March 10, 2020

A Few Thoughts on Remote & Distributed Working

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A few thoughts about remote and distributed working, obviously these are highly relevant with the Coronavirus outbreak, but should stand up at any time. They’re not intended to be comprehensive, so please add or contest in the comments.

  • If you don’t trust your staff, get new staff. If you don’t trust your partners, get new partners. If that doesn’t work, they’re probably not the problem
  • Video conferencing isn’t optional - people are more engaged, you can gauge the mood of the (virtual) room much more accurately, it actively persists communities. Make it mandatory. People also have to get dressed. Hopefully.
  • Get good quality headsets for your team. They may look like they’re on stage at the O2, but the difference is significant
  • Make sure your infrastructure can support it - there’s nothing more annoying* than people dropping in and out due to poor connections
  • Make sure your staff have the right infrastructure - either through unlimited 4g data contracts or subsidising fastest broadband possible
  • Give your staff the right tools - in offices, get proper VC equipment. It doesn’t have to be expensive, Owls( are great. Large screens are cheap, preferably two (one for sharing, one for video).
  • Get corporate VC accounts, having time limits isn’t helpful. Zoom is good, but they’re much of a muchness
  • Your project delivery software must not be on premise. Use Jira/Confluence (assuming Agile) in the cloud. Give your partners access to everything they need, but nothing else. Be diligent in managing security and ensure your partners are contractually obliged to inform you of staff changes
  • If you’re managing development teams, give them the right tools too. Single source code libraries, multiple branches, clear branch/merge strategy. All partners checking in and building to the same place. Full build pipeline (Azure DevOps does the job, other flavours available)
  • Find a secure cloud-based document storage solution that works for you that includes versioning etc. Confluence isn’t the answer but can be good place to reference
  • Don’t leave people isolated, make sure everyone has some interaction every day. It’s lonely out there

What else would you add to this list?

*There are almost certainly many more annoying things but where would we be without hyperbole?