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Charlie Gleason for Heroku

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Climbing Up The Walls: (Not) Remotely Business As Usual

We are living in unprecedented times, and many of us are grappling with a really similar set of complicated and, at times exhausting, emotions. I've been thinking about this a lot since my conversation with Margaret Francis, the SVP of Platform Data Services at Salesforce and former Heroku GM, in our recent podcast for Code[ish].

At Heroku, we have gone from roughly over half of our team being remote, to all of our team being remote. We, along with people all over the world, have suddenly found ourselves working from living rooms, laundry rooms, gardens, garages, sheds, and kitchens. It can be overwhelming at times—learning new skills and adjusting old ones—so we wanted to step back and celebrate the unique ways we’re all coping.

I wanted to revisit the idea of sharing our spaces, work and otherwise, to hopefully make us all feel a little less alone. Here are some examples of how the team has adjusted, and coped, in the new normal.


Images of a male climber on an indoor wall in a garage, with the quote “Ever since I started renovating my house I wanted to put a climbing wall in a garage. It just never seemed like a priority considering I (to this day) don't have a fully finished kitchen. That changed when the shelter in place order came through, and so I asked the carpenter who is installing my kitchen change gears and put in the training wall first. Climbing is my only real hobby, I climb at least 3 times a week. Staying strong and sane is important to me. The biggest issue now in my privileged situation is that I live alone and miss seeing friends and family, at the gym or elsewhere.” Hannes Fostie, Marketing Web Ops Engineer, Belgium.

A laptop on a table outdoors, in the sunshine, and an office with a laptop and display. "My office in the afternoon." Damien Mathieu, Software Engineering LMTS, France.

A computer on a desk, with a leafy green plant next to it. "Finished setting this up in a weekend-ignore the cable anchors slowly falling off the bottom of the desk." Gabriel Albacarys, Software Engineering SMTS, USA.

A laptop and iPad showing music software, and a home gym. “In my spare time, I have been getting in touch with my creative side by producing music. Oh, and I cleaned out the garage and made a gym.” Luis Alvarez, Data Analyst, USA.

A computer on a desk in front a window, showing grass outside, and a man on a video call in a treehouse. "Decided to try WFTKTH (work from the kids’ tree house) this afternoon. Also, all this inspired me to clean up my desk… FEELS SOOO GOOD.” Mike Busch, Software Engineering LMTS, USA.

A laptop, multiple monitors, and other tech gadgets in the loft of a house, and a laptop outside in the garden. "My office in the morning." Tom Crayford, Software Engineering PMTS, United Kingdom.

A brightly coloured mechanical keyboard, a laptop, and two displays on a desk, and a workout area. "I finally got the second monitor hooked up and the desktops updated. My quarantine trampoline is the closest I get to air travel nowadays. Here’s my home workout
setup including a mini trampoline, mat and sliders for Pilates-type exercises, resistance band, weighted backpack (a Salesforce backpack filled with textbooks).” Valerie Woolard, Software Engineering LMTS, United Kingdom.

A computer on a desk with a pride wallpaper, in a shed with a view of a grassy backyard. "A little tidy up! Now I just need to add another monitor." Niklas Richardson, Customer Solutions Architect, United Kingdom.

A three-display racing video game set up. "I had to build a gaming battlestation." Neil Middleton, Heroku Support Engineering Manager, United Kingdom.

A backyard with a play area, with the quote “Since the parks are closed, I built this for my kids last week. Monday was the inauguration” Becky Jaimes, Product Management Senior Manager, USA.

Another backyard with a play area, with the quote “We are also working on a play area. The mulch, log, and a maze through the grove of lilacs are recent.” Taylor Meek, EM for Heroku Platform Data Services, USA.

A woman holding a guinea pig, and a laptop on a picnic table, on a desk, and on top of a stack of board games. "I love to share desk space with my daughter. She decorates the space with jasmine and herbs picked from the garden, they create a lovely perfume. We often feed Poppi, our tiny guinea pig, parsley and carrot tops during our respective Hangouts. Poppi is very popular in 7th grade classes and company meetings alike. I like to change my view over the course of the day. I've put chargers and lights in every room and installed a mesh network that covers the entire lot to support this micro nomadism. I find that as the day progresses, I migrate towards views of the outside, of my garden or the mountain I can see behind it. I often end the day at the picnic table." Margaret Francis, SVP, Platform Data Services, USA.

Numerous displays on a clean desk, with a grey mechanical keyboard. "Not completely done setting up the new desk yet. I need to add a few more pieces of rack gear and do some cable routing, but for now I’m super happy with this." Nick Cannariato, Platform Support Engineer, USA.

A desk with futurist lighting and recording gear, and a before photo of a messy desk. "I needed a bigger desk for my personal gaming/streaming station." Julián Duque, Developer Advocate, USA.

Three computers on a dining room table, with two children sitting at them. "Office / school set up ready for next week!" Dan Richards, Heroku CSA, United Kingdom.

A before photo of a standing desk made up boxes, followed by an after photo of a clean mechanical standing desk above a treadmill, with a dog and cat looking on. "My team is majority remote, so I've worked from home for a few years now. When I saw that I would be doing more of my job from home (vs. the large amount of travel that used to be part of my routine), I knew I needed a real office/desk setup. A fidgeter/mover by nature, I already had the treadmill but had to cobble together a temporary setup of my dining room table, boxes and items heavy enough to add balance to the stack to get me through the weeks while I waited on a real desk. After many days of adventures with the logistics/shipping company, the desk pieces arrived, and I was able to assemble everything in a
couple hours.” Zayne Turner, Architect Relations, USA.


This post is a follow on to our previous post on a similar theme, On Making Work Less Remote. It is also related to the podcast “Books, Art, and Zombies: How to Survive in Today's World”, in which Charlie Gleason and Margaret Francis discuss the ways in which they're keeping hope and happiness alive with their families.

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