Half The World Away — The Art of Remote Work
We recently wrote about how we built a great remote work culture at 10Clouds. It’s all about flexibility and effective communication! Today we wanted to bring this culture to life for you, by speaking to one of our senior developers and tech leads, Tomek. Tomek has spent the last 18 months living in Bali, some 11,000km from our HQ in Warsaw. Let’s find out more about what his working day looks like.
Hello Tomek. When did you first begin working remotely?
It was around 2008. I was living and working in Warsaw but then I started a family and places in Warsaw were pretty expensive. So I decided to move back to my hometown - Białystok. Working in remote mode was not particularly common at that time so it was quite tricky to get set up in the beginning. But since then, I’ve become a seasoned remote worker and I’ve gathered and shared experiences about how to make such a setup viable for both the employers and employees. We are really lucky working in IT because in most situations you really don’t need to be located in any particular place to be able to do your job. And most IT companies today have finally embraced the possibility of not having your people constantly visible in the office.
What prompted the decision to move to Bali?
It’s actually a funny story. It was not really a decision as such. I have a friend who lives in Bali and who was really trying to sell the lifestyle to me. It was just before the second wave of Covid19 pandemic and I knew if we didn’t move right now we may spend another year in Poland without the possibility of leaving. Within a week I got the visas and tickets for the whole family and we were ready to go.
We made a decision to go to Bali for 1-2 months and see how it goes. Two months turned into 6. Then 6 months turned into a year and a half. And now we don’t really see a reason to go back.
I can’t say uprooting your family in such a way is something easily done, but it worked out really well for us.
Most of your team work from Europe. How do you manage the time difference?
I usually work in the late afternoons and evenings. It is easier for me because my wife also works for an European company and my kids have school in the afternoons (online, polish school with webinars which are held in EU time zones). So we’ve switched around the time for leisure and work. We do “life” stuff in the mornings and work in the evenings. It was surprisingly easy to switch to be honest. The main downside is missing all the social events happening during the week in the evenings. I suppose there’s always a price to pay.
How do you still retain a sense of being a 10Clouder, even when you’re half the world away?
I’m working on a long term, very established project within 10Clouds. I feel connected to everyone I work with even though we don’t meet face to face (outside of video calls). That certainly helps but 10Clouds has been open to the possibility of remote work for a long time. All of the projects, events and benefits are prepared with remote workers in mind. Sometimes it takes a lot of effort to make it viable but I think it’s worth it. We were able to expand and make our team more diverse because we are not confined to a single space.
What communication tools and strategies help you with staying connected with your team?
We are mostly using Slack, Confluence and Google Docs. Slack is for ongoing communication - the most important tool for us. Confluence and Docs are for expressing larger concepts and being able to collaborate asynchronously.
My team also holds short daily meetings and all the standard agile related meetings we feel are necessary. The work can certainly be done without those meetings but since we are all able to work in a “shared” timezone it makes it easier.
I think the most important rule for any team containing remote workers is that no project-related conversation should be held offline. All of the team needs to have access to all of the information and decisions made.
Even if you have the ability to meet some of the team members directly the recap and outcome of the discussion needs to be communicated to all of the team. This provides the best flow of information. It also prevents remote people from being left out and not being able to provide input or benefit from ongoing discussions.
It certainly takes some getting used to and it’s an added effort but with the tools at our disposal we have the full history of the project ready to be accessed by any interested parties. Every information can be easily uncovered and it’s much harder to forget anything.
What would you tell anyone who is looking to start a career at 10Clouds about our culture?
10Clouds was great at providing the ability to work from home for years and the pandemic made us redouble our efforts to make sure it’s easy for everyone. It’s packed full of skilled and intelligent people who are a pleasure to work with. I think one of the main things I like about the company is how seriously your well-being is treated. It’s one of our core values and it really works!
Thank you Tomek!