Working Remotely Tips and Tricks
As companies start to encourage (or mandate) their employees to work from home/remote (WFH) temporarily due to COVID-19 many of these employees will include ServiceNow developers. We’ve worked remotely for more than 13 years combined, from multiple houses, countries, planes, trains, and automobiles. Having experienced the WFH differences between 7 different companies, we wanted to give some tips from our experiences.
Before you leave the office
Make sure that you are set up to access your instance outside of your offices. If your instance or other infrastructure is IP protected, make sure your VPN is working. Now is also an excellent opportunity for you to make sure your messaging and collaboration applications are working on your laptop. Try using a guest/public wi-fi like your phone to test while still at the office. If your company will let you take home any equipment, it is nice to have: monitor, USB-C/Thunderbolt dock, etc.
Take stock of the things about your work environment that you don’t usually think about. Look at the height and positioning of your desk and items on it. How bright, whether indirect or direct, the lighting is for your monitor and work surface. Also, consider the level of noise around your work area. Each of these and more items will be useful when you are setting up your home office. Usually, you would not think about the lighting and how good or bad it is for you, but this is a useful time to analyze just such things.
Your equipment and workspace
If possible, you should try to have a dedicated work area separate from sleeping/living spaces. It doesn’t have to be very big, but even hanging up a sheet as a temporary wall can be helpful to separate your work and personal areas and time.
Use the information you gathered about your work office and what works best for you there, as applicable to your home/remote office. Lighting, Sound, Equipment all play a significant role in how productive you can and will be in that setting.
Your workplace probably has ergonomically friendly desks and chairs, even if you don’t realize it, so it’s worth putting some thought into at home.
Headphones/Mic: Something with noise canceling on the microphone is valuable (especially if you have kids or pets who dare to make loud noises even though you’re on the phone).
Comfy, adjustable chair: There are pretty affordable, adjustable chairs online, and your body will thank you for not spending 8-10 hours a day sitting in a folding chair.
Desk: You can google ergonomics and desks, but you need something so that you can look straight forward and not down and have your arms in a comfortable position while typing.
Other: If you’re used to working with a multiple monitor setup, see if you can take home an external monitor or two from work. Also, you may be on more video calls during this time, so think about video and a webcam, if necessary.
Get ready beforehand, and keep to a regular, but still flexible schedule. Keeping to a schedule helps make it clear when you are working and not. It is effortless to end up working more time and hours when you don’t have a clear transition from work to home since there is no commute involved.
Make yourself take some breaks and switch contexts. Examples could be taking a walk or even working from somewhere else for a little while. If working from home is or becomes a long term situation, consider setting times to co-work with others to get some of the social engagement of working near others.
Make clear when you are heads-down or in a meeting and not interruptable to others in your remote location. While co-workers will be flexible in these forced WFH times, it is still better for everyone to have that clear communication with others when they should be sensitive to sounds and interrupting. Set up some ‘no notification’ times so you can focus on solving a tricky developer problem. When developers are interrupted, it can take 15+ minutes to get your context back, even for a 10-second interruption.
Being remote makes it easier to misunderstand or inhibit good communications. Increase your use of text channels like slack, teams, email. Set up chat groups in your internal chat system for groups that are important to you. Include video chat whenever possible for your meetings. Video helps keep you and others engaged and connected through those virtual meeting scenarios.
If you are using a video system that supports it, try using a virtual background. Tools like Zoom allow for virtual backgrounds even without green screens to show just your person on top of the background you choose.
Now could be an excellent opportunity to introduce a new app in your environment to help your company’s employees work from home. Use the mobile studio to create an informational app exposed through the Now Mobile iOS/Android apps that lets employees know how to get assistance, etc.
Do you have any tips on how to best work from home we missed that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments.
- WomenNow Blog: Working from home without going crazy
- PagerDuty Blog: Tips & Tricks for Working Remotely
- A Minute on the Mic: How do you work from home safely, successfully, and happily?