Today we have a guest editorial from Kendra Little because she has amazing things to say.
As concerns about COVID-19 spread, I’ve seen lots of folks online sharing their tips for working remotely. While I’ve recently moved to the UK and have begun working regularly from the Redgate office in Cambridge, prior to this I worked remotely in the United States for around 10 years. Trial and error led me to develop three important habits which I recommend for successful remote workers.
Use a webcam in meetings whenever you possibly can
I know, I know: most of us database types don’t love the idea of turning on a webcam. In fact, we often feel the urge to stay hidden during calls.
However, I’ve found that remote meetings work dramatically better when as many people in the meeting as possible use webcams. This isn’t about looking pretty, it’s about helping people feel they are being listened to, and about helping people pick up nuance about what you are saying. I also find that when I have a webcam on, I am far less likely to multi-task and I tend to focus more on the meeting.
I recommend asking your employer if they will reimburse you for a reasonably priced USB webcam for joining meetings remotely, if you are open to using one. The built-in webcam on a laptop usually doesn’t make for the best experience due to poor camera quality and awkward camera positioning.
Don’t work out of Slack/Teams or your Inbox; check them regularly instead
When you change your work environment, it’s easy to spend all your time staring into a team chat window or your email inbox. This becomes your way to be connected to people, and the next thing you know you’re in a mode of constant response to things as soon as they come in.
Then, after a few hours, you’re exhausted and you aren’t even sure what you’ve accomplished.
Remote work is much more productive for me if I regularly close out my email and chat windows to focus on a task, and re-open them periodically to update status and check in on what my team is doing. If I need to be reachable for a critical task or project, I’ll look at alerts on my phone, but otherwise I try to leave it be for 30 minute periods. I also find that some of those issues which creep up in email may be solved by someone else if they sit for a few minutes.
Use a timer if you need help breaking up your work day
For some of us, it’s easy to accidentally over-work if we are working from home. Sure, I took a break during lunch to watch a Netflix show for half an hour, but … did I actually get up from my desk at all in the afternoon? It’s easy to end up dehydrated with a bad neck ache at the end of the day.
When working remotely, I use different tools to make sure I get up throughout the day: sometimes I use calendar entries, sometimes I use a free Pomodoro app, sometimes I use a time-tracking tool like Toggl (their free tier is enough for me).
Want to read more about work practices in light of COVID-19? Our team has written a few posts on the Redgate blog recently with our thoughts on this topic:
- Grant Fritchey wrote, “Does DevOps Deliver in a Health Crisis?”
- I wrote, “How Database DevOps can support remote working in the age of Coronavirus”
- Jeremiah Peschka wrote, “Key actions to take with your monitoring system in preparation for COVID-19”