Remote Work Tips from Our WFH Experienced Team
I’m going to skip the typical ‘Coronavirus is changing how we work’ introduction. You know what’s going on – if you don’t, have you been locked in a cave on an island somewhere? Are you okay?
To date, 50,470,287.78 hours have been tracked with 7pace Timetracker in Azure DevOps, and it’s worth celebrating that all this happened fueled 100% by remote-work. Taking a look behind the tool, we took some time this week to reevaluate what makes our team tick. Things that stand out are our communication tools, how 7pace employees approach remote-work, and our attitude.
Here are the 7pace team’s wfh tips from the horse’s mouth.
“Make sure your set up is fit for purpose – a day working at the laptop with feet up on the sofa is a treat but longer term, you ideally need to be sat in the correct position for working – just as you would in the office. I have two chairs in my office to switch between, and a standing desk. Posture is super important.” – Maxim, 7pace CTO
“Try to keep your interruptions to a minimum (one of the common challenges of working from home is that other people think they have “an access all areas” pass to your workspace – set the rules early to save conflict!”
– Leah, Customer Service
“When at the office you often take breaks, even when you don’t realize it (going to the kitchen for some water and talking about the latest Better Call Saul episode, discussing the latest update to the dev environment with a team member, etc.).
At home you don’t have those opportunities for impromptu chats but your brain still needs some slack time once in a while. So it’s ok to reward yourself after finishing a hard task by reading a chapter in a book, going for a walk around the block or playing a quick round or 2 of your favorite game to reset your brain for the next task.” – Sascha, Product Owner
“I’m still a bit new to the concept of remote work. 2 years in, and I still find myself forgetting to close the laptop at the end of the day or not taking breaks. My advice is to do an audit of your work style. Are you happy with your space? Do you feel productive? Are you using the right tools? Asking those questions will help you find your flow.” – Betsy, Marketing Manager
“Not 100% remote related, but becomes even more important when you work in a remote company. Don’t put things off that can be dealt with quickly. If it can be done with a 5 minute call just make that call. Same thing goes for email, if it requires less than 5 minutes, do it right away.” – Paulina, CRM Manager
“Unplug at the end of the day. A lot of us at 7pace have a (bad) habit of answering messages or checking things throughout the evening. It’s okay every once and awhile, but this is one that we are working on too.” – Sergey, COO
Big Surprise – communication tools are at the center of our (and any remote team’s) work.
Slack, obviously, is our virtual water cooler and often our meeting table. We divide things by matter in slack but everyone has access to all channels to keep things transparent. Here are 3 of my personal best practices for remote-teams using slack.
- Threads will keep you sane. If you just keep messages on messages, you will end up with a long stream and it makes shared channels very messy. Keep this in threads, and it’ll save your sanity.
- Use the slack integrations. There are thousands, from Twitter to Azure DevOps itself, all the tools you use in your daily life have a slack integration. Learn the shortcuts for them (like /zoom to start a zoom meeting with a clickable link), these will save you a bunch of time in the long run.
- Have slack on your phone, but beware. Sometimes all-access is too much access. Even if you are a multi-year slack user, you might want to check out Slack notification settings to configure them exactly the way you want.
The biggest shout from our team: Just because you are working from home, doesn’t mean you should be stuck in meetings all day.
When you move from irl work to work from home, it might mean that your team starts creating meeting after meeting because in the past they could just walk by your desk and ask a question. Someone needs to scream this from the mountain tops: Just because you are working from home, doesn’t mean you should be stuck in meetings all day. Our team at 7pace strives to keep meetings (even the virtual ones) to a minimum, because – you know this – meetings are often pointless. To quote ourselves…
This is such a widespread opinion in the development world that our ‘Meetings are Pointless (but they don’t have to be)’ blog was one of our most-read pieces of writing to date.
We realized that we have some unspoken rules to our meetings…
Having some company guidelines to video-meetings is also something we recommend. Every company is different, but this is how we tend to run on screen meetings.
- The organizer is the host and leads the conversation. They are the person that sends the invite, is the literal host in Zoom, and moves the conversation along (or keeps it on-topic).
- Cameras on when possible. There is nothing worse than sitting in a room with 10 people and seeing 10 black screens. We ask people to keep them on when they can, but no stress if something is going on that prevents it.
- Some teams need an agenda, but sometimes you have to throw it out of the window in order to let important conversations run. Some groups need notes afterward so everyone is 100% on the same track… and some teams don’t. Pretty much the lesson here is to tailor it to what the purpose of the meeting is.
- Last but not least, for pete’s sake, mute when you aren’t talking! It feels like everyone should know this already, but if you don’t you do now. No excuses. We love your cat a lot, but don’t need to hear it meowing in the background the entire call.
Why we will always choose remote-first over and over again.
In the end, having a completely remote team has open our world up to talent we just wouldn’t find otherwise. 7pace was a remote team from the start, but as we grow more and more we realize it is our remote-first practices that allow us to find experts and onboard them faster.
What we realized during this exercise of writing our top tips was that we really like our remote-first environment. All in all, working in one of the remote-first teams that pioneered the practice has taught everyone at 7pace at least a few things about communication, but the biggest feedback from our internal discussion was that your attitude matters a whole lot. If you keep an open mindset, ask questions, and don’t make assumptions you’ll be just fine.
PS. We had to mention this of course… If you are looking to join a remote-first international team that is addressing development’s hardest questions, we’re hiring.