As many of you will know, this new COVID-19 (or SARS-CoV-2) epidemic is spreading all over the world and I am one of the lucky ones who found themselves rigth in the middle of it: living in the Italian Red Zone (sounds like a bit Command and Conquer-ish to even write it). After the public announcement from the Italian Government, and from a company wide decision to try to do their part in limiting the infections, all of my team is going fully remote for two full weeks.
Today was day 10 of isolation, and has been day 6 of remote working.
Here's some quick considerations from switching en-mass to a remote workplace.
For most remote workers the commute is going to a specific room in your house and as the commute is now reduced to zero, now there's more time to focus on my studies (hello Computer and Network Security bachelor's degree), or to run quarantine errands like getting face masks or some needed groceries in the time windows local stores are open. I hope the latter won't matter to you directly 😷.
Take also care to organise your desk properly with all the needed supplies like a bottle of water, or keep it far to have an excuse to get up to drink and stretching your legs a bit.
Switching from a physical presence workplace to a remote one, made me notice I'd had to communicate more things that I'd took for granted: just a little nod or quick line in chat is now needed to signal that you are actually in your office, or that you're taking a small break, or that you're going to lunch. All these things have obvious cues in a classical office, everyone can see you if you go to the break room, or are engaged with a client call, but not remotely. All the toll to launch these signals are on everyone from the team.
We use Skype (many of you will 🤮 at this I know) as our internal communication tool and so far so good, it meets all of our needed criteria, with a couple of group chats to sync ourselves on different topics.
If clear writing is already necessary, even if skimped over sometimes in favor of word of mouth, remotely becomes vital as your and other people's work will depend or be affected by what it's written and solely by it. I always ask myself
Is there a way this can be mis interpreted? How can I be less ambiguous? Will it sound harsh?
when writing in team chat or in emails with colleagues and clients.
Of course even tracking what you're doing will be sorely needed, since in the office you can simply tell that you're focusing on an issue or ticket and be sure that no one else is already working on it. We were already doing this with a combination of Google Calendar and Redmine ticketing system, so that wasn't too hard of a transition.
As the day winds down, it comes the time to leave your home office and go back to your home habits. I admit I had the temptation to keep working for a little more, to just end this other thing, it will take only a couple of minutes, but luckily I always went for the quick banter in office chat and then logged off.