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Dan Silcox
Dan Silcox

Posted on • Updated on

The joys and perils of working remotely

For the past two years or so, I have been a part of a team spread across three timezones, representing at least eight different cultures. In one sense this sounds like a disaster already! However, we have made it work remarkably well and I feel like it has been a great success - though not without its challenges.

In this post, I want to talk through some of the successes and struggles, reflecting on what went well and what could have been done better, in the hopes that others will be able to celebrate the joys with me and learn from the perils in order to avoid facing them first-hand. So, without further ado, here we go!

Joys

  • Despite the distance, we really do gel as a team and have a real laugh - I have definitely made some life-long friends through the experience
  • We work well together and are able to ship great software
  • We learn a lot from each other, in terms of technology and in terms of culture, personality, etc
  • Personally, I am often way more productive from home - without the distractions of an open plan office
  • No commuting!

Perils

  • Communication is just never as good when it's not face to face - instant chat and even video calling are great tools, but are only ever going to be "next-best-things" to good old fashioned talking to each other face to face
  • Colleagues being "away" on chat when you are desperate for help is really frustrating!
  • Feeling disconnected from the office goings-on, whether it’s work things or the β€˜watercooler’ chat!
  • Not being able to get hold of anyone - for example if they’re all in a location-based meeting and unavailable on chat...
  • Things like VPN issues can be absolutely disastrous for productivity, especially when paired with the point above about not being able to get hold of people!

I totally understand and agree with the productivity gurus saying you should turn off all notifications and "make your apps work for you" rather than the other way around. The downside is that it can, for your remote colleagues, make it very difficult to contact you and can actually leave them feeling disconnected and under appreciated.

Overall, I would still say that remote working does work, but you and your team have to all want it to work and commit to being available, building rapport beyond boring work interactions, and ultimately treating each other as humans and as equals.

There are loads of other pros and cons that I can’t think of right now - why not suggest your own in the comments if you have similar experiences!

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Timeless DEV post...

Git Concepts I Wish I Knew Years Ago

The most used technology by developers is not Javascript.

It's not Python or HTML.

It hardly even gets mentioned in interviews or listed as a pre-requisite for jobs.

I'm talking about Git and version control of course.

One does not simply learn git