Remote working or ‘telecommuters’ has been around since the 1970s. Since 2010 there has been an increase of 400% who work from home at least once a week according to a GetApp survey. Slack research reveals 16 million US workers made the switch to working from home 16 days after the UN declared coronavirus a pandemic.
Software developers have always enjoyed the perk of working from home or telecommuting although some are juggling it alongside home-schooling children and sharing the chore rota. It’s a stressful time for all involved when we’re just trying to do our best and get through every day. Remember to not pile pressure on yourself.
In this article we’ll run you through some of the economic, financial, environmental and general well-being benefits. We’ll discuss what to do when it comes to striking the right work-life balance, by implementing the right boundaries to prevent burnout from taking regular breaks from your screen to go on a walk outside and increasing productivity with the help of software that manages notifications.
There is a lot to consider: dedicated working hours, space, taking a break from the screen and going for a walk, chores, answering messages from colleagues as you drink the first coffee of the day in bed. Working from home does have its perks, we do walk a fine line between switching off too much because of distractions and working long hours only to hardly catch up with family/housemates.
There is good news when it comes to remote working for both employees and employers. Research carried out by Global Workplace Analytics has found that businesses could make an average annual saving per remote worker of $11,000 if they commuted 50% of the time. Whilst CoSo Cloud stats reveal 30% of employees make an average $5,000 annual savings in work expenses including travel between the workplace and home.
Flexibility is the best benefit whilst working remotely. For parents who have had to adapt to the changing situation due to the pandemic flexible working is music to their ears. Buffer reports that 40% of employees surveyed said they did it for this reason and 72% of professionals on LinkedIn said that it will play a significant role in the future of HR and recruitment.
As a disruptive industry, the pandemic has seen the telecommuting work model could be how businesses operate long into the future. 99% of employees said they would work remotely for the rest of their careers and 95% would recommend this way of working to friends and family.
Home Office Setup
Whatever company you work for there aren’t going to be office overheads so invest in the tech that best suits your job: headsets, designated and accommodating office space, internet speed, ergonomically designed chair, desktop monitor all near to a window providing natural light and drinks on standby. Plenty of fluids are always good to help us stay hydrated throughout the day.
Most use the first hour or half an hour to read through emails and other short admin tasks so that the rest of the day can be taken up with important work. Use a calendar to set your deadlines but keep a to-do list handy to move the incomplete tasks into a priority list. How much time should you allocate to each task? How many breaks do you need in a day? Allocate more time for the things that requires more effort.
The ability to multi-task has never been more important. Schedules are bursting with deadlines and tasks to be completed. There might be times when you are stuck on something waiting for an answer from colleagues. Perhaps someone else needs to finish their part on a project before you can make your contribution. Maybe another of your colleagues cannot be disturbed as they are getting on with other things. You too can save time by working on multiple tasks while you wait.
Start Your Day Right
Commuting does not apply when it comes to working from home but that doesn’t mean the principle of it does not apply. Use the time effectively doing something for your well-being that doesn’t involve being in front of a screen. Exercise is highly recommended especially in a job that requires you to sit for prolonged periods. It gets your day off to a good start, will make you more productive and you feel wonderful afterwards.
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is an expression we have all grown up with. We shouldn’t feel guilty for being able to enjoy ourselves before, during or after work! Irrespective of whether the sun is out getting a dose of Vitamin D will be worth it. Walk, do a work-out or go for a run for a boost of endorphins and serotonin even if just for a few minutes. Too much screen-time isn’t good for your brain or eyeballs.
We are surrounded by distractions. Listening to music is a hotly contested debate in workplaces, some love a bit of background music whilst others prefer total silence. Sometimes it depends on the task at hand and how disciplined and focused you are.
When you are working from home it also depends on who you live with and whether you have enough space away from each other. If you’re in a busy household let them know your schedule and notify them of how much you are willing to accept. There are ways and means of either cancelling or masking noise if you’re unable to find a suitable compromise.
Another is notifications from phones, tablets and computers. A personal favorite of mine is when I’m working my phone is always in another room and on silent. Turning the sound off when I’m on my computer is just as useful. This may also be the same scenario for developers because there’s nothing more disturbing when you’re up against a deadline and your mind is full of more noise than calm.
Other software developers have created programs that turn off notifications and prevent you from YouTubing funny videos by taking you to a work-related site instead. Only you know what should take priority especially if it’s something you’re working on. If it isn’t, leave it for when you take a break or at the end of your working day.
Human beings are by nature social creatures. Never have we learned this lesson than now when we’ve been told to stay at home, wear masks and keep two meters apart. It makes us miss those close connections we share with other people so it’s only natural that we would want that back.
Buffer reports that being away from colleagues is hard with 19% of remote employees say conquering loneliness whilst remote working is the biggest challenge. CoSo Cloud reports more than 50% feel disconnected from in-house employees. We all miss that opportunity to chat by coffee machines and coolers. How about a virtual coffee to catch up on what happened at the weekend, a quiz night or themed night over Skype.
Oversharing makes up for the lack of constant contact when we work remotely. Our attention spans are just 8 seconds long which is the lowest it has ever been. It’s hardly surprising we forget things so have somewhere to jot things down. Research has shown that if we write things down with pen and paper we are more likely to remember it than if we type. How ever you choose to record important bits of information always have it to hand just in case a colleague asks for it!
What happens when you’re fielding questions from colleagues who despite being busy require an imminent answer? Give context and clarity to minimize unnecessary conversations and allow them to catch up when they return.
Talking Via Time-Zones
It is so important to talk despite the distance or time when working together on a project with colleagues across the globe. Opening chatrooms exclusively just for certain groups or between yourself and your line manager is always helpful in the same way a group chat for investors, shareholders, management and developers. They can be customized to suit the needs of each group.
In a workplace setting we wish everyone a good morning walking through the office to get to our desk first thing. Building relationships are important so let your colleagues know you are there for them. Write them a message to ask them how they are irrespective of their position in the company. Beyond anything it will demonstrate that you care and often the simplest acts matter the most.
It can be a little bit more difficult to have a conversation when you are away from your desk especially when things are happening across different time zones. If you think it’s necessary to do so, inform them when you’re taking a break for lunch or a 10-minute walk to get some fresh air.
This will inform the client what the team are currently working on, whether it has been completed or not and whether the client has approved of the work.
Current general tasks: this is often a remote-working replication for background noise in the office.
• Bug responsibility: Know who to ask if you need help with bugs or need one from someone else.
• Software release: information for the whole team to know what will be contained in a new release of software.
Technical clients are happy enough to receive releases once or twice a week depending on the number of developers involved whereas non-technical clients would rather see what you have done.
Meetings are as long or short as needed to encourage both client and developer to collaborate and communicate anything from challenges to achievements. Having meetings is dependent entirely on how big the group is because nobody wants duplicate parts of the project. With more team members to take into consideration this might mean more than just 1 or 2 meetings per week.
You’d think marrying a nap to a coffee wouldn’t make any sense - apparently not. Daniel Pink wrote about this in his book “When: The ScientificSecrets of Perfect Timing”. In that post-lunch lull drink a coffee, set your alarm for 25 minutes and nap. When you wake up the caffeine is ready to kickstart your body clock and gets your brain in the mood to work.
Despite only being around for the last 50 years, remote working has only boomed in popularity due to necessity since the pandemic. The situation is brand new whilst the tech industry navigating this mode of working is not. How you choose to make the role work for you is down to your own individual needs. Different things work for different people so find out what fits you well.
Now you have some starting points the rest is up to you!
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