Userability Podcast #18 – Is Virginia, Is Not Virginia

Brian Christiansen

June 25th, 2010

Duration: 11m | 6 MB
Recorded: March, 2010
Brian Christiansen, UIE Podcast Producer
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This week, Joe Sokohl from Richmond, Virginia calls in, with a sharp question. Joe is doing some research into distributed, collaborative teams working on UX projects, and wanted to get Jared and Robert’s perspective on the issue. What characteristics do successful teams with remote members have? Are distributed teams even a good idea?

Robert jumps right on the question, as his work is almost exclusively remote. Robert works with teams around the world, and says the experience is very different than being able to hop into a conference room and do some whiteboarding on a moment’s notice. But that doesn’t make the experience better or worse, just different. If you’re comfortable with using remote collaboration tools, it’s definitely possible to be successful.

Jared offers some observations from our research at UIE. There are many teams that make remote work, just like there are teams that make co-location work. But, we’ve found the most successful remote teams are all remote, with no (or nearly no) co-located members. When 80% of the team is co-located, that changes the team relationships in a way that negatively affects the work.

Robert and Jared find the best way to encourage cohesion and engagement across a team with remote members is to have the members meet in person, if only once. Robert adds that he would like to start all of his remote projects with a couple days in person with the team.

Tune in to the podcast to get their full thoughts. Don’t forget, if you have a serious UX question, send it in and Jared Spool and Robert Hoekman, Jr. will answer it with a healthy dose of levity. Please send your deep, vexing questions to us at userability@uie.com. We’d love to feature you on the show!

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