.

vignetting effect example Vignetting effect example, cc gallery wocintechchat

A darker color on top and at the end of the page tells us when the content starts, like the vignetting effect in in the picture above. Surrounding the page helps the user focus, it says Here’s where you have to look’.

The user can focus on the content OR the header because they are different colors. They will no longer be visually at the same level.

If the goal was to make the dependencies between account and user clearer, then we should highlight their hierarchy differentiation.

The third row is the same height as the others because color already displays hierarchy, we don’t need to add a size variation.

It is always a good idea to repeat sizes and angles because of consistency and vertical rhythm.

Using gradients and pop culture influence on taste

We could use a dark blue on the top row and our default blue for the second one instead of a gradient, and in fact I did in the first draft of this header update, but it would look outdated, it would look like 2010 Facebook.

We could use white and light grays–our other brand colors–, but as explained above it won’t help with dependencies. Also, this formula has been overused, with designers borrowing heavily from Apple’s successful 2007 design style.

Gradients becoming a trend several factors and don’t happen in one day. Starting a couple years ago, we begin seeing gradients and contrasted colors everywhere. Let me explain why.

It all started with Apple devices designing modal forms or pop-ups blurring images in the back instead of applying a black layer with transparency. At the same time, the CSS blur filter spread this effect to many apps and websites.

The blur effect creates interesting gradients with combinations that were supposed to be too much for the eye, like mixing bright red and bright blue. In an era where everything was white and light gray, this combination made the product using it stand out from others.

iphone and 99u using gradients iPhone(left), and 99U Adobe design conference(right)

As everyone was using this effect by the end of 2017, gradients in 2018 are turning into a softer transition. They are not as contrasted as combining red and blue.

Gradients in Sketch Gradients in Sketchapp.com

This appeared at the same time marketing campaigns are using the 90s as their aesthetics for two reasons: it is nostalgic for grown-ups who are spending money, and it’s appealing for millennials because it is old enough to idealize it. The 90s aesthetic brings us all kinds of revisited holographic materials and backgrounds. We can see this trend in fashion, hairstyles, movie posters, and of course websites.

holographic backgrounds

Another reason for using gradients is because it looks good and beauty is a usability value.

Aesthetic things are often subjectively rated as easier to use, even when no usability advantage can be objectively measure.

Universal Principles of Design, 2003, Kritina Holden et al. More on Aesthetic-Usability effect.

Very opposite color gradients are trendy now but they will look old and overused very soon. That’s why we are not using complementary colors, but a transition of analogous colors chosen from our default blue. Here you can learn more about the color wheel and the difference between complementary and analogous.


Not all problems can be solved looking at them with the same level of zoom. Products are alive and their features should be considered as part of a whole. As I mentioned above, design is made in context not in a void.

Post originally published in DNSimple Blog

November 6, 2018

Perspective switch, the first step towards a good UX

We tend to imagine our users based on ourselves. Well, ourselves in laboratory conditions.

Reality is messy, users get distracted. Users bookmark pages we didn’t predict. Users don’t visit your website starting from the homepage. Not anymore. Users don’t use your app as you planned, because users have a thousand other things in mind when they get to any particular form.

Stop assuming users are totally focused on their screens, with only one tab open, no music, and alone. People have cats, and coworkers, and mobile and desktop notifications.

Not to mention the diversity of technology knowledge, and the different purposes when using your product.

Help! My features have eaten my product

One common situation when developing a product for years is the Frankenstein Monster Effect, a.k.a. a product that has grown organically tends to be shaped by its features. Even the most scalable product needs to be revamped from time to time. Products grow and the context in which they were created changes with time.

To overcome this effect we need to rethink the product as a whole, and from the outside.

Changing your perspective

When you are part of a product-oriented team, you get to know how everything was built. You know the app inside out. Looking at it as a user does for the first time is no easy task. Inherited assumptions are our enemy.

Imagine these two scenarios:

A. Unlock your iPad with your finger and tap an icon.

B. Turn on your computer, enter your password, open one folder, open another folder, and open one file.

Both processes get you to the same point, but only the second one requires a previous knowledge by the user–where is that file located in the system–. That’s why iPads are so popular in our parents’ generation. They don’t need extra time to figure out how it works or how it’s built.

Our challenge is to create a product from the users perspective, even if we know what’s behind the curtain.

In the words of Peter Merholz: Our users see the user interface and everything else is magic. We spend all of our time obsessing with data and logic but users don’t care.”

The idea is to go from how do we get this feature out into the world to what are users trying to accomplish and how do we change what we are doing to anticipate that behavior.

Perspective switch in action

This is one example in that direction. The image below shows the form to add a CNAME record.

Add CName form

Could you enhance the experience in any way? Hint: try thinking from a human perspective, not the data structure.

CNAME records can be used to alias one name to another. You can redirect www.yourdomain.com to yourdomain.com. We also offer the possibility of redirecting every single subdomain that doesn’t exist to the main domain. For example whatever.yourdomain.com will show yourdomain.com.

There are two fast fixes:

Preventing errors

Even with a preview at the bottom, the most common mistake in this form is the user thinking they need to rewrite the entire domain. So people end up creating a record called www.mydomain.com.mydomain.com. Thankfully, records are easy to delete and create in DNSimple.

Avoiding the double domain error, saving user’s time and their working memory can be achieved by adding the domain at the end of the field and aligning the text to the right. The user will see the entire URL like they usually read it.

Field next to yourdomain.com

Translating to human language

We offer the possibility of adding everything-before-this.yourdomain.com. Right now, this is activated by the user writting an asterisk and a point to the field _*._. The instructions are right below the first field. It is not difficult to understand, but it’s an extra second to think and another extra second to act. Instead of writing something down, even if it’s just an asterisk, perhaps it is better to use a chekbox or radiobutton for this? It’s an ON/OFF kind of question, so it can be answered with a switch.

I’ve also changed the copy to sound more human like.

Add all as radio button

Conclusions and resources

The experience is the product. Look at your app from the user’s perspective. Put yourself in their shoes.

The goal of this perspective switch is not only offering a better experience overall, it’s also easing the learning curve and getting to a wider audience.


The experience is the product graph

Printable–black and white–the experience is the product graph

Post originally published in DNSimple Blog

June 5, 2018

Debunking 10 remote work myths

Talking with commuters (1)

I was a remote worker when working remotely was called teleworking. It was a long time ago–by Internet standards–. After years of doing several jobs, from a waitress to a cinema assistant, my first job as a designer was my first remote job. It was my last year studying Journalism and Communication Science and I already knew I didn’t want to be a journalist. At the time, I was living in Italy and the design studio I started working for was based in Spain.

We were the perfect fit. I could live wherever I wanted and they didn’t need to limit their talent search to a city. I thought this situation would become a natural evolution for many jobs.

Remote aversion is also aversion to change

I wasn’t prepared for how every commuter, including my family, saw my new way of living. Here I’ve gathered some of the most common misconceptions people have when they find out I work from wherever I want.

All of the titles below are based on real sentences people have told me over the years.

1. Oh, so you work in your pajamas”

I can, but I don’t. And you shouldn’t. Pajamas are for pros. If you want something done and it’s your second week working from home, don’t do it in your pajamas. You need to let your body know you are out of bed or you’ll start being lazy with more and more things around you. You don’t need to be all dressed up, but a shower and a change of clothes sets your brain in motion for the day.

It also comes in handy in case of a sudden video call.

2. Great! No one can tell if you are working”

When you are in an office everyone assumes you are working, even if you are not. This is not about where you work but how are you as a worker. If someone’s intention is being lazy, location doesn’t matter.

Remote relationships are based on trust. And one of the perks of working with a remote team is sharing that trust, earned through time and communication.

Work spaces in the past were designed for a very vertical leadership, which tends to be counterproductive:

Traditionally, leadership has been conceived around the idea that one person is firmly in charge” while the rest are simply followers […] Research indicates that poor-performing teams tend to be dominated by the team leader, while high-performing teams display more dispersed leadership patterns.

3. I probably couldn’t do it, I’d get distracted”

How many times you get involuntary distractions in an open-office? The main difference when you are at home is those distractions are only your fault. This is something not everyone is comfortable with. I’ve identified some of mine and modified or got rid of them.

For example, I drink one coffee, one tea, and one glass of water throughout the morning. When the glass is empty, I go for the next one. I stretch my legs, look out of the window, and prepare for the next hour-hour and a half. It’s my custom Pomodoro Technique.

4. I couldn’t do this part of my job remotely”

Some things are easier in person because we learnt to do them that way. Sometimes I need to make up a new method of doing something with a coworker just because we are not in the same location.

I adapt my workflow to my context, the same way I do with my designs and their user’s contexts.

5. Do you ever go outside?”

I remember reading this Oatmeal comic about losing social skills and thinking he was exaggerating. He is not. One day you wear your pajamas while working, the next thing you know you are not seeing or talking to anyone during days.

Depends on the time of the year, this one is tricky for me. I must confess I once stayed at my apartment for so long–maybe eight days–I went outside wearing summer clothes and it was already autumn. It was like a crazy dream in which you are naked and everyone else was wearing big coats.

6. I definitely couldn’t stay away from the fridge”

I get it. I sometimes get bored and go to the kitchen just because. I’ve set three rules for my own health:

  • Buy healthy snacks. My favourites are: fresh banana with yogurt, dehydrated mango, and homemade lemon loaf.
  • Set a snack time, and a maximum of snacks. I take one snack every morning, and one snack some afternoons.
  • Follow the outside world eating schedule, so you don’t have to adjust it when you meet your friends and family.

7. I’m sure I’d oversleep every single day”

The thing is there is no oversleeping when you work with a distributed team. If you start your day later, you’ll end it later.

It doesn’t matter that much if you don’t like to get up early, it matters when the rest of the team can count on you.

8. You‘ll never feel part of the team”

This misconception usually comes from people who tried working from home a couple of days a week in a company with no remote culture. They need to use the first half of their next day at the office catching up with coworkers about what happened during their absence.

Feeling part of the team depends on the company’s culture. It’s exactly the same as comparing two physical offices. There is more than one kind of remote teams.

9. Aren’t you tired of working remotely?”

The least thing I miss is the commute.

The last time I started working in an office, my parents told me Finally, we can relax because you have a real job”.

People easily create opinions based on their experiences, stories and context. In my experience, working remotely is what suits me best.

10. Not everyone is shaped to work remotely”

This is kind of true but not really. It takes time, but I’m convinced you can learn what working remotely means for you.

Zapier’s book about remote work list the skills to look for when hiring a remote team member: prone towards action, able to prioritize, proficient written communicator, trustworthy, and with a local support system.

If you want to be a good remoter, trying to improve one or more of those aptitudes is a good starting point for you and your future coworkers.

(1) Commuter vs. Remoter

I use the word commuters to define workers who don’t decide where they work. As opposed to remoters.

I like to think I’m witnessing the evolution of some words and their meaning through time. Teleworker sounds a little old between designers and developers but it’s still common for other not-so-fast-changing industries.

One of my favourite terms to define a remote worker is Road warrior. Or the funnily established Italian term–thanks Luca–: Smart worker.

March 11, 2018

El pijama es para profesionales

Recomendaciones personales para los que trabajamos en remoto

Read Pajamas are for pros in English

👉 Tienes un nuevo trabajo (¡enhorabuena!) y puedes elegir cuándo y dónde trabajar al menos dos días a la semana.

👉 Eres el nuevo líder de un equipo que trabaja de manera distribuída.

👉 Estás trabajando como freelance y tu siguiente trabajo es para una compañía en tu ciudad en la que están abiertos a que las reuniones se hagan por videollamada.

👉 Estás en un huso horario diferente al de tus compañeros de trabajo, y estabas acostumbrado a hablar con mucha gente a diario.

👉 El coronavirus ha llegado a tu ciudad y tienes que teletrabajar por primera vez.

Hay un millón de modos en los que trabajar en remoto, sobre todo porque la mayoría de ellos nos los estamos inventando sobre la marcha. Nuestras necesidades para hacer nuestro trabajo están cambiando, e Internet nos está ayudando a poder ser cada vez más creativos con nuestros horarios y maneras de trabajar. Pero, ¿cómo evitar procrastinar sin parar?

La rutina es la mejor amiga del teletrabajo

Piensa en tí misma como si fueras el perro de Pavlov, e intenta entrenar a tu cerebro para seguir ciertas rutinas. Crear hábitos nuevos es bastante difícil si se hacen grandes cambios de golpe. Es algo más fácil si incluyes nuevas rutinas poco a poco, acostumbrándote a ellas una a una. Ajustarse al remoto lleva un poco de trabajo al principio.

Como mi cabeza no puede no pensar en el método científico, durante los últimos años he ido probando diferentes rutinas para ver cuáles me funcionan mejor.

Esta es mi lista de rutinas, por qué las sigo, y cómo pequeños detalles han influido en el equilibrio de mi vida personal y profesional.

El pijama es para profesionales 👖

Cuando te levantas, asegúrate de que tu cuerpo se ha enterado de ello.

Trabajar en pijama es super tentador, pero te arriesgas a que sea el primero de una lista larga de rutinas perezosas, y puede ser contraproducente para trabajar y para tu vida personal. Si te quedas en pijama, tienes más excusas para no salir de casa ese día.

Descubre la rutina que mejor te viene para despertarte del todo. En mi experiencia, una ducha, un cambio de ropa, y un café es lo que pone en marcha mi cerebro.

Si no estás en pijama, además estarás preparada para una videollamada inesperada.

Si es tu primera vez trabajando desde casa y tienes que meter la rutina poco a poco, intenta seguir exactamente la misma rutina que tenías cuando ibas a una oficina física, menos la parte de irte de casa. Te asegurarás el despertarte, y tendrás la sensación maravillosa de que no tienes que gastar tiempo en ir a ningún lado.

Parar de trabajar es tan difícil como empezar ⏰

Esta parte se la dedico especialmente a todos aquellos que viven solos y no tienen la referencia de los ritmos de la vida real, y a aquellos que caen fácilmente en el efecto oh-estoy-a-oscuras-cuándo-se-hizo-de-noche.

Cuando trabajas desde casa, puedes estar trabajando horas y horas. Cuando tu única distracción eres tú misma, puedes estar tan concentrada que te olvidas del resto. Algunos de mis amigos a veces incluso se olvidan de comer.

Está bien trabajar un poco de más un día, si lo necesitas. Pero intenta añadir a tu semana algunos eventos que te devuelvan a la realidad. Por ejemplo, apuntándote a unas clases de baile.

Una cosa que hago para tener un horario más sano es poner una alarma para dejar de trabajar. Como la sirena de terminar las clases en el colegio. No sólo me ayuda a tener vida por las tardes, también a estar más descansada al día siguiente.

No te olvides de descansar 💤

Cuando trabajas desde casa te cansas de diferente manera que cuando estás en una oficina: pierdes energía más lentamente, cambias tus hábitos de descanso, e incluso tendemos a pedir menos vacaciones.

Si ves que esta semana te está costando levantarte, puedes cambiar tu horario y poner el despertador una hora más tarde para estar más descansada durante las siguientes semanas. Esta flexibilidad es un arma de doble filo.

He estado en esta situación alguna vez y te das cuenta de que no es un cansancio normal’ sino agotamiento cuando estás ya agotadísimo. Siendo freelance, si decía que no ahora a un proyecto, me arriesgaba a perderlo. Así que trabajé en un proyecto tras otro sin parar durante dos años y medio, solo parando en algún fin de semana largo.

Escucha a tu cuerpo, y descansa.

Haz cosas diferentes en sitios diferentes 🍜

Elige un sitio diferente para trabajar que para hacer todo lo demás. El día que como delante del ordenador, sé que no estoy haciendo algo bien. Cambia el espacio físico donde haces las cosas.

En un escenario ideal, tendríamos todos una habitación solo para trabajar, donde estaríamos únicamente en horario de trabajo. No todo el mundo tiene una casa suficientemente grande para esto, y tu oficina en casa puede ser una mesa y una silla en el salón, o una silla en tu cocina.

No importa dónde esté (en casa, en un hotel, en la oficina de unos amigos) nunca como y trabajo en el mismo sitio. La hora de la comida sirve como también como respiro para el cerebro. Todos necesitamos un descanso, así que es mejor hacerlo oficial. Cambiar incluso sólo de silla para comer, te ayudará a tener (literalmente) otra perspectiva, a relajarte un poco antes de seguir, y a estar mejor concentrada después de comer. Son todo ventajas.

Encuentra la música que te pone en el estado mental que necesitas 🎶

Puedes incitar ciertos estados de ánimo con ayuda del sonido. Recuerdas al perro de Pavlov? Puedes traducirlo a ti misma usando música. Estos on mis niveles de concentración y la música que escucho para cada uno de ellos:

  1. Tareas diarias = Música aleatoria Escucho música mientras trabajo, y con las tareas diarias no necesito ningún tipo en específico. Es en estos momentos en los que encuentro por casualidad las canciones para los otros niveles de concentración.
  2. Tarea medio dificil = Una playlist Tiendo a escuchar las listas de canciones en loop. Durante seis meses ha sido el disco de Solange, y ahora estoy entrando en la fase en la que escucho a Janelle Monáe. He descubierto los dos discos mientras escuchaba música aleatoria, y me han ayudado a entrar en una zona de confort mental que me ayuda a resolver cosas. Esta música me transporta al equivalente en comida a tomarse una sopa cuando estás un poco enfermo.
  3. Tenía que estar hecho ayer = Una canción o silencio Tengo una lista de reproducción con solo una canción para que suena una y otra y otra vez. Sé que es un poco locura, pero a mí me funciona. He estado escuchando esa canción sin parar para concentrarme desde que la escuché en un capítulo de Fringe. A veces también uso el silencio, pero sigo poniéndome los auriculares para aislarme del ruido del mundo.

El truco de la luz 💡

Hace un tiempo, vivía en un apartamento muy pequeño en el centro de una ciudad muy grande. Dentro no era tan luminoso como me hubiera gustado, pero era la primera vez que vivía sola, así que estaba encantada con ello.

Cada vez que empezaba a trabajar encendía una pequeña lámpara de los años cincuenta. Trabajaba en la mesa más estrecha de ikea, y usaba la lámpara para no tener solo la luz de la pantalla delante. Cada vez que me sentaba a trabajar, click, lámpara encendida.

Después de hacer esto durante semanas, y a pesar de mis problemas de insomnio, encender esa lámpara me ayudaba a concentrarme. Sin saberlo, me había condicionado a ello como en un experimento.

Ya casi nunca uso este truco porque ahora vivo en una casa más luminosa. Pero aún tengo la lámpara al lado de mi sitio de trabajo.

Queda con gente 👯

Si piensas que tienes que ver a una persona a la semana, mejor queda con dos. Siempre que puedas, añade un evento social a lo que piensas que necesitas en tus planes semanales.

Cuando trabajas en una oficina física estás rodeada de gente todo el rato. Ves a un vecino al salir de casa, en el camino a la oficina, en la oficina. Esa es una de las razones por las que es siempre buena idea trabajar un par de meses al año o dos días a la semana en un espacio de coworking. Porque todos esos hábitos sociales que en una oficina salen de manera natural, se pierden poco a poco cuando te quedas en casa.

Tendemos a pensar que este tipo de habilidades sociales están ahí para siempre. Pero piensa en algún idioma que hayas aprendido hace un tiempo, o en alguna asignatura que aprendiste en el colegio. Si no lo practicas, tu cerebro deja de recordarlo y ocupa ese espacio con otras cosas.

Igual no estás en tu ciudad, o tus amigos están muy ocupados durante la semana. Intenta entonces practicar alguna actividad social, como deportes, o aprender idiomas. Los eventos relacionados con tu trabajo también son una buena idea para conocer a gente y socializar.

Mira por la ventana 🖼

Cuando todo lo que ves, escuchas, lees, escribes, y toda la gente con la que te relacionas están en la misma pantalla, ésta se convierte en tu zona de confort. Llegarás hasta a desayunar delante de ella, y olvidar que el mundo exterior también es un lugar confortable.

Inspira y mira por la ventana durante los descansos de tu jornada laboral. Te ayudará a no perder la perspectiva.

👖 + ⏰ + 💤 + 🍜 + 🎶 + 💡 + 👯 + 🖼 = 💻 🔝

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