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6 Ways You're Driving Your Remote Coworkers Crazy…

And 7 Things They Don't Actually Care About At All

I've been working fully remotely for a little over four years now at two very different companies, both with very strong remote cultures. As a Community Manager, I interact with a plethora of remote employees on a day-to-day basis, many of whom come to me with their frustrations about their coworkers, or just remote work in general.


Hearing their frustrations, I've discovered that I agree with absolutely everything that they've said… the funny thing is, when I first started working remotely, these weren't the kinds of things that I was worried about.

Back then, I was always concerned with how I looked on camera, and whether my home-office looked more like a home or an office. I've come to realize that people couldn't care less about these things, but there are other remote-work faux pas that legitimately drive people crazy.

So for those of you new to remote work or hoping to make the switch soon (or for any remote work veterans who just want their frustrations validated), here's a short list of the quickest ways to tick off your remote coworkers, and all the things you're worrying about in vain (because no one actually cares)!

​You're driving people crazy when…

  1. You're the only one not muted on a call. Especially when the speaker has asked everyone to mute multiple times. Be courteous - if you're not the one talking stay muted!
  2. You're always having technical difficulties. If we can't hear you 4 out of 5 calls a week because your headset is broken, it's probably time to get a new headset.
  3. You're late! Just because it's online doesn't mean the meeting is less important.
  4. You blow off meetings. Worse than being late is not showing up at all. If you knew someone was waiting for you in person, would you cancel a meeting 2 minutes beforehand? Probably not. (That said, canceling before the meeting is always preferable to just not showing up.) People need to plan their days - be respectful of their time.
  5. You're not considerate of others' timezones. If you're working for a fully remote company, odds are you'll be working with people in different timezones. Don't ping them with an urgent request at 3AM their time just because it's 3PM where you are. Send the message, but let them know the response can wait. (Pro Tip: You can click someone's Slack profile to check what timezone they're in!)
  6. You don't check your colleagues' calendars before scheduling meetings. Especially when working remotely, Google calendars are the equivalent of gold. There's nothing more annoying than an email thread of three people going back and forth saying "this time doesn't work for me, I have a meeting" - it's all right there!

No one cares when…

  1. You're wearing PJ's. Unless you're wearing full-on footed pajamas with little unicorns, I can guarantee we all just think you're in a nice silk shirt (maybe...)
  2. Your child or pet hops on camera. Babies and pets are the way to everyone's heart and spice up any boring conference call!
  3. You're not wearing makeup. Again, we probably have no idea. The screen is so tiny that it's all blurry anyway.
  4. Your background isn't the perfect office scene. It's called working from home for a reason! No one expects your "office space" to be perfect, plus it gives people a sense of who you are (ie. a knitter who needs another yarn cabinet).
  5. You're eating your breakfast or lunch. Just don't chew loudly into the microphone (again, mute is your best friend!)
  6. You shower at midday or do your laundry. These are the perks that make remote work so great! As long as you don't disappear for the whole day or miss meetings (see above), and you're getting your work done, no one minds how you structure your day!
  7. You silence your notifications. If you're a writer or on sales calls all day, the last thing you need is the sound of an active Slack group pinging in your ear. Just because you're remote, doesn't mean you have to be available all the time! We get it - you have work to do!

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So, fellow remote workers, what did we miss? Tweet your remote-work pet peeves to @powertofly.

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Why Female Presidential Candidates Are Still Told to Be Chill, Not Shrill

The Dated, Everyday Tech Stifling Women's Voices Shows the Importance of Diversity in Tech

"You're not like other girls. You're so...chill."

I've gotten that "compliment" from multiple guys in multiple contexts — and I'm ashamed to admit that until a few years ago, I took it as one.

Occasionally I'd wonder why. After all, anyone who knows me well knows I am the Anti-Chill: a tightly wound stress ball, ready to explode into tears at any given moment.

So what was giving these guys the wrong impression? As it turns out, it was my voice. My cool, unnaturally-deep-for-a-woman, never-shrill voice.

And if I'm honest, I always prided myself on not sounding 'like other girls.' No uptalk or high-pitched squeals of glee from me. I thought I sounded smarter and more serious. Talk about internalized misogyny.

This isn't just me though. There is a societal double bind that forces women to spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about the right pitch and tone for each situation.

Just consider the advice that Democratic-debate coach Christine Jahnke gave female candidates to avoid being labeled as shrill: "… go slow and low. Very purposefully slow your pace and lower the tone a bit, because that will add meaning or gravitas to whatever it is you're talking about."

In a nutshell: try and sound chill, not shrill.

What I didn't know, until recently, is how this bias against women's natural voices is being reinforced and amplified by century-old technology. (Just one of many examples of how technology designed by and for men ends up hurting women in the long-run.)

Author Tina Tallon explains this little-known fact in her recent New Yorker article, summarized below:

How 20th Century Tech Is Holding 21st Century Women Back

With the rise of commercial broadcast radio in the 1920s, women's voices began getting critiqued. As Tallon explains, station directors asserted that "women sounded 'shrill,' 'nasal,' and 'distorted.'" So when industry standards were set, directors didn't take women's voices into account.

When Congress limited the bandwidth available to each radio station in 1927, station directors set a bandwidth that would provide the minimum amount of information necessary to understand "human" speech.

They used lower voices as their benchmark, so the higher frequency components of women's speech necessary to understand certain consonants were cut, making women's voices less intelligible.

  • Researcher J.C. Steinberg asserted that, "nature has so designed woman's speech that it is always most effective when it is of soft and well-modulated tone." He explained that if a woman raised her voice on air, it would exceed the limitations of the equipment. As Tallon says, "He viewed this as a personal and biological failing on women's part, not a technical one on his."

Why You Should Care

Women have always been told to lower their voices, but this 20th century approach to sound frequencies is still accepted as the standard, literally forcing women to lower their voices if they want to be heard.

  • To this day, many algorithms and speakers distort women's speech by limiting higher frequencies, causing women's voices to lose definition and clarity.

Tallon sums it up well:

"Consequently, women are still receiving the same advice that they were given in the nineteen-twenties: lower the pitch of your voice, and don't show too much emotion. By following that advice, women expose themselves to another set of criticisms, which also have a long history: they lack personality, or they sound 'forced' and 'unnatural.'"


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So as we continue to grapple with implicit biases against women, from what it means to be "presidential" to who's considered an "innovative leader," let's remember the importance of diversity in tech.

Had a woman been involved in researching/setting the standards for radio frequencies, she might've been able to steer the industry towards a voiceband that would allow men and women to be heard equally well. And perhaps had a more impartial voiceband been established, I'd have heard a more diverse range of female speakers growing up, and internalized fewer biases myself.

That's why we care so much at PowerToFly about making sure cutting-edge companies have diverse teams.

Times were different then, sure, but the fact that Depression Era standards are still impacting how we hear (or don't hear) women's voices is a vital reminder that what we do today impacts our world for centuries to come.

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