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For the last 5 years I have both hired and been hired to work remotely in various positions, from co-founder at Hypernumbers to developer at Couchbase. It often surprises people when it comes up that I work 5000 miles from my office and I get asked a variety of questions along the lines of “Isn’t it lonely?” and “How do you get any work done?” so I thought it might be helpful to write down my experiences of working remotely.
“Doesn’t it get lonely?”
This is probably the most common question which surprises me since I actually find working remotely is a lot more sociable. In Edinburgh there are a lot of startup companies and freelance developers who are in the same position and its quite common to cowork in a coffee shop together, there are also regular tech events during the week which generally end in the pub as well as a multitude of conferences to attend. I also make an effort to visit the office regularly.
Its a huge advantage to be able to regularly work with my peers outside the company as well as with my awesome coworkers, it means I am exposed to a whole new set of ideas and problems and gives me some fresh perspective into what I work on.
“How do you get work done?”
In terms of communication I think remote employees are a massive benefit to a company, it is easy in an office to forget about proper communications channels because you can bypass them and tap somebody on the shoulder, which leads to confusion as people are now out of the loop and without information they need to work, this problem becomes even worse as your company grows. Working remotely is impossible without proper communication channels, seperate mailing lists for different working groups, bug trackers, project management tools...