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Getting Apps Done

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A Day in the Life: Remote Developer… and bicycle nut?

May 23, 2019

Joshua and Kel introduce their new Slack channel and share a question from it: What is a typical day in the life of a remote dev? What are some of the pros, cons and things to consider when considering a fully remote role? Plus tips/tricks and general advice for staying motivated, healthy and getting apps done remotely! Be sure to check out our new Slack community, all about becoming a better developer and getting apps done!

  • 00:01 Joshua

    Welcome to Getting Apps Done: a mostly non technical podcast with the goal of helping you deliver software. With your hosts, Joshua Graham and Kel Piffner.

  • 00:12 Kel

    Alright, so day in the life of remote worker ?

  • 00:14 Joshua

    A day in the life of a remote worker. Uh, this is actually something that came up in our new Slack channel. We have been attempting to build a small community of developers to obviously give them some input and help them directly, but also to just let them connect together and start to uh, help each other. And so far it's been going really well. In fact, at the end of this, we will post a link for anybody who's listening to this who would like to join that Slack group because it is a relatively open but only to our podcast listeners, uh, community. So we'd like to share that with you. Um, but one of the questions that came up today was "what does a day look like for you as a remote developer?" And you know, it's something Kel and I have both been remote developers for 10 years is it now? Almost?

  • 01:02 Kel

    At least. Yeah, I think I've over 10 now.

  • 01:05 Joshua

    It's been a long time and it's not something I've really thought about that certainly early on I did. And, um, I kind of gave my startup story in the Slack and I'll share it here as well because when I decided, 10 years ago ,that I wanted to do a remote role, it was because, uh, in my case, I'm a father. I had a very young son at the time. I now have two more since then and he was about two years old and I, or nah, he wasn't even two years old. He's probably about one year old when I started, but he was starting to get to those first steps and you know, saying his first words and, uh,

  • 01:42 Kel

    All the important milestones?

  • 01:43 Joshua

    All the important milestones. And I was missing them because I was sitting in an office and I knew there was something wrong.

  • 01:48 Joshua

    I didn't exactly know at the time what the solution was to it. I just, I knew I needed to fix that. It wasn't great. So I, uh, started looking around for jobs. I had actually been a project manager. I wasn't a full on developer at the time. I was doing a lot of development. I had been for a decade by then already. But my primary job was project manager and uh, I applied for a junior developer role. This is the lesson for you, particularly those who actually have a career already in a starting again, don't dismiss what you got because I just assumed because I didn't have a ton of professional experience developing software that they would just, that I would have to start out as a junior and I had to be honest, they hired somebody else and they asked me to, uh, take on the lead role and skipped junior altogether because I already had a huge amount of experience as a project manager in the technical world. And I had been building apps for 10 years. So...

  • 02:39 Kel

    As, as a tangent on that, that is exactly what happened to me. I started off as a support specialist and then was promoted to senior software engineer. Uh, because while my software skills weren't quite senior level, my, all my other abilities and project management and handling all the things and dealing with customers and knowing what priorities were... were senior level. And so yeah, all that experience does definitely carry over. The dev stuff is not the most important part.

  • 03:05 Joshua

    Absolutely. Yeah. That's what we say all the time. We keep saying, you know, while knowing the code is important, it's definitely not everything and it's not what makes you a really great developer. It's a lot of soft skills that are around that. Some of them are hard skills as well, but it's not just about writing good code.

  • 03:23 Kel

    Not sure. I actually like the delineation between soft and hard skills. They're all skills.

  • 03:26 Joshua

    No. They're all skills

  • 03:28 Kel

    They all take time and effort and yeah, I agree with that and if I like that, but it's hard to describe to people who aren't, uh, who are in that mindset.

  • 03:35 Joshua

    Um, but yeah, that's how I got into software development, our, at least as a full on profession. And that was what got me into remote working because they offered a full on remote working facility for that. And I'll be honest with you, at first, while I loved being at home with the kids, it was really kind of rough because going straight into, first off, my first real full on Dev career and being a remote worker was a little bit daunting at times. I couldn't just turn over to somebody next to me and say, "Hey, uh, did I do this right? Am I supposed to put this here?" Or I just, anytime I wanted to ask you a question, I had to actually call somebody or at least send them a message and in drop whatever they're doing. And it wasn't just a quick two second thing that it had to be a proper response or a phone call or something.

  • 04:23 Joshua

    And so I tried to do it all on my own and certainly there were times that it was kind of nerve wracking. I didn't know if I was doing a good job or a bad job or, and

  • 04:32 Kel

    Absolutely.

  • 04:33 Joshua

    That's hard. Particularly for companies that aren't big and don't have a huge process around the remote culture. Uh, certainly there are lots of them. At the time there actually weren't that many companies that were fully remote but there's certainly are now and a lot of them do have for the great cultures built around that concept. How do we onboard people, how do we make sure they know what's going on?

  • 04:54 Kel

    I was in a very similar position of when I started on the, I was in the office as a new developer but my boss was remote. He was on a mountain top, similar in Colorado. I'm sure I've mentioned that at some other point, but he didn't understand how I got anything done in the office. But every problem I ran into was, alright, I either have to fix this myself or send out emails or schedule a call or you know, bug my boss cause we didn't have chats yet. We didn't have, you know, that wasn't a thing. I like, I actually introduced the concept of chatting to my company because I kind of missed it of, "Hey, I used to ping Josh when I had these types of questions" and instead, you know, I had this like huge turnaround delay. So it was definitely a challenge.

  • 05:32 Joshua

    Yeah, we certainly, we did have Skype so we could have been sending messages, but actually the guys that I was working with were all very much "just pick up the phone, we'll just talk."

  • 05:43 Kel

    That's actually that's an improvement over a lot of...

  • 05:47 Joshua

    I will be honest, I kind of got into the habit as well because there are so many times somebody will text message me... In fact that was another thing that came up in the slack today. Somebody was asking you about asking questions and they were asking if they should send code snippets and things like that. And that was actually something that did come up exactly today with somebody that I was working with a developer send over some code and said "what's wrong with this?" And I had to look nothing wrong with it. In the end, we picked up the phone, did a screenshare and immediately see, oh he's trying to format something.

  • 06:15 Joshua

    He's trying to format a decimal into. I think he was just trying to set how many decimal places were showing, but immediately I saw, oh no, you've declared that as a string. Well it can't format a string as a decimal. Uh, but yeah, the code he sent me, he didn't show any of that so I had no idea and we wasted a lot of times sending back and forth method that it just sometimes the call is definitely the right way.

  • 06:38 Kel

    Yeah, I do miss that from the office we had, you know, the remote working thing, you don't get the pick it up and go bug somebody. I don't really like, like the, each layer of those things introduces a layer of indirection of just directly debugging and sitting down. So that is something you, you lose with remote cultures and you have to replace with technology solutions. There is a reason why remote culturing works now and it did not work 20 years ago because now we have Skypes and video calls and screen sharing and chats and like, but the, those things all are, you know, another skill.

  • 07:10 Joshua

    Even just 10 years ago, while we did have Skype and it could do screen shares and videos and things like that, it wasn't that great. There were certainly times it took us longer to get Skype to work than it did solve the problem.

  • 07:23 Kel

    Oh yeah.

  • 07:24 Joshua

    And that's definitely not a win. Uh, but certainly today, most of the time we can pick it up. I'm looking at Kellen right now and he's how many miles, what is it, 8,000 miles away, something like that.

  • 07:35 Kel

    Not quite the other side of the world.

  • 07:37 Joshua

    But yeah, even 10 years ago that was possible but it wasn't really that great.

  • 07:42 Kel

    Exactly. It was, it was difficult at best. And now screenshare is a relatively quick and easy and like slack has this stuff more or less built in if you want to use it.

  • 07:51 Joshua

    Yeah.

  • 07:52 Kel

    I think we were using like three or four different tools to communicate, but you know, it's whatever works and that's a, that's a kind of team and our practice thing, you know, whatever workflows work for you, uh, to, to get to that level where it's like being at a desk with somebody else and so you can bounce ideas off of.

  • 08:09 Joshua

    Yeah. I absolutely. Uh, and that kind of leads us into what does a day look like, how do we bounce ideas back and forth on what do we do? And so for me, uh, my mornings absolutely front loaded with meetings because one of the key things that we found is that you need to be communicating. And even before we fully adopted any agile processes or anything like that, we basically adopted a standup.

  • 08:34 Joshua

    And I know a lot of agile guys will say "well you're not agile then!" They're probably right at the sand of actually has a lot of value in its own. Because it forces you to communicate with your team, let them know what's going on, what you're going to do, what you were meant to do and how that went. And more importantly, anything that might be stopping you from doing that. Because that's big thing is just letting everybody know. And quite often when you're in an office, the moment you're starting to do something, you'll say, yeah, I'm going to do this. And everybody says, oh no, don't, don't, don't do that. Now I'm doing this. And it's just part of the natural environment. But when you're remote, you can't just shout out, Hey, I'm going to down the server. Now you have to actually actively call people up and say, or send a message out to the group or something just to communicate. This is what I plan to do today. Is that going to bother you or interrupt what you're doing or...

  • 09:25 Kel

    Right. And the setup is like the standup's there to kind of formalize that process, right? Like in the morning, everyone talks about what they're gonna do and what they did and you kind of, you catch it, get everybody up to speed. And whatever your context is and they can see if there's anything they need to interact with. And if you're in an office what you could just as easily do is kind of wander around and talk to people directly and be like, Hey, is this going to impact you in any way? And then they can do the same thing and so it's kind of replacing what was a natural. But also, you know, oops we missed that person over there and oh that person really needed to know we were going to reboot, reboot that server today. You know, the stand up formalizes that process and that also makes it nice and easy to do on a phone call with remote workers. So there's, there's a lot of bonus of doing it a little more formalized. If you're going to remove your standup, you should replace it with something that accomplishes the same goal.

  • 10:12 Joshua

    Yeah, absolutely. And it works equally well if everybody is in an office, as you say. But it does allow for that team to then work nicely. I've actually got a remote team that I'm working with at the moment because I'm a consultant. A lot of my clients have made working with our dev teams and they are all actually in the office. But because we put these things in place, everybody dials in to their Skype stand up and they're all sitting next to each other or near enough to each other that they could just go into a meeting room and do this. But it actually works really well for us because it's quite efficient. Everybody is doing what they're doing. You can carry on if it's not your part and, and as long as you're listening in and paying attention, it's fine. And that works quite nicely. It is fairly efficient.

  • 10:55 Joshua

    Yeah. Some companies have managed to do like a digital standups or it's, you know, email or chat or whatever, but there is, it's a little bit more difficult to, to kind of scrounge out the little edge case stuff of like, oh, but what about that going to happen on that server? And people can miss conversation. So it's totally possible, but it takes a little bit more disciplined to get rid of the, you know, 15 minutes of everybody in each other's face stand up.

  • 11:18 Joshua

    Yeah, I definitely uh, that is one of those cases where I think a phone call's absolutely the right way. Um,

  • 11:25 Kel

    The easiest way if nothing else.

  • 11:27 Joshua

    I'm not a huge fan of video for that unless it's a very small team because you start paying attention to who's picking whose nose and you don't get any real, you're not paying attention to what you really should be paying attention to I find.

  • 11:42 Kel

    It's really difficult because yeah, you do get better, like feedback. It's easier too to see how other people are doing and communicate is, you know, the better, the more language you use body language as part of your language. But at the same time though, especially with remote working like first thing in the morning video, just, just no, please, like it's 15 minutes of stand up. Maybe later.

  • 12:04 Joshua

    You never know who's wearing pants and who's not. Uh, I also don't necessarily always want to see the shock and awe on their faces when I tell them I'm going to down the server.

  • 12:13 Kel

    Speaking of pants, like we were talking about like daily remote working and starting off. When I first started remote working I had a lot of trouble getting going in the morning cause it was like I was at home, I wasn't at work, it's time for breakfast and oh I'll just take out the trash and like it took me a long time to, to get moving. And what I found worked really well for me was to just get ready for work in the morning I would take a shower, I get dressed in like business clothes, brush my teeth, comb hair... When I had hair... And like prepare for work and then just sit down at my desk. And that was really great at getting me in the right like right mindspace from switching from full time office to oh now I don't have to go into an office and like just getting into that space of okay it's time to work now. This is my office. I am at a desk, it's just all my coworkers are on holiday today for some reason and that that helped tremendously.

  • 13:06 Joshua

    I didn't go quite to that extent, but I did every morning I got up, I had my shower, I had my breakfast, got fully dressed, not necessarily in business casual, but I was fully dressed and I would go to my desk and that was it. I would work... And as early as I possibly could, I got myself a door because having your own separate office with a door allows you to very easily... For both sides, first off, it helps you to get into work mode and be in work mode. It also allows you to at the end of the day, walk out of the room, leave the laptop on the desk and close the door. I think that was one of the first things that really hit me early on because I started to accept phone calls from clients that you know, 7:00 PM at night and things like that. Because I, and this is another thing that I do to try to help with some of this, I keep really good track of my time.

  • 13:58 Joshua

    I have, I use Toggl, it keeps track of everything I'm doing. I know which clients I'm working on. A part of that is because I am a consultant. I work with lots of different clients. I need to know who to bill

  • 14:08 Kel

    Right. Right.

  • 14:08 Joshua

    But the real value I got out of it is I know when I've worked my time and I would find that, uh, one of the things that I do once I've gotten past the morning routine and I've gotten it, I like to put creative stuff in early on in the day. But immediately after that I like to try to get some exercise in when I'm actually behaving myself and doing the exercise I'm supposed to be doing. Usually I like to go for a run or cycle or whatever works for that. In this case, at the moment I'm cycling only because I managed to break myself, but um..

  • 14:41 Kel

    Getting old!

  • 14:42 Joshua

    Yeah. Oh yeah. Uh, but I think exercise is really important in general for anybody. It doesn't matter who you are or where you are in life. Exercise is good, but I think when you're working at home and you're working in something that's very knowledge based and it's very..

  • 14:58 Kel

    Yes.

  • 14:59 Joshua

    You're lost in your head a lot. Getting up, getting some adrenaline going and separating things actually it makes a huge difference. And that was one of the biggest things that I did for myself and because I wasn't doing that early on and that definitely made a huge difference, but it led to another problem in that some days I, I, if I'm not doing well, the morning didn't go that well. I will take off for an hour, hour and a half to cycle and just get it out of my system until I'm ready to come back into the office. And I found that I would stress about that because I wasn't sure how long had been out.

  • 15:33 Joshua

    And I ended up working too many hours afterward and I got to the point that when I did finally start tracking, I found... Quite often I was working nine 10 11 hours trying to make up for my normal day. And that wasn't right for me, that it wasn't good for the company because I was going to burn out really quickly by tracking time. I know, okay, yeah, I did spend two hours cycling, but I then worked that later on and I did get my time in or over the course of the week I got my time in so I don't feel bad about it and I also don't go overboard making up for it.

  • 16:06 Kel

    Yeah, I tend to do, I tend to do exercise. Like first thing in the morning is my, so it's like pre work routines. I usually don't break up the day, but if I do break up the day, that usually means I'm stuck on a problem and it's like, okay, I'm going to go to disconnect myself and not think about it. And then of course the very first thing I do is like about a half mile down the road. Oh, that's the solution. And then have to decide whether I'm going to turn around or not. But like those types of days I tend not to like discount that as not work because it was totally work.

  • 16:37 Joshua

    Yeah, certainly I do that sometimes. One of the things I like about having it in the middle of the day and not at the beginning is, I naturally, for whatever reason I wake up and I feel quite creative. I'm one of these guys, I have my shower in the morning and I come over with all kinds of crazy ideas. Um, I don't... somebody was saying today that they come up with all kinds of crazy ideas in the shower and they started to talk about it... I said, "how long are you in the shower?" Oh, 20 minutes. What?! Two minutes? That's it. That's my entire...

  • 17:09 Kel

    Sounds relaxing.

  • 17:10 Joshua

    I know and a lot of people do, but um, uh, I'm a two minute person.

  • 17:14 Kel

    I'm a, I'm a sauna. It's, it's a sonic shower. It's the same thing. But uh, yeah, probably not great for water conservation. I do, I now have a clock in my shower to keep me from spending too much time just staring off at and going, oh, I wonder what I could do today. Ooh, that's a great idea. I've started like using the, the, the tile as a whiteboard and that's when I realized that this was a little out of control...

  • 17:35 Joshua

    You've been in there too long. Yeah,

  • 17:37 Kel

    Exactly. It's like we've, we've, we've passed anything reasonable for that, but yeah.

  • 17:43 Joshua

    Yeah. But yes, I'm creative in the morning and even in my two minutes I do quite often come up with like that and because of the type of role I've got, I do need to have some creative time, some planning time, some technical time. And I find planning and technical can usually coexist, but I like to completely separate the creative from the technical and the planning side of things. Having that exercise to break those two up actually makes a huge difference for me. It lets me switch modes, particularly...

  • 18:14 Kel

    I like to split up the planning side too.

  • 18:16 Joshua

    Uh, yeah, certainly. I usually, if I can, I will try to have a coffee or tea break for something like that. Particularly in summer, I like to go sit outside at the table and get some sunshine. We don't get a ton of sunshine in England, but we do get some and when we do, that's where I go for my breaks.

  • 18:36 Kel

    I find that I do to kind of like the context switch between development and creative mode and like planning modes are all kind of drastic for me. I don't do any of them without kind of getting focused in that mindset first. So I usually do like planning things like the, the hard parts of planning, you know, estimations and figuring out a week's worth of rough schedule sort of things or where my meetings are all going to land. Like I tried to do all that stuff either in the morning when I'm still trying to get into business mindset mode or you know, just at a random block of time throughout the day is kind of a disciplinary thing cause otherwise I'll want to like wing it and that never works. You have to have some kind of plan. Anyway, that's just the general development thing. Uh, but, and then for like, like pure development work verse designed work, I have to get into totally different mindsets because designed work usually frustrates me because it's not as fast. It's not as rapid, it's more tweaking and moving things around. But when I'm in that mood it's great. It's fun. Uh, but yeah, I can't go back and forth. That's just kind of a me thing. But I'm sure it's shared among many.

  • 19:39 Joshua

    Yeah, I'm absolutely certain it is. Um, and everybody has their own things. So for me, I can quite easily shift between technical and planning because I, I was a project manager, a technical project manager, so solving technical problems and solving the management side of it, it was all just the same problems I had to fix them. And quite often it's just switching back and forth all day long anyway. So I don't really have an option of spending a lot of time context switching with those. But the creative side, usually I can separate those a little bit. Um, as long as I do some planning upfront, which I'll skip ahead a little bit. Usually the last thing I do at the end of the day is I try to roughly pay an, what am I doing tomorrow? Partially because it lets me marinate over it a little bit and partially because I know come morning I've got a bunch of meetings where I have to answer that question so it helps having an answer then and not rushing in the morning. Uh, again because I like to kind of, I like to be creative in the morning. I like to not rush it in the morning so I don't want to be sitting at breakfast thinking about work, trying to figure out what am I doing today. Things like that. It's much better if I figured it out in the evening and I've got it ready to go.

  • 20:49 Kel

    Yeah. You were talking about context switching. I mean that applies to like you're closing the door and context switching back to you know, non work life. That was one of the very first things I did was move my desk somewhere away from everything else I did every day. So it was in a space set aside for work. So when I removed myself from that space, it was a lot easier to context switch back to real life and not feel like I'm working all day at home. Like your, your home turns into an office and you really don't want that feeling of you know all this stress from work being associated to the also the place where you're supposed to be relaxing and eating and hanging out with friends and family. Like that's not a great, great connection. You want to split those two things apart so it really is helpful to move your desk in another location as much as possible to break those things up .

  • 21:36 Joshua

    Even if you can't get a dedicated office, still stick it in its own dedicated corner that you never go in anything else. The other thing I do, I take it to another level. I don't use my work laptop out of hours.

  • 21:48 Kel

    Yeah, I'm a very much ice. I have a work laptop on a personal laptop and it's very arbitrary that that just because, so I can still use your computer and not feel like I'm using work and you know, I'm not at work so very much so.

  • 22:00 Joshua

    I quite often. I don't even use a computer. To be fair. I do. I've got a surface pro that I use, but I usually don't plug in the keyboard. I use it as a tablet because I want to be able to browse the web. I want to be able to do one of research I'm interested in, which was another question that did come up is how many hours do we put in? I put in my core hours, but I know for a fact that I put in a lot of other hours talking to other developers, learning new frameworks, things like that, but I try to keep that in tablet mode so that it's not work mode and I don't find myself doing anything stupid like, Oh yeah, I could use that for and I'll do this. No, I don't want any of that. So removing the keyboard or moves the temptation.

  • 22:40 Kel

    Hours are a little bit more difficult just especially for us since we're consultants. It's like, well, it's however many are billable. And then there's also the, you know, look for new work side of things. And then there's also emails, but there's also, hey, there's no work to do today. I'm going to take a break. Like work hours are a little vaguer as consultants. Before though I had more or less like office hours. We had like the core hours in the day that represented about, I think five was our actual overlap hours of the whole department. And we all kind of share those core hours of communications back and forth. And then everything around that was kind of hazy. Those, you know, get in your work each week, you know, you should be 40 hours. I think we were actually at 35 hours when I first started doing that. Like we had short weeks. Uh, but it was, you know, get in your hours, but I don't really care outside of the core hours. And that's very much, you know, environment and however your company runs, those types of things. Personally I find anything over six hours of actual technical work is mind numbing and kind of pointless. It's a lot of spinning your wheels, but there's always like fluff stuff of meetings and planning and all of the other things that go into day to day life. So...

  • 23:46 Joshua

    Well, equally, any good company needs to assume that there's going to be a certain amount of time for developers to learn. They can't expect you to do all of that time. And most companies, I don't think they do. I think in fact quite a few will even offer training on work hours and things like that. So take advantage of those things because obviously you're a developer for a reason. I know I am a developer because I love developing software. I love solving problems with software. That's why I got into it... And a new version of this comes out or that comes out and yeah, I'm there. I've been looking at Stencil lately because it kind of looks like React but it builds native and a lot of that I will do in my own time because I have a personal interest in it as well. But I... certainly, if I'm looking at it in the morning because I hadn't quite finished in the evening or whatever it might be, I don't really feel all that bad about that because I know it's going to be used for the company in some way.

  • 24:44 Kel

    Exactly. Yeah. And I, I mean I was always a fan of any like slack time, like say you're planning went way ahead of schedule and now you've got like a full day. Yeah, by all means Hackett something and I don't even really care what like I, I learn all kinds of things from stuff I wasn't supposed to be poking out. Especially like I have a, I like low level, low level code things like I've been playing with Rust lately for grins and I've been learning a lot like how virtual machines work because I did not, you know, do the CS major. These are all the things I didn't learn that I was supposed to because I was not a CS major and it's... but I'm learning loads of tricks that apply to like day to day development. It's like, oh no, I know why that breaks when it breaks. Like it helps me with debugging and problem solving and planning and architecture and all kinds of other things. Even though that days, you know, play of sample code was absolutely worthless in the immediate scheme.

  • 25:34 Joshua

    And so yeah. Yeah, I want to be honest, nobody actually knows the future but we need to be prepared for it and the reality is some things you can look into won't go anywhere. I spent quite a bit of time with Vue and while Vue is doing all right, we don't use it. So it actually, it didn't really benefit the company because we decided it wasn't a good fit for us. We actually went with React instead. So yeah.

  • 25:59 Kel

    Yeah. And, but at the same time though, like I learned to Typescript on my own and typescript is huge now. Like Typescript is everywhere and well used by large companies and it's a regular thing and I learned that when it was in, it's like alpha and beta stage cause I really liked typed languages and that was really annoying, that Javascript. And so yeah, some things end up working in the opposite direction where that little thing you putzed with turns into a big major player.

  • 26:22 Joshua

    Yeah, absolutely. Uh, early on with Angular, I, I started playing around with it when... I think it was telling an Alpha or something daft like that and was building really great web stuff and I thought it was better than all the other stuff I had been working with. It's like Knockout and Ember and I was like...

  • 26:40 Kel

    It was alright...

  • 26:40 Joshua

    Yeah, it was alright ... but when Angular came around, I was taken by it and it actually for the next several years, I mean probably four or five years that became our bread and butter and me doing that in my spare time and a little bit here and there when I just, when we had downtime or between things meant that the company got a huge amount of benefit from that. So I certainly don't feel bad about any of those things. But it does mean that sometimes, yeah, I don't work just my core hours.

  • 27:06 Joshua

    I work outside not because the company requires it, but because I love what I do and I think that's a good position to be in. So if you can do that and not be doing client work, I again, I have a very strict policy. I think our core hours or something like nine to five and I don't answer the phone from clients after those times unless it's an absolute emergency because the moment you do, uh...

  • 27:31 Kel

    Exactly.

  • 27:32 Joshua

    My coworkers have never called me out of hours or on holidays or anything like that, unless they were absolutely desperate. Like, you know, the company's going to go under if we don't call Josh.

  • 27:41 Kel

    Help!

  • 27:41 Joshua

    But clients on the other hand, "oh it's eight o'clock, I've had three beers and I have this really great idea, I should call Josh." No, don't do it.

  • 27:52 Kel

    Yeah, exactly. I'm, I'm very much disconnect things from like work and personal and I tend to like filter what I'll look at. Um, like I usually have like a side project of anytime I have a major work I'll have like a different type of more creative code version of that when I need like a brain break and I'm going to shut off for a little while and that applies to like real world work. Usually I'll have, you know, whatever it is that I'm supposed to be working on. And then this little kind of like side thing that I keep researching as part of like company process, you know, it'll be a new tool or something useful. Um, but those, you know, that's the company time version. And then personal life stuff. If I want to do hobby projects, it'll be generally be unrelated. Like I really do have like a hard split between stuff I do for the company and stuff I do for myself even though there's a huge amount of like skill overlap.

  • 28:38 Joshua

    Yeah.

  • 28:39 Kel

    The, I like having that good solid split. It keeps the context which different.

  • 28:44 Joshua

    Absolutely. I and while certainly some of the things that the podcast itself can certainly benefit the company, but it's something I do because I really enjoy it. I love doing it and I am the same with any apps on building, quite often. Like to do real time things that really don't have that much bearing on the company. But quite often there's some overlap and things that I learn with that then benefit the company. Uh, it's a great situation to be in. But yeah, they're absolutely personal things that I am doing because I enjoy it and that's why I'm doing those extra hours. It's not something that I would ever encourage anybody to do if that's not something you enjoy doing.

  • 29:17 Kel

    Yeah. I don't even consider the, the stuff I do on my own I don't consider those extra hours. I consider those hobby projects that just happened to be applicable. You know, it's uh,

  • 29:25 Joshua

    Yeah.

  • 29:27 Kel

    You know... we used to work for a car parts company and the, the technical staff that answered questions about car parts all day went home and putzed with their cars. Like it was their hobby and also their job and you know, coming up with that split is a bit of a challenge. It is something that we kind of learned as, you know, hobby developers and like professional developers. There's a.. An odd overlap there and split that was a bit of a challenge. But..

  • 29:50 Joshua

    I think I, you can have that challenge even without it being remote working though. It's... Anything...

  • 29:56 Kel

    That's totally...

  • 29:57 Joshua

    That's in your head, it's always in your head. Whether you're off or not. It's in there

  • 30:03 Kel

    Development is its own kind of like special world. I imagine. I mentioned sales stuff is similar. Like anything where it's like a skill that's kind of like overwhelming like that where it's like invades every part of your thinking is probably that bad.

  • 30:17 Joshua

    Yeah. Now a couple other things that are probably worth knowing if you are considering a career as a remote developer...

  • 30:25 Kel

    So we should definitely mention coworking like coworking is and importing aspect of ways to deal with the working from home with nothing to do and never seeing another person other than maybe your cat and that one squirrel outside that visits every other day and eats your tomatoes. Like you can get a little stir crazy working from home all the time. Like that's a, that's a pretty serious problem. When I first started like working from home, I actually could go still go into the office. I was still actually local. I just worked from home and so every so often, like once or twice a week I would wander into the office. But once I moved out to Seattle and was still remote, that wasn't an option anymore. And so I started going to coworking and that was much, much better.

  • 31:05 Joshua

    Yeah absolutely.

  • 31:06 Kel

    Having an office full of people that you could talk to and you know, not be at home in the corner. Yeah.

  • 31:13 Joshua

    Memorizing all the animals that visit.

  • 31:15 Kel

    Yeah, exactly. Getting to know them and their families.

  • 31:20 Joshua

    I realized that I needed to do something when I found that I was going off on runs and stopping and talking to the guys who were trying to find a little bit of peace at the park and bird watch and suddenly some random weird American is yapping at them. "Hey, how you doing?" And they're looking at me like... "uh, why are you talking to me?"

  • 31:41 Kel

    Right. I was really talkative for... Like a little while you could tell that I hadn't talked to enough people lately. It was like, hello. Hey, do you want to hang out? How's it going? You know, just, it was just too much. Uh, but yeah, coworking helped a lot with that. It was kind of like going to an office minus the office politics. It was pretty great.

  • 31:56 Joshua

    Absolutely. It's also a really great way to meet other people, get fresh ideas, get new stuff. Uh, I've run into quite a few other developers at coworking, which is amazing. Being able to actually physically be with other developers and share things with them and talk to them about what they're doing and how their career going. Um, in fact, that was one of the early things that started to lead me toward building something like the podcast was I was really enjoying talking to other developers that showed up, but not enough of them were showing up. So I thought I'd go find some!

  • 32:27 Kel

    Yeah, exactly. I did. The one downside I did run into with coworking was, is it less in the office? You're kind of like forced to talk to people and coworking. That is not the case. Like you have to go make friends on your own. And that was like joining in the community. You do have to put an effort into becoming part of a community to join said community and that is kind of an important thing, but also a bonus. Like it is another community you are part of, that you network in, that gets to know you and is also not your job.

  • 32:55 Joshua

    Yeah. And it's the same anywhere, whether you're in school or at your job or at the coworking center or at a conference or on Twitter, you have to participate. You have to talk to other people, and if you'd not putting in the effort, you're not going to get anything back out of it. Yeah, I will be completely honest. It took me a long time to learn that lesson, but remote working actually kind of pushed me into that. That was something that by having that chance to be by myself and do the things that I wanted to do with my career, it actually pushed me toward learning how to also be part of a community and I think that was really important for me. It's not the same for everybody and certainly when I'm interviewing people for this remote position, one of the things that I'm really, really looking at more than their development skills or anything else is are they going to go stir crazy on me?

  • 33:44 Kel

    Right Yeah. I've, I've, every time I talked to remote folks, I'm like, "how do you feel about coworking? You should really think about coworking!" Like that's like a constant phrase of you need a way to do that. Your family will not be enough to sustain you. Uh, you can't just be, you know the few people in your household and then work and back and forth. Like you definitely have to have more outlets and a lot of people come in and they're like, oh, you know, I'm active in all of these other communities already and I don't worry as much about them.. But some folks definitely need at least one more community and then I kind of strongly pushed towards coworking or something similar like you need to work with other people.

  • 34:20 Joshua

    Yeah, absolutely. And it's probably worth noting that there are some caveats and there are some things that you should be very, very aware of. If you're thinking about remote working that can absolutely be negatives. You will most likely have a fair amount of autonomy, which is great....uUnless you're not really self motivated and can't cope with that. I know a lot of people who can't just force themselves to go sit in an office and do things when they know that... you know the kids are out playing or it today he was brilliant, sunny and wonderful in England. It doesn't happen often and I... In fact, I cycled into the coworking space and I didn't really want to stop when I got there. Thought I might just keep going. Yeah. But having the self discipline to yes, one it is sunny or when you can see the dishes need to be done or that something needs to be dusted. Not doing it because it's a time and a lot of people can't do that and it's worth being self aware.

  • 35:15 Kel

    And that is something you can train yourself to do though? Like we mentioned earlier as the, you know, I had to get ready for work each day and putting the desk in a certain spot, like treating it like the office can help tremendously with that if you're learning. But it does take an effort. It takes an effort on your part to learn, to learn, to do that, to create that kind of like context within your own home that is work, cause you can't just, you can't wing it eventually you'll be able to wing it. But at first, no, like nowadays I can more or less crawl out of bed and go on a phone call. But back before that, no, that did not work. There was not enough. I could not switch back and forth between contexts that quickly.

  • 35:51 Joshua

    Absolutely. Uh, another thing to be aware of, if you have a car, you might end up selling it.

  • 35:57 Kel

    Yeah, about seven and a car and six years now, it's probably been that long since I've driven anywhere. Granted I hitch rides out to the sticks periodically but not like hitch hitch. But you know, borrow a friend.

  • 36:10 Joshua

    I say this almost in jest, but it actually is a very valid point because certainly if I decided I didn't want to work remotely anymore, I'd have to go buy a car before I could get a job. And that's actually a huge deterrent if something were to go wrong. And I really need to get out. I would be in a position where I was kind of stuck unless I had enough money to just go buy one outright.

  • 36:31 Kel

    Yeah, there there's definitely that. But at the same time, you know that's also the positive of... you didn't need a car. Absolutely. Awesome.

  • 36:37 Joshua

    I was pretty thrilled when I realized, you know, I actually, I've replaced the battery in this car four times since I last drove. Maybe I should just sell this thing. Um, okay. Maybe it wasn't quite that bad, but we did that to recharge that battery a lot of times because it was just sitting there and I was very excited about that and I'm to this day very excited about it. I can either take the train or take my bike anytime I need to do anything and go somewhere. So that's great. But it's also worth noting it's could be a potential risk to you

  • 37:12 Kel

    could be positive, could be negative. I'd, I'd generally considered no vehicle a positive, but I tend to agree. I'm not sure everybody would though. Yeah. Yeah. We are kind of city life folks. I mean even UK is like entirely city life compared to the US. But, like everything's within an hour or two. But yet I'm in Seattle where, you know, we have bike lanes though. People not necessarily connected bike lanes. We have lots of them, but lots of them aren't connected, which is really confusing. A lot of complaints to the city, city council and city hall for that. But um, we have lots of cycling and that's a perfectly viable

  • 37:47 Joshua

    We quite often have a cycle lane and it ends abruptly on a 70 mile an hour road or it doesn't completely end. It's on the other side of the road now. And it's a 60 mile an hour.

  • 37:58 Kel

    Oh those are my favorite. Yeah. We have one downtown Seattle where like five of them meet and, but they're all one way and they're all ending in the same spot. And so you just kind of end up in this weird corner of downtown and you don't have any way to get anywhere other than like rolling around on sidewalks or pushing or something. It's just like, well now what do I do? Where do I go?

  • 38:18 Joshua

    Yeah. So if you're listening city of Seattle fix your cycle lanes, same for you and Leicester.

  • 38:25 Kel

    I'm sure they have heard it repeatedly.

  • 38:29 Joshua

    Yeah, to be fair, I'm actually, I'm quite lucky, my path into the coworking center is all along the canal and it is all cycles safe and off road, which is very nice.

  • 38:38 Kel

    Yeah, I do like me some protected bike lanes and cycle only lanes and yeah, right along the Burke Gilman, uh, in Seattle. So I have, I can get a lot of places with just... right on a trail, which is pretty great though. It's like filled with tourists right now cause it's sunny in Seattle and that never happened. So I finally bought a bell for my bike just because when I, I hit the bell, they don't like, they don't get it out of the way any better, but they panic more. Before I'd be like "on your left!" And they would ignore me. Like they didn't know what that would mean and now I hit the bell and then they just like, "Ooh, what was that!?" And then they kind of like just scatter.

  • 39:11 Joshua

    They scatter... that's the part that really gets me. We are slightly digressing, but I think this is funny anyway, it's the same here. So apparently English and American people are exactly the same. It doesn't matter if I'm ringing the bell saying "on the" left or something like that. Three of them, they all go in different directions. One goes straight, one goes left, one goes right. They don't know where to go. Or even better the dog goes left, the owner goes right and the lead is in the middle.

  • 39:36 Kel

    Exactly. Like I still have to stop. Like it doesn't help, but at least it's more entertaining to me. And you know, I don't have to raise my voice because I'm not a, I'm not allowed in person unless I'm like in a classroom or something. So you know, the bell saves effort and I can go ding, Ding, Ding, Ding. And you know, it's kind of fun, but it is entertaining to watch the tourist scatter. I feel a little bit bad for that. But at the same time it's fine.

  • 40:00 Joshua

    Sometimes I like to yell anyway... because I always get these, looks like, wait a minute, is that an American? What? What's going on?

  • 40:05 Kel

    Oh, that's right. You do the accent every so often I slipped back to the country accent without noticing and uh, get a little startled. Looks like wait, what?

  • 40:13 Joshua

    I love it when people pull over and I'm cycling and they do, you know how to get here. And I start telling him, yeah, you go this way. And they're looking at me like, "are you sure you know how to get there?"

  • 40:24 Kel

    Yeah. So anyway, working from home, I think that's the day in our lives, right? Like wake up, go to work, stop working. Key part, key part. Walk away from the desk. Stop.

  • 40:35 Joshua

    Yeah. Uh, and you might turn into a cycle nut or something.

  • 40:39 Kel

    Yeah. I know a lot of people who exercise who work from home like it is a lot easier to break out and exercise and when you also don't have to worry that you came back sweaty like you can still take that phone call, no one will notice.

  • 40:50 Joshua

    That might be a really good advertising point for working from home. It will save you from heart disease.

  • 40:58 Kel

    Yeah, that could work.

  • 41:00 Joshua

    To be fair it I must say I am absolutely much less stressed now than I ever was working in an office and you're absolutely right. It has certainly been one of the things that helped me really get into exercising and I know a lot of other people, it's much the same. I want to talk to people at the coworking center who either work at home or work from the coworking center. Most of them are much the same. They say the moment I went remote, I started to exercise and I felt better about myself and so it's not a guarantee but there are certainly some good trends there.

  • 41:33 Kel

    Definitely helps it. You can go for walks easier. Like going for a walk to think about things is a great start for exercise in general. Even if you don't want to go for your, what is it, 10 kilometer runs is normal for you. Like just batty. Yeah. Going for a walk is great though. Like just being able to get outside and not worry about office-y stuff and yeah. And eventually you don't have to dress up anymore and you can wear casual clothing and you can, your routine can be a little bit less, uh ridiculous to get you in the right mindset. Eventually you'll find that you just kind of fall into the work mindset when you sit down and then you can fall out of it when you get up and walk away. So practice.

  • 42:08 Joshua

    Absolutely.

  • 42:10 Joshua

    Alright, so that is pretty much the day in the life of remote worker. Now I'll stick a caveat in there that obviously every remote environment is different. Uh, your working environment will be different if you're working in a coworking center and it's going to be different than if you're working at home. Your employer could be different. Some certainly tried to treat remote workers as though they're in the office even though they're not. Um, so your mileage may vary, but there's a lot of freedom and remote working and while your day may not be exactly like ours, hopefully uh, remote working could be really great for you. I will put some transcripts up at gettingappsdone.com. Please be sure to check out my website at joshuagraham.info and Kel's website at piffner.com. If you do work remotely, please drop us a note. Let us know about your day and particularly if there's something we missed, we'd love to share that with other people because we're all in this together and particularly remote workers. I think we do need to help each other and support each other. Also be sure to check out our new Slack group. I'll put a link in the transcripts as well. Any listener is most welcome and you can ask us questions and hopefully we can get some of those up for you as well, and we can answer your questions in a way that helps everybody. Until next time, thanks for listening.

Getting Apps Done

with Joshua Graham and Kel Piffner