For years I’ve been working as part of a co-located software development team in Melbourne, but in 2016 I started working from home on a regular basis following the birth of my son. Some thoughts on making remote work, work.

Team standup

Previous our team standup was held in person standing in the same physical location.

This meant we had to wait for everyone to get into the office, which delayed the rest of team if someone was running late. it also required those in the office to remember to call anyone working from work, and they were often forgotten.

We trialled posting updates to Slack instead - no need to wait for everyone to be available, no need to remember who is working from home. It was somewhat successful, but we ended up deciding to do our standup via video conferencing.

Video conference laptop

Video conferencing is a pain without a permanent setup. Ended up setting up an old laptop in our team area running Google Hangouts full time, which allows us to see who is in the office.

Problem is when the connection drops out, need to get someone in the office to reconnect, and can’t use built in RDP because it makes the remote screen disappear. Have introduced VNC based remote desktop program so anyone can control it.

Problem when laptop goes to sleep.

Team retro

Previously run by recording ‘worked well’ / ‘not so well’ / ‘do differently’ in Google Doc, but lots of friction with typing it out while everyone sitting around table. Moved to writing on physical cards instead.

Tried running via video conference, with remote team acting as the scribe to record items. Didn’t really work, timing of retro meant I wasn’t able to focus.

Also issues with video conferencing setup in meeting room, microphone didn’t work consistently.

Ad-hoc tech reviews

These happen ad-hoc when the team needs them, standing around someone’s desk, so hard to know they are happening. Need to make sure a message is posted on Slack beforehand so that everyone can join in.

Working on tech spikes

Have worked on a few recently: unit tests for React, mobile app. What helped: having someone else ready on Slack to assist with questions.

Choice of stories to work on

Some stories better for stand alone work. Tech spikes: maybe not. Planning ahead of time has helped: deciding on stories to work on at the start of the sprint, to complete when working from home.