December 12, 2017

How to work remotely

How to work remotely - Mixmax Engineering Blog

This is the final part of the Mixmax 2017 Advent Calendar. The previous post on December 11th was about Elasticsearch vs Redshift for Real-Time Ad-Hoc Analytics Queries.

If you work at a technology company, you probably know at least a few people who work outside of the office environment. The mechanics of the software industry make it seamless to log on from almost anywhere in the world and be productive. As an engineer, I have had very little trouble working remotely, and I accomplish more work here than I did while I was in the office. Getting to this point took some work and produced some nice insights, which I will go into in this post.

My path to remote work

Like many technology workers, I kicked off my career in the Bay Area working for some amazing tech companies. The area is great if you are starting your career in tech, but after a few years life took me elsewhere when I got married and we decided to join my wife’s family in Japan.

Unfortunately, the company I was at didn’t offer an option to work remotely. I didn’t want to compromise on my career by taking a job at any company other than a top-notch fast growing tech startup. That’s when I found out about Mixmax. The company is well set up for remote work (we are a communications platform, after all), and we have learned how to make everything come together seamlessly.

Telecommuting effectively

If you are working from a different time zone, as I am, the most important thing to do is separate your work into synchronous and asynchronous work. When I come online at 7am Tokyo time, I know that it is 2pm in San Francisco, and I have 4 or so hours to have face time with my colleagues. Isolating things like meetings from more heads-down solo work is incredibly useful when you are in the office, and when you are out of the office even more so.

Plan and design your day to maximize productivity. Just as you plan your work days for in office work, you should plan your remote days as well. This means setting an alarm, showering, eating real food, and yes, putting on pants.

Spoil yourself with a truly great desk. You have full power to design your workspace, so there is no reason to compromise. If possible, dedicate a room to being your office. I went to Ikea and bought a dinner table and turned it into a huge desk. I also got my favorite monitor (Apple Thunderbolt) and a nice keyboard, mouse and chair. You might be surprised by how good this makes you feel.

Another priority for any remote employee should be working to maintain relationships with your coworkers. This often times means simulating “coffee break” talk over Slack or Hangouts. In my case, many of these employees are themselves remote, so we created a Slack channel for remote employees to socialize. It is one of my favorite places to hang out virtually.

Finally, do your best to stay in tune with the home office. One easy way to do this is to set your work computer's time zone to that of the home office. You might also get a standalone clock that does this. It is also quite useful for knowing when to call family and friends back home.

More and more people are doing remote work, hopefully these five tips are helpful to you in your effort to work remotely or build a good remote culture.

Or, if you’d like to default to building new tech, open-sourcing it, and talking about it, you can come work at Mixmax. :) Join us!

You deserve a spike in replies, meetings booked, and deals won.

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