Tips for Tech Teams Working Remotely


30 March 2020 by Shelly Valentine

In the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, many tech companies are finding themselves working remotely and under-prepared. Some tech companies like GitLab - the largest all-remote company in the world, have no physical offices and roughly 400 employees so working remotely is business as usual. Other companies, like Twitter, just told all it's 5000 workers in 35 offices around the world to work from home.

Callibrity has helped firms, like Kroger, pilot remote teams and Crossroads Church scale with DevOps. If you find yourself under-prepared, here are some great tips for working remotely to get you through this period of stress and uncertainty. We're also here for you if you want to speak to a consultant about accelerating your technology journey.

Empower your team with these tips for working remotely

 

Over Communicate

Communication is key when working from home, especially when getting started. If you plan on being away from your computer for an hour or more, let your team/client know (“I’m stepping away to get some lunch, be back at 1:00”).

Scrum Master/Product Owners - Don’t assume your client is watching your JIRA/Rally scrum boards. Take the time to type a Status Report. Start with daily, then move to twice weekly, if the client seems to be keeping up.

 

Dedicated Space

Set aside a certain space in your home for your working environment. Make sure it is comfortable. Try to make sure it is not in a high-traffic area. If at all possible, choose a spot that can be closed off from the rest of your home to make it easier to “go home” at the end of the day. If your work is too accessible, you will have a tendency to work too much and neglect that much-needed downtime.

 

Video Chat for Everything

The key is that every person is on their own video camera, even if they are all sitting at the same table in the same room. Use one mic and speaker if you need to, but every person needs to be on their own camera. This allows for each person’s non-verbal communication to come through: facial expressions, posture, eye contact, etc. It’s a miserable experience to sit in your office on your own laptop and be looking at three “faceless” people on the other side who are sitting far from the camera and on the same video screen.

Pro-tip: See our favorite technologies for video chat at the end of this post.

 

Try to Maintain a Normal Schedule

When working from home, you are your own personal manager. Without things like an in-person meeting schedule to break up your day, you can be quick to lose focus or burn out. To stay on schedule, segment what you'll do and when over the course of the day. If you have an online calendar, create personal events and reminders that tell you when to shift gears and start on new tasks. Google Calendar makes this easy.

 

Don’t Neglect Personal Hygiene

We all love to solve problems and it is very tempting to just wake up and start hacking immediately. Resist the urge and take the time to practice your normal hygiene routine. Your family/pets will thank you!

 

Take Breaks

Get up to stretch your legs periodically. Go get the mail. Move the laundry from the washer to the dryer (some folks even use the laundry machines as their break timers), spend time with your pets, etc.

 

Watch out for Snacking

Because food is readily available, you will have a tendency to snack more throughout the day and that can really add up quickly. Try to build your snack time into your daily routine to keep it under control.

 

Avoid Social Media

Turn off your notifications during the day. Don’t leave browser tabs open to your social media sites.

 

Exercise

You will likely be more sedentary when working from home, so it’s very important to get some exercise in during the day. Take a walk. Work out during the time you would have been commuting to work. Some folks even use treadmill desks!

Pro Tip: Some fitness apps are offering free trials. Peleton has extended their 30-day free trial to 90 days. And no, you do NOT need to own the expensive bike. There are plenty of workouts such as yoga, stretching, cardio etc. that do not require any gym equipment or weights.

 

Go Outside

Get out in the sun when you can to get some Vitamin D (“the sunshine vitamin”). Vitamin D is a crucial ingredient for overall health, protecting against inflammation, lowering high blood pressure, helping muscles, and improving brain function.

 

Eat Lunch

It is very easy to get caught up in your work and completely miss lunch. Make sure to take the time to have a healthy lunch.

Pro-tip: Support local businesses. Many restaurants are still open for carry out. Be sure to call ahead and leave a generous tip. If you live close enough, walk to go pick up your order instead of driving per the previous tip, Go Outside. You can also purchase gift cards from your favorite local restaurants, or that new place you've been dying to try, for later use. Many restaurants and bars have promotional offers right now for buying gift cards. Here is a list of Cincinnati restaurants and a list of Columbus restaurants that remain open for carry out. Food delivery services, like UberEats, are still operating. You can select the option "leave at door" at check out for a no-contact delivery. Many restaurants are also waiving delivery fees.

 

Daily Stand-Ups

Continue to do your daily stand-ups just like you would if you were collocated. If you aren’t doing daily stand-ups, now might be a good time to get into the habit.

 

Match the Music with the Task

Different types of music are conducive to different types of tasks. Figure out what works best for you!

Do you have a favorite Spotify playlist? Tweet it to us @Callibrity!

 

Set Boundaries

When people know you are working from home, they often interpret that as you are not working at all, so they may bombard you with text messages, phone calls, etc. Let them know that you are working just like you would be if you were going to the office.

 

Our Favorite Video Chat Technologies

Google rolled out Advanced Hangouts Meet features to all GSuite customers for free until July 1, 2020. These features, typically only available in the Enterprise Edition of GSuite, include larger meetings, for up to 250 participants per call live streaming for up to 100,000 viewers within a domain; and the ability to record meetings and save them to Google Drive.

 

More Resources


Shelly Valentine
Shelly Valentine

Marketing Manager
Shelly is passionate about marketing and technology. She co-founded a meetup group called Cincy Techies for Good that is dedicated to connecting local nonprofits and developers of all skill levels to create solutions together that better our community. In her free time she enjoys watching UK sports, dancing, and scuba diving in tropical locations.