By Harry Mumford, Full Stack Engineer at Aluma
Being a remote-first company, one key question I was asked during my interview was if working from home would suit me. This was a tough question. After months of lockdown, remote working had been discussed a lot amongst my friends with a lot of mixed opinions. Some loved the lack of commute, the flexibility, and the home comfort where others found it unproductive and lonely. As a sociable person, I was a little concerned that I would miss a vibrant office environment and the thought of staring at a screen on my own all day was quite daunting. However, 6 months down the line and I am happy to say I love the WFH lifestyle. So what makes it so appealing?
Aside from our daily standups at 9 am and a few important meetings, my working schedule is completely flexible. This allows me to work when I’m at my best. After-lunch-slump? No problem. I can go for a walk or swim and come back feeling refreshed and productive, making up the hours later in the day. Those annoying errands/appointments/chores no longer have to be done at a weekend or after work, I can just do them whenever it is convenient. This flexibility allows me to work from a different city or even country with virtually no impact on my work.
Working in an office in winter made surfing on a weekday impossible. I remember many depressing days stuck in an office, watching perfect, uncrowded waves on the webcams. Now, with my extra time saved from commuting and a flexible working schedule, I can avoid the crowds and surf whenever the conditions are good. My guitar and piano skills have also improved dramatically. Writing code for hours can be mentally draining and I’ve found that picking up an instrument for a few minutes provides the perfect screen break.
How I feel connected to the rest of the team
Without the office chit-chat, after-work drinks, and a shared canteen, working remotely can make people feel isolated and disconnected from the rest of the team. Aluma does a great job of replicating these office perks at home.
- Morning chit-chat. No matter how busy we are, there is always time for at least 10 minutes of non-work-related conversation during our daily standup. Although brief, I think this is hugely important. Daily check-ins should not just be for discussing what work people are doing. We will always ask how everyone is doing and chat about our lives outside work. This helps create a sociable, relaxed environment where ultimately everyone can feel human.
- Virtual cafe meetings. This is a weekly 'virtual cafe' gathering where whoever needs a break can join. It's a great opportunity to get to chat with people from other departments that don't get together on a daily basis. We share stories, weekend plans, or any exciting activities we got up to; anything goes except for talking about work!
- Coffee buddies. This is a short one-to-one chat with a random member of the company. As other virtual meetings often involve many people, this is a great opportunity to get to know a person outside my team, find out what they are working on, share ideas, or just have a chat in an informal setting.
- Fun hour. This is a fortnightly games hour where we play a variety of remote games. A strict, no-talking-about-work-policy provides a nice mid-week break to let off steam and forget about work.