Thursday, March 12, 2020

Working remote / working from home

I've been working remote for most of the past fifteen years.  Here's what's made it work well for me.  

These tips are from the point of view of someone who writes software, and talks to other people about writing software, all day every day. 

  • Have a dedicated space.  Having an office that's a dedicated workspace means you can set up things the way you want and leave them set up.  No taking down your physical dev environment because someone needs the space for something else.
  • High quality computer.  My current setup is a very hefty desktop machine.  Yours might be a good laptop. Whatever it is, make sure it's up to the job.
  • Fast internet.  The best you can find.  Unfortunately, for lots of people there's exactly one choice, so make sure you live somewhere that has good service.
  • Get out of the house before you start work.  For me, it's walking up to morning coffee at  Get up, get out of the house, come back to work.  Leaving the house first thing in the morning (even though I'm coming right back) means I'm creating a boundary between my morning routine and my work day.
  • Get used to doing lots of things in writing.  That might mean slack, or it might be email, doesn't matter.  This is a great habit anyway; if your company gets lots of things done because random hallway conversations happen, you're in a world of hurt anyway.
  • Don't hesitate to start voice conversations, via whatever tools you use.  No one has a desk phone any more, but things like slack have a call button.  Use it, and use it often.
  • Pay attention to the cat.  Sometimes you need small distractions; for me it's our cats.  When you're in an office, your days are mostly filled with distractions and timewasting random conversations, with occasional breaks for doing the things you're actually paid to do.  At home, you'll find that's flipped, with much more time for actual work. Your brain will function better when you make sure to take small breaks.