When the spread of Covid-19 introduced many folks to remote research, I quickly compiled and shared a few of the practices and tips that have worked for me as a remote researcher and research director.

I’ve given that thread of practices that work for me, my teams, and my orgs a proper home here.

  • For your team, establish a place for updates, collaboration, and gut-checks. This could be Slack, a group SMS, a running Google Doc, Miro, etc.
  • Also for your team, designate an accessible source of truth for the work and the responsible parties. This could be a spreadsheet, Jira, Trello, etc.
  • Remote doesn’t mean working in a vacuum. Keep your standups and 1-1s, but use a Hangout or a phone call to remain tethered.
  • Remain tethered to your org as well. Use the established communication channels of your org to share updates. If this is email for your org, spin up a research updates newsletter. If your org uses Slack, establish a dedicated research Slack channel.
  • No lie: running interviews and usability tests from afar takes extra energy. Participants need explicit directions on how to join using the tech platform you use. You’ll need to be overly emotive to build rapport from afar.
  • You’ll need to think about how you’ll manage releases, consent, and incentives with remote participants. This might require a conversation with your legal team about consent and releases, and your finance team about sending payments.
  • When you’re remote, it takes significant effort to include other teams in research sessions. Use those Slack channels or email newsletters. Put events on group calendars. Be like Kool-Aid man and bust into other teams’ channels to keep everyone connected.
  • Be just as intentional in communicating after every interview or test: share ad hoc updates however you can. Make sure everyone knows research is still happening, albeit differently than in the past.
  • Build new habits. Monthly virtual brown bags. Weekly research lunch-and-learns. Whatever it takes to foster connectedness, try it out. Not every remote research experiment will be a success, but you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.