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Tobias Haindl
Tobias Haindl

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Effective Remote Work

In the last years remote work became necessary for many of us.
I do not think I need to tell you about the reason behind that.

Since the first lockdown in Austria about two years ago, I was working remotely most of the time.

Therefore, I spend some time thinking and reading about remote work.
One of my favorite books about it is Effective Remote Work by James Stanier.
In this post I want to share my personal key takeaways from it with you.


During a “normal” work schedule which includes a commute to the office, the work day has naturally checkpoints built into it.

You leave the house at a certain time, you might take the train to another city or into the city center. After your commute is finished, and you arrived at the office your brain switches into work mode automatically.

At midday, you promised Alice to grab some lunch at 12.
Another checkpoint helping your brain switch into a more relaxed state, and it is way easier to unglue your eyes from the screen if you made an arrangement already.

At the end of the day you physically leave the office.
Work related thoughts can be left behind as well and your brain can switch into leisure mode easily.

Those checkpoints are essential for your mental health and your energy levels.
They help your brain transition between different states and help with unplugging from a potential stressful day.

Working remotely means that you are inviting all of the negative parts of work into your home.

P.28 Effective Remote Work, James Stanier

Sometimes work causes frustration and like James Stanier put it in the quote you are inviting all of the negative parts of work into your home.

Therefore, it might help to install a shutdown routine as the last checkpoint of your work day.

This routine can be manifold.
You might want to go for a short walk around your neighborhood after closing your laptop.
Or you can try Cal Newport’s shutdown ritual which even includes a cool-sounding shutdown phrase.

Whatever action you prefer, I think it is essential to show our mind that work is over now and leisure mode can be activated by performing a similar routine at the end of each work day.

Artifacts - the backbone of remote working

Artifacts are the backbone of remote working. Creating effective ones is an art, just like programming.

P.101 Effective Remote Work, James Stanier

James Stanier points out that written word is the optimal medium when it comes to information consumption.
Several types of Written Artifacts are helpful in a remote work setting:

  • Design documents
  • Meeting minutes
  • Newsletters
  • Wikis

I really like the idea of using an internal newsletter (e.g. team or product related) to provide information to interested people.
It is an easy way of sharing the work your team has already finished or is planning to do soon.

Another category of artifacts we encounter in our daily jobs are Codebase Artifacts like Commit messages, Pull Requests and Architecture Design Records.

Architecture Design Records (ADR) are documents describing a design choice. These documents should help with capture the reasoning behind a design decision. They should be checked in into your version control system, so they are easily accessible for any developer.

To me ADRs look very helpful - unfortunately I have not encountered any in my work projects yet.

Measure twice, cut once

We can apply this old proverb originating from carpentry and similar traditional crafts to our daily communication.
When working with an expensive piece of wood, you want to make sure all your measurements are correct before cutting through it.
Therefore, you should measure twice, cut once.

Especially in asynchronous communication time is *not * critical.
We can invest a few extra minutes to check if the chat message is easily comprehensible or not.
Before sending, take another look.

Read over it.

Check if the written words are well-structured and convey the intended message properly.

The sender should optimize and make sure that the receiver can easily understand the message!

Wrap up

  • Built **checkpoints **into your remote work day, to help your brain transition from leisure mode into work mode and vice versa.
  • Master the production of different kind of artifacts.
  • Do not forget to measure twice, cut once when communicating with your peers! Review your written messages like you review code from others :)

That's all from me for now, thanks for reading!
For more content on software development feel free to follow me.

Photo by Avi Richards on Unsplash

Top comments (5)

tqbit profile image

The sender should optimize and make sure that the receiver can easily understand the message!

This. You can even go a good step further and apply this statement to other written artifacts:

  • Docs
  • Specifications
  • Code(?)
tobhai profile image
Tobias Haindl

Did you try out the Pomodoro technique?
I find it quite useful too.

svgatorapp profile image

Implementing WFH checkpoints is amazing advice! Thank you for sharing <3

tobhai profile image
Tobias Haindl

I'm glad you found it helpful!

jschleigher profile image
James Schleigher

Thanks for sharing! sometimes I has problems with being organized until I found task management software. Like what you write, I write down my list and completed them later at the end of the day. Personally, I like to use Todoist and Quire.