The world has now new norms for traveling, working, and just about every daily activity ever since the pandemic broke out on a global scale. To keep up with the changed lifestyle, many industries and workplaces started adopting remote working norms and the necessary infrastructure support.
Software development has definitely got an edge over the other industries regarding remote work. What is a trend now in other industries has been an industry-standard in software development for the last decade. Many companies have experience of remote working with freelance developers or with offshore development teams that are located in distant regions (here you can learn more about offshore software development).
While remote working is not entirely new to software developers, it still has not been acclimated to the level of sophistication that full-scale work-from-home and remote development environments demand. Hence, why both individual developers and team management should take some extra effort to make sure their productivity levels remain optimal. In this article, we try to summarize fundamental rules that will make remote work effective.
Customize your environment
The stark contrast between a work-from-home environment and an office lies in the smaller stuff like the office space, lighting, comfortable working chair, desks, and so
on. While these things would all be taken care of by the office management onsite, WFH workers need to take care of all these by themselves.
If you decided to build your career as a remote engineer, do invest in the following things to create a comfortable and ergonomic work setup as it is crucial for your well- being and productivity in the long term.
A comfortable place for working:
- Get yourselves a comfortable working desk and chair with an ergonomic design. Make sure your work setup lets you maintain a proper posture. You can also incorporate adjustable or standing desks to help avoid back pain.
- As a developer, you spend a lot of time on the screen. So, make sure the monitor is positioned at the optimal height to aid in better view.
- Have good lighting in the room to avoid eye strain.
- Work from a quiet corner of the room to avoid distractions.
- Declutter your working space and make sure to maintain it as a private space.
Good internet connection:
Remote access operations like accessing remote applications, cloud resources, and remote desktops require higher bandwidth and continued connectivity. If your home Internet cannot meet such high traffic needs, upgrade to a better plan that ensures the required quality of service.
Take care of cybersecurity measures
The biggest challenges when it comes to remote working are security concerns. Developers need to access the most vulnerable and critical part of company resources, and there is always the threat of security compromises.
Even though an organization may implement strong encrypted VPNs and security measures, each developer must take responsibility to make sure all security standards are followed. Developers must report any unauthorized app or device usage and make sure they keep their passwords safe.
They should also take up proper security training to be aware of social engineering and phishing attacks. So don’t hesitate to ask for this training if you need it.
Strike the right balance between work and life
Work-life balance has blurred to a great extent as work-from-home has somewhat evaded the personal life of remote workers. Hence, why you need to take appropriate breaks and get some quality rest. After all, the quality of your work depends on your possibility to have a proper rest.
Here are some ways you can try to balance your personal time and work hours.
- Create your working schedule and stick to it. Give yourself the right amount of personal time to relax and feel rejuvenated.
- Use time trackers and productivity techniques like Pomodoro. It is quite easy to lose track of time when working from home all day. Using scheduling tools and trackers can help you manage time and alert you to rest and get back to work.
- Separate the place you work from other places in your apartment. Do reserve private space for work that helps you focus.
- Try to emulate your office environment at home, so you feel more motivated to work. Choose a different type of clothes for working hours and leisure time.
If you have ever worked in a development team, you would already be aware of many team collaboration and communication tools that are also widely used by remote teams. With a full-time WFH setup, you may have to shift to cloud-based applications or migrate your existing tools to the cloud.
Either way, you will need to grasp how these apps work and take full advantage of them. Here are some top remote collaboration and automation tools you can check out:
- Messengers and video conference tools: Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams
- Remote collaboration tools: Jira, Confluence, Trello, Monday, Notion, Miro
- Code management tools: GitHub, GitLab, Bitbucket
Improve your online communication
Many companies define online communication as a key aspect of effective remote team work. Here are some main things to keep in mind:
- With remote working, you should expect the number of meetings and online communication to grow as you cannot physically reach a colleague anymore. Get comfortable with chat applications, emails, and video conferences.
- Skill up to track your work emails and write precise content to communicate information on time.
- Make your video conferences engaging and interactive. Increase the number of team calls and make sure you all use cameras (not only voice) during these calls because human connection is important for keeping the team spirit up.
- Create and use the right channels for communication. For instance, create separate groups on the Teams app to coordinate project-wise activities, a non-working team chat, general update chat for developers, and so on.
- It is okay to over-communicate. Do not hesitate to share your updates and be upfront about your blockers and requirements. You don’t have to wait until the next team meeting to raise your queries.
- As you work away from your team, nobody knows what you’re doing and about your progress unless you tell them. So it’s not time to be shy — share with people who might be depending on this info.
- Use statuses in your work chats to make it clear for your colleagues when you’re working and when you’re on a break.
- Always answer incoming messages from your colleagues — if their question requires too much time from you, write them back that you’ll get back to this later.
- To save time for unnecessary communication, start working in shared properties available to the team, or whole even company. Keeping your files in a shared Dropbox folder, on One Drive, or Google Drive will allow your co-workers to find the information they need by themselves, so you’ll have fewer distractions from their requests to share something.
Remote working can be challenging. But that does not mean it is not productive. Several studies have shown that remote work can be more productive and satisfying to the employees if you manage to strike the right balance. Take the extra effort to make your home office as comfortable as it can be.
Try to infuse some enthusiasm and a disciplined work schedule into your daily routine. Empower yourself with all the available tools, technology, security practices, and take the extra effort to stay in the communication loop.
Remote working gives you more freedom and opportunity to work on your goals and excel in your career. Do make the right use of it.
This article was originally published on Live Code Stream by Juan Cruz Martinez (twitter: @bajcmartinez), founder and publisher of Live Code Stream, entrepreneur, developer, author, speaker, and doer of things.
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Published January 3, 2021 — 11:00 UTC