Hot, wet, sit-down stand-up
There are a lot of great things about working remotely, but there are trade-offs, too. Working from home means considerably less opportunity to bounce ideas off of one’s teammates. Phone, Skype, messaging apps, and email are all good tools, but they don’t allow for off-the-cuff conversations in the office hallway. When I was at an agency, running into a designer or AD in the kitchen while sneaking an extra cookie sometimes inspired new ideas about a project, or at least gave us the opportunity to casually say, “Hey, what do you think about such-and-such?”
One of the best presentations I heard at this year’s Seattle Interactive Conference was a tag-team talk by Rational Interaction’s Executive Creative Director, Katie D’Amato, and VP of Strategy, Ian Clausen, about taking a whole-brain approach to projects. The duo suggested that if you’re more of a right-brained individual—like me—you find someone on your team who’s more left-brained to share ideas with, and vice versa. Bouncing ideas off someone with dramatically different skill- and mindsets can help round out an idea and make it more viable.
Other freelancers and remote workers might reach out to colleagues to form this sort of partnership, but I’m lucky enough to have my other-brain-half right here at home, working in the next room. My husband, a developer and systems architect, also works remotely, and he definitely fits the left-brained bill. He provides an excellent sounding board for my ideas, acts as my project manager to keep me on task and accountable, and does more than his fair share of keeping the coffee pot full.
Most mornings, we have our own little stand-up of sorts, a quick, 15-minute meeting in which we each go over what we’re working on that day. I often run creative ideas past him or ask for advice on copy. He doesn’t seek my input on his code—what earthly good would that do!?—but he talks through anything he’s stuck on or ideas for improvement. Even if I don’t understand all the technical details, I can sometimes be of help.
Did I mention there are limitations to working from home? There are also benefits. Unless it’s raining sideways or hailing, we have our stand-up meetings sitting down. In the hot tub.