Increasing remote work productivity with UX leadership
More companies are transiting into a remote working style. However, many employees are not familiar with remote working and face difficulties with balancing work and life. Last week, UXTesting hosted the virtual webinar to talk about “How Leaders Can Improve Remote Communication Through Good UX”. Many of the attendees had follow-up questions, which I hope to shed some light on in this article. I will discuss how I manage the remote team and how I keep productivity high.
Before delving into the content below, I would like to clarify that the “User” of User Experience is not just talking about the real users, customers(external stakeholders) but what we call “internal stakeholders”. In this article, I will be sharing how we can improve communication with internal stakeholders, meaning the boss, supervisors, and colleagues.
As a User Experience Practitioner, there are 3 factors of UX, “Easy”, “Efficient” and “Useful”. Definitely, you can find more information and detailed factors from different theories but I usually like to use simple language for my audience to understand and brainstorm with me.
With the 3 factors I have mentioned above, there are 3 actionable tips I want to share with you below:
1. Mindset Change — From “What I want to say” to “What I want the receiver to understand”
People are subjective, and the language we speak depends on our own experience, expertise, and environment. We usually speak from our own perspective because we try to reach the goal and move forward, but would you speak professionally to a third grader? That is the key point. You want to teach and coach the third graders to understand you.
At the working space, we know of course there are no third graders there. However, we should always think about the following key points before starting a conversation:
Where can I find useful information?
Who may know the useful information?
Who may find out the useful information?
Who has experience with current issues?
How to be a good bridge between colleagues?
Do they have the same background?
Do they speak the same language?
After taking these questions into consideration we can make the conversation as a story. The structure of the story could be:
What is the current problem
Who or which department you’ve talked about this
Any potential solutions from you but invite the team to give the feedback
2. Better Reading Experience
Regardless of an email or a presentation, we always have to care about the reading experience, especially for remote work.
Let me show you the following example, Tony is a business person in the company and he faces complaints from clients. He would like to ask the development team to develop 2 more features. Then he wrote the message to Peter (Lead of Development) on Slack:
This is a typical long and bad reading experience message, there are even no action items from the asker to move forward.
Taking the 3 factors of UX, Easy, Efficiency and Usefulness into consideration, if I were Tony, I would rewrite the message as below,
Do you see the differences? The second email Tony wrote is providing useful information including the screenshot and the reproduction video for Peter easily and efficiently understand what happened. Therefore, in order to provide a better reading experience, these may help:
- Step by Step: Listing
- Chart / Form / Table : Visualization
- Logic: Why, What and How
- Hand-drawing: Visualization
3. Fixed 30 minutes meeting
I found out one of the most expensive things the corporate waste is communication cost. Long meetings with no decision and action items always make the attendees exhausted and stagger productivity. Remote communication could be inefficient compared to the meetings in person. That is why I usually set up weekly 30 minutes meetings, but no longer than 40 minutes.
Before the meeting I would do:
- Short Introduction of the attendees except me
- Summarize the agenda
- Key topics
- What expectations of this meeting
After the meeting I would do:
- Send the follow-up email
- Check all key topics we’ve discussed
- Action Items!!
Try to imagine you host the 2 hours concert, can you sing as long as you want? Prepare for the meeting earlier and make the time as the biggest value.
The key to user experience is to improve, optimize and even provide a premium to the internal and external stakeholders. What can we do to support this? The answer is Data! No matter visualization chat or video, the UX data can tell us what happened and how we improve it. Understanding the stakeholders, interviewing, testing and collecting UX data, have you taken this into consideration?
I hope this article helps you to improve your communication within organizations during remote work.