Due to the Coronavirus outbreak and the quarantine measures, the chances are that, if you are a developer, you are now working from home. Or at least you should be — our profession is flexible enough so that you can do 99% of your work remotely.
If you are used to working on-premises, you may find that adapting to working from home may have left you a bit disoriented.
I know, I’ve been there, and I would like to share with you what I hope to be some useful advice when working remotely.
Don’t stop waking up early
Don’t change your working hours. Seriously. Just deduct the commute time from your schedule.
As an example, if you are getting up at 7:30 to be at your work at 9:00, you should now wake up at 8:30, not 9:00. Make a cup of coffee, allow your body to “boot” correctly, and get to work (I mean your home desk where you have your workstation). You should avoid waking up at 11:00 or 12:00 if you weren’t used to doing that before the quarantine.
You have to do this for the following reasons:
First of all, the quarantine is bound to end at some point. When that happens, you don’t want to find yourself totally out of schedule. Don’t drastically change your habits, as you won’t have to press yourself too much when you return to your past wake times when the Coronavirus situation ends.
Moreover, there is a real value in waking up early. During the morning hours, your mind is at its full capacity, you have a fresh mindset, and you didn’t have to take the train or be stuck on traffic to get to work. You can take advantage of that to do as many things as possible early during the day and finish your work on time.
If you manage to follow a strict schedule, you will thank yourself later.
Don’t stop leaving work on-time
One thing that happens when teams are transforming their way of working from “an on-premises” culture to “working remotely” is that their sense of importance regarding time is often lost.
That’s why you may experience some meetings being set up precisely at the time where you were supposed to leave work before the quarantine. It’s because there are always those people that feel that they may be able to take advantage of your now non-existent commuting time.
Well, in case you didn’t know, let me break the news to you: Your saved commuting time is your time. This means that if anyone is allowed to take advantage of this extra free time is you. Therefore, there is no reason to work overtime now unless this were something you would be willing to do while working on-premises.
Take advantage of your extra time to see your family, read a book, play games on your console, watch a movie, or even staring at the cracks of your ceiling.
Equip yourself with proper hardware & software for digital meetings
When having digital meetings, it’s very tempting to treat them as if they were just regular phone calls.
They are not.
You should be set up to share your screen for some remote pair programming as well as free your hands as much as possible — and no, I don’t mean equipping yourself with your phone’s hands-free.
Instead of using something like this:
Use something like this:
The difference is that the latter allows you to speak freely without the microphone being scratched to your shirt (or whatever it is you are wearing). Plus, you see that material wrapped around the microphone? That filters some background noise (in case you live in some noisy apartment) as well as much of your breathing noises, which are so common when using your phone’s hands-free.
If you invest some additional money, you may get a pair of headphones, which are suitable for listening to your favorite beats when programming, too.
Speaking of noises, some of us don’t have the luxury of being very isolated from background noises, or their rooms may produce a lot of echoes.
There is software out in the market that can cope with that — one that I personally used and found working well is https://krisp.ai/ . This kind of software is more important in case you want to lead remote presentations where you want to be sure that your voice is being clearly heard.
Don’t get “too relaxed” when working
You may be working from home, but during work hours, you should be not “feeling” at home.
Close that Netflix tab. This is no time to watch that new series that came out last week. Put on some good music to help you be more effective at programming and isolate yourself from anything that hasn’t to do with your job — just as you would do if you were at the office. Virtual meetings are still meetings, and you should be on time. You should take breaks, but not more than those you were taking when working on-premises.
During working hours, your colleagues rely on you, whether you are at home or on-premises. You really don’t want to be a person who gives the impression to his/her peers that you can only concentrate when under supervision of the fear of being caught slacking.
Remember; You are still at the office — you are just not inside the company’s building anymore. Lack of professionalism is evident, no matter the physical space you operate in.
Look after your physical health
Sure, you are a developer, so your day job involves sitting on a chair all day, so it should be the same thing now that you’re working from home, right?
If you are keeping a close track of your time while in the office, you will see that no matter how dedicated and focused you are, there are times that you leave your office chair and do other things. Those activities may include going to do some pair programming with another colleague, attend a meeting, going for lunch, or just have a break. At those times during the day, your body is getting off the chair, and all of your muscles are being used for something more than just clicking and typing.
Now all of this is gone, and you don’t have any incentive to get off the chair for any other reason other to eat (which will only take you to the next room) or when nature calls.
Since you don’t have any commuting time, you have an excellent chance to put some exercise in your daily schedule. Whether it’s waking up one hour early and go for a jog, or just do one hour of exercise when you finish work, exercising is essential right now. You don’t want to gain weight because you are stuck in the house all day, and you certainly don’t want a quarantine to make you physically lazy.
You should always exercise no matter the circumstances, but during these days, it’s more crucial because it’s one of the few things that will keep your body in shape.
Let alone the fact that it will clear your mind, too.
If you are in a state/country that allows going out for exercise during the quarantine and you have the luxury of living in a not so crowded place, I suggest preferring a bit of jogging instead of indoor activities. It’s better for your mental health since you don’t have many other reasons to go out anyway.
Oh, and it’s an excellent time to improve your diet, too. During the quarantine, it’s very tempting to sit inside and eat all day ( I speak from experience ). But it’s also much easier to have a stricter eating schedule, so I would advise following the latter approach.
Developers are few of the luckiest professionals during this era. The nature of Software Development allows us to work from anywhere and do anything, provided that we have an Internet connection.
The quarantine changed a lot in our everyday lives, and we are not yet aware of the longterm financial, social, and professional implications it will have.
Don’t let that detract you from the fact that you are still developing the same projects as before, collaborating with the same team as previously, and that your body still has the same needs as before the quarantine. Equip yourself, therefore, with the necessary mental and physical tools.