Using Video Clips

I’ve had a go at creating my first videoblog post. The post discusses ways in which video clips can be used to support remote working (I went for something fairly generic as a first attempt). Anyway here is the post on Seesmic:

At moment I can’t figure out how to embed the Seesmic video into WordPress, although I’ve done it before on the Institutional Web Management Workshop web site. There’s also a time delay problem that I didn’t have in my original WPV file (the uploaded file is an AVI file converted using STOIK. Oh well, I can only get better at this stuff….

In the post I mention a few video services that are worth having a look at:

I also talk about a workshop I’m running with a colleague, Ann Chapman – Using Blogs Effectively Within Your Library
to be held at the ILI 2008 conference at the Novotel London West, London on 15th October 2008.

All the Fun of a Phone Conference

I am the remote worker champion at UKOLN. This is quite a grandiose title for something pretty down-to-earth. Basically I represent the remote workers whenever they could do with representation: at meetings, when dealing with management, when dealing with systems support.

At the moment I’m looking into technological improvements that could be made to help remote workers feel more included.

We have ‘breakfast meetings’ once a month where everyone who is about meets up and reports to the rest of the staff on their current work activities. Currently remote workers get to sit on the end of a polycom soundstation premier conference phone and listen in. There is a lack of visual cues and quite often the meeting drags on for ages.

I found this photo of a Conference Phone cake. The strangest thing is that the caption says "Juha made us a conference-phone-cake again!" like it happens every year!

I found this photo of a Conference Phone cake on Flickr. The strangest thing is that the caption says Juha made us a conference-phone-cake again! like it happens every year!

Although there are definitely technical things that could improve the experience chatting with my fellow remote workers has helped me come up with a quick list of activities that could improve the meetings no end.

  1. It’s essential that remote workers are sent copies of the minutes and any slides in advance of the meeting.
  2. A remote worker representative needs to be nominated at the start of the meeting, they will represent remote workers and ensure that they are being supported.
  3. Everyone should make sure that they introduce themselves at the start of the meeting, and remember to pass the mike around.
  4. After this all remote workers need to confirm that speakers are audible.
  5. People need to wait till they have the microphone before they speak. It might also be helpful to introduce themselves again if people don’t know each other that well.
  6. Remote workers should be given ample opportunity to interject e.g. “Does anyone at home have anything to add?”
  7. The meeting could be supported by other communication mechanisms such as chat or a share a common whiteboard, this gives remote workers a chance to make comments when appropriate e.g. “Could you make sure that the mike gets passed on”.
  8. Keep meetings to under 1 hour 30 minutes (preferably less) as maintaining attention without any visual stimulus can be difficult

Does anyone else have any suggestions?

I think the main thing is just getting people to appreciate how tough it is to listen in and to just spare a thought…

The Balancing Act

I became a remote worker in April 2008 when I returned to work after my third lot of maternity leave (yes, they love me at work!). My oldest daughter had just started school and trying to get into Bath for 9am (we live about 40 minutes away) after an 8.45 drop off was just not possible. I was going to be late every day. UKOLN already have a number of remote workers (in Yorkshire, London, Edinburgh, Manchester…) so it seemed like a possible option. Our admin manager mentioned that I could put in a request under the University’s Parents and Carers Flexible Working Policy to work primarily from home. This was fairly straightforward and accepted straight away.

There are a lot of benefits to working somewhere other than your office, but at the same time there are downsides. I tried to list the main ones in an article I wrote for Ariadne web Magazine entitled A Desk Too Far?: The Case for Remote Working. These pros and cons apply to both employee and employer. While at times you might feel like your organisation are being extremely generous allowing you to work remotely it is worth remembering that there is a lot in it for them too. Remote worker guilt is something I mention in the article and something I’m hoping this blog will help ease a little!

Welcome to Ramblings of a Remote Worker

Although I’ve contributed to blogs (primarily the JISC-PoWR blog) this is my first go at writing and maintaining a blog on my own! Being the shy, retiring type…sharing my innermost thoughts online doesn’t really appeal. However since I started to work from home I’ve felt that I need some outlet for my thoughts and refelctions on issues related to ‘being out of the office’. I also think that many of the feelings/insights I’ve had may benefit others. So here it is…my new blog, Ramblings of a Remote Worker. I’ll try to keep my posts on topic and useful but there’s no guarantees! If you have any relevant ramblings please do share.

Marieke Guy, UKOLN