We’ve been working at home for four weeks now here at Quin. All of us are gearing up for our launch later this year. Despite COVID-19 and the sudden change in our routines, we’re still excited. It’s been 5 years in the making after all. Here’s a quick glimpse of how our work routine has changed, highlighting what a day in the life of Quinners in different parts of the business. This time, with our Senior Software Engineer, Melissa.
I believe that remote work and the flexibility to work from home when needed is a huge part of building a diverse and inclusive workplace. But although I’ve always liked to hype up remote work as the future, I’d never actually done it. Life comes at you fast.
My alarm goes off
At 7.30, or when my cat Nacho starts biting my feet, whichever comes first. After feeding him, I try to drag myself into the back garden for a quick Youtube workout. In normal times I would cycle a lot so I’m trying to keep my fitness (and mental health) up from home. I shower and get ready, grab a bagel and a coffee, and park myself at the Ikea desk I panic bought before lockdown. My four housemates are now up and about – me and Hannah are at desks in the living room, Ash and Tom are sharing the kitchen table, and Sam is outside in the garden if the weather’s nice. It’s a squish but I’m glad for the company!
I start my workday by saying hello on Slack and planning my day. I’ve been finding it really hard to stay organised throughout the day without our usual structure of pair programming. To tackle that, I’ve started chopping my Google calendar into one-hour blocks of work with scheduled breaks. I write down the tasks I want to do and switch them up throughout the day to keep things interesting. Usually I’ll be working on coding a new feature or fixing a bug, but I might also do a spot of data analysis or writing. I catch up with the team at our daily standup at 9.30. It’s nice to see everyone’s face and hear what’s going on around the business. Then it’s down to work.
For lunch I try to totally disconnect from work and my busy house, usually by going out for a walk. But my favourite thing about remote working so far is that I can take a sneaky lunch nap!
I see the team again at 2.00 for our mini afternoon standup. For me this is more about seeing everyone and feeling connected than coordination (although we do that too). Throughout the day we’ll chat on Slack, asking questions or sharing pictures from home and funny links, but nothing feels quite like being in the office. We’re trying to stay in touch by doing social events over Zoom, like cooking lunch together or playing a game. I love seeing everyone and these are a ton of fun. I’m finding I need to turn them down sometimes (why are video calls so weirdly exhausting compared to real life?), but I try to make as many as I can.
For the rest of the afternoon, I’m back to coding but I throw in a block of reading or studying to break things up. Working at Quin has made me really interested in how companies decide what to build and why, so I’m reading a lot about product management. At 5pm, I catch up with our Machine Learning Engineer, Duncan, to see what experiments he’s been working on. I definitely don’t know enough about machine learning to give in-depth feedback, but I try to be a useful sounding board for how his work ties back to the product team. I can’t wait to add some of his ideas into the app, I think they’ll make an enormous difference to our users.
I clock off at 6.00 and start the long commute from my desk to the sofa. I try to end my work day at the same time everyday and turn my work area back into my living room to create some boundaries between work and home. I might go out for a walk or cycle (if I haven’t already) or cook something experimental. I find I don’t have the attention span for books or even TV at the moment so I spend a lot of time on Instagram or TikTok just letting my mind go a bit blank. Plus I’m using all the books in my to-read pile as my laptop stand.
Overall I’m enjoying working remotely, although it’s definitely been an adjustment. I feel like I get quite a lot done, especially when I can turn off Slack notifications, stick some headphones on, and just code. I find it more tiring than being in the office and I don’t think we’ve nailed video meetings yet, but we’re getting there. The thing I’m trying to keep in mind is that we’re not just working from home, we’re working from home in an unprecedented global pandemic… so cut yourself and your team some slack.