Posts Tagged

remote working

Weekly Post 14th Sep 2018

Welcome

Welcome to my weekly post. In this posts I share thought and ideas or fact that I have experienced during my last working week.

We are all too busy to actually write entire blog post on any small details, but small and concise info can be gathered in just a few minutes, and writing them down is helpful both for the writer ( allows him/her to think about the events) and for the readers (that could learn from it).

I really hope you enjoy it, and as with every of my post, I look forward to see feedback and comments.

Conference for president – SwanseaCon

No better way to start this post by thanking my company for giving me and many of my other colleagues, the opportunity to go and attend SwanseaCon. I have already shared my love for conferences in one of my previous post (Why sending your staff to conference is actually a good idea), but sharing my appreciation again does not harm! ūüôā

If you have never attended a conference I greatly suggest you to try and find one nearby. They can be costly at times, but there are always free tickets and promotions going around, and if you really try hard, you usually can get a good discount on prices!

If someone would ask me what is the main benefits for attending conferences, I would probably say that it is not just the “learning” part of it, but it is actually what I call the “eye opening” moments.

What I mean by “eye opening” is hearing attendees and speaker discussing the same problem that you are facing, the same issues that you are yet to resolve, and the same long lengthy meeting that you are forced to attend. In simple word, it help you realise that the neighbour lawn is not actually greener that yours. This conversation helps you to appreciate what you have, and in same ( mine) even feel blessed.

Help your peer

As many of you know, I am very keep in helping individuals around the globe to join our industry. I do this primarily because I really like to teach other people, but also because I am of the idea that teaching is the greatest learning tool existing on earth ( Maybe a topic for another day).

There are lots of fantastic movements around the world, that are helping people in learning the basic skills (freecodecamp, codeacademy, codementor), but unfortunately this is still not enough. My experience has shown me that the overwhelming part of a full time job in coding is actually encapsulated by the dozens of actions and tools that we all use on a day to day.

You may know the basic understanding of array and how to declare objects, but no many people actually help you learning the GIT branch and release processes, IIS website setup, Issue tracking tools (JIRA, TFS), SQL/MYSQL migrations, coding standards, etc…

The reason why I am mentioning it in my weekly post, is because I have accepted the first PULL request for one of my mentee. This can be a simple day to day activity for a seasoned developer, but I think for others can be a very important moment and I wanted to share my happiness!

The power of “face to face”

We live in a time where “remove working” is the cool job, where big offices are being replaced by small local ones, where people that seat just a few desk away prefer to contact you by Chat instead than have a proper conversation.

As much as people praise the above actions and movement, I am a still a strong believer that a good face to face discussion is un-replaceable. I am blessed to have good flexibility in work, and I use it just when I am in real need for it. I cannot deny that I am very productive, that if needed I am able to switch off all chat and really focus on my day to day activity, but I am also aware that all the chat and the conversation that I may be avoiding¬†could actually be more important than my “focus” time. ( I am aware that staying home does not mean that no meeting or conversation take place, but I get less disrupted when home).

In the company where I currently work full time, we have few offices, and this week there was a last minute sprint change that put me in “charge” of a team over 100 miles away. As much as I like my bed, and I like to be in the comfort of my office, I decided being able to have the “face to face” meeting was more important.

The team was willing of having “remote” meeting and was not too bothered about it, but I can guarantee¬†my visit made them more than happy.

The first good feedback that I saw was that everyone, knowing that I was going early in the morning, made a good effort of starting at a reasonable time to have “as much time as possible” together. Next, we manage to achieve so much in a single day, and it was all due to the guys great intensity in using my time wisely. Last but not least, during lunch, pleased from the great attitude I offered the team a coffee and we had a great break where we “bond” as a team.

I know many people that have been working remotely for years, and I am not saying anything against it, but personally I know that I prefer to share a desk and a coffee with someone instead than hiding behind a webcam. (probably because I am Italian, and I use my hands too much to just do a video call!)

The hard choices (Spaces or tabs)

This is the last point that I want to share with you all. In fact it happened on Friday, right before the end of my busy week.

If you have been a developer for many years, and if you are in a medium large company you have surely been part of a meeting like this before.

Due to some technical changes, I had to get together with the rest of my colleagues to “update” our existing coding standards. As the title show, this meeting turn our to be very hard indeed.

Unfortunately, everyone has personal preferences, and by the time you reach an advanced/senior level you will have a strong believe in your ideas.

I have found an happy medium in the past few years, where all the “coding standards” are decided democratically using questionnaire that are shared with all our developers. The advantage of this method is that it reduce the amount of arguments ( reduce not remove!)¬†but on the other hand it give no control at all one what will be decided.

As much as I suggest to you all to use the same approach, I warn you that people “preferences” still stand strong, so no matter if you manage to go through and decide once and for all if you will be using commas before or after, and the amount of spaces you want, this conversation will ALWAYS come back as soon as the work “coding standards” is mentioned. This means that you have been open to the possibility of changes overtime, if you like it or not.

I cannot say that I am happy to deal with coding standards and be part of this “hard choices”, but deep inside I feel good when having this conversation. The show that people care, they show that they want they voice heard, and you should never stop from happening, as hard as it is.

Summary

This week has been quite a roller coaster, even if I do not remember when it was the last time that I had a quite week. I really hope you enjoy the topics covered above, and please feel free to discuss and comments below or by contacting me on twitter.

 

why work from home, pros and cons

In the past decade work from home has increased steadily, becoming now one of the “must have” when seeking for a new job opportunity. This report from the Bureau of labor statistics, shows that in USA there was a 5% increase in people telecommuting from 2013 to 2015. Reaching a peak of 25% (Full report here)

This trend is powered by the fact that both the employer and the employee gain from the use of it.
Few years ago, it would have been very hard to convince your board members that working from home, would have increased productivity, because there was a layer of doubt across managers to accept that having an employee sit in his own home would have ever been beneficial for them.
But luckily, thanks to big companies such as google, amazon and Apple that have driven this trend, and tons of statistics and success stream produced by remote workers it is becoming steadily easier to convince your company to allow to work from home.

The good stuff

There are plenty of resources from around the internet to convince you or your employer to swift toward working from home.
For personal experience the main advantages for both employer and employees to offer work from home are:

Employer advantages

  • Save money on office spaces
  • Allow to employ people from all over the world
  • Increase people morale and productivity
  • It make the company more appealing to employee
  • Statistically proven that employee work longer and harder

Employee advantages

  • No need to commute
  • Save of travel expenses
  • More relaxed due to familiar environment
  • Allow to seek for job from all over the world

The bad stuff

Even if work from home is a fantastic trend, there are some part of it that can really affect you, either if you are the company owner of an employee.
I have personally experienced a small degree of work from home and I have noticed that not all grass is green.
work from home is very good on the tin, but it comes with its own disadvantages and these are:

Employer disadvantages

  • Extra set up/ software needed for work from home
  • Need good organisation with inventory, because scattered accross the globe
  • Employees could be on different timezone and this can affect the business
  • It is not easy to transition to remote working when you are using to deal face to face

Employee disadvantages

  • You may inadvertently work too much
  • Hard to switch off because work and life environment is the same
  • Different timezone may affect you (eg. company meeting)
  • Lack of socialisation
  • It is not easy to transition to remote working when you are using to deal face to face

Conclusion

I personally think that is not easy to transition to work remotely, and I also believe that is not something that may actually suit everyone’s needs. Telecommuting, surely has its own advantages and can be very useful in some circumstances (eg, for people working in very remote areas or very focused individuals), but I am very sceptical that working in your own house is actually going to be the norm across the industry.

A tangible example to show how difficult could actually be to adopt this trend, has recently been announced by IBM, that even if it was one of the early adopter to offer its employees the ability to work from home, has now started to move all its workforce back into offices, as shown by this report of the newsobserver. 

I had the ability to do remote working, but unfortunately, I really missed the face to face, the chat in the kitchen, hearing people conversation and start a office wide discussion.

Nowadays, software like Microsoft Teams and Slack are facilitating the transition offering great communication and visual features, but I personally think it is still not enough.