Due to Covid-19 outbreak, “remote work has been almost a new buzzword, and a lot of people are talking about it.
Companies from around the world are applying new policies about remote work for their employees, and great part of the people who can work from home are doing so.
Meetings, video conferences, overcommunication… A lot of stuff changed on how we work today, and on how we interact with our teammates. Also, the trust given from managers to employees is reaching new levels. But, it’s no news to those people who works with technology and development - remote work is on our sights quite for a while.
Since I’ve started working as a developer I hear about remote work, and how it’s nice - you can save more money because you don’t have to take the bus or the car to go to your job, you can save time because you’re not going to be stuck 2 hours in the traffic… The gains are many, countless - you can spend more time at home, with your family, you can eat better and healthier; but there are also negative points we all should keep in mind too.
I’m working full-time from home since March 2020, when Covid-19 reached southern Brazil and the government declared the quarantine period. Almost 2 months later, I noticed that I’m working better, but also working more. And this is one of the points I’m going to talk.
Since I’m working from home, my morning routine is to wake up and take a large cup of coffee - then, I start to work. From monday to friday, I start to work about 9am until the noon. I stop for about 1h to lunch and read the news, then I go back to work. From 1pm until 6, 7 and sometimes 8pm.
My working day has 8 hours, plus 1h lunch stop. I can also take intervals during the afternoon, to take more coffee or to stretch my legs. But I easily spend more than the 8 hours working. This can be bad, and with this bad example I can give you a precious tip: establish a schedule.
Of course there will be some days you’ll need to work more, to deliver the task or to help a colleague. But, try to follow a schedule to avoid overwork. It’s important to create intervals during your work to get your body moving - avoid simply sitting all day in front of your computer. Your eyes won’t take it for too long.
Another great tip I can give you is to create an environment without distractions. It’s a new trend on LinkedIn and Twitter to take a photo of your setup, or your “remote working place”, and you can see a lot of those places are full of distractions - TVs, video games, guitars (developers also loves music)…
It’s cool to have a nice work place, but better is to have a functional work place, distraction-free and with a huge amount of natural light - people don’t give the correct value for natural light! It’ll help you on meetings - a distraction-free, calm environment is better than a noisy one.
Your work place must be treated carefully. People quite often see it as cost, not as investment - by having a nice and comfortably chair, a desk with a great amount of space… If you have the opportunity to create a nice work place, do it without regrets!
Also, a great tip I can give you is to keep track on what you’re doing, and how much time you’re taking to finish the tasks. Some companies already do it, by taking metrics of their developers’ lead time, cycle time and throughput - those metrics can say a lot about a team, but not exactly about an individual.
By using a time tracking app you can see how is your productivity going - and you can also see how the environment around is affecting (positively or negatively) you.
Besides those tips, I want to ask you something: “do you have a remote mindset?”
With remote mindset I want to mean if you can really work at anywhere, anytime. The concept of remote work is to work wherever you are - at home, in a café… And, not only “work”, but “work effectively”. A remote mindset requires a lot of accountability, specially with your time (that’s why I gave the tip of using a time tracker app).
Another important thing a remote mindset will require you is about communication. If you don’t communicate right with people, they won’t understand what you’re doing or why you need to spend 2 or 3 days in a specific task.
Developing communication skills is like gold if you want/need to work from home without people doubting your capacity. Over communication can be a nice approach - talking when you’re free or busy, when you go for lunch, when you came back from your interval… Also, always assume that nothing is obvious.
Something can only be obvious if we have the right information about a certain amount of other things - and people may haven’t the same information as us (and vice versa). When you assume that nothing is obvious, you will have to explain the hows and the whys to other people, and it’ll also help you to develop your communication skills.
A remote mindset will also require you to use the correct tools, and also the ability to adapt yourself depending on your team and colleagues.
Some people like Slack - others like MS Teams, or Twist; some teams use Trello - others uses Asana, or Monday.
When the focus is on people and getting the work done, the tools won’t matter. But you need to have it in your mind also.
You can find a lot of nice references when the subject is “remote work”. One of my favorites is remote.com. There you can find remote jobs, and also a lot of great content - their blog is full of nice content about the topic, and you can also find a list of nice tools to use!