As a programmer, I really enjoy working remotely. In fact, over the past 2 years that I’ve been working at Hedera Hashgraph almost all of my time has been spent on the road or not in an office.
But like most new things, it often doesn’t come naturally and is a true skill that must be learned. Here are my top 10 suggestions for you to get the most of your remote work -
Set clear expectations - This is mostly advice for managers, particularly with those overseeing newly remote employees. But it's also relevant to individual contributors who still need to manage themselves. It’s drastically harder to keep up and understand what your ideal work pace should be when everyone is in different places and timezones. It’s quite demoralizing if you see folks working really hard on one team, then others on another not taking remote work seriously. Find a corporate balance & make expectations clear across the board. Remember, it takes a complete team effort.
Get used to wearing sweatpants - In the office, you need to keep up appearances. At home, it’s much easier to do so, and typically only the shoulders up on video cameras. You deserve to be comfy & should get used to working in your favorite clothes!
Plan meals in advance - It’s far too easy to miss a meal or avoid healthy habits. Planning meals, snacks, breaks, etc., in advance, will surely help establish healthier and more consistent routines.
Always use video on calls - There are a variety of reasons that folks prefer face to face conversations, particularly because conversations are largely non-verbal. By having visual cues, you can see how others are responding, those that might have questions, and other insights you wouldn’t have had.
Overuse emojis, gifs, or other “remote” gap tools - In the office, employees know you. They know your sense of humor, when you’re joking, or when you’re being serious. In-text, this is much more difficult, and a good reason why things like emojis exist. If you don’t use them, consider how to start easing into them. It will surely make your team feel more at ease 😅👍
Have a personal “comms” strategy - There are far too many tools for one person to pay attention to - Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Chat, Twitter, Telegram, Discord, and the list continues. Prioritize 1-2 of these, and communicate your plan for checking this application with the rest of your team. Personally, I try and respond to Slack as quickly as I can, Discord a few times a day, and email within 24 hours.
Use personal task management tools - Just because your manager or team uses a tool, perhaps Jira, to track their work, doesn’t mean that it is a full scope of your individual role. Keep track of emails, small tasks, and the nudges that you may need to make to get your job done. In the office, you might get reminded more frequently, but while remote, you’re on your own. I personally like using Notion, but there are a lot of new tools addressing this space.
Plan team “social gatherings” - I’ve been working at Hedera for almost 2 years, and haven’t met or even spoken directly with some of my teammates. That is an issue that HR & team leads should take initiative on. By coordinating “water cooler” gatherings or “happy hours” your team can better connect. It’s easy to forget all the natural interactions that occur in an office and beneficial to try to enable those digitally, too.
Leverage asynchronous communication - Before you hit send on that Slack message ask yourself, ‘does this need to be communicated right now?’. With a remote team, it’s increasingly more important to consider “How can I most effectively share this information with my team, who might be on the other side of the world?”. The answers are likely a lot different than what you would do in a centralized office. Try out video recordings, and sharing them over email to catch up with your teammates. Or a handoff document for those managing "shifts" across different time zones, rather than late-night calls!
Set a schedule & stick to it - Having a predefined time that is “work” and “home” is key to maintaining a semblance of a work-life balance. Otherwise, you’ll always feel guilty and like there’s more that you can do! Imagine what you’d do if you slept at the office? Remember to take 10-15 minute breaks every hour or so. Maybe every time your laptop dies, that’s a good sign it’s time for a break!
Do you have any suggestions? Please send me your tips 👋