May 2020

Surviving and Thriving While Working Remotely (May)

with Brenda Huettner

Our focus this month is on working remotely -- reviewing ways to set up a space, establish a schedule, connect with your coworkers, and get your work done in what is often a chaotic environment. We'll talk about the technologies that enable people to work remotely, and the interpersonal and communication skills that are required for people to do it well.

Telecommuting, remote work, work at home – these may have slightly different connotations but they all refer to ways of doing traditional work outside of a traditional office setting. A recent survey* found that due to the current global pandemic, approximately 88% of employers worldwide are currently encouraging or requiring their employees to work from their homes.

This month’s Roundtable focuses on what that looks like, reviewing ways to set up a space, establish a schedule, connect with your coworkers, and get your work done in what is often a chaotic environment. We’ll talk about the technologies that enable people to work remotely, and the interpersonal and communication skills that are required for people to do it well.

Join us to discuss what works – and what doesn’t! – when you’re working from home.

Weekly Content

STC Roundtable Webinar with Brenda Huettner
Surviving and Thriving While Working Remotely

This webinar explored the basics of setting up a remote workspace, establishing connections, and developing procedures that allow you to work from home (or wherever you are) as efficiently as possible. We reviewed the types of hardware and software that enable remote work, address the security and privacy issues that come up all too often, and talked about ways to find the mindset needed to do it all with a minimum of stress.

Remote work doesn’t mean working alone, and this means that you’ll need to use a variety of tools to help stay connected with your team, your managers, and possibly your customers. This week, we’ll look at some of the different types of tools available, such as video conferencing platforms, file sharing applications, and collaborative workspaces. We’ll also review the features of each, and provide links to some of the most popular offerings so that you can choose the tools that are right for you.

EXPLORE THESE RESOURCES

Panel Discussion: Tips and Tricks from the Trenches

PANELISTS: Mollye Barrett, Angela Gunder, Danielle Matthews, and David Dylan Thomas

Our panel of experts shared lessons learned from working remotely in a variety of environments. They talked about the challenges of international collaboration, how to put your best face forward on video meetings, making do in less-than ideal circumstances, and answered questions from attendees.

Mollye Barrett is a veteran technical communicator, content strategist, and content management consultant. Her career focuses on optimizing content, improving the authoring environment, and planning for business continuity. In her work with publication groups, Mollye focuses on content production and curation that includes content management supported by a business case, single-source writing and localization. For more than 30 years, Mollye has worked in the technical publications arena with hardware, software, and localization companies. Her foray into content management started in 1994, when she was tasked with translating 35 manuals into 12 languages in 6 weeks. Since then, she has been a content management hunter-gather focusing on emerging technologies. Today, Mollye is a vendor-neutral content management consultant at ClearPath, LLC. Her work there includes technical communication development focused on business case, ROI, content reuse, document analysis, workflow analysis, localization, single-source writing, and document conversions.

Angela Gunder is the Vice President of Learning for the Online Learning Consortium.  In this role, she is responsible for gathering, curating, and leveraging the intellectual capital created by and disseminated through OLC. Prior to her position at the OLC, Angela served as the Director of Instructional Design & Curriculum Development for the Office of Digital Learning, managing and mentoring the team that builds the fully-online programs for The University of Arizona.  Her over fifteen-year career as a designer for higher education informs her instructional design practice, where she leverages her expertise in web design, usability, visual communication, programming, and standards-based online learning.  She is an Associate Editor for the Teacher Education Board of MERLOT, and the recipient of the 2018 MERLOT Distinguished Service Award, the organization’s highest honor.  She is also the recipient of two Online Learning Consortium Effective Practice Awards for the creation of a framework for personal learning networks, and for the creation of exploratory installations of education technology, respectively. In 2019, Ms. Gunder was named an OLC Fellow for her dedication to service, innovation, and scholarship in support of student success in online learning.  Her research interests include open educational practices, digital literacies, narrative in online course design, and emerging technology for second language acquisition. She holds a B.S. in Computer Science and Fine Art from Fordham University, a M.Ed. in Education Technology from Arizona State University, and is completing her Ph.D. in Teaching, Learning and Sociocultural Studies at The University of Arizona.

Danielle is a PMP certified Technical Writer III for DSS, Inc. She has previous experience as a software trainer, counselor, and teacher. In addition to presenting on “Stress Management for Counselors” and “Burnout in the Workplace”, she co-presented sessions for STC and TCDojo on “Accessibility and Privacy in Technical Writing”. Her experience and education across multiple fields provide excellent tools to understand and accurately convey the intended message for myriad audiences. Danielle has been working remotely for a decade and has been trying to simultaneously homeschool for the past 5 years.

David Dylan Thomas, author of the upcoming book Design for Cognitive Bias from A Book Apart, serves as Content Strategy Advocate at Think Company and is the creator and host of the Cognitive Bias Podcast. He has developed digital strategies for major clients in entertainment, healthcare, publishing, finance, and retail. A co-organizer of Content Strategy Philly, he previously consulted at the Corzo Center for the Creative Economy and is the creator, director, and co-producer of Developing Philly, a web series about the rise of the Philadelphia tech community. He has given standing-room-only presentations at TEDNYC, SXSW Interactive, Confab, LavaCon, UX Copenhagen, Artifact, and the Wharton Web Conference on content strategy and emerging content trends.

Stories from the Roundtable, a collaborative collection of current experiences

For this final week, we’ll use the tools and techniques we’ve learned about during the month to create a document that compiles the stories of our group’s experiences with remote work. My hope is that this document will be a record that reflects both the challenges and successes of our current times, and will serve as a tribute to the people successfully navigating our rapidly changing world. Tentative title: Stories from the Roundtable.

We’ll start with an all-hands video conference meeting early in the week to discuss the scope of the project, agree to a timeline, and assign tasks. Then we’ll break up into smaller groups design the layout, write/compile stories, edit and proofread. The smaller groups may continue to work in video conference mode, but will also need to use additional collaborative tools. We’ll reconvene via video conference later in the week to see what we’ve accomplished and what we’ve learned from it.

Build Resilience through Recovery:  a collection of research and tools
Gartner, Inc., well-known for its research in the workplace, has released a set of articles, white papers, and video specifically to help companies navigate the challenges of remote work and emergency planning.  Particularly interesting are “How to Cultivate Effective Remote Work Programs” (https://emtemp.gcom.cloud/ngw/globalassets/en/insights/coronavirus/how-to-cultivate-effective-remote-work-programs.pdf) and the 90-minute webinar “Leading through Covid-19: Remote Work Now and Beyond” (https://www.gartner.com/en/webinars/3982440/panel-discussion-remote-work-during-covid-19-and-beyond)

Working from Home Statistics You Need to Know
This article shares statistics, but also includes links to a variety of sources for information about work from home and telecommuting data. Fundera is a company that helps match small business with lenders.

Working Parents Survival Guide to Coronavirus Quarantine
Alexis Haselberger is a time management consultant and efficiency expert whose tag line is “Do More, Stress Less”.  She’s got a Facebook group, a blog, and a media library on her website. You’ll need to enter an email address to download this particular article.

Fast Company Magazine
Aimed at small companies, this magazine has videos, podcasts, and articles sorted into categories like “Creativity” and “Work Life”. Owned by the same corporation (Mansueto Ventures) as Inc., this site tends to have content split over multiple shorter articles than it’s sister publication.

Inc Magazine
This site has tons of free videos and articles aimed specifically at the founders of small businesses, including many that address remote work such as “How to be a Great Remote Manager” or “23 Essential Tips for Working Remotely. Definitely check out their “Essential Business Survival Guide for the Covid-19 Crisis” which lists even more articles updated daily as the workplace changes.  Owned by the same corporation (Mansueto Ventures) as Fast Company, this site tends to have more in-depth features and focus more on starting up new companies, not just existing small ones.

CyberSecurity for Remote Workers
This free eBook from Cisco can be read online or downloaded as a PDF.

The Ultimate Guide to Remote Work by Wade Foster
(Kindle edition, free)
This book is an ongoing work written by the CEO and team members of app automation company Zapier, who has over 200 people who have been working remotely full-time since the company was founded in 2011.

John O’Duinn’s blog
Look for the category “Remoties” for a long list of helpful, practical posts on remote work.  John O’Duinn currently offering free has written a book (Distributed Teams: The Art and Practice of Working Together While Physically Apart) and frequently quotes from it on his blog.  He also offers video trainings for remote workers.

Think Company blog
Business, design, and technology topics including remote work, making better videos, and creating systems.

PCMag.com
PCMag offers technology reviews, productivity advice, and more.  Particularly interesting is series of articles in the “Work from Home” category gathered at https://www.pcmag.com/series/how-to-work-from-home.

Tips for Working from Home
Tips culled from across the STC membership by Mollye Barrett.  This is a great summary from people who’ve been there!

Curator Bio:

Brenda Huettner

Brenda Huettner is an independent technical communication consultant who has worked for the past 35 years as a writer, editor, trainer, and manager, for both software and hardware companies. She’s a principal of Microwaves101.com, an online encyclopedia of microwave engineering knowledge. Brenda is a Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication, and a Senior Member of IEEE, active in the Professional Communication Society, the Engineering Management council, and the Tucson section. She’s also a member of the Usability Professionals Association. Brenda has published several books and articles, and presented half-day, full-day, and multi-day courses on writing, project management, usability, and career management. She also participates in NASA’s volunteer Solar System and OSIRIS-ReX Ambassador programs.

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