The Good and Bad of Remote Work

Working remotely isn't always the best approach for everyone

The Good and Bad of Remote Work

This is going to be a slightly different issue of The Curious Engineer, as I am in Berlin this week, so I am writing this issue between work and travelling.

Berlin is really nice but bitterly cold this time of year. I thought it had got cold in the UK this week, but it is nothing compared to here. There is actually snow on the ground!

If you have been an avid reader of my newsletter you will have heard that I have started a new job this week. No I will not be relocating to Berlin, the job is 100% remote, but some things are just easier to do in person.

This is my first time working a fully remote job, before it was always some form of hybrid work (lockdown excluded).

Working remote has some clear benefits which is the reasons why developers love it so much.

  • ๐Ÿš No Commuting - I used to commute 2 hours each way up to London each day. That's 20 hours a week of travel time, no wonder I got burnt out from doing that.
  • ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘งโ€๐Ÿ‘ง Better Work-Life Balance - Due to the commute I hardly got to see my children during the week when I was working. Not only that but working remotely allows me to have breakfast and dinner with my family every day. I even get to have lunch with my wife if she is home too.
  • ๐Ÿ’ฐ Save Money - I save around ยฃ500 a month not having to commute to London and a lot more than that not having to buy lunch each day at London prices.
  • ๐Ÿ“ฆ Extras - There is so many other little benefits as well such as being in to take deliveries, working without all the noise of your co-workers, being in a nice environment and getting use your own equipment.

In our small team and with everyone working in different countries remote work is the obvious choice. It is made a lot easier given that we are all very experienced, and we know each other well.

It does make me wonder how things are going to work should we take on any junior staff. This is the crux of the problem when comes to working remotely.

If you are a junior developer or even an experienced developer working in a new domain, there is going to be a ramp up time before you become a contributing team member.

It is always quicker learning from someone else if that can be done in person. It is the main reason I am in Berlin this week. Even though I know the domain well I don't know the product well, and it is just quicker to go through these things in person.

I think if I was working in a new domain with people I haven't worked with before it would be a lot harder.

Certainly early on in my career I benefitted greatly by being in the office with my coworkers. As it is with product development the key is to keep the feedback loop small. If you are stuck on a problem it is a lot easier just to quickly ask the person sitting net to you vs waiting for someone to respond to you on Slack.

If you are still quite early on in your career, I wouldn't stick your nose up at hybrid work setups. Having people around you that you can quickly learn from is really helpful when you are first starting out.

Once you have many years experience under your belt then definitely try and get a remote position if you can as the benefits definitely outweigh the drawbacks.

To finish off this week, here is a nice photo of me freezing my a** off outside the Brandenburger Tor. Typically, it was covered with scaffolding on the day I go to see it.

-4ยฐC, brrrr, I had to take my gloves off to take this photo

โค๏ธ Picks of the Week

๐Ÿ› ๏ธ Tool - Animotion โ€” Visual CSS Animation Builder - I am always impressed by what you can do with just CSS in the browser. If you are looking to learn how to do CSS animations this is a great resource to get started.

๐Ÿ“ Article - A good engineer thinks like a product manager - At the end of the day, as engineers we are here to build products. A good engineer has to have a mix of both product and technical skills.

๐Ÿ› ๏ธ Tool - VectorDB - Kagi seem to be doing a lot of great things recently with paid search and their new browser (see below) and they are giving back to open source with VectorDB.

๐Ÿ“ Article - I Fight For The Users - I always like reading Jeff Atwood's articles on Coding Horror, but he doesn't blog as much as he used to. This appears to be this year's blog post, so worth a read.

๐Ÿ“ Article - Writing Documentation for Your House - I have been thinking about setting up my own home wiki. There is so much in this house that only I know how to do. If anything happens to me my wife would be a bit lost. I might use this for inspiration.

๐Ÿ“ Article - PeerTube v6 is out, and powered by your ideas!. I am going to be starting my own PeerTube instance in the new year for all of my YouTube videos. I am glad to see this project is getting better and better.

๐Ÿ› ๏ธ Tool - Orion Browser by Kagi - I am definitely going to have to try this out. A privacy first web browser by the people who have built Kagi search.

๐Ÿ“š Book - Understanding Deep Learning (free) - Everyone loves free stuff, if you are interested in learning about Deep Learning then this free book looks awesome.

๐Ÿ“ Article - Check your AWS Free Tier usage programmatically with a new API. Going with the free theme, I use AWS Free Tier a lot for my blog and other projects. If you need to check your usage you can now do it programmatically.

๐Ÿ› ๏ธ Tool - Darling: Run Mac Apps on Linux. I am only running Linux on my home server at the moment, but I am thinking about putting it on my MacBook as it no longer receives the latest MacOS. This will certainly make things easier.

๐Ÿ› ๏ธ Tool - Whisky: Easy Mac Gaming - Of course if you are sticking with Mac and want to use it as your gaming machine then you can use Whisky to do all the Wine setup for you. Thanks to Valve and the Steam Deck Wine supports pretty much everything these days!

๐Ÿ’ฌ Quote of the Week

Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.

โ€” Pablo Picasso

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