Remote Tips: Remote is exhausting

VMware Pivotal Labs

Creating the right working environment

  • Everyone should have a good audio headset with a directional mic.
  • Establish boundaries and transitions: separate work from life by carving out a dedicated workspace and find ways to remove it from your vision while not working.
  • It’s OK for family and pets to appear in your video; we’re all human.
  • Introduce variety: work from different parts of the house.
  • Turn off notifications.
  • Try Krisp, a video conferencing add-on that mutes not only your background noise, but also that of everyone else on the call.

Looking after yourself and each other

  • Schedule breaks.
  • Stretch, dance, or take up bird watching!
  • Spend time outdoors, exercise, or have exercise breaks with your team.
  • Stay hydrated!
  • When on break, allow your eyes to rest at a distance.
  • Stay connected with friends, family and community.
  • Block time for personal care.
  • 🔥 Monitor your potential for burnout using Burnoutindex.org.
  • Take an occasional “mental health day.”
  • Don’t suffer in silence; help each other and keep each other accountable.
  • Ask each other the right questions.
  • Discuss in retros how to support each other and reduce fatigue.

Setting a routine

  • Make time for breaks, planning, reflection, and team social time (e.g., take 10-min break for every 80 minutes of work; Mary needs to deal with childcare at 3 PM every Wednesday, so plan meetings around it).
  • Having a fixed working routine helps you to maintain and manage your energy levels.
  • Use a timer to help plan breaks.
  • Find ways to mark the start and end of your day (standups/catch-ups); daily stand-downs might help to shorten standups.
  • Replicate your commute to punctuate the transition from home to work by doing something relaxing and fun before work, and clearing your workspace at the end of the day.
  • Don’t go straight to work after you wake up.
  • Keep regular times for meals.
  • Experiment with different ways of working to find out what’s best for the team; not everyone shares the same peak hours of energy and focus.
  • Designate a pair of engineers as the “interrupt pair” at the start of each day to lower the cost of interruptions and minimize the need for conversations, decisions and context switching.
  • Respect the routine, but experiment with change.