Lukasz Kasprzyk

Jul 20, 2017 - 

4 min read  - 

Remote work – Piece of cake or test of self-discipline

WHY I WORK REMOTELY?

There are two types of people: those who are able to work remotely and those who are not. You will never know in which group you are until you try it yourself, however we need to clarify one thing: working remotely from time to time and working remotely all the time are entirely different things.

First of all let’s discuss why people decide to work from home. There are many different reasons and almost all of them come down to one thing: place where you live and place where your company office is are in two different places and you don’t want to move.

I’ve been working @ Tooploox for over 2 years, and I’ve been working remotely for around 1.5 year. I’m from a small town around 120 KM from our office in Wrocław. I decided to move back there after 7 years of living in Wrocław, where I studied and worked.

HOW TO START?

It wasn’t easy in the beginning. There are some things you need to take care of, if you want to work from home on daily basis.

Let’s start from workplace setup:

My personal workspace

 

Mine looks like this. I like to have everything I need in one place, without redundant things as distractors. Everyone needs to set up their own comfortable environment, with things they need to be productive.

I HAVE MY WORKSTATION SET UP, WHAT NOW?

You need to organise yourself. I know that it’s not easy and you’ll need lot of self-discipline, but the only way to get to this state is by experimenting. I think you shouldn’t have one strict routine. There are many distractors and external factors you need sometimes adapt.

My everyday routine begins around 7 am, when I wake and  prepare everything I need for work. I always start from catching up. I read emails, unread messages on companies messenger (Slack in my case), check tasks for this day, meetings and so on. Then I grab some breakfast and I start working

I try to work at a stretch with small breaks for eating, or stretching my legs. Sometimes I take a break in the middle of a day for gym or some personal stuff, but I inform everybody how long I will be away and I always fit this inside my calendar so it doesn’t collide with already planned work stuff.

There is a myth about working from home that you can wear anything you like… dress code is very tricky topic. I usually dress comfortable but semi formal. You need to have in mind that there could be some video meetings with clients and you can’t show up in training suit because it could be received as a lack of respect.

USEFUL TIPS

I’ve heard from my teammates something that touched my heart: “We don’t feel like you work remotely” and I try to work like that. Here are some tips that can help you.

Communication – @ Tooploox we use Slack I have Slack app on my phone and on my computer. I respond to all messages when I’m available. I always write when I start work, when I’m away and for how long, so my team is up to date. I’m also available after work in emergency situations.

Meetings some may think it’s an issue when you are not in the same room with people you meet with. I used to think the same, but it’s not a problem at all (of course it’s not as easy as face to face meeting). We use Google Hangouts as our main tool for meetings and it works really great. Beside sharing video and audio, we have presentation mode which is very useful. With this feature we can share our screen, entire desktop or just a single application. It’s not perfect, like every tool, but it’s good enough. Additionally I use tool called ScreenHero for peer-programming. There are plenty similar tools u can test and use.

I also try to keep my all tasks in one place like a list of things (beside all task management tools related to projects, where everything is listed in details). I just note important things on sticky notes and place them on my computer.

Google Calendar is also a tool I couldn’t work without. I wouldn’t know when, with whom and about what are my all meetings. It seems really simple but it’s very important.

People use many different tools. I’m pragmatic and minimalistic in this case. This is my simple setup.

PROS AND CONS

Some people like working remotely, others don’t. Here is a list of advantages and disadvantages of working from home that I find important:

Advantages:

  • I can fully focus on work and it’s easier for me to eliminate distractors which leads to better performance.
  • Traffic doesn’t concern me.
  • I feel more comfortable, I have everything I need near me I mean home, workplace and my town.

Disadvantages:

  • Lack of small talks and face-to-face meetings/discussions.
  • Events and after work integration (I live pretty close so I can come for planned ones and stay but it could be a problem for other people).
  • It requires lot of self-discipline.

WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF REMOTE EMPLOYEES?

As I’m not the only person who works remotely, I’ve asked my teammates what they think:

Bartosz Dymowski Software Engineer:

  • “+” Flexible working hours everybody has their own better and worse hours, 8 hours in a row is not productive.
  • “+” You work where you want you don’t have to move from your beloved place to work in an awesome company.
  • “+” Company retreats it’s not a problem you work remotely, problem is if you don’t know your teammates personally.

 

  • “-“ It’s hard when there are people from different timezone in one team.
  • “-” Planning, brainstorming, discussions are sometimes difficult to organise. Also active participation is more difficult.
  • “-” Being up-to-date  It’s good to have contact with someone on site to know what’s going on. 
  • “-” Sometimes it’s hard to organise and divide tasks via remote and local workers it’s easier for remote people to have individual tasks.

What do you think about remote work?

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