Posts tagged ‘remote

10 Tips when remote working

As anyone who has done it can attest, working from home or away from the office presents it’s own set of benefits and problems. One of the biggest problems when working remotely is how to keep your focus peaked throughout the day. In this blog post I will share a few tips based on our experiences here at Terracoding.

1. Don’t use the same space for relaxing (a.k.a have a dedicated work area or office)

If you don’t, then you can often find yourself getting distracted easily. Your mind has a dedicated work mode, and a relaxed play mode, and it’s important to make sure that they don’t leak into one-another.

2. Use changes in scenery to help you feel refreshed and kick you back into gear.

In the same way that having a dedicated work environment helps keep you in work mode, if you do find yourself getting distracted then a quick change in scenery is enough to get you back into the flow of things.

3. Have a routine

Your body likes routines, it feels comfortable as you settle into your seat after having the same cup of coffee you have every morning, or suffering the same cramped bus journey to work.

Outside of remote work, workers unconsciously find themselves falling into a regular work pattern. With the freedom and flexibility remote work provides, it can be quite easy to avoid finding a productive daily routine.

4. Don’t over indulge on breakfast and lunch.

It sounds like common sense, but given the added flexibility and ease of remote working it is easy to fall into unhealthy eating patterns. As well the immediate lethargic feeling associated with over eating, an unhealthy diet can leave us in a generally low or tired mood, the opposite of what you want when trying to be productive.

5. Utilise multiple mediums of communication

This one is especially important when working across multiple timezones. When in communication with a client or coworker, different methods of communication work best for different scenarios.

Not every discussion needs to be Face to Face (ala Skype), asyncronous communication such as email or IM can be just as important when asking specific questions, or establishing a framework for your next Skype call.

By appropriately organising your interactions across both syncronous and asyncronous communication, it frees up both parties time, allows for a better common understanding of what needs to be spoken about in person, and promotes a balance of priorities.

6. Prior planning prevents…

In conjunction with both asyncronous communication, be sure to plan any Skype calls in advance if possible. When both parties can establish a time that is comfortable for both of them, communication feels a lot less imposing on your personal life.

7. Always try to find a finishing point for your current work

When working to a schedule, try and break down your work into small enough tasks that you can always wrap things up nicely. When you sit down to work and you find yourself in the middle of a task and you’re unsure of exactly where you were up to, it takes time and effort to get back into the rhythm.

Another method I like to use is Pomodoro sessions, by breaking my work down into small tasks, I can dedicate a number of pomodoro session to completing each task in turn. Doing this has made time fly by on numerous occassions.

8. When you’ve found a finishing point for your work, actually finish.

As mentioned previously, having a good work-life balance is important, and just like making sure you’re productive when you are working, it’s equally important to disconnect when you’re finished.

Without breaking away from your work properly, it is far too easy to let your work and stresses build up into a sense of being constantly burdened. Who is going to want to work when they associate it with an overarching feeling of stress and resentment?

9. Keep your mood up - stay sociable

Working remotely has a lot of freedoms, but it can sometimes be quite lonely. Sitting in a room alone (or even at a coffeeshop with little real interaction) for hours on end can leave you feeling uncomfortable or down.

Even if you’re the type of person who likes some serious alone time whilst working through a problem, meaningful interaction with coworkers outside of specific work related conversations can really help boost your moral.

The easiest way to maintain productivity is to enjoy the work you do, and enjoying interacting with those you work with can help go along way to accomplishing that.

10. Exercise

Finally, my recent favourite - exercise! Waking up an hour earlier and getting outside for a morning run has really helped me when sit down and get cracking when feeling particularly lazy.

Initially it may prove a challenge to push yourself to begin with, but after the first few attempts you really start to notice improvements. I find myself more alert, focussed and quicker in general after having given my body a much needed workout, and it is especially noticeable on days where I haven’t.

Overall, remote work can be incredibly rewarding when working alongside both coworkers and clients. It bring additional freedom for all parties involved, as long as steps are taken to ensure things keep moving nicely. I hope that you have found these tips useful, and if you have any of your own then feel free to let us know!

7 Tools We Use as Remote Workers

Working in a remote team has its ups and downs. Keeping in touch and working as if we were right next to each other is essential for success.

Here are a bunch of tools that we use to work together efficiently, as well as having everything accessible if someone is at home ill and away from the office

1. Slack

Slack is our main form of communication. Whether it be having a general conversation or going over finer points on a project, most of our communication will be through Slack.

The software works across all our devices (iOS, Mac, Web) and is often used instead of calling people during busy times of the day - we can check Slack when we have a few minutes to spare to catch up.

One of the many features of Slack allows us to send all our online notifications into specific channels. As an example, when someone commits new code to GitHub we receive a notification in Slack. Similarly if the Continuous Integration server runs the tests and they fail, then we will get notified.

Slack is fantastic way to cover most of our communication apart from voice/video and screen sharing.

2. Sqwiggle

Sqwiggle is one of those apps that is seriously aimed at remote workers like ourselves. Whilst Sqwiggle does have an instant messaging feature, the main focus is making people feel like they are in the same room as their team.

When you load up the app you are instantly greeted with the faces of your colleagues, which can be updated every few minutes. When you want to start a video conversation with them, just tap on their face. No need to mess around with finding contact details or waiting for them to pick up. Just tap and talk.

Even if you don’t chat with them that often, it’s great to feel that someone is always there with you when you need them.

3. Sprintly

Sprintly holds all of the tasks, bugs and features for pretty much every project we work on. Sprintly works very much like a Kanban board, we know at all times what stage we are up to with our projects, who is working on what feature, and how we are looking for time.

Each item allows comments and uploads attached to them, as well as the ability to T-shirt size them so clients have a some understanding on how much effort each item will take to complete.

Other similar tools to Sprintly are things such as PivotalTracker and Trello.

4. Google Drive

Google Drive is the hub that contains all of our documents and spreadsheets. We often use Google Drive when we’re collaborating on a document or just to share some work with each other to look at over in a Skype call.

5. Skype

Skype feels like one of the most essential tools to use when remote working. Whilst you can go so far using text messages, emails and chat software, hearing and seeing someone is a whole different thing.

Skype is our go-to software for longer discussions within the team and also for chatting with clients. Almost everyone we have dealt with thus far has had a Skype account.

Skype also has a feature of being able to get your own local landline number (or non-local if that’s what you want), with the ability of paying monthly to get minutes to call people in specific countries.

6. Screenhero

When working we may sometimes get a bit stuck or want to share what we’re working on with someone. This is where Screenhero shines.

I’ve spent a very long time going through a bunch of screensharing tools, and Screenhero seems to come out on top in terms of features, simplicity and reliability. Not only can you share your screen with someone, but they get their own mouse and keyboard input so things like pair programming can be done with ease.

Screenhero also has voice and text chat if you want to use it as a basic chat application if needed.

Screenhero has recently announced it is joining Slack, so some pretty interesting integration should be coming soon.

7. Spotify

As remote workers we can be working in all kinds of cafés, bars, parks, libraries etc. Sometimes you need a bit of music to give you some energy and get back down to work!

Spotify is great as you can keep playlists saved onto your computer as well as share your playlists with friends.

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