December 8, 2020 Smashing Newsletter: Issue #278
This newsletter issue was sent out to 182,520 subscribers on Tuesday, December 8, 2020.
This week, the newsletter is all about remote work. It’s a subject most of us (whether we wanted to or not) have found ourselves dealing with this year. The Smashing team have always been fully remote and spread across timezones, however, we have also missed out on seeing each other in person at our events or annual team meeting.
There are up and downsides to the sudden shift to working remotely. Perhaps some employers will have realized that remote is possible, which could make roles more accessible to people who want or need to work from home. Some of you may be wanting to make the change permanent, and others hoping for a return to the office during 2021. And, as Erica Joy Baker wisely pointed out back in March on Twitter, many of you won’t just have started working remotely; you were doing so at a very high-stress time alongside other responsibilities to cope with, too.
Let us know on Twitter if you’ve found any great tools or techniques to help with your existing or new remote work life — we’d love to share them with the Smashing community!
— Rachel (@rachelandrew)
- Making Remote Design Work
- Sounds And Music To Help You Focus
- Scheduling Meetings Made Easy
- Get The Most Out Of Your Data Connection
- Full-Screen Countdown Timer To Stay On Track
- Remove Background Noises From Your Calls
1. Making Remote Design Work
Design reviews, sprints, feedback — design is a collaborative effort that brings along quite some challenges when doing it remotely. The folks at InVision put together a collection of handy resources to help you and your team master these challenges.
The content covers three of the most trickiest aspects of working remotely: fostering creativity, aiding collaboration, and staying focused. For more best practices for running a remote design team, InVision also published a free eBook drawing from their own experience of working remotely with 700 employees spread across 30 countries and no single office. (cm)
2. Sounds And Music To Help You Focus
Are you the type of person who can’t focus when it’s quiet around them? Then one of the following tools might help you become more productive. If you’re missing the familiar office sounds when working from home, I Miss The Office brings some office atmosphere into your home office — with virtual colleagues who produce typical sounds like typing, squeaking chairs, or the occasional bubbling of the watercooler.
Office sounds have always distracted you more than helped you focus? Then Noizio could be for you. The app lets you mix nature and city sounds to create your personal ambient sound. Another approach to increasing focus with sound comes from Brain.fm. Their team of scientists, musicians, and developers designs functional music that affects the brain to achieve the desired mental state. Last but not least, Focus@Will is also based on neuroscience and helps increase focus by changing the characteristics of music at the right time intervals. Promising alternatives to your usual playlist. (cm)
3. Scheduling Meetings Made Easy
Scheduling meetings and team calls usually involves a lot of back-and-forth emails. And these do not only take up quite some time but they can also become confusing quite easily depending on how many people are involved. Calendly is here to change that.
The idea: You set up your availability preferences and share the link with your colleagues, clients, or whoever else you want to meet with. The invitees can then pick a time slot following the rules you created and the event will automatically be added to all of your calendars (Google, Outlook, Office 365, and iCloud calendars are supported). Seamless timezone detection ensures everyone’s on the same page. A real timesaver! (cm)
4. Get The Most Out Of Your Data Connection
With automatic updates, online backups, cloud syncs, and various apps running on your device, there’s a lot of data usage going on in the background. If you’re on a fast and unlimited connection, you might never notice, but if your connection at home isn’t as fast as in the office when working remotely, for example, or you’re traveling and are on a throttled data plan, it might be a good idea to keep track of your device’s data usage.
For Mac users, the TripMode app helps you control and optimize data usage. It measures all the traffic on your Mac and blocks apps by default if you don’t grant them access. To browse faster, improve the quality of your team calls, or to prevent distractions, you can set custom profiles for work, video calls, streaming, or whatever else you plan to do. Also great to identify suspicious data exchange with third parties. (cm)
5. Full-Screen Countdown Timer To Stay On Track
Sticking to the schedule can be tricky when you are running a long video call or are giving a talk or workshop. To help you make sure the session stays on track, Koos Looijesteijn built Big Timer.
The bold yet minimalist timer counts down the remaining minutes right in your browser window — and even if you accidentally close the browser tab or need to restart your device, it will take the disruption into account. Keyboard shortcuts make it easy to adjust the duration and pause or stop the countdown. One for the bookmarks. (cm)
6. Remove Background Noises From Your Calls
The dog barking, kids screaming, or a construction site right outside your window — there are a lot of noises that interrupt a call or meeting. Luckily, AI is here to help.
The AI-powered tool Krisp removes background noises from you to other call participants when you speak, and the other way around. Whether you want to have noise-free virtual meetings or plan to record a podcast even though your apartment is located on a busy street, Krisp works in over 800 conferencing, voice messaging, streaming, and recording apps. Audio processing happens locally, by the way, so no voice or audio will leave your device. (cm)
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With our front-end & UX workshops, you can learn at your own time, at your own pace. In interactive, live sessions, with access to all video recordings, slides and friendly Q&As.
Don’t miss the next ones on web form design, front-end adventures, HTML email, SVG animation and design systems. Meow and hopefully see you soon! ;-)
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