Weeknotes S06E09: Remote works

Last time I wrote I was creative and going to the gym.

This time I am fatter and have had writer’s block for a fortnight. Ho hum.

1. We are all on lockdown at the moment. As an introvert I’m enjoying it – I’m enjoying the space and time to actually work on things as I’m not distracted by the thousands of distractions in an office setting. I am unfortunately spending much more on lighting and heating my space, and my snacking has gone way up. However, I helped to implement something that I’m deeply proud of, and got to see how people can work when there’s a very clear common goal.

This is something I’m now reflecting on, and which I’m sure everyone is thinking about as well: if the organisation can move swiftly, what prevents it from doing that in normal times? Is it the number of people involved in the work – are there some teams that are just too big? Or are some things too big?

2. Romance at a distance is still weird, but I’m writing a terrific amount of very bad love poetry. This is the first step to writing good love poetry, I hear: sucking at something is the first step to being good at it.

None ought to be published. The good is a gift to people I love and is therefore too intimate to be published. The bad shouldn’t be foisted on anyone.

3. At work, I was asked to gather data on how many people were unable to work due to the effects of the coronavirus. It’s the first time in ages I’ve done any information architecture work, and I enjoyed it so much I put it on twitter for anyone to use. Decentralising patterns allow users to self serve, but also relieve the pressure on local line management to check in on their people – you move to a very individualistic approach rather than one based on relationships and interpersonal sentiments. I can see why that appeals to me, but I am trying to figure out whether you can have both in a massive organisation.

Empowering people locally feels like the right thing to do. Power should flow to where the most information is, not the other way round – so maybe there’s a question here for me of whether it’s valuable to have all this data in one place. Can we – should we – rely on local managers to just escalate at the point when they need more people, more money? Or is the wider view necessary so that we can make better use of everyone from the center and solve problems before they become problems?

I don’t know if these are the right questions, or even if I’m the right person to be asking them. These feel like system design questions and I can’t play Factorio for more than an hour without getting completely bored and fed up. Designing a smooth-running process feels like it should be my absolute jam, but the set up drives me absolutely up the wall. Maybe I’ve not modded it enough, or maybe I’m just not pioneering enough.

4. More and more I’m becoming comfortable with remote working as a standard approach. This will naturally make me more difficult to employ, so if you’re aware of any remote-first companies looking for Pythonistas could you please send them my way? As an organisation my department is significantly better than most, but we still default to office-based work.

Of course this is purely a preference. There are plenty of folks in my network who are struggling really quite significantly with this change in their environment. My hope is that this leads to a slightly slower-paced workday and even a recognition from more people that seeing your family is quite nice. That commuting an hour each way is a huge waste of your time. That in turn revitalises local businesses and reduces the amount of travel.

I have my fingers crossed.

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