July 27, 2020
7 productivity best practices for remote working developers
The benefits of remote working are not just for the company. Individual developers can benefit from remote working, too. However, it is fairly easy to get lost or feel overwhelmed when working remotely. Many developers tend to feel confused or lonely while others will feel that it is the best thing that ever happened to them.
Point is that you need to deliver and stay productive. Many of us are used to working from an office. Doing the shift to working remotely or working from home might damage our productivity. We gathered a list of best practices to help you get your work done.
Set a daily goal
Let’s start with the most obvious yet important practice. Try setting a daily goal and plan out your day around it. Doing so keeps you focused to reach this goal and you will freely navigate your day as you progress towards the goal. One of the hacks that work for many developers is to set a daily goal at the end of the previous workday. That was when you kick off your workday, you already know what needs to be done.
There’s nothing like a daily stand-up meeting to ensure that progress is being made. If you’re doing it already then keep reading. Otherwise, pay attention to this point as it is probably the most important one. When conducting weekly stand-up meetings where each team member share in 1-2 minutes what they did yesterday and what the plan to achieve today, you establish accountability. This is one of the most efficient motivators for getting sh*t done. No one wants to appear every day as if they didn’t stand up for their promises. It might increase stress a little bit so make sure not to go extreme on this.
Plan your breaks
Working from home can be distracting many times. Many things can take away our attention from coding but you should not blame yourself for getting distracted once in a while. Taking breaks throughout the day is important. Remember that what really matters is what you’ve accomplished at the end of the day. So in that sense, try to plan ahead for structured breaks that will allow you to refresh your mind. Once it is in your schedule do you best to stick to it. If you’d like to finish early, squeeze fewer breaks, and if you don’t mind finishing late then take the time. However, keep in mind that the only metric that matters is if you got your work done or not.
Be transparent with your team
For those of us who work on a project together with a team, it is important to be transparent about our schedule. Besides the fact that it will increase trust within the team, it will also create empathy. Once your schedule is shared openly, your teammates will be able to know when they can reach you and when it is not appropriate. Unlike working in an office, when you and your team are working remotely there is zero or very little context. Don’t expect them to guess what are you doing, simply share it with them.
Separate your work station and the rest of your life
Having a clear separation between your working station and the rest of your life is essential for your productivity to be consistent. Do your best not to mix things that are relevant to your work with other stuff from your private life. Your work station is a good indicator to validate with yourself if you’re doing it right or not. Once things are mixed it increases the chances of not focusing on the daily goal. You might become concerned or self-blame about other non-work tasks that you have in your backlog that are not complete. The only thing you should care about while working is work.
Get some exercise
Regular physical activity is beneficial to everyone, not just developers who work remotely. But remote workers can squeeze in exercise more easily than office workers. Before starting your workday or after you finished some tasks try to go outside for a walk or a run. If you feel it is too much then try doing some things from home like yoga to even stretching. It works.
Welcome meaningful human interactions
A major problem that developers encounter when working remotely is loneliness. If you feel that way it is completely natural. In fact, one out of every five developers is feeling exactly the same. Eventually, when your morale is down, your productivity and creativity will take a serious hit. Welcoming meaningful human interactions is important to tackle this feeling.
First, try to make sure the camera is on for all calls. Seeing the faces of friendly colleagues makes a real difference in motivation. Additionally, try to set up calls that are not work-related with your colleagues. Share your thoughts and your passions and listen to them too. If you’re a team leader you can also facilitate such practice with a team coffee break where people can just share funny things that happened to them in the past. Meaningful interactions can be made in work-related communications as well. Try adding some human touch to meetings by telling a joke or open with an off-topic small talk.