Is there a secret sauce for working remotely?

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Credit: GitLab

– While we all adjust to a new reality

People all over the world have been forced to work remotely, and even though most of us have tried working from home a couple of days here and there in the past, the transition to all-remote work can seem daunting.

Most of us are currently facing a new reality, but for some companies, remote work is how they work, and they love it! For example, the company GitLab has more than 1.200 employees – all working remotely. 

Fortunately for us, they don’t mind sharing secrets on how they built a billion-dollar company from home offices across the globe (56 countries to be exact). Check out GitLab’s All Remote Guide here. Other examples of companies that have “cracked the code” on working remotely are Dell, Zapier, Stickermule, Hotjar and Heruku
 

Work is what we do, not where we are

Since the 90’s teleworking has been a thing. Some companies introduced the concept with various motivations, such as offering their employees more flexibility with the added benefit of saving costs on office space. In the current situation, a lot of people are forced to work from home. And those who are not familiar with the concept need to adjust to the new reality. 

Credit: GitLab

The internet is teeming with guides on how to work successfully from home. On the more humorous side, this a guy on Reddit describes how he tries to simulate the feeling of open office spaces at home by heating up a day-old cup of coffee and adjusting the room temperature to be either too hot or too cold, etc. [in Danish], or this guide to working from home, recommending: “Don’t have kids”. 

Browsing through a number of the more serious examples leaves you with a few good takeaways. Apart from the basics, such as having a computer and internet connection, you could consider the following:
 

Plan your weekly workload and visualize it

Visualizing your work has multiple advantages. With a visual overview, you can prioritize tasks and keep track of what you have accomplished. Check out this list of tools, that could help you visualize your tasks. If they don’t appeal to you a simple mindmap, or even a list could do the trick.
 

Use the right tools for collaboration

Speaking of tools, in order to work together successfully, from a distance, we also need some tools to support collaboration and – not to forget – team spirit. Maybe some of you have noticed an overflow of targeted ads on social media for tools that claim to make remote working easy? There is an abundance of tools available to help you keep in touch with your team, work together with and plan your work. In team ORBIT Lab, we are big fans of Slack and Discord (and no, this is not an ad). You are very welcome to join our ORBIT Lab Community Slack channel. We use discord to help with projects, during certain office hours, which you can see in this Facebook post, where you will also find the link to our Discord Server (office hours will be updated in Facebook posts every Monday until we are back in full operation).
 

Implement routines and do something other than work

It is easy to lose touch with your routines when your whole day is spent at home. Even though the word routine spells boredom to many, spending most of the day at home means you could potentially get trapped in working all day. Do something other than work, e.g. get some exercise! We are still allowed to go for walks as long as we keep our distance from others. However, if you prefer to stay inside, the internet is offering many creative challenges, e.g. this Everyday Workout Challenge, by Nordic Race, presenting new exercises for each day along with instruction videos to give you a full-body workout. Also, if you want to use your tech skills to make a difference on a broader scale, check out these suggestions in our Facebook post.
 

Create a comfy and dedicated workstation

A lot of us are spending a lot of time at home. If it is possible, divide your home into zones – one for work, one for eating, one for sleeping etc. Below, you can see some of the ORBIT Lab team’s temporary home offices.

Also, check out some inspiring examples of the Heruku Team’s workstations in this blogpost.
 

Other resources and references

IDA’s tips to working from home, structuring your day and preventing sore bones and muscles [in Danish].

The Mozilla Foundation’s tips for online meetings.

The book, Remote, by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.

Two podcasts from the Heruku team about coordinating remote work and about making remote work work.

Skillshare is currently offering a free two-month trial period, offering online classes on any subject you can think of.

Corona Tech. New Danish initiative that attempts to address Corona-related challenges in affected communities with the help of technology.

Folding@Home. Donate computer power to support research in simulations of COVID-19 proteins.

 

Hope to see all of you back in ORBIT Lab soon. In the meantime, stay healthy and keep your head up high.