Working Remotely

All this working remotely is going very well

So, we've crossed into month 5 of working remotely and things are going quite well. When we "left" the office in March, I expected this was a one, maybe two week long reaction to the Covid unknown. After I made a mad dash to grab my machine before they actually locked the doors, I knew things were getting serious.

That being said, we are just as busy as we were before, with plenty of projects to work on. There are site updates such as UI improvement, backend performance changes, refactoring code to make it more extensible, and lots of requested features. We have more than enough to easily carry us through the end of the year. In fact, we have more work than people.

I haven't been much for working from home, except during the holidays, and that's because so many other people are gone, there isn't a point in sitting in an empty office. But as things stand, we will remain working remotely through the end of the year at the earliest.

I'm certainly on board with that decision, not only from a safety standpoint, but because I don't think we have lost any productivity with the change in location. I work the same way as I did before, with the same machine and spending 90-95% of my time with my headphones on, working on tasks by myself. That only changed when I needed to attend the daily standup, or grooming session for new work.

Even when we were in the office, I would send Slack messages to the devs rather than getting up and walking over to them. Not because I couldn't or it would invoke their scorn, I simply didn't want to derail them while in the middle of coding.

As a team we've rolled out dozens of updates and improvements and have stuck with our two week deployment cadence. I've completed and made updates to my Katalon Regression Test Suite, which has also been used for each production deployment.

Taking all this into account, I have to admit, I prefer working remotely. Since there are no distractions of people walking around, talking on the phone, phones dinging and going off, I have long stretches where I focus on testing and coding. It's very easy to dig deep into a task and check off multiple items without breaking the "flow."

Further, I've gained two hours of personal time by not commuting. I use the extra time in the morning for my "Quarantine Summer Reading List." The time after work is for my exercise, which has been extremely beneficial both physically and mentally.

Working from home also makes for a pretty enjoyable day. We allow dogs in the office but my little "darling" doesn't always play well with others, so it's nice to have her sleeping on her little bed in front of my desk. I also get to have cheaper and healthier lunch options since I can cook right here. And I get to enjoy them on the deck, while I get some sun. I have my laptop close by while I read on the Kindle.

At this point, I'm leaning toward asking if working from home can be a permanent situation. I feel I'm getting more done under these conditions than in the office. Even taking training is easier since I don't self conscious about watching videos not strictly related to work.

The only glitches seem to be related to scheduling. The workday is still from 9-5, so meetings outside those hours since "it's the only time that's available" get declined. I use two separate machines, so unless arrangements have been made, that machine is off and I'm not available before 9:00 or after 5:30. Same for working over the weekend and trying to make up work that "slipped through the cracks." Just because people are home doesn't mean they are "available."

There are many attempts to double and even triple book time. Calendar etiquette and being organized is more crucial now than ever before. Scheduling two "critical" meetings at the same time is poor planning.

Those are minor complaints though.

I'm surprised things have escalated to the current levels, but for the foreseeable future, I will be working remotely, making the most of the time, and making a lot of progress.

Other articles of interest:

8 Weeks of working remotely, and all’s well

I am now at the 8 week mark of working remotely, and I have to say, not only do I really like working from home, I would be fine if we kept working this way.

I have really adapted to this change and much prefer how my day is now structured.

Not being stuck in traffic has given me back 2 hours of my day. Every day.
I take multiple breaks during the day to take a short walk around the house, or stretch, or lift a set with the kettle bell, or use the resistance bands.
When the sun is out, I can eat lunch on the deck.
At the end of the day, I can exercise and be done before I would normally get home.
I am probably more productive than I was before since I really can't be interrupted. I know my automation project gets new features each week.
I can't be late for work or a meeting.
My dedicated internet connection is faster than the shared one in the office.
Slack and Zoom are pretty awesome.

I'm not saying I hate the idea of going back into the office. Or that I don't like working with my team.

The fact of the matter is, I spend 90% of my day with my headphones on either testing something or writing code to test something. I attend 1, maybe 2 meetings per day. When I need to ask for clarification, it's done in Slack. We are a very collaborative group, but even that is done through written communication. To that end, almost nothing has changed about the way I work. I test and communicate in almost the exact same way as before.

With technology like Slack and Zoom, if I need to "see" something, it's as easy as sharing the screen.

Taking all that together, my standard work day has barely changed. However, by working from home I've gained a dozen fringe benefits. The biggest win is more time overall and using that for exercise.

Other articles of interest:

Week #3 of working remotely – Build your workspace

We're at the start of week 3 for working remotely and I think just about everyone has found their rhythm. But, it has taken awhile, and one thing I heard from multiple people, they weren't prepared to work remotely for an extended period. The main problem? Nowhere to work.

We have people who work remotely and that's no issue. But, that's for a day. They can handle calls, or attend meetings, or put together a client proposal, but not everyone has a dedicated work machine or a dedicated work area. Working from the couch or kitchen table is fine for a few hours, but it's not going to do for several weeks.

Many people spent the weekend getting themselves set up for the long haul. Some just had to clear off a desk, while others had to race out and actually get a desk. Several people had to get full sized monitors. Some retrieved equipment from the office, others ended up ordering them. That's why so many monitors, mice, keyboards, headsets, and even full systems have been disappearing from inventory. I know Woot did a brisk trade for computer equipment.

Many people had to make a place for themselves. They needed a permanent work area in order to get back into the routine.

I'm lucky in this regard. I've already made comment that my home machine and work machine are the same. I rarely work from home, but when I've needed to do something, I wanted a familiar environment.

That's the problem a lot of people have just solved. They now have an area that is familiar, that allows them to have a routine, something puts them in the mindset of begin at the office.

It's the idea of, when I'm here, I'm working. This is my work space. You're not going to get that by wearing sweatpants and sitting on the couch.

Further, sitting at the kitchen table looking at a laptop screen for days on end is maddening. It will make being at home a dozen times worse. Setting up a space that feels right and works well will make this ordeal far more tolerable.

Other articles of interest:

Week #2 of working remotely

So here we are at the tail end of two weeks of working remotely. I had to make a dash into the office late Wednesday as our building would be closed until further notice due to the stay at home order. I figured it was better for me to have the machine here than it collecting dust in an empty building.

Oddly, there were far more people on the road than I expected. Maybe they were out and about doing the same thing, grabbing machines and necessities from their place of work, which could be confused with looting. Rest assured, I totally had permission to get my own machine from work.

Other than the laughable toilet paper situation, I find things to be going quite well. We are communicating regularly through Slack and use Zoom to have team meetings. This was already the norm since we've had people working remotely for various reasons for a couple of years.

I have to say, the morale is still very high, people are still getting work done, it hasn't all turned to doom and gloom, or a why bother attitude. That is good to see.

From my perspective, I am testing the same way I have always done. I have the same tools at home as I did at work. And now I have the same machine again. Problem is, I don't actually have room for it. I would have to turn something off to put it in place. Not sure that's possible.

I have noticed a lot of software companies dropping prices, extending trials, and making accommodations for people to work remotely. Unlike Wells Fargo, or people selling sheets of toilet paper on eBay, not everyone is out to screw over the public in this time of need.

Who knows how long the current situation will last, but we are operating under the guise of this as the normal for at least 6 months. Even when we do decide to head back, that office will need to be scrubbed. There was already dust piling up because we obviously didn't want the cleaning crew in there either.

Hopefully everyone is coping with the new normal. I haven't noticed much of a difference. I still work with the same team members, and still talk through Slack. I would even Slack people who sat next to me because I didn't want to totally interrupt their flow.

I have noticed one thing. Some people are working more now than before, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but you still need to keep boundaries. Just because our machines are on longer than they used to be, and we are in fact home, doesn't mean we need to work 10, 12, or 16 hour days. The schedule remains the same. Starting at 8:30am vs. 9am because you don't have traffic is fine. But, being "logged in" at 10pm is no good. Now more than ever, people need to take a break and separate work life and home life.

Block off time to spend with your kids. The sun is out, the birds are singing, the trees are blooming, take a break and go outside for a few minutes. Get yourself some exercise, and no, pacing doesn't count. Have a virtual lunch through Slack. Stay safe, but don't allow yourself to get cabin fever.

Other articles of interest:

Recent Comments

  • How To Disable the Quicken Registration Prompt (32)
    • Mike: Hi, for anyone still trying to run older versions of Quicken, mine is 2004, I hope this helps. I managed to get it running on my old laptop by adding the three missing dll files, when I needed to upgrade I thought I would be able...
    • Juani: Hi, I have a registered Quicken 2016 and now my files are being held hostage by Intuit, cannot log in with my ID unless I upgrade therefore buy a subscription, I need to access my files, please HELP. Thanks
    • David: A BIG Thank you! I regularly reinstall Windows OS’s using different hardware configs. In short, Quicken 2011 (it’s March of 2020 as I write this) has been a program I’ve been very happy with and continue to use....
    • Karen L: Today I rang Reckon Australia again, got a different guy and he talked me through the process of getting me a new product key to enter since I already had the licence and it had been extended. Reckon have only extended it by 1...
    • Karen L: I have Australian Quicken 2008 on Windows 8.1. It keeps asking me to renew my licence which Reckon did for me however the activation won’t work. I tried this to disable the registration prompt however it did not stop the...
  • Enter dates into a date picker for Chrome and Firefox (1)
    • Prasanna: Hello, How to enter a previous month FIRST day and LAST day from the system date. Thanks Prasanna
  • Building Relationships with Developers (1)
    • Carlos Herrera: Ah yes. I have a team of software developers and it is genuinely so hard to keep them in the loop during projects. Though the more we work the better the communication becomes and we go from a trail and error process to a...
  • Integrating DevonAgent Pro with Alfred (1)
    • J. Garr: Beautiful, sweet, and simple. I love it; thanks for posting this solution.
  • Round and Round with the For..Next in Katalon Studio (1)
    • Sweet Ophaline Labador: Hello can you help me how to loop this scenario. Checking the elements is just the same. I want to check that the following function is available in www.siacargo.com: Track Shipment – clicking on this can...
  • Parsing Strings in Katalon – Split, Substring and Readlines (6)
    • Don Pedro: String tempText=”Date Month January. Revenue $1,355,721.00″ println(tempText.split(“ \$”)[1]) You need to escape the $ with \$ The [1] on the split captures characters on the right of the split [0]...
    • Prasad: Hi, I need to get the substring from the below string ‘Date Month January. Revenue $1,355,721.00’ I want to extract text after $ value. Please help Thank you
  • Working with Dates and Date Formatting in Katalon Studio (15)
    • Sangeethaa: How to get previous day’s date(Yesterday’s date)? Actually I was using today.previous() before,it was working fine till today morning.Now its not retrieving right date. Can anyone please guide me on this.
    • Don Pedro: That could be a little tricky. First, is the text/format always going to be the same? You will need to do some parsing. Separate the first but of text at 2019. After that, split the text again to get rid of Central Standard...
  • Output status messages and test information by writing to the Log File Viewer in Katalon Studio (6)
    • Saranya: Good One. Could you plz share link to access all your katalon related blogs. ThankQ
    • Rodrigo Calabretta: I’m using the KeywordUtil.markFailed or KeywordUtil.markError and my test stops is being shown as Error and If I use in the @afterTestCase the testCaseContext.getTestCaseSta tus() to show the status test case...