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Postman’s Top 10 Tips for Working from Home

People around the world have been asking: how do Postman employees work from home? It’s a great question, and quite frankly this information has been a closely guarded trade secret until today. With 30 full-time remote workers, and more of us WFH each day, Postman has accumulated an astounding cache of institutional WFH knowledge, and we’ve now garnered the best of the best into these top 10 tips from our brilliant and charismatic remote teammates:

Tip #1: If One Person Is Remote, Everyone Is Remote

Danny Dainton, Senior Quality Engineer
Bristol, United Kingdom

When working in an office environment, it’s easy to schedule team meetings in one of the meeting rooms you may have in that location. This works well if the whole team is co-located but not so great if you have remote workers, who are also joining the meetings. Having a “one person is remote, so we’re all remote” mindset means those meetings can be easily moved online so that everyone feels part of it, rather than the remote person having to struggle to hear other people talking in an echo filled meeting room.

Moving to a remotely facilitated call allows everyone to clearly see and hear each other. You also know when is a good point to jump in with that awesome question or amazing observation because you’re part of the conversation and not simply a booming voice coming through the speakers in the room.

Tip #2: Standups Are Critical

Rebecca Johnston-Gilbert, Demand Gen Manager
Columbus, Ohio, USA

As a remote worker, I miss out on things like morning chatter around the coffee machine and sidebar conversations over lunch.

Daily or weekly standups are absolutely critical to keeping folks working from home engaged. What are standups? They’re brief (~15 minutes) meetings where the team shares what they’re working on, any challenges or questions, and sometimes dives into brief brainstorming or problem-solving. It helps everyone know what the team is working on and why, and prevents duplicate or wasted effort. Plus, standups give us another personal connection, which is so important to our happiness as remote employees.

Tip #3: Turn On the Camera

Trent McCann, Engineering Manager
Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada

Working remotely can have its challenges. One of those challenges is not being in the same physical space as your co-workers; as a result, you don’t get the face-to-face interaction you are used to. Instead, when we are remote, we still communicate via our usual emails or IMs just like in-office folks, but we have to trade in-person meetings and in-person coffee chats for virtual connections, generally as video calls.

Rather than being across the table or next to one another, we are now miles apart, with only audio and video feeds to connect us. When we’re not able to see one another, we will often miss simple things like visual cues, facial expressions, and body language. These things are very important details when you’re having conversations with others, especially when working with people that may not know your personality or style.

To ensure others can pick up on these things and know there is a real person behind that voice on a call, ensure you turn your camera on. When you turn your camera on, it can make a world of difference in a call. You’ll always have a much stronger connection with the others on the call when you are able to see each other.

These are just a few of the simple rules to follow when it comes to having your camera on and being professional:

  • Dress for success: No, you don’t need to break out that suit you wore to a wedding one time or that dress from last year’s company holiday party, but you do need ensure you look presentable in appearance. Put on similar clothing you would likely wear if you were heading to the office or to a meeting. Also, hygiene rules apply, so make sure you cover your bases there. I don’t need to know you had a poppy seed bagel for breakfast.
  • Mitigate technical difficulties: Before jumping on a video call at all, ensure your audio is not only working but there are no major noise distractions. Loud appliances and open windows can be your enemy here, so be sure to locate your mute button first. Also, be sure your camera is working and positioned correctly before joining. There is nothing worse than feeling like you are watching a clip from The Blair Witch Project when someone joins a call. These simple checks take less than 30 seconds to do before joining.
  • Don’t make a scene: Background and lighting can be a challenge if you do not have a dedicated space for working. However, try to ensure your backdrop is tidy and presentable. If your workspace happens to double as your bedroom, make sure you hide the dirty laundry that’s normally hanging off the ceiling fan and make up the bed. Also natural light is flattering, try to have some light coming from the front (natural or other) so people can see you and you don’t end up looking like the banker on Deal or No Deal.
  • Bonus points: Always wear pants! People are always going to assume you want to be as comfortable as possible when working from home. As a result, many will bet that with a high degree of certainty that you may not be wearing any pants. Prove them wrong!

At the end of the day, having our cameras on allows us to invite others into our homes and our lives. It’s personal but also we can be professional. Be comfortable with it and make it a habit, others will follow suit.

Tip #4: Get an “Early Win” in the Day to Get the Wheels Rolling

Smit Patel, Chief of Staff
Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Making any small steps toward a project first thing with your morning coffee helps to kickstart the day with a GSD (Get Sh*t Done) mentality, whether it’s firing off a couple of emails or writing a couple of paragraphs for your new project.

Tip #5: Get “Home” at a Reasonable Time

Chris de Sousa, Product Support Manager
Austin, Texas, USA

When you work from home, it’s easy to start work…and keep working, and working and working…there’s always more to do. Inevitably, this leads to diminishing returns and burnout.

It’s important to get “home” at a reasonable time, and I’ve got two ways to help do that:

  1. Keep your calendar and Slack up-to-date. Identify your “working hours” and block out times when you should be with family and friends. Setting the right expectation for anyone that wants to meet and/or talk with you helps you consolidate important meetings into your typical working hours.
  2. Create a sign-off process for your team. It’s a great way to know what different folks are working on, and it lets everyone know that you’re off for the day. All of my team members do an end-of-day sign-off that includes these items:
    -What did you do yesterday/today?
    -What do you have planned for tomorrow?
    -Are there any blockers?

Tip #6: Work from Different Locations

Francis Labi, Technical Support Engineer
Abuja, Nigeria

Remote workers can get stuck working from a particular location either at home or a coworking space. This can lead to loneliness and boredom for some people. However, trying different locations while working remotely can reduce the effect of loneliness because you get to meet with different people and experience a new environment. So for instance, instead of working from home for a long period of time, why not switch between a coworking space and any other place that works fine for you, like that new coffee shop, maybe? One of the solutions for overcoming a writer’s block is a change of environment, and this applies to working remotely too.

Tip #7: Dedicate an Office Space

Ryan Nolette, Technical Lead
New Hampshire, USA

Dedicate a space (desk, couch, or table) and some peripherals only for work use. For example, when your laptop is hooked up to the big monitor and external keyboard, it’s work time. This will go a long way to helping you change your mindset between work time and personal time.

Tip #8: Take Breaks in Their Entirety

Ryan Nolette, Technical Lead
New Hampshire, USA

Don’t skip breaks, especially your lunch hour. You can use an app or script to lock yourself out of your computer for 60 minutes if you cannot adhere to it. This will keep you fresh and productive throughout the entire day long-term.

Tip #9: Stay Hydrated

John Banning, Solutions Engineer
Austin, Texas, USA

Just because there is free coffee in your house, or you made an entire pot, doesn’t mean you have to drink caffeine all day. Hydrate, drink water. You will sleep better at night. Stop drinking coffee after 2:00 pm and take the stairs (assuming there are stairs).

Tip #10: Inject Personality and Tone into Text-Based Conversations

Danny Dainton, Senior Quality Engineer
Bristol, United Kingdom

The reality is that you’re not going to be on video calls all day with your team, the majority of the chats and discussions you have will be over some form of instant-messaging platform, whether that’s Slack or email or SMS.

With these platforms being text-based, they’re naturally void of tone, so injecting some personality and tone into sentences is the key difference between something lighthearted and something which is just…well…rude.

If folks know you and know your personality, they’re going to read it like you were next to them talking. But others who don’t know you might read the words you’ve written in a different way. I’m a fan of using emojis and GIFs to help inject some personality into conversations; others might have different approaches, but at the end of the day simply trying your best to inject some personality helps to ensure better connections between you and your teammates, wherever they are.

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