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How to build connections and improve productivity as a Remote Engineer?

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Anonymous User at Taro Communitya year ago

Been working for a while as remote, mostly with other remote folks.
Now I'm remote, but rest of the team is in office.

What do you think are some of the most important actions, processes or activities one should take to be effective as remote worker in this specific scenario?

Things to do to build meaningful connections, be productive, build alignment and, from those things, how to know at a given time what are the most important ones.

Thanks!

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Discussion

(3 comments)
  • 8
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    Ex @Meta @Microsoft, Founder Algolab
    a year ago

    Have weekly 30-minute 1:1 with your close team members on zoom.

    Have monthly 30-minute 1:1 with outer circle colleagues on zoom.

    (duration and frequency are not absolute. Act and adapt to what works for you).

    Show up early in the team meetings with your camera always on. The first few minutes are a good time to say hello and check on your co-workers.

    Fly/drive to meet the team once per month or twice per month. If you live in a different city, ask the manager to reimburse transport.

    Start an internal newsletter on product updates, technical designs, or other topics that others might like to learn about.

    Dedicate some time every day to participate in slack threads, emails, and discussions at other tools. Be intentional in sharing your voice and unique perspective.

    Get a mentor and become a mentor of someone. Openly ask or offer your help.

    There is a backslash after layoffs and it is common to say that "company is not your family", which is true for company (legal entity), but your coworkers are humans and it would be great to have close friendships with people at work. Together we enrich each other's lives and elevate each other. Keep that in mind.

  • 9
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    Senior Software Engineer [L5] at Google
    a year ago

    Touseef is spot on with his suggestions. I'll add a few I've seen work well.

    Video Conferencing

    1. Show your presence and your focus. Turn camera on as often as possible. Unmute and speak as often as possible. Send emoji reactions or participate in chat as much as possible.
    2. Whenever an async discussion is getting tedious, start a video conference call with the other person if they are also available. For example, if a code review is going back and forth a lot, message the other person to talk directly if possible.

    Text Communication

    Leave paper trail whenever possible. Investigating a bug? Document steps you take and your thought process in the ticket/bug tool. Have an idea? Put it into a doc. Slack/chat messages tend to be ephemeral, so prefer putting your thoughts in more permanent forms if possible.

    Keep a running documentation of your work. Once a week, collect your accomplishments and artifacts into a block in this doc. They come in handy during performance and promo, and helps assess whether you want to change how you work.

    Caveat

    If you are the only one in your team working remote, and the rest of the team (and perhaps even the rest of your company) is in-office 5 days a week, be aware this will generally work to your disadvantage. This is especially true if you don't already have strong personal connections to your coworkers and leadership. While it's possible to do this (I observed someone doing it well prior to pandemic...), it puts onus on your in-person teammates to surface as much of the off-line conversation online. In this is indeed the case, be aware you will have to put in a lot of extra effort to make the arrangement work.

  • 3
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a year ago

    On top of the excellent responses from Touseef and Kuan, I recommend these other resources around building relationships in a remote environment:

    In general, your mindset should be to over-communicate aggressively. So whenever you're thinking thoughts like "Oh, this might be too much information for the team" or "Most people probably know this already", quell those thoughts and share that post or message anyways. If people think you're sharing too much, they'll tell you and you can tone it down.

    When it comes to communication, there are 2 failure modes:

    • Over-communication - I see a lot of engineers fearing this, especially those earlier-in-career who are deathly afraid of "annoying" people. This pretty much never happens; engineers grossly underestimate what it takes to come off as an over-communicator.
    • Under-communication - When folks aren't communicating properly, they are almost always here, especially as engineers tend to be more introverted.

    If I were to put these 2 cases into numbers among engineers who are struggling with communication, literally 99%+ of cases are under-communication. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there!