Today at gSchool we Skyped with Roz Lemieux. Below are my notes from our conversation:
Roz started Attentive.ly and is on Twitter @rozlem. While she was starting Attentive.ly, she also moved from D.C. to Atlanta and had a baby. Yikes!
She talked about the importance of travel and encouraged us to make some time to do so. After leaving a job, she worked five hours per month so she could travel, those five hours paid for travel through Australia, Cambodia, Thailand & Laos.
I was really interested in this not just from the standpoint of wanting to work remotely some day, but that by working so little the hours had to be very valuable, so even in a non-remote situation, it highlights the value of that effort. I asked Roz “When you were working just a few hours a month, how did you figure out what to work on that would give you the most bang for your buck?” Since she had just left a job, they would queue up stuff for her to work on, things they couldn't figure out with her gone. Then when she had internet, she would work through those open issues. She talked about doing contract work for companies and other organizations, but recommended that junior developers with the opportunity to work in a dev shop start there before going remote, to get experience and opportunities that come with being surrounded by more experienced people.
Jorge Téllez asked her how she keeps remote teams coordinated:
Yammer for checking in/out, to know who's online and to ensure folks are notified of messages
They keep a Skype back-channel open
Using a project management tool like Teambox
Her team is liberal with sharing Github updates
Having an established culture around hours
Sharing Google calendars and scheduling meetings with each other this way
Roz also shared some tips for having meetings and conference calls. She said that the first person to speak during a conference call is listened to the most, so folks (especially women) need to speak up and make their voice and ideas heard. Conversely, we all need to remember to make space for everyone to talk, so all ideas are communicated. Sometimes people are shy but if encouraged to participate, can add a lot of value to the conversation.