In response to Covid-19 many companies, including Plandek, have moved to remote working. Working from home in isolation can be challenging and stressful. To help you overcome the difficulties and interruptions to your work routine, we have spoken to the Plandek team members that have always worked from home and asked them to share their tips and tricks.
Here are Plandek’s Top 5 Tips for Remote Working
Tip 1: Establish a new routine
For many people who just need a laptop and a strong WiFi connection to do their job, working from home can seem like a really easy transition. However, one big impact will be the change in routine. No hour-long commute, more life distractions around the house, greater flexibility in working hours, etc.
It’s tempting to put things off and end up working as a student late into the night, but I’ve found it’s much better to treat it just like working in an office. Start on time, take a lunch break, etc.
Whatever the changes, embrace them.
“My top tip would be to keep normal hours. It’s tempting to put things off and end up working as a student late into the night, but I’ve found it’s much better to treat it just like working in an office. Start on time, take a lunch break, etc. It’s obviously far better to work normal hours from the perspective of communication with our colleagues too!” – Robin Hughes, Chief Architect, Plandek.
Consciously establish a new remote working routine, adapt it in the first days/weeks, and then stick to it!
“Best tip I think is to find some way of separating work from normal life. A dedicated office within the home is ideal, but not possible for everyone. If you can’t do that, you need to find other ways to separate work from normal life. If the table you eat breakfast from is doubling as your desk, then make the time to clear it before setting up your work things. Don’t spend all day in pyjamas, get dressed as though you are meeting coworkers. It helps you get into the mindset for working. These little things really make a difference.” – Drew Neil, developer who usually works remotely.
Tip 2: Recreate social interaction
Apart from a few of the software engineers here at Plandek, we human beings are all social creatures. After any period of remote work, it’s easy to soon begin to miss those small interactions we naturally have each day. From “hello” in the morning, to chats during the frequent coffee runs, and even deep and meaningful discussions over lunch. It’s really important we make an effort to continue to create these situations in a virtual world alongside the more formal work-based video calls.
Drew added: “Working remotely can get lonely at times. You’re going to be messaging coworkers through Slack/email to get your job done, but sometimes it’s good to just have a chat on Slack. Make the same kind of small talk that you would in the office. It’s important to keep that connection with other humans. Also, you can invite your friends to a ‘virtual beer’. Invite them for a Skype chat in the evening, just like you would invite them to the pub. This will help overcome social isolation”.
Other tips include encouraging everyone to keep the camera on during calls, and maybe try a general open call on Slack or Zoom, etc where perhaps for 30 mins each day people are welcome to dial in and have a general catch-up.
Tip 3: Maximise online collaboration tools
We all have a plethora of tools designed to help us collaborate in distributed teams, and when the whole team is remote they come into their own. Suddenly we need to update Jira as we can no longer rely on a physical whiteboard. Maybe you now need to replicate your physical Kanban board in a tool like Trello, or perhaps you just need to learn how to navigate your video call tech of choice!
Tip 4: Data to manage delivery risk
One major factor that has stopped many leaders allowing far greater flexibility in remote working has been concerns over the risk of delivery. “Will we still deliver at the same pace if more people work from home?”. Well, as many software delivery teams become distributed overnight, this core delivery risk doesn’t go away. Leaders and Teams need specific and relevant Agile delivery metrics to help them effectively manage that risk and support teams to continue to build high-quality software.
Lead/Cycle Time with the associated Flow Efficiency will be key to ensuring new bottlenecks or blockers are not appearing in your process. A clear view of the current sprint via Sprint Timelines (see below) could also be critical to keeping the team on track as days and weeks pass.
Tip 5: Learn and evolve
Remote working for an extended period of time will be a learning exercise for us as individuals and as teams. Take time to reflect on what is working well and what can be improved on in terms of being remote. You could even include it as a topic in your regular team retrospective meetings. Working practices will continue to evolve and don’t underestimate the importance of optimising the effectiveness of remote working and the overall influence it can have on our performance.
We hope our 5 Tips for Remote Working were useful. The Plandek team wishes you to stay positive, healthy and productive!