Principles for working remotely effectively

Hexis insight into containerisation using buildpacks.

in Software development, Team as a service, IT strategy, IT outsourcingBy Ricardo Neves, Software Engineer

Here at Hexis, we are remote-friendly since the first days of our company, and what that means is we are used to working and having colleagues working remotely.

Through that experience, we've developed some best practices guidelines that we apply internally, and now we are sharing these guidelines to help everybody in the community to have a fantastic experience in working remotely. We apply mainly three principles, although they may seem simple, as a company or managing an IT department, having the utmost care to ensure they are used and respected, avoiding the error of "need of control".

Visibility, Keeping-in-touch and Environment characterize the three principles followed in Hexis.

Visibility: be visible, wherever you are

  • Be transparent to everyone that you're working remote.
  • Leverage on apps like Slack that gives the possibility to update your status with remote emoji.
  • Keep your email and communication apps (work-related) notifications on.
  • If you do not have a work phone, share your personal number and/or activate notifications for your work communication app, at least during work hours, so that you are reachable even if you just went to grab a cup of coffee.
  • Maintain transparency of the work done and always have tasks assigned.
  • Use apps like Trello or Jira, it helps to keep jobs with their status updated and assigned to team members.

Keep-in-touch: sync with our team, whenever possible

  • Do daily syncs with your team members.
  • Let your co-workers (at least your team) know when you start your workday, stop for lunch (or other longer pause periods) and finally when you finish your workday.
  • You can do this by simply using a common channel in your corporate communication platform as Slack, Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, or any other app that you use.
  • If your company or team do not have a communication tool, this is the time to start using one. Slack was designed for corporate communication and has all the features needed.
  • Have a good etiquette in remote meetings by respecting the meeting schedule.
  • When creating a meeting invite, provide an agenda and always share a link for Google Meet, Bluejeans, etc.
  • Use earphones to have the best quality in sound and microphone, turning your webcam on to be more interactive.
  • Keep your speech direct and always avoid talking simultaneously with another colleague.
  • When you're not talking, mute your microphone.
  • Join the meeting prepared and up to date with the meeting agenda.

Environment: advice for the individual in a remote set up

  • When working at home, create a workspace the more apart from your leisure areas as possible.
  • If you can't have an office at home, use an area where you can focus and at the end of the day, close your workstation and put it to a corner. This way, you will trigger your brain that you will "leave work."
  • Maintain your daily schedules mainly regarding waking up, meals and work hours.
  • Define your goals for the day.
  • Keep regular contact with your team members, in topics work-related or not.
  • Working remotely means that you are in a different location. You're still a member of the team.
  • Take advantage of your spare time, since you're not commuting to and from work, to do something good for you. Learn something new, read books, work on a new project, workout.

In conclusion, working remotely translates in more responsibility, since the visibility of the work and task status also require effort to maintain project tools updated continuously. Keep-in-touch, requires more discipline, since the planning ahead and speaking up in a clear, concise way does not come naturally in an in-person meeting. Lastly, the creation of the right environment to be able to switch-off not always come easy to every individual. Remote work has zero to do with control, but everything related to methodology and responsibility.

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