working remotely - how to make it work for you and your company
It’s been almost three months since I have moved to LA and started working remotely. Being the first remote software engineer for Jibe made both me and my company a little worried about how this would work out. I have not been fired yet; so, I guess that’s already good, right? In all seriousness, I was actually complimented on making it work so well during one of my recent unofficial reviews. My coworker is about to start working remotely as well and he asked me for tips and tricks. While I do not claim any expertise in the field of remote work, I picked up a few good habits. So, here they are…
This is extremely important because it will either help you succeed or will get you fired. I do not ask you to go into the deep, dark passages of your subconscious (though self-analysis is a good thing), I ask you to look at yourself from distance and observe your behavior. For example, do you spend most of your free time with friends, family, acquaintances, lover, i.e. human beings Or do you relish those few free moments in solitude like going alone on bike rides, hikes or just reading a book or watching a show at home. Now remember your answers to these questions and let’s move to the next step.
Find the work environment that works for you
If you answered yes to the first part of the question in the previous step, then do not attempt to work from home alone. That path is Not for you, at least not for extended periods of time. Instead, find a coworking space, those pop up in every city like mushrooms after the rain (if you don’t get the reference, do not worry, I am Russian and I tend to do literal translations). If, however, you answered yes to the second part of the question, then by all means, your home will be the perfect place for you. Still, be careful to not overdo it. We, humans, are social creatures even if we like to spend most of our time away from social interactions. Cabin fever is a real thing and you do not want to hate your home. So, I tend to work out of coffee shops a few times a week. It tricks me into thinking I am around people without directly interacting with them :D
Here is small chart I drew for you:
Create a routine
Yeah, none likes a routine, but sorry my friend, the routine will save you from procrastinating and not delivering your work on time. Self-discipline is crucial for working remotely because now that you do not have to be in the office under a watchful eye of your peers and supervisors, you might fall in a trap of slacking and if you continue down that road… you will get fired. So, here is my routine - I wake up around 7-7:30 am , workout until 8:30, take shower and make breakfast and around 9 am I am online, saying Good Morning to my coworkers. I check my WORK email while munching on my breakfast (do Not start your day by checking your personal emails) . My office is on the East Coast and I am in LA; so, I make sure I am online and accessible during their work hours so that we can do all necessary conference calls and hangouts. We do check-ins three times a week and on Fridays we do all dev hangouts (NYC and DC offices along with me), where we can brag about who built what and shout out kudos to our coworkers. By 3pm my time, 6pm EST, most of the calls will die out and now I can relocate to a coffee shop and finish work there, since I do not need to rely on a strong internet connection for the hangouts. This is my typical routine and it keeps me on schedule with my tasks without getting distracted.
Build strong communication
This is extremely important, no matter where you work, remotely or in the office. Most companies suffer from insufficient communication and lack of transparency and I believe it is a two-way street. So, now that you are remote, make sure you do everything in your power to communicate with your team regarding your work and your progress. For example, one of my clients is American Express, and it is a big client for us, that requires a lot of work. So, besides check-ins, I send out emails to my stakeholders, i.e. everyone who is involved with this project, with updates on major rollouts and features being built with timeline and blockers. This ensures that we all are still on the same page and there are no surprises in the end.
Maintain relationship with your team
I really love my team and even though I do not see their faces as often as I used to when working out of the office, I make sure to stay in touch. We do not need to be physically close to each other in order to maintain our relationships. At Jibe, we use both gchat and slack; so, depending on who prefers which method of communication, I reach out to people there just to share my weirdest dreams, things that I learn about LA and, well, also to give hard time to some of them in our group channels :D
Remote work can be either the best or the worst thing that ever happened to you, yeah little dramatic here. My point is, be smart about it, take time to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t.