Working Remotely from the Other Side


Oh my! Today, I am here with a new and innovative subject that you have absolutely not heard about, lately.

This is, of course, me joking.

Lately, we have been working from home, and we have learned many lessons, I am sure. There are many articles and blog posts about the Working Remotely topic.

I want to talk, however, about working remotely from the other side. Wait. What exactly is the other side? Well, in this case, I mean: the other side of the Ocean. The Atlantic Ocean.

For the past couple of years, I have worked for companies with offices on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. I have had the opportunity to work from the Americas, while my team is in Europe (i.e. with a time difference of more than 6 hours).

I have learned some things on the road, that I would like to share.

Remote from the other side ☎️

  • Find a quiet place
    • Where you can focus and there is no noise around you that could disturb people during calls or pairing sessions.
    • Avoid distractions 🍹
  • Get good headphones (preferably with a microphone)
    • The external microphone from the computer can capture environment noise and be disturbing to other people.
    • Avoids echo from the other side.
  • Get a good internet connection (#shocking)
    • So that sound, video and screen sharing quality are good. Also, so that you can work reliably.
  • Setup and organize your schedule as if you were in the office
    • Determine the start and end of your work day.
    • Organize and schedule meetings, time to focus, lunch-time and breaks.
    • Change context while you are having lunch (avoid having lunch in front of your computer).
  • Take breaks
    • Similar to when you are in the office: stand up, stretch, take some fresh air, have a quick call or chat with a friend or loved one.
  • Set expectations with your team about your work day
    • Your team will feel that you are present, almost as if you were present in the office.
    • e.g. I will be online from X to Y and plan on getting lunch at Z.
  • Communicate with your team if you are going to be AFK (away from keyboard)
    • For example, if you will be away for a “long-ish” period of time (e.g. more than 30 minutes).
  • Use your communication tools effectively
    • Slack (synchronous communication)
    • Email (asynchronous communication)
    • Zoom (audio, video and screen sharing)
  • Be open, patient and respectful with your team
    • They are doing their best to make you feel included.
    • If you have a meeting, and they have not called you: ask to be called, please 🙏
  • Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
    • If your team has a stand-up and it happens during the time that you are online, attend stand-up.
    • Otherwise, write your update in your team channel, for example. They will see it when they are online and ask you questions, if they have any.
    • Do your best to be clear and concrete about what you did yesterday, what you are doing today and if you have any blockers. Prepare.
  • Get the contact information (e.g. phone number) from at least one of your colleagues
    • So that you can communicate urgent messages, if necessary.
  • Keep connecting with your team
    • Keep the ✨ alive.
    • e.g. Send a private message to someone and ask them how they are doing and/or if they need something, keep having 1-1s.
  • Prepare yourself for a work day as if you were going to the office
    • e.g. try to avoid those cozy PJ’s :bowtie:
  • Get the music on 🎵
    • Prepare a playlist that helps you focus and get things done.
  • Please and Thank you can go a long way 💖
    • As they do in the office, as well.

It is a Two-way road

  • Effort, openness and empathy are needed from both sides of the cable ☎️
    • From on-site people to help remote colleagues feel included.
    • From remote people to ask questions and communicate.
  • Trust that everyone is doing their best and learning
    • It is a learning experience for everyone.
  • Reflect, retrospect and communicate what is working and what is not working.
  • Enjoy the experience and keep learning.

Alright! That’s what is on my list, for now.

I hope you are having a good day and if you aren’t, remember that everything is ephemeral. It will, eventually, get better.

May the Force be with you, always ✨