How (NOT) to Collaborate Remotely
Even though I’ve been working remotely for over 5 years now, with covid-19 it became the norm for just about everyone.
That meant a lot of people had to rethink the way they collaborate, which tools to use and how to use them. And as you might’ve noticed, working remotely is not that easy.
I discovered that again myself today, which reminded me of an important lesson.
Remote Collaboration Using Fiverr 🐱💻
As you may know, I’m currently wrapping up an e-learning project for a big client.
I work with several other freelancers to complete this project and some of them I connected with on Fiverr.
What’s great about Fiverr is that it’s relatively easy to find collaboration partners. What’s not so great about Fiverr is that it’s mostly geared towards small projects that you could, theoretically, pay for with a $5 – a fiver.
In fact, Fiverr projects are usually so small that barely any communication is needed between the client and the creator. And the whole website was created around that basic idea.
That’s great and all… until the scope of your Fiverr project is well beyond something you’d pay a fiver for. In my case, the projects ranged from $1000 to $3000 per creator.
And honestly, the platform still does a great job in enabling these kinds of projects as well. Though, subconsciously, it’s easy to think you’re still just asking for something small
Like I did.
The First Value of the Agile Manifesto 📜
When I was consulting – my one year working for a boss – a lot of it was about helping teams and companies become more Agile.
Agile working is an umbrella term for many methods and frameworks of collaboration, such as kanban and Scrum. It also happens to be the subject for a lot of the courses I create, including the course I’m working on now – the project I went on Fiverr for.
The foundation for all Agile methods and frameworks is a manifesto that was created in 2001. It includes four main values that inspire people to collaborate better.
The first value reads as follows: “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools”.
This means that we value people and real interactions, over the use of processes and tools. For example, when you have the choice between explaining something over email versus a video call, the Agile Manifesto suggests to always go with the latter option.
Being able to use your voice, tone and even hand gestures is a much richer way of communicating than using only text. So the chance that your message is conveyed in the way you want it to is a lot higher when you live by the first value of the Agile Manifesto.
I mean, even using Zoom is a totally different way of communicating than meeting someone face-to-face. It is a tool after all.
I try to always live by this value of the Agile Manifesto. But as with most things that are worth doing in life, it’s a process of trial and error.
My Mistake and What I Learned 💪
I asked a guy called André Kamara, going by the username of andrecmoi on Fiverr, to provide a whole list of subtitles and translations in English, German and French.
These subtitles and translations are spread across 60 videos and a similar number of lessons with written content. In other words: the complexity of this project is quite high.
Still, we spoke via Fiverr’s chat option, agreed on the scope and price, and I thought that was it.
As André started to deliver and I started delivering feedback the complexity rose and at some point the project was getting delayed, because André was delivering different things than what I thought we agreed upon.
Now I want to be clear: this is not André’s mistake. It’s mine.
I simply did not consider the option that, even on Fiverr, I can simply propose to have a video call.
André and I corrected that mistake today though.
We spoke for over 1 hour. We discussed our previous assumptions. We aligned. We even connected beyond just our work. It was a great chat and I think André is a great guy who is incredibly professional at what he does.
Apparently he doesn’t just do great translations, but he also codes. He wrote a code just for my project, in order to convert a set of files into the right format. I even learned today that he completed Agile lessons (!) just so he’d know how to translate Agile-specific jargon into French. That’s the kind of collaboration partner you’d want right? Amazing 🙌
And even though it was a little late, I applied the first value of the Agile Manifesto today. I’m sure it will benefit the project – and the fun both André and I will have completing it – greatly.
This article serves as a reminder and commitment to myself that whomever I collaborate with in the future, I will have at least a video call with them before the project starts.
In other words: I will apply the first value of the Agile Manifesto.
For the ones above $100 at least – not a fiver.