Digital Nomad Part II - Team Management
PS: The post got delayed by 2 months. I had a lot of work. So keep in mind things have changed a lot.
This is second issue in the series Digital Nomad.
Today, I will talk about how the things
have had been after around 2 weeks since I started working remote; what change I brought in my work style, what adjustments and improvements we had to do as a team and how it has affected me.
First thing I did was to find out how others are doing it. Found a few articles online and first thing that occurred to me was that we needed a much more efficient communication channel. Slack was the obvious choice. Previous setting was a chaos. Some used Hangouts, some used Skype, emails and half of the comm was done verbally. And it was NOT easy to handle all the incoming messages and info when there was no central medium.
It was working so far because we were in an office sitting side-by-side asking for inputs, help etc by talking. So the adaptation was not easy. People had to think about many things. I was even informed that I might have to install WhatsApp as a part of project communication! It took a few days, but people got used to Slack eventually. In fact, all of us were familiar and regular users of Slack - we were just not using it for our own work.
We setup a few integration - Trello (have now moved to JIRA), Giphy and Hangouts (to initiate calls). This streamlined most of messages. Someone started/finished/commented on a Trello card? You get the message in Slack. And due to channels, I can filter chatter out. We could do random chats, general chats and on-topic discussions. Many other features from Slack helps me manage the tasks.
Next, we have started regular review meetings - Wednesday and Friday - twice a week. On Wednesday, everyone shows what all they did, what issues they have/are facing and what they’ll be doing. Friday meetings are small, catch-up kind. Meetings are done over Hangouts. Thank Google.
For peer reviews we are experimenting with GitHub PRs. GitHub has feature to do reviews - they have 3 stages or types and makes the code reviews really efficient. Before, each reviewer would have to look at Trello cards, read the task, get the branch name, check the branch out on local machine, look at code which is spread over multiple commits, use the feature being implemented and respond to the branch author with a feedback email. Imagine the effort required to prepare such an email - one had to specify even the line numbers for context! But none of these anymore, you will be assigned a PR, do the review and approve. Everyone will know the status of the features.
These seem to be working fine for us so far. Now I’ll talk about my personal flows.
I have a nice separate room at home. I have arranged it the way I want - good sitting, light, natural air etc. People think maintaining a schedule at home is hard. I haven’t faced such an issue. I am a regular person. Regular as in, I decide when to sleep and wake up and I do that without missing. I also know when to start work, when to take break and when to end. I have a tight schedule setup to do accomplish the things I want to do:
- Wake up at 0700
- Come to the work table at 0930
- Go through the news, mails and other mediums I engage with in 30 to 40 min
- Start work at 1000
- Break at around 1300 or 1400
- Resume by 1530
- Work till 2000
- Dinner till 2130
- “Things” till 0100 and sleep
This schedule has allowed me to think and execute efficiently. For example, I have managed to understand quite complex parts of the product at a good level and feeling confident enough about many more features. I also now understand who understands which part of the system well. Therefore I can distribute the tasks in manner so that they can be executed the fastest manner possible. I also understand the amount of work each person in the team has (due to Trello bot).
Overall, I’m pretty happy with the things as they’re turning out. And future plans are also shaping up.
Last point: stable Internet has not been a problem here so far! A proper Internet connection.
I will update again in some time as more things happen. Stay tuned.