The Remote Working Experiment

Published on January 9, 2014 by Filip Van Tittelboom

A couple of weeks ago I had to undergo some minor surgery. No worries, nothing serious! For three weeks I wasn’t allowed to ride my bike to work anymore. Our main office is a coworking space in the northern part of the city. To get there on time by car is nearly impossible. It was going to be public transportation for a while. Which I wasn’t looking forward to, to be honest. Frederik had another idea: why don’t I work from home for a while. That way we can test and tune our tools and procedures to work more remotely in the future.

A team is nothing without communication. It’s not easy finding tools that work just right. We intensively use HipChat, OTRS, Trello, internal WiKi, Google Hangout and SIP softphones as communication weaponry. We try to avoid ‘volatile’ internal e-mail. Besides using the right tools, trust is also an important factor in this equation.

2014 will be an interesting year for us. The Work-From-Home experiment went well. We decided to work out of different non-fixed locations in the future for maximum flexibility. This embodies the philosophy where our company is headed. I myself will be alternating between two coworking spaces (BurooZ, Het Bolwerk) and my place. Luckily I have a workshop behind my garage at home. I can isolate myself without being distracted by family or dirty dishes.

Belgium is a country where traffic jams are the norm. I believe that a well tuned remote working system will result in less stress and more productivity in general. It also makes sense to work out of a place where you feel comfortable.

Our team members live all around Antwerp. It’s been great to find a way to work closer to home and to be more flexible. Our tools and procedures aren’t 100% bullet proof. There is still room for improvement. We’ll have to remember that remote working needs constant adjustments.

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