Lessons Learned with Remote Work

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Remote work was kind of the default for me. I’m a Gypsy, always traveling, 6 months home in Brazil, 6 months in Europe / USA. Doing that for +10 years makes me feel remote native :-). Even in Brazil, I travel a lot to Santa Catarina and S ao Paulo states. I go to standard office 1–2 times per week maximum. So remote was a default for me a long time. Now we are facing dangerous and different times because of the COVID-19. So remote becomes the default for everybody. Remote work has several advantages like You dont loose commute time, I used to lose 2h per day in a traffic jam. Also, you can have your meals with your family and you can work with much more comfort and focus. IMHO I always worked much more from HOME rather in the office for basic 3 reasons. First of all, I felt much more obligated to produce more results since I was working from home. Second I have much fewer interruptions in HOME than in a formal office. Unfortunately, there are tons of people who do not know how to work remotely and are a huge source of interruption. Interruption I dont have at all working remote from home. Working remotely does not happen just in my home but also anywhere in the world. I always like the Digital Nomad philosophy of life. Thrid reason I have much more focus because I have more comfort, better internet, make my own time and in the end of the day, my customers are not in my city or state so I do not make any difference.

Invest in your Gear

It’s super important to have a good gear in-home or whatever you are. The second monitor is important, a good and comfortable chair, great mouse pad are a must-have. Will I’m traveling it’s very hard for me to have a second monitor but I always prioritize good internet. Having a high tech, the high performant notebook is a must to have. You need to have the best notebook you can get because you deserve it and is your main work tool. Another important gear is the headsets because you will need to listen to music on Spotify and do conference calls.

Sofa or Not Sofa? Some people do not recommend you work from Sofa. I like to change spots, I do 2–3 times per day. I often work from the table + sofa for meetings. You will find your optimal spot for sure but keep in mind it’s fine to switch places. I find the sofa sucks for coding but for meetings is the best place I go.

Collaboration tools

Working remote is all about collaboration tools like GitHub, Trello, Slack , Evernote, Pocket. For hanging out with friends and have fun there is this great and new tool called Kosmi. Kosmi allows you to play Super Nintendo, Nintendo 8bits, Pocker, Open Arena(Quake), See videos on YouTube with chat and video conference. Kosmi is a great way to decompress at the end of the day and has fun.

Slack is the main comunication tool for me. I love slack, it’s the mix with old IRC and new webchat. I use the electron based desktop app for slack and it’s super great. It’s also important to tune up your console, for this task I recommend you to read these posts 1, 2, 3 and 4.

There are tools you can use to help you to keep focus like GTD(Getting Things Done) and Pomodoro Technique. I have used these tools for a while, I end up developing my own discipline. So I dont need them anymore but it is not a shame to use these tools they can be super helpful.

Visibility and sharing

Visibility is important no matter if you are working remotely or in an office. I think you should avoid oversharing status but smart comunication is always a good idea like, I will be OFF for the next 1h hour or I’m taking a break for lunch good and useful comunication. It’s a nice practice to share what you have done by the end of the day as a final slack message.

I always believe sharing is caring. I have this blog for +14 years, I share links like crazy in all my slack channels. I believe information need to flow and people should get access to the good stuff. One awesome effect on working remotely is that you force yourself to read more. Reading books is the oldest trick in the book and still is something people dont do it enough. Working remotely is an opportunity not only to get more things done but also to make time to do exercises and read books. Visibility works together with double-check, it’s super important to make sure people clarify assumptions and are at the top of what they are doing. Since you are working remote your communication shifts from speak to TEXT is easy to make things getaway so even remote this is not an excuse.

Advice: How to Stop

That’s the hard part. It’s easy for us to be WIRED. Loose track of the time and end up working much more remote than in the office. There are multiple ways you can deal with that. One is to set up timers. I book on my agenda time to stop often called HARD STOP. I create a mindset to always stop before the HARD STOP period finished. We are mindset animals and we need to create a mindset to stop, otherwise, we will work too much and end up not doing fair work-life balance.

Stop working is important but a full digital stop is even more important. I book 2 times per week to learn and study during the week. Sometimes I get 1 extra period on the weekend. I use this time to learn books, make videos, see videos, do blog posts, code. But It’s important to LIMIT that otherwise easily you could be just another workaholic.

Working remotely is not for everybody. That’s fine. Now we are leaving different times because of the COVID-19. So everybody needs to adapt and learn. Right now it is important for everybody to be safe and stay at home.

Cheers,
Diego Pacheco

Originally published at http://diego-pacheco.blogspot.com on March 18, 2020.

Brazilian, Software Architect, SWE(Java, Scala, Rust, Go) SOA & DevOps expert, Author. Working with EKS/K8S. diegopacheco.github.io (Opinions on my own)

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