In my current company, upmysport, the dev team is distributed half in London (UK) and half in Chamonix (France). This is my first experience with a fully remote work. I’d worked from home some days before, but I wouldn’t consider it to amount to a remote job. These are my thoughts after nine months working remotely.
My lifestyle has experienced a 360 degrees change. Even if I couldn’t complain of my previous life in London, Chamonix fits better with my interests and I can practise the sports I love. In addition, working remotely makes it easier for me to travel to other countries to visit family and friends while keeping my workflow going.
The lifestyle factor can seem to benefit only the employee, but I think that thanks to my new way of living my levels of stress and burnout have droped massively. I now feel fresher, happier and more focused at work, so my productivity is higher than before.
Chats and videoconference are not as good as a face to face conversation or a coffee together, which usually means less brainstorming and less informal feedback. On the other hand, the lack of personal communication makes the time we spend face to face more special, with everybody involved trying to get the most of it.
One thing I’ve noticed is the reduction of interruptions. When you are in an open-plan office, quite often people just come to your desk with a comment on a football match, last night’s TV show and so on. In a remote environment this kind of interruption is easier to filter, so you can “plan” your procrastination time.
The lack of human interaction also makes it more difficult to create a company culture and a group of work-friends, but this effect can be mitigated with a bit of discipline and company effort. For example, among other practices we have company events from time to time to gather toguether and get to know each other better. We are also always available via chat or videoconference, and we share the progress inside teams and among them then quite often. All these small things keep the team united.
Apart from some face to face pairing, I’ve not found any major differences between my previous onsite jobs and my current remote code practices. We (developers) already work with “ready to remote” tools: remote repositories, pull requests, CI systems, bug trackers, online boards, management tools, and a long etc.
To sum up, I believe that remote work is working quite well for upmysport, and I’m really enjoying it. Of course their context makes it easy to work remotely: it’s a startup with a small number of employees, there’s not a big time difference between both offices and the hierarchy is quite flat. It would be interesting to hear other people’s experience with remote work in big enterprises.