Author: Jocelyn ter Morsche, marketer at remote company Xoxzo

Welcome to the second part of the remote workers’ Q&A. 

In this series, I discuss different topics, with remote workers from different backgrounds: several industries, countries, and, in the future, from different companies. It will be interesting to find out more about their experiences and learn more about how they make the best of their remote work life. 

Last time I interviewed engineer Zaki about planning his workweek. I was surprised to find out that even though engineers are known for their love of technology, Zaki still prefers the old-school method of colored-coded post-its to keep track of his tasks.

This week’s topic is “Remote Work and Communication”. As you all know, communication is the key to remote work. However, with the current COVID-19 crisis many new remote workers reported having a hard time adjusting to online meetings and effective brainstorm sessions, while at the same time fighting the loneliness of not having daily face time with coworkers. 

I interviewed my fellow Xoxzo colleague Jules to find out what he thinks about communicating while working remotely, connecting to others in the company, and more.

Jules Capacillo
Jules Capacillo
Remote Worker for 2 years.
Works in: Quezon City, Philippines
Software Engineer at traditionally remote company Xoxzo. He puts a premium on communication because he believes that it makes value formation easier. Loves building and tinkering with APIs.

Q1. Many new remote workers report feeling lonely when not working in the same office as their team. What helps you feel connected to other team members and counter the potential loneliness of working remotely?

Participating in non-work related chat helps me feel connected as well as my weekly one on ones with my direct supervisor (kamal) . The weekly one-on-one helps in catching up with what’s happening in the company as well as other events happening either inside or outside of work.

Q2. Do you think remote communication can be done just as well (or even better)  compared to face-to-face at the office?

In my opinion, both have their own strengths and weaknesses. For meetings regarding updates on features or announcements, this can already be covered by remote communication.

On the other hand, feature discussions and brainstorming sessions are always better face-to-face, since in my opinion, it’s better to express your thoughts directly and have spontaneous discussions with someone who is physically present in the room with you. 

Q3. What are the communication tools that you use on a daily basis working out for you remotely?   

For work I mainly use Slack and Google Chat.  I prefer Slack over Google Chat for real time communication because of the overall feel to it. I just feel Google Chat tends to a bit more clunky in feeling and I’ve been using Slack for almost all of my working experience as a developer. 

For remote calls, I’d prefer using Zoom, almost same reasoning with Slack and it’s desktop and mobile app are relatively easier to use and are packed with more features compared to others.

I wouldn’t say I have a favorite tool, I just use them based on circumstances. E.g I use messenger a lot for friends, Line for games (chatting with guild mates), and Zoom for family and school calls. 

Jules’ workstation, 2 screens are always better than 1!

Q4. At Xoxzo, there’s a yearly team camp to get everyone together. Do you think this helps you bond with your team or would you like to see your coworkers more often (or less)?

Yes definitely, The team camp can greatly help in brainstorming new features and developing rapport among team members . Though, I think the yearly team camp is enough. I like how the company is currently set up. 

Q5. Do you think remote work is for everyone or do you think communication could be an issue for some people? 

I think remote work is not for everyone, it takes great discipline to be able to work effectively in this kind of setup (assuming you are not overly tracked by some external software) and there will always be jobs that don’t fit this setup (I think this is a give already).

As for communication, I do think communication could be an issue for some, but communication will always be essential. I think the key is just adjusting to how people communicate. Each of us have our own unique way of communicating, being able to know and adjust to how your team members communicate helps a lot both in project delivery and good relationship development. 

I hope you enjoyed reading this interview with Jules. I especially liked his last statement emphasizing that we should try to adjust to the way people communicate. It can truly help a lot if you understand your teammates better.

Are there some topics you’d be interested in reading, for a Q&A with a remote worker, or do you know someone who would like to be interviewed by us? Let us know in the comments below!

Jocelyn ter Morsche
Originally from the Netherlands.
Living in Tokyo since 2017.
Remote worker since August 2020.
Favorite thing about remote work: Playing the guitar or cooking during my break and comfortable clothes.
Posted by:theremoteworkerlife

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