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6 Proven Tips for Successful Remote Work

Working from home is the new reality for most people and many found themselves working from their living or dining rooms, kitchens, etc. It’s quite a sensitive environment where any noise can distract you and make you less efficient.

If you’ve never worked remotely before, you can check some global statistics about remote work that can give you further insight on all the benefits of working from home.

One of the biggest challenges of remote work is bridging the distance between team members.

During this outbreak, we all keep social distance and stay home so let’s share some short tips on how to leverage work from home to your advantage.

Basic preps

There are several basic elements you should consider when working remotely, but I’ve gathered them up under the ‘Preparation’ stage. 

The basis of any work process is a good organization – having all necessary tools, equipment and also habits to work effectively at home. 

Some short tips on basic preparation can be:

Have a designated space to do your work - if you don’t have a spare room, a small corner in the room will do - try to turn it into an office. Having your ‘work place’ matters greatly as you’d have space for your laptop or reports etc. and it will provide inner motivation as you’ll know it’s time to work when you go there. 
Source: appleinsider.com
Have designated work clothes - In his book, Remote: Office Not Required, Jason Fried says ‘Having designated ‘work from home’ clothes can get you into the right frame of mind’. That doesn’t mean that you need to dress up,  but simply: don’t wear the same T-shirt at work like the one you wear while relaxing at home.  
Prioritize and schedule your tasks -  give your day some structure and prioritize tasks for a day ahead but try to remain ‘agile’ if the situation requires. You can organize your work process per hour, per task or per urgency, however suit your work process better. You can also schedule your breaks as it can help you to maintain consistency in your work. 
Accept some distractions - many parents work from home with small kids or teens around the house and it’s proven difficult to provide yourself an ‘isolated spot in isolation’. Accept some distractions (kids, deliveries, doorbell, etc.) and try to keep other distractions to a minimum by reducing the ones you can control like loud TV or checking social media newsfeed (Facebook, Instagram etc.) as it can divert your focus.             
Leave those activities for short breaks in between tasks and indulge yourself into newsfeed once the task is completed. 
Source: mommymaestra.com

Connect with your team

When working remotely, a great deal of communication is via chats or messages – it can feel a bit unnatural since sometimes you cannot type properly all you need to say or you don’t want to hassle anyone. When working in an office, you tend to have live interaction that fortifies relationships and enables better project communication.

How to maintain such relationships while remote?

On a professional level, going the ‘extra mile’ for your colleague, like taking on an extra task that your colleague doesn’t have time to complete, is a vital element to keep a team working effectively. Everyone likes safe surroundings where members ‘have each other’s backs.’

Reach out as much as you can as it adds value to your working relationships – in a remote setting, your supervisor or your teammates cannot know if you’re having difficulties with something unless you tell them.

Connect with your colleagues not only for work but also for casual conversations, like for birthdays or on other important days to them. 

Source: instagram.com/zesiumapps

Teams that work on a specific project may organize quick daily or weekly meetings and discuss all important details as it’s better to understand when talking rather than typing. Seeing and talking to someone face to face, even if over a screen, still builds relationships in ways “text” conversation cannot.

Away messages are as important as other elements –  details about when you’re not around can also be helpful with open communication keeping all team members on the same page.

Although virtual, this kind of communication establishes trust across departments and creates a more accessible community culture. 
Source: engadget.com

Use Available Technology

Digital transformation led us to mobility along with the tools necessary to do the work properly. Today’s technology enables us to interact with each other without having to be physically present.

Everyone should use technology that enables us to work remotely and keep in touch with everyone – chat apps, video conference tools etc. and other communication tools

There are many types of tools today (time tracking tools, file sharing tools, collaboration tools etc.) to maintain constant communication and connection with your remote teams – review their roles and functions and check which one serves your needs the best.

Pay attention not to overwhelm people with many communication channels, yet only the ones necessary to function seamlessly. 

If you have a large company and large teams, the best solution is to divide the team into subsets or subgroups (for example, per specific project)  which will narrow down the number of communication channels and reduce the possibility of miscommunication. 

Dividing your team into subsets will ensure a constant flow in your communication. 
Source: belletimemagazine.ie

Play 

When you feel connected with your team, a state of ‘play’ comes naturally. Active engagement with your team members leads to creative challenges when approaching tasks and doing valuable work.

As per psychologists, this is a natural flow where a person is completely consumed into what they’re doing – that’s the ‘zone’ where we’re keenly focused on our activity at the moment. 

Informal (playful, fun) conversations are also important – off-topic jokes, chatter or banters should build up to work-related discussion.

Video chats and live meetings still remain crucial for divided team members to get to know each other – if you can see and talk to a person, you can build relationships that trigger those playful conversations. 

Casual communication and how we deal with each other is a huge part of building a sense of togetherness and company culture.
Source: laughterandhumor.blogspot.com

Manage Your Energy 

It’s much easier to manage your energy as opposed to managing time – time is often tricky, while managing your energy makes more sense as it’s something you can control.

Managing energy is simple – you should establish some simple rituals that give you energy: for example, you can take 10-minute walks in between tasks, dance along favourite music when possible or just get up and do some workout at short breaks. Although it may appear burdensome to get away from your computer at the ‘middle’ of something, the short break will boost your energy.  

Remember, the key is to stick to the routine for these short energy breaks in order to create effective results in your workstyle. 

Source: finerminds.com

Define Work Time

Clearly define your availability at work – when you’re working and when not and discuss it with your colleagues. If you work double hours, your team members need to know about it to be able to communicate with you more effectively.

Don’t work ‘all‘ day as it will drain your energy and affect your productivity. Once your work day has ended, close your laptop and put it out of sight.

Some companies have flexible work schedules and if so, it’s critical to determine your peak work period.
Are you a morning person? Or do you like the silence of the night more?

The answers can help you determine your peak work periods – prioritize important tasks for these periods and less important tasks for later in your work shift. 

If you know when you work the best, you’ll get the most out of your day. 
Source: majorgeeks.com

FINAL WORD

If you’ve found yourself working from home and struggling with an isolation period, remember to always reach out to others and try to maintain the communication via available tools like chats and video conferences. 

Being able to see and talk to your team members will keep your spirits up and boost your energy and work efficiency.

Staying connected during isolation will give us a sense of ‘working together’ no matter the physical distance between us.

How to Effectively Onboard Users to Your Mobile App?

When users download your mobile app, you have to make a good first impression. 

The initial interaction with your app should help users decide that your app is worth using  regularly. 

Introducing new users to your app through messages is called onboarding and it’s an essential part of your app’s success. 

There is no magic formula to ensure your app’s success but implementing some of the following best onboarding practices can help to successfully engage and retain users. 

The Best Practices for Mobile App Onboarding

Offer Value First

People who download your app do it for a reason and the onboarding process needs to show that you will meet their expectations. 

Don’t show off with your app’s best features – it’s more important to explain what users will get from using your app and to promote app’s value via a product tour or feature carousel or any other way. 

Users are more interested in what’s in it for them than how your app works – they are driven by their needs and your app should be the tool helping them to achieve their goals.

For example, mobile payment Venmo immediately shows its core value through a live feed of their transactions showcasing diverse use of the app as well as the popularity. 

Source: venmo.com

Stick to the key features that are necessary to help users experience the app’s value.

Ask for Essentials Only

When creating any process (signup/registration/payment/onboarding) make it as easy as possible and ask only for essential personal details and permissions. 

For example, if you have an event app, you should request a location access (with explanation that it’s needed to find nearby events) but you shouldn’t ask for access to their camera or contacts as it can cause counter effect eventually leading to users abandoning the app.

Make onboarding quick as the past Clutch study shows that 72% of users say that onboarding under a minute is important to decide whether to keep using the app.

Source: peoplestreme.com

Once the users complete brief onboarding, you can later display additional options like signing up for a reward process, promo coupons or other incentives. 

Keep it simple and don’t ask for more than you need.

Make it Compact and Simple

People get tired of pages and pages of instructions and it’s important not to overwhelm them with too many input fields at once. 

A good choice is to use illustrations and app screenshots to convey the important messages as it will avoid heavy text explanations that can discourage new users. 

Some complex apps requiring detailed instructions may use progressive onboarding method as it will break the process into a step-by-step guide that is less tedious.

Make sure the content is short and just tell users what they need to know in as few words as possible.

Source: OrangeMantra.com

Ensure Concise Signup

A complicated signup process can be a main cause of churn. 

Always keep in mind that people use your app on-the-go and no one wants to spend a long time completing input fields.

You can provide options to sign up via Facebook, Linkedin, Gmail etc. as it will save their time and energy and remove a great deal of friction points from the process. 

For example, WhatsApp automatically detects SMS to simplify phone verification so that users don’t have to leave the app for a code to enter. This makes the process super fast along with a great user experience.

Ensure that registration process is as easy as possible.

Source: whatsapp.com 

Always Request for Permission

One of the most crucial parts of the app is asking for permission – keep this in mind especially when you need to use users’ data.  

Among various reasons, 30% of apps are being abandoned due to security and privacy issues.  As per Clutch study, 82% of users say it’s important to know WHY an app is asking for information like certain permissions, payment info or personal details. 

If your app requires the functionality of the camera or microphone, you should ask for permission to use it.

This type of approach makes people comfortable and helps them to trust your app.  

Give your users an idea of exactly what they’re signing up and it can increase opt-in rates.

Source: https://developer.apple.com/

Promote your app’s content

Sometimes, the signup process itself can represent a barrier between the user and your app. 

You should let users jump into your app and experience it before asking them to sign up – it’s a good way to speed up the process of new users recognizing your app’s value.

For instance, if you have an e-commerce app, you should allow users to browse your product catalogue prior to creating an account. If a user tries to purchase a product, then you can ask them to make a new account. 

A good example is AirBnB – their users can browse available accommodation and dates but they are only asked to sign up once they’re ready to book a trip. 

If you let users see what your app offers beforehand, they will know how worthy your app is to them.

Source: AirBnB

Provide ‘SKIP’ option

Not everyone wants to be hassled through the onboarding process – some people may want to jump right into the app and explore it on their own, without waiting for an app tour to finish. 

A good idea is to provide your users an option to skip the process while you can monitor to see what performs better with your users. 

Today, many apps offer the ‘SKIP’ option which has been proven worthy – one example is a video streaming app Vevo which added the ‘SKIP’ option and reported increased logins by almost 10%

Source: vevo.com

Another example is Slack – as opposed to other apps which offer a ‘SKIP’ button at the beginning of the onboarding flow, Slack provided the option on each onboarding screen.

This way, users can leave the process as soon as they feel ready to use the app and it gives them a choice in case they get bored or frustrated – instead of leaving the app, they just exit the onboarding flow. 

Providing users with a choice to SKIP onboarding will fit their needs and make them stick around.

Source: slack.com

Motivate First Conversions

If you wish for people who download your app to keep using it, you should offer them certain incentives for completing onboarding tasks. 

The ways you can motivate your users will depend on the nature of your app – apps using in-app purchasing as monetization will benefit from time-limited discounts while freemium apps can motivate users by usage-based rewards.

Reward points, coupons, specialized content access, promo codes, free shipping and other offers will help you activate new users and encourage user engagement as well as help drive conversions.

A great example is Starbucks – their app prompts users to create an account where rewards play a major role in the app’s value proposition.

On the following screen, Starbucks even says ‘join rewards’ instead of ‘sign up’ making it clear to users that they can save money by joining their app. 

A small incentive from your side can be a great deal for your app’s success.

Source: starbucks.com

Use Cross-Channel Messaging

Your app should communicate with your users in a way of short tips and notifications to guide them through the process. 

Don’t display unexpected pop-ups or messages but rather communicate how much is left in the process and make users feel welcome and thank them for their time. 

Welcome emails, push notifications and in-app messages can work together to help users experience the app’s value and drive them to complete the onboarding process. 

You can combine text (e.g. to check out a new feature), emails and push notifications (e.g. to complete a registration process) to engage users and encourage them to open the app again and do specific tasks.

Source: starbucks.com

All your onboarding messages should be simple and direct with a visible CTA (call-to-action). 

Don’t spam users with numerous messages and don’t try to cover all features or benefits in a single email.

Measure results

In order to achieve an effective onboarding, you’ll have to monitor your metrics. 

Analytics is a powerful tool to understand users’ behaviour – you can use various tools for user segmentation which can help you to group users by specific actions and create custom messages for each group.

Monitoring usage and app analytics provide insight into which users experience problems and where. Tracking the pain spot for users can help you mitigate any potential friction points. 

There are various platforms to help you monitor app use and track its success. 

Source: kochava.com

FINAL

Finally, do not forget to test the entire process before offering it to your users. Onboarding experience is as valuable as the app’s experience so make sure that the process is easy and short. 

Good onboarding requires a proper blend of educating users on how to use your app and showcasing the value you offer.

The result is a worthwhile user engagement which will increase your app’s success.

The Importance of Onboarding Users to Your Mobile App

The first impression is everything

This is the motto you should be following if thinking about your mobile app. 

Sometimes, initial interaction with an app can be a bit confusing instead of an intuitive flow you wished for. 

That’s where app onboarding comes onto the stage – it’s one of the most crucial phases of a user’s journey ensuring a great first impression and an instant connection.

What is an app onboarding?

App onboarding is a set of screens leading users through your app’s benefits and features. 

Onboarding process is necessary because it shows users the app’s benefits, educates them about the functions and gathers profile information to deliver personalized content and notifications.

The entire process facilitates a positive user experience thus leading towards a higher user acquisition and increased retention.  

Why do you need onboarding for your app?

It can be complicated for new users to instantly know how to navigate your app especially if your interface is different from what they’ve used to. 

Statistics show that 21% of users will only use the app once – users lose interest if it takes too long to figure how the app works. 

Including an app onboarding can help ensure that first-time usage is as seamless as possible, reducing the percentage of users abandoning the app.  

Creating positive initial experience for users is essential for our app success as well as ensuring ongoing app usage. 

As per ‘Hubspot’ blog, retention can be divided into three phases: 

Short-term retention is the most important phase – the initial interaction with a user can either make a positive or a negative effect. This phase also affects the following two phases. 

Mid-term retention – the goal is to form new habits and create repetition in the routine. 

Long-term retention – it focuses on improving the existing product. 

As the research shows that the biggest decline in usage happens during the short-term retention, your goal should be ensuring that your app is used more than once during the first week of the phase. 

If you provide solid onboarding, you can activate the app’s early usage and gradually increase retention.  

Types of onboarding 

As there are many different types of apps and businesses today, there are also different methods of onboarding users. 

All onboarding methods have one thing in common: they encourage users to learn through navigating the app. 

The most common types of onboarding are:

Benefits-oriented onboarding 

The method displays the benefits and what your app does for your users rather than how to use the app. 

Benefit-oriented onboarding screens can also include permission requests that the users can opt-in for like accessing the location and sending push notifications. 

Some guidelines for a successful benefit-oriented onboarding are:

  • Set a limit to display 3 key benefits max
  • Each slide must contain only 1 benefit
  • Prioritize to show the main benefits only 
  • Consistent vocabulary 
  • Onboarding prior to any registration process
  • Keep it as brief as possible
Source: uplabs.com

Function-oriented onboarding

This method educates users how to use your app. The common example is a short tour through the app with instructions on how to get started and/or how to perform specific actions.

Guidelines that can help if you want to use this method:

  • No need to explain obvious functionality
  • Set a limit to 3 slides with 1 function per slide
  • Set a focus: helping a user to get started
Source: slideshare.net/MisaelLenOrteganear/soft-mobile-onboarding-workshop

Progressive onboarding

The method shows users new information as they progress through the app. 

The instructions displayed on the screen relate to the page the user is at – it resembles a live tour. For example, if users are on the registration screen, they will see only registration related information.

It’s a bit more practical as users learn as they navigate through the app instead of getting instructions upfront. 

Guidelines that can help if you decide for this method are:

  • Use it to show complex workflow
  • Use it for hidden functionalities
  • Ideal method for gesture-driven interactions
Source: smashingmagazine.com

Alternatives

The above described methods are the most common ones, but you can always combine and modify them to your advantage.

Alternative 1: Hybrid

Hybrid method is nothing more than blending one, two or all three methods together for the best service. Although it is not always possible, it can be proven useful sometimes as in the following example from the past by Flink:

Source: smashingmagazine.com

Alternative 2: Video

Some apps use videos to onboard their users and it got proven worthy of the risk. 

There are different types of videos for you to choose – some can be more practical in a form of tutorials while others can be advertisements in nature. 

Videos can be a great means of onboarding but you should be careful with videos on websites – no matter the quality, avoid playing them automatically as users can find it inappropriate thus causing a counter effect. 

Source: Pushwoosh.com

Alternative 3: Sample Data

Another onboarding method can be providing sample data for your users to experience. This is helpful with apps that handle delicate data like HR or finances. 

Sample data allows users to feel comfortable by trying out and making mistakes while learning how your app works. If you provide such an option, users will feel more ready for a real data input. 

Source: smashingmagazine.com

FINALE

We’ve presented some of the most common techniques for user onboarding, yet if you’re still unsure which one to use, test one or two methods and check what works and what doesn’t.

There is no uni-size solution that fits all, so use the data to make the most of your onboarding flow. 

There are many websites that provide a variety of onboarding patterns to get inspiration from such as: Pttrns, Mobile Patterns, UX Archive, Pinterest so try to check them out if you need some fresh ideas.