Greetings from my new home office, aka the bathroom! Just kidding (or am I?). While working from home with two small kids isn’t quite that dire, I’ll admit to some dicey moments where locking myself in the bathroom actually felt like a good idea. But amazingly, it’s all starting to feel way more normal than any of us ever felt possible back in mid-March.
While we’re stuck at home for the time being (and the foreseeable future), we’ve had to quickly adapt to new ways of working. This means creating new rituals for staying in touch, collaborating, and keeping ourselves mentally sharp.
Since we’re all going through this together, we wanted to share a few things we Berrians have learned, as we plow through and continue to proudly wave the “Good UX” flag from our various quarantined locations. We hope they might be inspiring to you!
Connecting with teammates is more important than ever before
Cloudberry has instilled a new daily ritual, a replacement, of sorts, for the moment when we’d step off the elevator and groggily say “good morning” to our colleagues. Now, each morning, every Berrian posts a morning greeting on Slack, somewhere between 8:00-9:30am. This may seem frivolous, and perhaps unnecessary. And sure, sometimes it can feel like a bit of a chore. But imagine how it would feel if we didn’t do this. If we woke up in our disparate locations, hopped on our laptops to check email and jump into the day’s tasks without this small (yet important) friendly and very human moment, we’d probably quickly start to feel disconnected from each other. This small act reminds us daily that we are still a team, no matter what.
People have zero tolerance for failing collaboration software
We’ve witnessed a huge amount of empathy, understanding, and forgiveness during these weird times amongst our colleagues and clients alike. Need a little more time to finish up those wireframes? No sweat. Got a screaming kid in the background of our call? We feel for ya. It goes without saying that everyone is up against some serious challenges. However, one thing we realized early on was that this feeling of forgiveness simply doesn’t extend to failing technology. During our first “work at home” week we (and many other companies) experienced serious failures and outages with virtual meeting software such as Webex and Uber Conference. Without skipping a beat, we switched to Zoom, which isn’t perfect, but has been a lot more stable during this time than any other platform we tried. Be sure to install the latest version, which has an important security update (hopefully limiting the amount of llamas crashing your call).
This is a great time for professional development
While our days blend into each other and weekends have come to mean nothing at all, the fact is that many of us have some extra time on our hands, and are looking for opportunities to engage more deeply in our craft, sharpen our skills, or learn something new. Luckily, there are plenty of avenues available to us for professional development.
My fellow Berrian, Lars Lindahl (Senior UX Architect), collected this list of suggestions for your consideration.
Subscribe to newsletters & podcasts – At this time of reflection, the internet is providing a wealth of content, and UX writing is no exception. Here are a few of our favorites:
Attend virtual conferences – Conferences are switching to virtual and discounted admission prices. Here are a few that look interesting to us:
Review and critique past work – Clients trust your expertise. This is a great time to look back at your previous projects, and fine-tune your perspectives on user behavior. Collect and organize past findings in a single space for easier reference. You may discover new insights along the way.
Take this time to be curious on a larger scale – Analytics are generally used strategically to answer specific questions around a given assignment. Why not explore analytics across longer periods of time, set up recurring reports, and customize your analytics dashboard. On a more sweeping scale, you may discover insights and opportunities that normally are overlooked.
On a final note, we are more proud than ever to be UX designers. The design of so many websites and apps has been impacted by this pandemic, and the UX designer plays a pivotal role in this fast-paced process. Notice how items on a page are presented to draw one’s attention; Or how content strategy is scripted to emphasize clarity and reassurance; Or how navigation to need-to-know information is set up. The list goes on. It’s our firm belief that UX design is more important than ever, especially as we navigate a host of new experiences digitally: distance learning, telehealth, and even the experience of working from home.
Stay safe, and thanks for reading!