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Diagram Views

Invasion of the Remoties!

Joe Mayberry
#News & Culture
Published on October 7, 2015

At Diagram, our remote employees are an integral part of our team, including when they visit the main offices.

Over the last four years, I have been very fortunate to work for companies that support remote workers. At Diagram, we are a small company, and approximately 25% of our employees are spread across the country and working remotely on a daily basis.

But then, a few times a year, something special happens, when all of the remote workers (or 'Remoties') descend upon Diagram HQ. I'm sure that from the locals' point of view, it's like an invasion—we get into everything, disrupting the normal course of the day, talking to people, crowding the offices and bullpens, and generally making a lovable nuisance of ourselves.

But even though we are a disruption, this time is very valuable to the team as a whole, as it gives those of us who work remotely a chance to see and talk to the people that we usually only interact with digitally. We can see their expressions and understand each other a little bit better.

Face time

In our office, Slack has really taken over a lot of the "watercooler" or "hallway" types of discussions, which is great. Not only does that allow all of us to participate, but the conversations are saved for later reference. But nothing builds real camaraderie like being able to talk, plan, or gossip in person.

While tools like Slack, email, or the even the telephone help facilitate communication between co-workers, remote or otherwise, they lack the visual clues that carry so much information. Sure, we could video chat, but it has never really caught on, and most people are really reluctant to try it, though I haven't quite figured out why. It could be that using video chats would mean giving up one of the best things about working remotely—namely working in our pajamas, with our hair pointing in all directions (and for me, that is really saying something). So when we Remoties invade, we get to get dressed up a little, comb our hair and everything. Yessiree Bob, no pajamas at the office on these trips!

So, with with our tamed hair and non-pajama clothing, we get to be around the people we work with. This is a good time to take care of some of those administrative tasks that are just easier to do in person. To have meetings with the boss, and the boss's boss, and the people you don't talk to very often.

As a remote worker, we tend to be pretty focused on tasks that we have to work on, but we kind of develop tunnel vision, and a pretty limited view of what's really going on. When we are in the office, we can get a better sense of the larger picture just by looking at the project board set up in the project manager's office or the stack of papers on the client services manager's desk. Its not hard to see that there is a lot more going on than we knew about.

Things get cozy

cubicleOne thing that I have found to be true is that people like their space. Given the chance, we will stake out a claim that says "This space is mine." We decorate, we personalize, we make it our own, and we get comfortable with our environment.

The locals are used to their space, but during a remotie invasion there are several more bodies looking for a place to set up. In a small office space, this can sometimes be a challenge, but we all know the value of having everyone in the office together, even if it's for just a short time, and Diagram is nothing if not creative and resourceful in getting us all to fit in somewhere.

But the tighter quarters have some interesting benefits. When you are closer to people, you tend to interact with them more. Heck, just walking around the office, you get to see some of the cool things that people are working on, which can lead to conversations, and if you are lucky, one of those "A-ha!" moments where something they might say gives you that brilliant solution to your latest challenge.

Feed Me!

While Diagram always takes really good care of us when we visit, there is usually at least one evening where we are left to our own devices. As a traveler, eating out is a given, but that doesn't have to mean we have to eat fast-food three meals a day, or eat alone.

Food is a great social element for us remote workers. Everybody needs to eat, and nobody really likes to eat alone, so on the nights when nothing is planned, I like to try to organize a nice meal for anyone interested in going out. We make it an event, relax, let our proverbial hair down a little, and talk about the things that don't revolve around work, or the office. You know, Life.

So, sure, the office gets a little more crowded when we show up. You have to dodge a few more people in the hallways, and the coffee goes faster, but everyone seems to make the best of things. Work gets done, meetings get held, questions are answered, food is eaten, drinks are drunk, and a good time is had by all. But most of all, we bond as a team, which in the end, only improves our quality of service and dedication to what we do.

Image Credits: Deposit Photos (image 1/image 2)