It’s been more than a year working from home as an 90% remote for CARTO, a company with main offices in Madrid. I go to the office once per week or so, depending on travels mostly. Thanks to the Spanish high speed train I can go to the office departing at 7 am and be at my desk there around 9:30, then leave the office at 6 pm and be at home before 9 so it’s something totally acceptable being once per week. I don’t think I’d like to be fully remote because even I have a constant contact with my workmates from chat, audio and videoconferences, I kind of appreciate having the chance to have lunch and face to face meetings with them from time to time.
A normal day
So how’s my remoting routine? Well the most typical remote day starts between 7 to 8, depending on when I went to bed the day before. I’m quite serious on trying to maintain a 7:30 sleep on average. I always go out before starting to work: normally I go for a coffee, I do some reading and take a walk. Finally when I arrive home I usually also do some housekeeping like laundry, brooming or whatever. My mornings are slow, I like to spend as much time as possible before starting to work because evenings are long and otherwise I’d be working all day long.
At 10 or 10:30 I go to my desk and start the morning tasks: saying hello on Slack (our chat service), checking e-mail and reviewing my work for the day. Mornings are normally calmed so it’s the time of the day where usually I can do the most technical part of my job.
I usually break for lunch at 2:00 pm and I always take a full hour so I can have some minutes to rest after having lunch. Not enough for a siesta but almost there.
Then at 3:00 pm I come back, and normally by that time my colleagues at the US start to join the party so most of my meetings are usually between 4 and 6 pm or so. I normally leave by their lunch around 7 but it’s true that many days I stay longer until 8, even 8:30 pm.
Regarding meetings I actually have a lot: I have all four 1o1s on Monday with my colleagues at the Support Team and mine with Dani, my manager. We have a Solutions Enginering and PreSales team daily standup at 5pm, a weekly for the Solutions full team on Tuesdays and another just for the Support team on Fridays. That’s just for the team I belong, then I have several other internal meetings (most of them biweekly or monthly) and of course any meetings with partners and clients. One of the hardest things of my everyday job is probably finding quality time for the technical tasks between all those meetings.
Over the months I’ve been refining and adapting my place from casual or short spans of working to a full day environment:
- My old table (I’ve had it for 20 years or so)
- Ikea Lack table as a cheap standing desk (I cut the table legs a bit to adjust)
- Ikea Markus chair
- A Kensington footrest
- Mountain Nickel laptop: 13 inch, i5, 16GB RAM and 512 SSD hard disk
- TypeMatrix keyboard (using Spanish Dvorak layout) and Logitech trackball, both with their wrist support
- 24 inch Dell screen
- Hercules webcam
- Logitech speakers and Audio-Technica ATH-M50x headset (I have also a Urbanears Plattan headset around). I use the headset only when it’s noisy outside my place (I live on a first floor apartment) or the audio conference sound is bad.
- I love having things in my hands when talking so I have small toys around like a Rubik or fidget cube or whatever.
At work we vastly use Google tools for e-mail, calendars, meetings and shared folders. But apart from that:
- Operating system: Ubuntu 16.10 using i3 window manager and many other small utilities
- Code editor: Sublime Text most of the time but also
- Web browser: Google Chrome and sometimes Firefox
- Terminal: Terminator
- Music: Spotify and Pocket Casts
- Chat: Slack, HexChat and Franz for other services
- Video and audioconferences: mostly Google Hangouts but also GotoMeeting and others (join.me, Skype, etc.)
- Task management: GitHub for work and Todoist for personal stuff
- Task tracking: I write worklogs as GitHub issues but lately I’m testing Harvest
This is not exactly related with being remote but mostly because of how the days are at CARTO. Having the full team together only for a few hours and half of it on the US somehow forces me to have long evenings. This is something I can’t avoid so I’ve had to adapt my daily routine to it, moving many of my tasks before working. And still, I feel I don’t spend enough time with my US workmates so I’m starting to think on trying to work some days fully after noon, something like from 1 to 9 pm or so and see how it goes.
CARTO is quite remote-friendly so almost all meetings have someone remote in the room, internal trainings are always recorded, etc but still you can feel you are a bit out of the loop of what’s going on at the office. Luckily, Madrid office chat channel is always busy and it helps incredibly to feel connected with the rest of the team but I can’t help myself feeling a bit envious when they arrange some after work beers or someone cool come to the office to give a talk and I can’t join for whatever reason.
Talking about Madrid, well there are so many things happening there every day like technical events, concerts and so on. I miss that thrill a bit but it’s true that with a bit of planning I can also enjoy them, but you know, it’s not the same as being there.
When I left Madrid to come to Aldaia our office there in Eloy Gonzalo street was incredibly busy and noisy but a year ago we moved to Callao Square, to a big, nice office with plenty of space for everyone. I love our new offices but still I think I’m well adapted to working from home and I also think I’m way more productive. I don’t even need a co-working space because here at home I can have meetings anytime and listen music on speakers without bothering anyone. Many people fear working from home because of snacks and bad habits but that’s not really my problem. Actually I don’t have a coffee maker at home to avoid that slope :-)
Avoiding commuting is really cool, instead I’m able to have a walk on the park or the orchards near home and I can have a relaxed read on a cafeteria. I’m strict enough to care about not spending too many extra hours (and for sure I track them) but I can also switch to other stuff (like OSGeo tasks) if I want to.
Working from home is not for everybody. It needs you to think carefully about your habits, what works and what don’t, how to report and deliver to your managers properly, how to communicate with your workmates in an efficient way and be prepared to travel more than the normal worker. If you do so you can be as much productive as anyone and make the best of your day.
What do you think? Nowadays working from home can be an option for many people, have you ever tried? it didn’t worked? why?