Here are some things we do to make that work.
- We make extensive use of Slack and most of us have the app open during the entire work day.
- We have channels for each project and also for various technology areas. We encourage people to lurk in whatever channels they like, even if they aren’t on that particular project.
- We have a #standup channel where we report what we’re planning on working on during the day, when we might not be available, when we’re stepping out or stepping away for a meal or break.
- We encourage “water cooler” conversations in Slack and have not only the standard #random channel but interest-specific channels like #wine #dogs #spacex.
- We’ve even been known to watch live events together and live comment in Slack.
- We use Slack calls but also heavily use Zoom. We encourage people to just “jump on a call” if there are things that need discussion.
- At the same time, we encourage people to mark themselves as “heads down” if they don’t want to be interrupted for a few hours of deep work.
- We have a regular all-hands company call (on Zoom) which is also recorded for people who can’t make it.
- We try to organise things so different projects have different combinations of people. This ensures that each person gets to work with a wide variety of fellow team members.
And here are some things I’ve found helpful personally:
- Try to avoid getting straight on the computer the moment you wake up (although I’m still guilty of that). Try to have a morning routine before you start work for the day.
- While it’s nice to be able to “work in your pajamas”, it’s sometimes good to have a shower and get dressed for work (video calls can help encourage you to do this!)
- Take regular breaks from the computer, even just to stand up and walk around for 5 minutes. I use an app called Time Out to remind myself to do this every hour.
I also asked some of my colleagues for their tips:
- Over-communicate rather than under-communicate.
- Don’t feel guilty about getting a nap if you need it.
- Setup goals for yourself at the start of the week and each morning, to help keep you on task and focused (#standup helps with this)
- If possible move out of your home office during the day. I take my laptop and work on the front porch, or in the dining room, the change of scenery helps me look at things from a different perspective.
- Create a quiet space for yourself where you can work uninterrupted. Organize your work in advance to make the best use of your time. Set goals and keep them in mind.
- Take advantage of the flexibility of remote work. Arrange your work time so that you have the freedom to do non-work activities that are meaningful to you.
- Just because you are working remotely, doesn’t mean you are working alone. Take time to engage with people through livestream, Slack, GitHub, or Twitter.