6 Months of Remote Work

One reason I was interested in switching to software development as a career was because of the opportunity for remote work. I suppose the nature of the work and the stereotypical developer temperament lend itself well to remote work.

I moved to Philly in July so it’s been 6 months of working remotely full time. Time flies! I don’t think I’m “living the dream” yet. I’m still working it out, but most of the transition pains have gotten sorted.

My average day

Working remotely is pretty boring actually because I chose to establish a regular schedule which mimics in office life. I wake up around 8:30 or 9 and head downstairs to make a pot of coffee. Maybe I’ll take Bogie to the dog park, if Ryan hasn’t already. When I get back from our walk, I shower. ~9:30 or 10 I get started. Around 1 I either grab leftovers from the fridge(the usual), cook lunch (boring but practical), or if it’s a quiet day I’ll go out for lunch in my neighborhood (extravagant).

With the 3 hour time difference between here and San Francisco, my standup is super late – it happens at 2 in the afternoon. I don’t mind this, because I always have progress to report, which is a relief.

Then I keep working until around 6 (which I have established with my team as my official log off time), take the dog to the park for round two (lucky dog), then back home where I’ll cook dinner. Around 8pm I’ll watch tv and most likely keep working a bit in the background. I’m pretty sure I’m working even more than when I was in an office!

Pros

No commute. ~ Given that taking public transportation from my apartment in the Mission to the office in downtown SF took about 30 minutes and $2 each way, I’m saving about 5 hours and 20 dollars per week. Wooo, gonna invest it and retire early!

No time spent putting on makeup or picking out an outfit. Zoom has a beautifier filter, does all the work for me, LOL. ~ Saves 30 min or 2.5 hours/week

No awkward office chitchat unless I seek it out via Slack.

I feel more productive because I can control my own time and take breaks when I need them.

I can do productive house chores during breaks. It helps alleviate the pressure of having to cook and clean at night, so I have more time to do fun things after hours.

Cons

When I first started working remote, I was terrified that I was going to appear unproductive. So I overcompensated by working too much. It’s an easy mistake to make, and I still do it from time to time. Thankfully review season was last month, and I got one of my best reviews yet. So it’s all really in my head.

I feel like my participation in meetings has been fine, because I talk when I want and try to give a visual signal during video calls that I’m about to speak, but it is way easier to get steamrolled when in a meeting with a coworker who monopolizes the conversation. If they don’t look at the video screen, they don’t stop talking.

I’m pretty introverted, but it has actually been hard being alone. My boyfriend and roommate both work from home, and there is a dog in the house, but I do on occasion feel like I’m missing out on conversations and camaraderie from the office.

Thankfully, taking trips back to San Francisco every few months really scratches that itch. And as more folks at my company have gone remote, I think we’ve gotten better at moving toward documented and asynchronous communication.

Tips

I feel silly sharing “tips” when I’m still figuring this all out myself, but this is what’s working for me so far.

Setting up an attractive home office complete with a standing desk has helped me transition mentally into work mode. #1 suggestion for the WFH transition. Have a place to go for work. Or you will just end up working all the time from the couch, which sounds peaceful, but is terrible for your work life balance (and your neck).

I’ve heard that over-communication is key, but I still feel nervous about being annoying/too chatty/distracting. At any rate, the whole point is to increase your visibility! Comment on Slack threads, have lots to say during standup, jump on a Zoom call if your conversation is going to take more than a few lines of chat to resolve. And don’t turn your camera off during calls, you want your face burned into the back of your coworkers’ minds.

Could I ever go back?

For all the loneliness and unique strangeness of working remotely, I would prefer not to go back to 100% in person office life. The ability to structure my own time has been really empowering. I get more done, and I have less anxiety in general. My work days are all about the work, which I appreciate.

Now that I’m more comfortable with being 100% remote, I’d like to take advantage of the situation and work outside of the house more, maybe even visit some friends and work for a week from their homes 🙂

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