Remote Behaviours

Before the UK was overtaken by Covid-19, I wrote an article called Stop Calling them Soft Skills. It’s something I’ve always been passionate about and it once again came to the forefront of my mind this weekend when it dawned on me the immense pressure that we’re all in right now as we adjust to life under lockdown.

First up, wherever you’re at right now, you are awesome. You should know that. Irrespective of whether you’re working from home with kids on your lap watching Frozen II on loop, putting in long, emotional hours in our hospitals, delivering meals for the elderly and vulnerable, or indeed working in any of the front-line positions, there are so many. You’re saving lives and I am incredibly grateful to you all.

Many of us are now working remotely and that brings its own challenges. It occurred to me that the behaviours I associate with the phrase soft skills might be even more crucial when we’re working remotely.

Genuinely I wish my makeshift desk looked this good!

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

The original definition of these behaviours was:

…a combination of people skills, social skills, communication skills, character or personality traits, attitudes, career attributes, social intelligence and emotional intelligence quotients, among others, that enable people to navigate their environment, work well with others, perform well, and achieve their goals with complementing hard skills.

So how does working remotely impact these behaviours? And how can we help people working remotely to navigate in their environment, work well with others, perform well and achieve their goals?

Remote Working and Behaviours

It would be very easy to list the things we might find hard when interacting with our colleagues remotely, especially for those of us that are not accustomed to it. It could be summarised as:

  • Harder to read people’s body language and social interactions

  • Harder to manage the flow of communication between multiple people

But this is bigger than that, we have to factor in that for all us existing and new remote workers, we are all under an immense cognitive load in addition to the obvious challenges. Many of us:

  • Have kids at home (and school is most definitely out for summer)

  • Have never done this before

  • Have vulnerable people in their house that now need additional support

  • Have vulnerable people they can’t see, but worry about

  • Are vulnerable themselves

So what can we do?

We don’t need to modify our behaviours, not really. We don’t need to get hung up on the challenges of remote communication, that’s a given.

We just have to amplify our behaviours. We have to shout them (metaphorically perhaps) from our rooftops/balconies (Europe I’m looking at you ❤) or our windows for those of us in the UK.

Most importantly we need to act those amplified behaviours out in front of our laptops.

My top behaviours to amplify are:

  • Be empathetic

  • Act with kindness

  • Show compassion

  • Respect everyone (and their families)

  • Have patience

Looking after yourself

  • Make time for yourself. I appreciate this is much easier said than done, but if it’s at all possible, take whatever time you can for you 📚

  • Ask for help; don’t suffer alone. We’re all in this together and if you need help then so does someone else 💛

  • Be you. Be real. I ditched the make-up on day #3. 😏

  • Respect your time. Just because your laptop is on the dining room table does not mean you need to look at it on a Saturday night. Don’t burn out 🕯

  • Be honest with the people around you. Whether they are your family, friends, or brand new housemates. Ask for support from those physically located with you or those you can phone ☎️

Looking after others

  • Video-call your colleagues without a work agenda and ask how they are, listen to them 🎥

  • If you have the capacity to do something to help someone else and improve their day, do it 💗

  • Give a wave to the little kid sitting on the parent’s lap on your video call, it will make their day. Respect their family, they’re not enjoying this either 👶🏻

  • Make allowances for everyone. We’re all finding our way and we’ll all make mistakes on the way as we change and grow 🌱

  • Forgive your colleagues when they drop more balls than usual. We’re not all as good as juggling as we might think right now️ 🎾

And in case you forgot this already, you are awesome!

Tips for Writing App Release Notes

The iOS, and I assume Android, platform provides us with a few precious characters for each release. There’s no guarantee a user will read them, but, if they do, you had better make sure that you’ve treated that space with the utmost of love and attention and filled it with amazing words for your users!

Will anyone read them?

Like this page, maybe, maybe not, but the better question is:

How will I show the user that I genuinely care about their experiences and goals when using my app?

So what do I write?

This is a good time to think about what action you want to invite the user to take in this revision of the app. Think about their experience. What action are you enabling them to do? How does the new functionality further your users’ goals?

Can I use humour?

It often depends on your voice and tone guide (if you have one), but irrespective of that, there are still some guidelines you can use.

  • Don’t belittle the user, ever

  • Don’t downplay a bug fix with humour, especially one that has caused a lot of challenges

  • Be careful of localisation, humour rarely translates well

  • What sounds funny in your head might not be funny on paper

  • Stay away from stereotypes, they never end well

How much detail should I go into?

I think some writers struggle with this because we all love words. However, by prioritising and layering the information you can give your app shiny release notes that your users will get value from (which will give you a warm fuzzy feeling too).

You get a couple of lines to tell your user why they should click more, make it count!

The Important Stuff

  • This is the bit of text the user can see without scrolling irrespective of the responsive display.

  • This should be the information that is most important to your users.

  • Don’t put placeholder or arguably pointless text here like
    “Thanks for using the app!
    We’re always looking for ways to make things better
    “ We release every two weeks!
    Thank you for your helpful feedback
    Bug fixes” (we know you fix bugs)
    That’s precious space you’re filling with words that have no value to the user or your app!

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What is the one thing your users will care most about in this release? 
  • What action do you want to invite them to take? 


Wahoo Fitness does this really well. Right at the top, they list chunky new functionality (who doesn’t love an integration?) and there’s more!

tips app release notes wahoo more.png

‘More’ Additional Detail

This is still contained within the app release notes but can only be seen by scrolling or clicking ‘more’.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • How does the new functionality help them achieve their goals?

  • What have you done to smooth the experience of the app?

  • What did you fix for them, specifically?

Staying with Wahoo Fitness, clicking ‘more’ tells you what’s been updated and improved. The information is likely prioritised according to the user’s needs and provided in a succinct and clean way.

tips app release notes telegram.png

‘More’ Additional Detail Continued

Another app that does this very well is Telegram Messenger. It is nicely formatted and spaced. In addition, it has been written with user goals in mind.

tips app release notes trello.png

‘More’ Additional Detail Continued

And lastly, I want to give a shout at to Trello because I think someone who really cares about the users wrote the release notes (as you might expect from an Atlassian company!):

tips app release notes pluralsight.png

Everything Else

This is right at the bottom of the text and is usually 1–2 lines that can signpost the user in case they have another query.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Is there any other relevant release information such as compatibility?

  • How can the user get help, support or contact information?

One company that I think nailed it is Pluralsight. They’ve given the most important stuff first and followed it with what they’ve improved. They’ve given details about the bugs and signposted the user to an email address if required. Nice work!


  • Write with the user goals in mind, always ⚽

  • Give the user the right level of detail in the right place at the right time ✍️

  • You have limited space, make every character count (check out your voice and tone guide) 🔡

  • Consider signposting the user at the end of your app release notes ➡️

  • I personally think we can do away with stating things like “bug fixes” unless you’re going to give details on which bugs. All software companies fix bugs 🐛