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Remote Worker Profile - Bryony Cole

July 24, 2014 by

Senior Director of Customer Insights @bryonycole

1. What are you working on?

I’m working on how Fuze can change the notion people have about using video as a tool for work. There’s a big misconception that video calls in business are both useless and infuriating, duly so, because most of the big video conferencing systems we’ve been using are the ones that make you want to pull all your hair out.

We are turning the tide on the old model with a great experience that goes anywhere a screen goes. My role is to collect and connect our users and their stories, bring them to life online, and basically shout from the rooftops that there is a new way to work with video.

A major focus of mine is emboldening our employees to share their ideas about the future of video with the world. Our CEO wants to KILL THE CONFERENCE CALL. I love that. Helping people find their voice online is way easier than finding my own.

2. What’s the biggest challenge of working remotely right now?

Staying in tune with developments as we move fast. All those corridor/elevator moments that happen in the office are really important both from a “feeling a part of it” perspective, as well as a from a standpoint of getting your work done. Major breakthroughs don't usually happen at a desk or scheduled brainstorm sessions, they happen at the "in-betweens": over lunch with a team, walking to the train station with a colleague, or hanging out in the office break-out area.

I try to combat that by scheduling standing Fuze meetings with a handful of coworkers and specifically, no set agenda. Scheduling time to just chat gives space for building relationships as well as riffing about work. Understanding what’s going in someone's life beyond their role at work sparks those those “elevator” moments. Lots of interesting ideas come up that way.

3. Describe your workspace/ How do you choose a spot to work from?

I’m incredibly blessed in that I can choose what moves me for the day. If I am doing lots of writing I can lock myself away in a quiet space, take a walk and be inspired by the local neighborhood, or hunker down at our desk space at Work-Bench. I like to get out of the house because the clutter, whether it’s a pile of mail on the kitchen table or the nagging laundry basket, can be a huge distraction.

Remote Worker Series - Bryony Cole

Today I’m experimenting with a pop-up co-working space, Commuter. It’s part bike shop, part workspace and provides unlimited coffee and wifi. I love having the freedom to try new things as part of my work day and New York is one of the best places in the world to do just that. There’s this endless stream of experiments going on, from bike-work spaces to nightclub-yoga.

4. What are the most important types of tools you use as a remote worker?

Video, obviously! Being able to see people is a huge part of connection and communication - pretty much my two core responsibilities as Customer Insights Director. So much gets lost if you take away visual cues. Research says that when meeting new people 7% is what we actually say. When I’m doing user interviews I love seeing where people are when we chat, it gives you little clues about the person, whether it’s a cat on their lap or an airport terminal, there’s a whole picture there that you miss otherwise.

Instant messaging is also critical, it gives you the ability to tap people on the shoulder without sending a formal email. Equally important when working in a different time zone is notifications that I may have missed something. I use Yammer every day for these things. I keep a tab open constantly and see a live stream of updates from Fuzers, looping me into projects and conversations. I actually think I’d be lost without it. (Disclaimer: I worked at Yammer for the past few years so the love is big!)

I’m a big proponent of 'inbox zero' so email is the last resort. And somewhere up the top of this list is a decent cup of coffee. Remote or not, it's one of the most important productivity tools for the day.

Remote Worker Series - Bryony Cole

5. What’s the biggest misconception about remote work?

For many, the idea of working remotely means a very exotic lifestyle; a piña colada in one hand and laptop in the other, waves crashing in the distance. On the flip, others often think it must be sooooo hard and lonely.

The reality is, both. It can definitely be lonely if you choose not to talk to people and sit in your basement, it can also be most things you choose it to be, and if you can get your work done on a beach, why the hell not?

6. Top tips for working remotely?
  • Find your place. In the first few months I joined Fuze I experimented with co-working spaces all over the city, Grind and The Yard were two that stood out for me, Grind for it’s beautiful open space and The Yard for it’s cool locations in Lower East Side and Williamsburg and dog-friendly policy.
Work Bench - Bryony Cole

However, Work-Bench (pictured above) played into what I really needed, a place to leave my things at the end of the day and an opportunity to have those “corridor” chats with familiar faces. The space is dedicated work space to those in enterprise tech (so many like-minds to geek out with) and provides plenty of community support in terms of talks, lunches and workshops so you do actually talk to the people sharing your space.

Figure out what you need in a space to have a good day.

  • Move around! Exercise helps with awareness and ideas. It’s something we pride ourselves on at Fuze, offering stretch sessions during the day and a company softball team in San Francisco. If I am not close to that, I need to set my own reminders. Recently I committed to 100 Days of Movement taking time each day to move. Being part of a group is the easiest way to stay accountable and inspired.
Make time for physical breaks to recharge your creative tank.
  • Tweak your frame of mind. Remote work can mean a lot of travel. Contrary to a free holiday, travel for work is not glamorous, can often be tedious and definitely can wear you down physically and mentally. The key is mindset. Are you going to have a productive day? Are you going to enjoy this plane ride? What do you need to feel amazing while on the road?
Change your perspective by asking yourself what you need and planning that (fun, exploration, nourishment, awe) into your day.

7. Do you think remote employees are more productive?

Having been a remote employee for the best part of four years I see no other way to harness my creative and productive powers anymore! The best part of remote life is a changing environment and that I think is the key to productivity. We are all sensitive to the things we surround ourselves with. Change it up. Experiment. Move around.

And make sure you stay connected to your people. Give Fuze a go! 

Follow Bryony on Twitter @bryonycole.

To learn more about how Fuze helps Remote Workers see the Fuze Use Case Catalog .

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