Engineering

Working remotely at Redox

Posted May 9, 2016
By Nick Hatt

 

Half of the Redox team is remote. This month, I’m extremely remote –barely working from China. In this post I’d like to meditate on what tools you need to be a successful remote worker.

I highly recommend Zapier’s ultimate guide to remote working if you are looking at building a remote team.

The toolbelt

I’m dividing this into physical things you will need to make a viable remote workplace. This Zapier chapter offers some great things to consider but I want to add a few.

Hardware

  • Computer Macbooks of various kinds are the staple of the startup world for a number of reasons – just remember to put distinctive stickers on yours so you can spot it in a pile of 7 macbooks scattered around a couch in Puerto Rico.
  • Desk/Lap I’ve found that I work best when my screen size changes over the course of the day. Normally I have a giant 21:9 monitor with a few things going. After a few hours I find that sitting in a coffee shop with just my laptop screen makes me more productive. My brain oscilates between needing to see things side by side and needing to focus on one thing at a time. I plan on substituting the coffee shop for my backyard soon!
  • Cowork/Homework Working at home vs. a co-working space can be a huge decision or a tiny one depending on what your location and budget are. In a perfect world, you can do either depending on how you feel each day. Being around people can make you more focused both by needing to drown out distractions (headphones blasting Drake works for me), as well bouncing ideas and problems off other smart tech people. I’d recommend trying both and not doing anything permanent for a few months while you learn about how you work.

Software

  • Standup No matter what development methodology you follow – you probably want to check in at some periodic frequency as a team. For this we use Google Hangouts. Don’t underestimate the power of seeing your teammate’s faces.
  • Pair Programming All of our data shows that when we work together on things, the finished product is delivered faster and with higher quality. We use Screenhero for this, and it works incredibly well.
  • Communication If you’re not using Slack or similar you’re probably not being as efficient as you can. Slack is great for asynchronous communication and shenanigans. It’s easy to pop into sleep mode when I’m deep in the trenches. (Does anyone else wonder if Slack sponsors these Fivethrityeight “Slack chats”?)
  • Artifacts I think it goes without saying that to do remote you need your code to be in the cloud so everyone can get at it. We use GitHub like fiends. We use Google Docs a bunch too.

Stuff I love

I didn’t mention some other things that help me be more productive but I thought I’d shout them out:

  • Uplift Desk standing desk
  • Code Keyboard – know what you are getting into with a mechanical keyboard especially if you co-work. (I use green switches).
  • Making espresso at home. Good videos here.
  • Spend as much money as possible on your chair. I love Steelcase.
  • Retina displays. TC had to show me this feature when I upgraded from a 2010 MBP last year.
  • Headphones for focus jams. Noise cancelling is a game-changer if you fly often or work in coffee shops. Bose has the best noise-cancelling and is a Redox team fave. I splurged on some wireless Sennheisers and they are more comfortable than the Bose for me, but the mic and noise cancelling are inferior.

Cheers! I’ll be back with more about my China trip and more insights with a new post soon.

谢谢