The secrets of home office

Now at the beginning of 2020 the home office became even more popular with the pandemic of covid-19.

I’ve spoken with a lot of friends that also work on IT and they’re having some trouble with home office, then I decided to write this post to talk about these problems and to suggest things.

In the past 13 years, I’ve worked a lot of time in home office mode. So I’ve been through all these problems and this post have some answers for developers and team leaders.

Take a break

Whenever you work from the office, you usually “work” 8~9 hours a day. But let’s be honest to ourselves, who produces 8 hours in a row? Maybe a robot.

Giving a break to your mind to rest is important. Even if you are working in an office, you need to get up, walk, drink some coffee and rest your mind. However this is not 100% acceptable in many companies because you are not “producing” and you boss may not like it, which seems absurd, but it happens.

But giving this break is really important.

Now that you are home, you can give yourself the opportunity to rest and not get crazy.

Imagine you are investigating a bug, or thinking about the design of a solution or drawing an architecture. Sometimes you have an idea in mind and you cannot think about other solution, or can’t see a different path to investigate, or you are not considering other solution because you are with a “addicted thinking”.

Taking a break will allow you to think about other stuff like: “will I have a coffee, or a tea or a beer?”. This break will make you stop thinking about the technical challenge you were trying to solve, and whenever you go back to your desk and resume the work, your mind will be cleaned and you will consider different things.

Problems communicating with my team

One of the challenges of the home office is to have a clear and fluid communication with the team. Even working physically together in the office many teams have communication problems, but that’s not the subject of this post.

Communication tools like slack are really good to get things together and put the team on the same page. The problem is when the text communication becomes messy, the possibility to understand something wrong is huge.

As a possible solution for this problem, having video calls — with camera turned on - is really important.

Whenever you speak to each other, share a slide, open the task management tool, things become more visible and clear. It’s easier to ask questions and understand what’s being discussed. Also it brings people’s attention to the discussion, because whenever a discussion is happening on a chat, we don’t know if everyone is really paying attention to the subject being discussed, and that can be a problem.

What I see happening is that (most of) the teams only have video calls to attend scheduled meetings like daily, refinement, planning, retrospective, etc. The video calls are a powerful tool to keep the team aligned.

I’m not feeling productive

As mentioned before, you need to take advantage of the home office. It’s easier to take a break working at home. So, use this weapon in your favor.

Take the opportunity to read a book, write a poc, watch a video on youtube, and why not playing a bit of GTA or CSGO :) Don’t feel guilty about taking this break. You won’t produce 8 hours in a row, so as you are at home and there are other stuff you like to do, and please do. You’ll be happier, produce more and better.

A sentence just came to my mind now, from uncle Ben, you must’ve heard — “with great power comes great responsibility”.

So, take advantage of the home office in the right way. I’m not telling you to do a lot of things and leave work behind. I’m telling you to take (responsible) breaks that will make you more productive. You’ll still attend to the meetings, produce, care about code quality and help your team delivering the sprints.

Apart from that, here are some additional personal tips:

  • Use a comfortable chair
  • Work in a organized place
  • Work in a quiet place
  • Work in a well lit place
  • Dress properly. Do not work wearing pajamas
  • Take care of your posture
  • Drink water and eat healthy food
  • Exercise. Come on, no excuses

And here are some additional team tips:

  • Do weekly retrospectives to see how the team is feeling and what can be improved, and take actions
  • If needed, do checkpoints with the team during the day
  • Don’t forget to still have fun with the team

That was all for this post. If you have any questions or want to discuss more, you can reach out to me on the comments section. I hope I helped a bit, thank you!




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