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Michael Tharrington for The DEV Team

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Discussion and Comment of the Week - v23

This weekly roundup highlights what we believe to be the most thoughtful and/or interesting discussion of the week. We're also be highlighting one particularly cool comment in each installment. 🙌

The DEV Community is particularly special because of the kind and thoughtful discussions happening between community members. As such, we want to encourage folks to participate in discussions and reward those who are initiating or taking part in conversations across the community. After all, a community is made possible by the people interacting inside it.

Discussion of the Week

This one goes to @hr21don for their fun and appropriately festive prompt How do you explain Halloween to a five-year-old?

Was it the most substantive discussion of the week? Maybe not, but arguably so... there are some really thorough responses (I'm looking at you @mellen 😀) and quite a bit of sharing cultural differences as well (see thread). In any case, I appreciated the timeliness of it all + the unexpected but very welcome use of #explainlikeimfive. Reminder to all: if you have questions that you'd like answered in the simplest terms, consider posting them under this tag!


Got a question to ask and want a simple response? Use this tag!

Comment of the Week

Big ups to @sylwiavargas for her detailed answer to @nickytonline's excellent prompt What are your tips for working remotely?

tl;dr: try different work setups out and see what works best for you even if you've never done it!

This is something I've been reflecting a lot on in the past weeks so I'll use the comment space as my notepad 😅

Where I'm coming from

When I started to work remotely I had to rediscover what I (dis)like about my adult life. We are socialized to believe certain things to be true that not necessarily have to hold up under scrutiny, like:

  • eight-hour work makes sense / results in productivity
  • meetings are necessary

Since I no longer worked at an office, I allowed myself to go wild with testing what works for me. I asked myself questions like:

  • Do I like to work in the morning, in the afternoon, or at night?
  • Do I like strict schedule? Is it about how long I work or what type of work I do?
  • What kind of connection do I need with my colleagues to feel happy and safe?
  • Do I need an office, office space, or none of that?
  • If not measured by time, what is my definition of an "honest day's work"?

Because I take time to get used to changes, for the first year, I just observed my reactions to different settings. So, for instance, I'd work for a few weeks in a designated space, then a few weeks in my bed, then from a cafe, then from a living room, etc. Now, three years in, I have clarity on what I need to be happy, which informs the tips below, and also the companies I look for when job-searching.

1. Make sure to rest

Resting when working remotely is different from the in-person office experience.

First of all, most likely you don't have the clear "ritual" of finishing work (packing things up, commuting, changing clothes). Many people struggle with that even if they can't pinpoint the source of the discomfort. Resting becomes easier if you tell your brain: "that's it, work's done" so it's helpful to develop something along these lines. This might be changing clothes, going for a walk after work, leaving the space designated for work.

Secondly, you use your energy differently on zoom calls and in the in-person meetings. It's different for everyone so observe your body and your mind after different types of activities throughout the day. What leaves you exhausted or drained? What gives you energy? For me, zoom calls exhaust me and after a day filled with online chats, I find it extremely difficult to rest - it's like I'm running on a debt energy and even a good night's sleep won't be enough. A solution to that for me was taking ownership of my schedule and guarding the quiet times like my life depended on it (it kinda does).

Lastly, I see that my remote-working friends feel even more guilty to take time off, sick days, or mental health days because they are not commuting to work so who cares. Well, our bodies and minds care! It's extremely important that we schedule time to rest and totally disconnect from work. The world won't end if you're out for a week or two.

2. Find a way to connect to people

Working remotely can be lonely. When you work at the office, you share a little snippets of your real self with your colleagues throughout the day - the opportunities arise naturally, contrary to the online setting.

I love how StackBlitz manages that. We have minimal number of meetings but almost every day there's an opportunity to join and hang out with our team. On Mondays we talk about the weekend, on Wednesdays we play games, on Friday we express gratitude. We also host cook-together sessions and I feel like those are the times when I connected the most with my team because I saw them in their homes and saw their non-work personas. Also, we use Donut for online coffee pairings and I learned to use that time to actually learn something from my colleagues instead of just talking about the weather.

3. Find a team where you can assume good intentions

Misunderstandings on slack or on zoom can be really nasty. Of course you should improve the way you communicate, be kinder, softer, more open and understanding but even with that, you have little control over how others are so you may still end up frustrated. I paired my efforts at becoming a better communicator with finding a team where I feel safe. In such a team, I don't default to feeling like comments or disagreements are personal and that helps me react in a more constructive way. Most importantly, I don't end the day feeling frustrated because I know that all the things will straighten up sooner or later given we all care about each other.

4. Be comfortable

Comfort means something different for everyone. For me it's working in my pajamas and in my bed at home, not having meetings before 11am, but also working in a non-strict schedule. There are days when I wake up and want to go to a museum and then I start late. On Wednesdays, I play Scrabble at the local library with a group of lovely 80-year-old ladies. I take 1,5h lunch breaks so I can do analogue things like sitting in the garden, reading a book, or talking to my mom on the phone. Working remotely gives you more freedom to be comfortable and given all the stresses and obstacles that come with the distributed team, I think we should really take personal comfort seriously.

First off, so glad that you used the comment section as your notepad here, Sylwia! Secondly, your answer is amazingly thorough, well-written, and even formatted to perfection — this is less note-like and reads more like a full post on the subject! Thirdly, the guidance you offer here is really awesome — so much of it feels like advice folks might use to set themselves up for healthy work habits and happiness at the job, which is just a really thoughtful angle to take.

What are your picks?

There's loads of great discussions and comments floating about in this community. These are just a few we chose to highlight. 🙂

I urge you all to share your favorite comment and/or discussion of the past week below in the comments. And if you're up for it, give the author an @mention — it'll probably make 'em feel good. 💚

Top comments (1)

mellen profile image
Matt Ellen

Thanks for the shoutout 😨😁 It was fun to see how not prevelent Halloween is outside Ireland, the USA, Canada and the UK.