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Appsmith's Remote Working Guide

mohanarpit profile image Arpit Mohan Originally published at appsmith.com ・3 min read

We are living through an extraordinary time. People around the world are working hard to limit the spread of COVID-19 by completely stopping travel, mass gatherings, and events. At Appsmith, we will do our bit and will be going remote for the next 2 weeks (maybe more). This document aims to address how we will work well together.

Office Timings

We still maintain the expectation that folks are online and available from 11 AM to 7 PM. It's important for all of us to stick to these timings to ensure that we solve blockers early. The option of working on your own schedule exists but at the beginning, we'd like to ensure that folks are available together for as long as possible.

Communication

Since a lot of human communication is non-verbal in nature, when everyone is remote, err on the side of over-communication. Try to use higher bandwidth communication channels such as Video Calls or Audio Calls. Most issues can be resolved by getting on a call for 5 mins v/s chatting for 15 mins. Iron out any confusions or issues early in their lifecycle rather than assuming the other party has understood.

This point cannot be stressed enough: Communicate

Daily Video Standups

Humans are social beings. We crave social & visual contact. Working remotely means that often, folks who don't work closely on a daily basis may not see each other's faces. Hence, we will conduct our stand-ups over video. This ensures that at the very least, we will all see each other's face once a day.
We may also conduct video calls over lunch, where we get to interact with each other as if we were eating together in office.

Daily Stand-ups get a video upgrade! Don't forget to look pretty in the morning 😆

Bi-Weekly Check-ins

We will be checking-in with everyone more often than usual to ensure that we are on the same page. This means you will be having a conversation with at least one of the founders on a bi-weekly basis. As founders, we will try to keep up the pace to ensure everyone is healthy and happy.

Tips:

For some of us, this may be the first time we may be working from home for an extended period of time. Here are some tips that I've found useful in the past:

  1. Create a dedicated space in your home where you will work. Don't work from your bedroom!
  2. Keep your morning schedule unchanged. Shower, change and go to your dedicated space when you want to work. This will ensure that you get your mental space into "work mode".
  3. Wear work clothes when you are working. It tricks your mind into thinking it's at the office.
  4. It may be hard to judge when to stop working. Set a personal target for yourself and start & end work at those times. Don't work outside those hours that you've set for yourself. This is important to maintain mental health.
  5. Try moving around often. Working from home means that your body may not get as much movement as it does on a normal day. Be mindful of this as it affects your sleep cycle.
As always, if you wish to speak your mind on any topic, 
your team is always available by your side. 

Leverage them to get your daily dose on social interaction.

Folks, who've been working remotely longer, please share your experiences. What can we as a team do to succeed? Any avoidable mistakes that teams make when they go remote?

Originally published on: Appsmith's Remote Working Guide

Posted on by:

mohanarpit profile

Arpit Mohan

@mohanarpit

Co-founder & CTO, Appsmith. ❤️ Distributed Systems. 3X Founder - backed by YC, Sequoia Capital & Accel Partners. Strongly believe in the philosophy “Always be building"

Discussion

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Couple things:

  1. As a 100% remote worker for the last 5 years or so, I've found that chatting over Slack, IRC or similar is typically more effective than audio or video. Well, with one caveat: It must be searchable. As soon as an audio or video call has completed, it's lost. A searchable chat log isn't and can be referenced as needed. Of course, there are times when a video or audio chat are definitely preferred. In those occasions, the outcome of the meeting should be shared with the team over messaging.

  2. Have discussions in the open. Don't make assumptions about who should be involved in a particular discussion. This behavior emulates turning around in one's chair to chat about something with a peer with others in the room who can freely join in. Threaded discussions in Slack are a great way to do this without polluting the channel with cross-talk.

I've also asked this elsewhere, but I'm curious if others have found a good replacement for white boarding discussions. These are invaluable, especially when talking about system architecture. The best I've found so far is Wacom tablets with collaborative Google Draw. Unfortunately it kinda falls apart when you start writing text.

 

Thanks for your response Demian. I agree with written discussions being held in the public sphere. Helps the entire team consume the information at their own pace. I'll definitely add it to our internal guidelines. :)

 

Great points Demian! Have you found Slack to get overwhelming if all conversations occur in public?
Haven't really found a replacement for whiteboards for sure. I had worked on a HW project to make a remote whiteboard, would have been pretty useful now. Video if you are interested: youtube.com/watch?v=uxmVtfF6pIo

 

Nope, not overwhelming at all, so long as the discussions are kept threaded. Topical channels help as well.

 

Keep things well-documented. In case someone isn't available, it's important to have knowledge accessible to anyone.

 

Thanks for the tip around documentation! We are racing against time to document stuff around our process & code before more people join our team in the next couple of weeks. :)

Any documentation tools that you would recommend? Maybe something that you found particularly useful or easy to use?

 

I've used Confluence and Notion in different companies.
For Notion, it was very easy to edit things accidentally.
For Confluence, I can't judge it too much since the company that I worked for used a very old version of it. I did like the ability to create a personal space to jot down technical notes that I needed to record that weren't necessarily meant for anyone else.