#KnowYourDev: The Top 8 Tips From a Remote Developer
Over the last five years, there has been a significant movement toward more and more people working from home. Positions like content developers, graphic designers and, of course, developers have, increasingly, become more and more remote than office-based. This has been further accelerated by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the enforcement of lockdown all over the globe.
We chatted to Mario, our CTO at Wanted, who has been a remote developer for the last four years. We asked him what his advice is being a remote developer and what he recommends doing daily to remain productive. He mentioned that this advice could be relevant to any remote worker.
Schedule Your Day
This could possibly be one of the most important pieces of advice for anyone working remotely. If you are accustomed to working in an office with its routine and schedules, the freedom of suddenly working from home could be exceptionally tempting for you to relinquish all concept of routine. He acknowledges that although this is difficult, you should stick by a schedule.
Set a time to wake up, get ready, make breakfast and start work. Make sure you get online and working at a specific time each day. Take time for lunches and set a realistic time to end work each day. Yes, this may not be practical every single day, but a routine will ensure productivity.
Create a Work Environment
Before you start working from your home, find a space in your home to create a small working area. If you have a room for an office, use that. If you need to section off an area in your room, do so. You will find in a few days, that working from your bed or kitchen table is simply not sustainable.
The kitchen and living room simply provide too many distractions and you will not be in the mind-set to get through a work day. An office space, with dedicated stationary, lighting and even white boards will create a setting for you to get into work mode and heighten productivity.
Invest in the Proper Equipment
While the working space is very important, so is the equipment that you are working on and with. The first thing you will need is a functional and fast laptop or computer. As a developer, you know that you need a machine that will be able to keep up with your level of work. It may be an investment to start out with, but the ROI will be visible in a shorter time than you expect.
Make sure to also consider your other working needs. A comfortable and supportive working chair, a good desk with drawers, an extra monitor or two and a good set of headphones to get through the work!
Be Reachable on Platforms
No man is an island, and this is especially true in the case of a remote developer. Your clients, company and colleagues will need to have contact with you at all times for you to be a respected and successful remote developer. You are part of a team, and you need to keep that in mind, especially if it comes to issues that you are responsible for troubleshooting.
Be available on video chats, instant team communications like Slack and allow the team access to your Trello boards to have visibility on your tasks and progress. “At the same time, know when to disconnect though”, he says.
Keep up a Healthy Routine
Working from home can easily drag you into a lull of waking up, eating, working, snacking, working some more and then ending the day with dinner. The fridge is a constant temptation and not leaving the house can become a far more frequent habit.
Whether it be a run or walk around your neighbourhood, online workout classes, or subscribing to the local gym, make sure you are getting that blood flowing every day. Watch what you eat too! Remote working goes hand-in- hand with endless snacking. Keep fresh fruit and vegetables at home and plan out your weekly meals in advance. Mario emphasizes “Do not eat in front of your laptop”.
Ensure Team Meetings Every 2 to 3 Days
Team disconnect can be a very real, and potentially dangerous pitfall for remote working. You will feel like your days melt into each other, and can lose track of what day of the week you are on. It is imperative to schedule those meetings and keep reminders popping up a day before and an hour before.
Developers tend to like to work on their own and get used to one on one communication with someone in the company. But this could land the whole project in jeopardy if the full team is not privy to the communication. Mario explains; “I was recently working on fixing a few problems on our admin system, and it was very important for everybody to not touch anything until it was fixed. A team meeting was vital to let everyone know about it as they would have kept logging onto the admin and this would have affected my work.”
Following up from that, it is in your best interests to record and document meetings. Remote working can result in a dischord of communication and not only can things be easily misinterpreted, but several things can be overlooked. It can easily turn into a “he-said, she-said” situation which could go horribly wrong.
You need to remember that as a remote developer, you are working with a lot more technical subject matter than what the rest of the company is used to, so make sure you follow every meeting up with a brief summary of what was agreed.
The last point is to keep developing yourself. Keep learning. In an office environment, it is a lot easier to be mentored, to be pushed to expand your skills and to learn from more senior developers. When you are working on your own, you can become quite isolated from this and disconnected from how things are evolving.
Push yourself to keep learning. Mario suggests, if you’re an iOS Developer, you may want to add Objective C to your core Swift skills, or simply deepen your Swift skills. Blogs are also incredibly helpful and he recommends https://talk.objc.io to get the latest news on the language.