There Are No Snow Days When You Work Remote

Jennifer Wadella

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Jennifer Wadella


  • 9-5 Remote Software Engineer
  • Nonprofit Founder/Director
  • International Speaker
  • Aspiring crazy plant lady

This talk may contain strong language, harsh truths, and serious passion.

working remote. so hot right now

What this talk is NOT ...

60 minutes of talking about why remote working is awesome and why you should do it.

What this talk is ...

  • Figuring out if your company would be able to support remote workers.
  • Deciding if working remote is the right fit for you.
  • Learning strategies to be an effective remote worker.
  • Exploring how to begin working remote.

Will your company be able to support remote workers?

You can only be as successful as your environment will allow.

The Remote Company Checklist

  1. ✅ Have an onboarding process
  2. ✅ Have meetings built to be inclusive of remote workers
  3. ✅ Have clear and always-available task management
  4. ✅ Are effective communicators
  5. ✅ Have documentation around "tribal knowledge"
  6. ✅ Have appropriate performance evaluation systems in place

✅ Have an onboarding process

Silicon Valley swag

This doesn't need to be fancy with branded packets and swag.

Onboarding ....

Should clearly outline expectations and policies.

Onboarding ....

Should highlight appropriate company and third party contacts.

Ex. leadership, project management, HR, support, vendors, partners

Onboarding ....

Should include equipment specs

What will be provided? Computer? Keyboard? Mouse? Trackpad? Laptop stand?

Onboarding ....

Should provide access to necessary communication tools

✅ Have meetings built to be inclusive of remote workers

Meetings ....

Should always be on the calendar.

Meetings ....

Should be scheduled in consideration of workers in different timezones.

✅ Have clear and always-available task management

As a remote worker, I should be able to get online any time, any where and be able to view my workload AND have the documentation necessary to execute on my job.

If this is the company's task management strategy ... RUN!

  • Github?
  • Trello?
  • Jira?
  • Doesn't matter.

Task management system just needs to allow for autonomous employees to pick up work as needed and communicate ticket progress to team.

Tasks ....

  • Have clearly outlined requirements
  • Have steps for completion
  • Have priorities or due dates

✅ Are effective communicators

A company that sucks at communicating in person will EXCEPTIONALLY SUCK in a remote environment.

Communication Considerations

How is company-wide information relayed?

What tools are used for daily communication?

How is the team made aware of goals, progress, and changes?

What happens when you have a blocker from someone who is AFK?

One on Ones

No excuses. Companies must do these.

✅ Have documentation around "tribal knowledge"

Commit Strip Documentation

Slack != documentation

Slack != documentation

Slack != documentation

There should be documentation around

  • Environment setup
  • Build processes
  • Testing
  • Deployment
  • Company code standards
  • Migrations, environment changes, etc

TL;DR Documentation should be available to help workers execute as autonomously as possible.

✅ Have appropriate performance evaluation systems in place

Bullshit metrics meme

Non-remote companies often use "butt-in-seat" as a crutch to evaluate

Evaluation considerations

Who is setting eval metrics?

What is the technical expertise of management?

What metrics are currently in place?

How is performance judged?

How do you prove you’re worth your paycheck?

REMINDER: You can only be as successful as your environment will allow.

Companies with remote workers will have their management practices successes and failures magnified immensely.

Is working remote the right fit for you?

South Park working gif

Remote Flowchart

First Job

Miss out on in-person pair programming

Can be harder to learn without visual cues

Difficult to build confidence in self & interactions as there are less “organic” opportunities

How does your Personality play in?

Introvert vs. Extrovert

Are you Self-directed?

Are You Comfortable Asking for Help?

Are you comfortable in a primarily online communication culture?

Strategies to be an effective remote worker.

Strategy 1

Establish & Maintain Boundaries

kids interupting meeting

Boundary: Maintain Office Hours

Start and end your day at consistent times. At the end of the work day LEAVE YOUR DAMN DESK!

Boundary: Take a Lunch Break

Eat your food, go for a walk, browse reddit. Breaks are good!

Boundary: Explain Boundaries to Family/friends

  • Use a closed door if possible.
  • Have a very visual indication of when you are working and not to be interupted.
    (Check out Jesse Phelps' talk on Reverse Engineering a bluetooth lightbulb from NDC Olso)
  • Have a special code word or phrase (for when you want to scream "I'M WORKING RIGHT NOW")

Strategy 2

Avoid "remote traps"

Trap: Not Showering

Shower. Every. Day.

Trap: Doing Chores

Don't do them during your office hours. They will suck you work hours and corrupt your attention span.

Trap: Slack, social media, and other distractions

Use website blockers or tools -

Strategy 3

Create a Productive Environment

Your Office

Maintain a clean office environment.

Pimp Your Office\'

Follow a Dress Code

work from home wardrobe

Get dessed every day.

Become a Timezone Pro

How to add a secondary timezone to Google Calendar | Outlook

Strategy 4

Be "Visible" in the company

First! take time to get to know the culture

Check in with your Team

Make Others Aware of Your Progress

Let others know when you're be AFK

TLDR; Be Transparent

Contribute to Team Culture

Strategy 5

Engage With Your Local Tech Community


User Groups

Find a group in your area.

Can't find one? Start your own.

Take "Co-Working" Days

Find Mentoring Opportunities

Local Conferences

Transitioning to a Remote Job

Try approaching current company

Start with 1-2 days per week

Remote Work Job Listings

Interview Prep

Be prepared to answer interview questions about your personality, workstyle, and capability to work remote.

Don't Go Remote Because You Hate Your Current Coworkers

I promise, this won't make things better.

Further Resources


Slides available at:

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