Remote Working Thoughts

At my current company, I work in a remote office and typically only work in the office three days a week. The rest of the week, I work from home. I also will occasionally work from home on other days as well if there is something that is keeping near home such as an appointment. So, while I am not working 100% remote, there are a number of remote aspects to my current job.

Remote certainly has some challenges, but it also has some huge benefits that I greatly appreciate. For me, one of the biggest benefits of working from home is the ability to be flexible with my schedule. As a parent this flexibility is highly valuable. The other benefit is the ability to focus outside an office environment.

Working remote can be a really great way to work and is successful if there is commitment from everyone in the company to make remote work possible. Trello ( link | twitter ) has produced a cool PDF that goes over some tried and tested strategies for making remote work successful in your company.

If you are interested you should certainly read the entire document. Although it seems long based on the number of pages, it is a fairly short read. Overall, I think everything comes down to treating your remote and non-remote workers at the same level. If there is shared pain, then people will organize to solve it. If it is a pain only suffered by remote employees there will be no concerted effort to solve it.

Some of the key points that I found important in my remote work journey are:

– Video Conference Tool – They recommend Zoom and I would second that opinion. We used it for remote mobbing sessions and it performed extremely well.

– Collaboration Tools – These need to be the central organizing tool so everyone is on the same page on status. If there are status updates shared outside the collaboration tool (especially in person) there are people being left out of the loop.
– No meetings with mixed participants – This is an interesting one that people outside the conference room may not be aware of. Audio quality can be of mixed results, mulitple conversations are hard to track and conversation lag (among others) are all problems when you have a group in a conference room with people joining virtually. This points directly back to putting everyone on the same playing field.
– Making Time for Personal Interaction – One thing that gets lost is the personal interaction that happens before/after a meeting, around the water cooler, etc. Setting aside time in a team meeting for personal items or making dedicated time for personal interactions seems like a good policy to have.

In my view, having a good culture of supporting remote workers is not only good for your remote workers, but also good for you non-remote workers as it tends to support greater transparency and communication among all your employees. However, there needs to be focus and buy-in from your non-remote employees to experience some of the pain that remote workers feel and have a shared dedication to resolving some of those pain points for the betterment of the entire company.

Thoughts, Comments? Let me know in the comments below.

Learning List – 8/6/2017

This is my weekly learning list. Life is a never ending journey of educating yourself and learning something new each day. Trying to share some of the articles, podcasts, books, videos, or training that I am finding interesting

Weekly Learning

  • SaaS Metrics 2.0 – A Guide to Measuring and Improving what Matters – If you have ever worked at a SaaS based company this article will really hit home. I really enjoyed reading this article because not only did it go into what the important numbers are, but also how they impact the company. In addition, it also highlighted the scenarios in which focusing on one number will most likely have a negative impact in another part of the business. It is an interesting balance and thought this article covered everything well.
    http://www.forentrepreneurs.com/saas-metrics-2/
  • I Joined Airbnb at 52, and Here’s What I Learned About Age, Wisdom, and the Tech Industry — This would be an interesting person to hear more from. There is a lot to think about here from a culture perspective to ensure that you can build a diverse team that supports getting the best from everyone. Everyone has something to give and the key is figuring out how to best tap into people’s skills.
    https://hbr.org/2017/04/i-joined-airbnb-at-52-and-heres-what-i-learned-about-age-wisdom-and-the-tech-industry
  • The ‘Last Mile’ in Education – Interesting article about the education gap between colleges and employers. I experienced this with my first job right out of school. The company that hired me sent the whole recruiting class (12 or so) to four weeks of in-person training. The goal was to ensure that all new employees had the skills they were looking for. I did not even see the office for those first four weeks. Obviously, I think training and education to fill the gap (of which Pluralsight) is one the fundamental challenges in our country.
    https://techcrunch.com/2017/06/25/the-last-mile-in-education-and-training

Quote for the Week

“There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.”

– Jiddu Krishnamurti

Carpe Diem and Learn Something New Today!

Learning List – Week Ending – 5/21/2017

This is my weekly learning list. Life is a never ending journey of educating yourself and learning something new each day. Trying to share some of the articles, podcasts, books, videos, or training that I am doing each week.

  • Democratizing Data at AirBnB – Thought this was an interesting article about the internal data portal tool that they built at AirBnB. This has a lot of great features and it will be interesting to see if they open source this tool. A lot of the features of their platform are things that we are looking to build at Pluralsight in our Data Platform so it gave me a lot to think about. https://medium.com/airbnb-engineering/democratizing-data-at-airbnb-852d76c51770
  • My Journey as a Technical Program Manager at LinkedIn – I don’t sit in this role at Pluralsight, but I trying to push some attributes of product management on our data engineering team so I am always interested to read articles on this. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/my-journey-technical-program-manager-linkedin-prapti-sen
  •  What makes a great Product Manager – There are a few things that I really liked about this blog post on Medium. First, I love that he really describes them as “Product People” and that these people can be anyone in an organization, not just someone in a Product Role. He also describes that almost all product people are not going to have all of these traits and will be stronger in some than others. For me personally, #13 and #14 really hit home for me as two traits that I think I am strong in. https://medium.com/@ripsher/what-makes-a-great-product-manager-3c1d03b90356
  • Intelligence Squared – I blogged about this in my “What I am listening to” blog, but wanted to highlight again as I listened to a couple episodes recently and really enjoy how it makes me think about differently about really important topics. It challenges me to listen to arguments from other sides of an argument and also think about my own beleifs and why I hold them. This is a super intelligent postcast and I really enjoy listening to them.
    http://www.intelligencesquaredus.org/

Carpe Diem and Learn Something New Today!

What am I listening to?

So I have a little bit of a commute and I love to listen to podcasts in the car when I am driving.  I also have a tendency to listen to podcasts when I am doing stuff around the house like cleaning or cooking. My listening falls into a few categories: Technology, Political and Blues (Hockey). As my podcast application I enjoy using Overcast (link). These are the podcasts that listen to religiously.

Blues (Hockey)

I grew up in St. Louis and for some reason latched onto Blues Hockey as a kid and always loved going to hockey games. Having moved away from St. Louis, podcasts have been a great source of information and commentary about Blues Hockey.

  • Blues NHL Podcast (iTunes | Website) – Great podcast with former players Jamie Rivers and Darin Kimble. They also recently added Garry Henson, the D2 Head Coach at McKendree University. They really get into the behind the scenes and the why of things happening on the ice. Bonus, they talk about the local hockey scene as well.
  • St. Louis Blues “The Drop” Podcast (iTunes | Website) – Cool podcast that has a ~20 minute podcast recapping each game. Good listen to get a little deeper into each game and some of the performances in each of the games.
  • Blues Hockey Podcast (Website) – I like this podcast because the hosts have more of a fan perspective.
  • Let’s Go Blues Radio (Website | iTunes) – Another good fan focused podcast.

Politics/Current Affairs

  • The Axe Files with David Axelrod (Website | iTunes) – Obviously, the host is democratic leaning and was a part of the Obama administration, but his guest list has included some people that would not be democrats. Found the conversations to be insightful and informative.
  • Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates (Website | iTunes) – I really love this podcast and how they debate issues. Sometimes the guests are better than others, but for the most past the debaters really work on their arguments and stay out of petty arguments. It really challenges me to think about my beliefs on certain subjects.
  • Slate Plus Podcasts (Website) – I am a Slate Plus subscriber so I listen to a few Slate Podcasts.  My favorites are Political Gabfest (Website), Amicus (Website) and Working (Website). I listen to the others depending on the topic that they are discussing.
  • Common Sense with Dan Carlin (Website | iTunes) – This podcast probably stretches my thinking the most. I really enjoy getting Dan’s take on things and my thinking on some things has really been enhanced by some of his episodes.
  • Voice of San Diego Podcast (Website | iTunes) – Ran across this website in the run up to the November elections.  That had a great run down of all the local initiatives and what I thought we pretty unbiased opinions on the ballot measures. If you live in San Diego, I think this is a must listen. So much so that I am not an official supporter of VOSD.
  • Good Schools For All by Voice of San Diego (Website | iTunes) – With three young kids, education is obviously a priority for my family. I enjoy the balanced approach that this podcast takes on important topics affecting education in San Diego and beyond. One recent episode was very educational on charter schools and how they work.

Technology

  • Data Engineering Podcast (Website | iTunes) – This is a new podcast, so the jury is still out on this podcast, but I will be watching very closely to see how this one evolves.
  • Software Engineering Daily (Website | iTunes) – I do not listen to every episode of this podcast, but they have a few good data focused discussions as well.
  • Data Skeptic (Website | iTunes) – Another data focused podcast that covers a number of different areas in the data world. Really enjoying the data discussions on this podcast.

Extras

Just a few other miscellaneous podcasts that fall into categories all their own.

  • Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History (Website | iTunes) – A fair warning that some of these are long, but they are super interesting. The episodes on World War I (Blueprint for Armageddon) are awesome and explain a lot of what happened in the world later. His latest episode “The Destroyer of Worlds” about the nuclear age is similarly awesome.
  • NPR Fresh Air (Website | iTunes) – I really enjoy the long interviews when they feature someone that piques my interest.

So, I think that about does it for my list.  What are you listening to? Any podcasts that are missing on my list that you think I should be listening to? Let me know in the comments.