My home, my office: remote working at Amazee

At Amazee Labs, we have a good number of people working remotely, some of them (like me) at a 100% capacity, and others who do it every now and then. So, what does a remote working day look like? Let me share a few things from my own experiences with you.

My home, my office

Commute

The biggest difference opposed to someone working in an office is probably the commute. It usually takes me a full 5-10 seconds to move from wherever I am in the house to my office. Yeah, that’s it! Time spent commuting per day is a few seconds. I can use that time to take the kids to/from school, to work out and to sleep (not applicable with active kids at home). You can actually work from anywhere in the world, as long as there is a good internet connection.

Communication

As we don’t have a physical presence in the office, we need to make a digital appearance and make sure that our colleagues and clients know that we’re there.

Zoom (video calls), Slack (chat) and Jira (ticket system) are our daily tools to communicate with each other. The supplementary benefit to using these tools is that there is an extensive log history of what’s going on in a project.

Jira communications

We add log entries to the tickets, we chat in the project channel every time we need to discuss/ask something (all our clients have full access to our Slack chat channels for their projects as well as their Jira project - we embrace transparency).

This is extremely important for us, not only for us remotes, but all of us. We’re a distributed team, ranging from Portland, USA (GMT-7) to Wellington, New Zealand (GMT+13) and passing through our main HUBS in Austin (GMT-5), Cape Town (GMT+2) and Zurich (GMT+1). We sometimes create a ticket before finishing work for the day and then somebody picks it up in our sleep, so when you wake up that ticket is magically done.

Amazee people locations

We even say our good mornings/goodbyes via slack!

Slack communication

If needed, we also video chat. In fact, as we follow SCRUM in our teams, where we video-chat every day. This is what a daily stand up looks like: (Here we have people from Cape Town, Zurich, Birmingham, Tunisia, and Scotland)

Zoom standup

We use Zoom for stand-ups, for sprint retrospectives and planning sessions, whenever we need to discuss something in more detail or we need to catch up with a client. So, as you can see, communication is not an issue at all when working remote, it can be an advantage.

Working Patterns

Some of the remote people follow a fixed schedule, as when you’re usually in an office, but in my case (and a few others), we have patterns, rather than fixed hours. In my case, I usually complete a big chunk of my day in the morning, where I can catch up with the Cape Town folks in our daily stand-up, and go through the main bulk of tickets for the day. After that, I usually take a long break where I try to work out. Then there is usually a second block in the afternoon and most days yet another block at night, where I can easily catch up with US / New Zealand folk.

Those patterns work really well with our multiple time zones and my busy life, where my wife and I try to be with the kids, work and be active… We even have a schedule for us and the kids - otherwise, we wouldn’t know where and who should pick up the kids, etc (I’m the ‘F’).

Schedule

The Downside

Last but not least, and probably the biggest downside of being remote, is the fact that I hardly ever meet my colleagues in real life. I get the chance to interact with all of them every day, being Austin, Zurich, Cape Town or any other location, but I barely ever meet them. That’s why I embrace the events like DrupalCons, DrupalCamps or our team events to meet them all physically.

That’s all really, other than those few things there isn’t much difference with the rest of the office-located Amazees. Some of them will be telling you soon how it is to work on their side, so keep an eye on the blog.

PS: ‘remote = UK’ for me, for now...

November 10, 2017
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