15 Tweet Checklist for Distributed Teams

Migrating from working in an office to working from home is tricky and takes careful effort. This is even trickier when done at short notice and for prolonged periods of time (like scenarios triggered by COVID-19). If you are in this situation, I hope you find this checklist helpful.

  • (1) BeforeLeavingOffice: Work from a different desk for a day. Notice what you still need at your desk. Solve before you leave the building.
  • (2) BeforeLeavingOffice: Connect laptop to internet via your cellphone’s hotspot. Verify access to systems work before you leave the building. 
  • (3) Camera: Use head-and-shoulders camera for all meetings. Facial expressions and non-verbal cues help meetings go faster and builds trust. 
  • (4) Camera: Put your camera at eye level. Avoid looking down at laptop camera on desk – it means everyone else is looking up your nose. 
  • (5) Camera: Move the meeting video window near the camera. This helps you instinctively look at others in the meeting when speaking.
  • (6) Camera: Check your rearview mirror when joining a call. How do others see you? Small changes to camera, chair or lighting fix most problems.
  • (7) Camera: Check your rearview mirror when joining a call. What is visible behind you? Does it look professional?
  • (8) Camera: Sit with your back to a wall to avoid backlighting. Avoid sitting with your back to windows, glass doors or bright lights.
  • (9) Camera: Watch old silent B&W movies. Learn how camera placement and lighting change unspoken “moods”. How would that help your next call?
  • (10) Audio: Use an external microphone or a headset. Don’t use your laptop’s microphone and speakers – ok when they work but bad when they fail.
  • (11) Audio: If someone on a video call has audio problems, don’t use *audio* to tell them. Instead, use non-audio cues visible on camera.
  • (12) GroupChat: Treat all chat as transient. Don’t expect everyone to read all messages in all channels all the time.
  • (13) GroupChat: Tell people when you start/stop workday, go for lunch, etc. This keeps others in ebb/flow and helps you take guilt-free breaks.
  • (14) Soul: Structure your workday. Create a “fake commute” to walk out of your home at start and end of day. Good for your body, mind and soul.
  • (15) Soul: At home, prearrange non-verbal cues with others, so they know when you can/can’t be interrupted, are on video calls, etc.

These 15 tweet-able protips are obviously intentionally short. If you have questions on any of these, you can find more details in my book “Distributed Teams: The Art and Practice of Working Together While Physically Apart“. Or of course, just ask me – I’d be happy to help.

John.

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