After one year of working remotely, It’s time to recap and write down some thoughts about how has been this shift from the real world to the remote world. I’m going to talk about what are the advantages, drawbacks (in my humble opinion) and some personal tips to work from home.
No commute to the office
One obvious advantage from working from home is that you don’t need to commute so if you were spending 45 minutes to go and 45 minutes to come back home you were spending 90 minutes per day, times 5 it’s 450 minutes per week which means 7,5 hours per week (almost one single workday).
This time that we have won that we didn’t have before we can spend it doing other things like reading listening to podcasts, exercising, or some side project.
You don’t need an available room for a meeting
One of the advantages is that you don’t run out of rooms to meet someone that you want to catch up with. Working in an office you had the limitation of the available space in the office to meet with someone. Now you can jump to a meeting whenever you want without having the limitation of rooms available.
Easier to have a private conversation
This point is a little bit related to the previous one. With people working from home you can have a private conversation easily with someone. The only people that will hear your conversation are the people that you live with.
Meetings with a bigger audience
Removing the space limitation now is possible to join with many people in the same room to align on bigger projects. If you have to do training for more than one team it’s easier to invite a large number of people that can be interested to join without the space limitation.
More focused on results
Before Covid we were focused on results rather than being present at the office, now working from home we don’t know if people are working or if they are watching videos of cats, so now is more important than ever to focus on the things we deliver because nobody sees us working.
You can queue interruptions
As the interruptions are digital you can queue them and sort them per priority order. The difficult thing can be to tag the interruptions properly per order of importance. Messages from people of your team have to be the firsts to attend, followed by the messages of your line manager.
All the rest should be redirected to a team channel where the requests can be attended. When we were in the office the interruptions could break our focus as someone could come to your place and ask you that question directly and you should respond.
No coffee/lunch/break with your coworkers
One of the things that I miss more is having breakfast/lunch with coworkers. There we talked about other things apart of work, things that you had done the last weekend or that you were going to do the next day. It was a way to socialize more with people and to be more closer to your coworkers.
No whiteboard available to share thoughts
Another thing that I miss is having a whiteboard to draw boxes, ideas, proposals to share things with the rest of my coworkers. The option to stand up and go to a whiteboard to draw lines, boxes is more difficult with tools like Miro. Miro is a great tool to draw but it’s not the same as writing on a whiteboard.
Meetings are more exhausting
There are publications that state that meetings through video are more exhausting than the ones that are in person. When you are in a meeting you have to block that time to be present in the meeting. It can be double exhausting if you are responding to chat messages.
The usage of messaging tools to chat with people and communicate with coworkers has increased. Like all the tools that we have available, it has, its advantages and disadvantages because you can get a lot of interruptions from people that ask for things and distract you from what you are doing.
Tips to work remotely
Block your time to focus
I recommend using some techniques like Pomodoro to focus on the task that you have to do. With this technique, we focus 25 minutes on a task and after this 25 minutes, we can rest 5 minutes before starting again. During this time you should turn off all possible interruptions. If you do this the quality of your work will increase because you will be able to focus on details.
Increase the visibility of your work
One crucial thing is to communicate to the external stakeholders of the team which things your team has delivered. This way you earn trust and also you share what you are doing with the rest of the teams of your area/company. This point was important before the pandemic but now that we are working remote is even more important in my opinion.
Another important point is to document your APIs and services to other stakeholders. If you find out that you have to repeat the same explanations over chat applications more than one time it’s a fantastic idea to have a wiki page where you explain the things that you are telling people throught chat.
Working from home can be an excuse to move less than before because you work and rest in the same place. To avoid this it’s really important to set moments during the day where you move and go out from home. Those moments help you break the day.
One year since we started working remotely. Like everything in life it has advantages and drawbacks and we should see the positive side of things. Are you happy working remotely? What are the things that make you happy working remotely?