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Working Remote: The Overload Trap

The entire Software industry moved to remote work in the last month. Some people are happy with their work-in-home approach, others not so much, but we are all united behind one comforting thought - we are safe at home and still have our jobs. 

It soon will a be a month since Botron officially closed it's Headquarters and embraced the remote for the good of the whole team.

How did our work change for a month of a fully remote team? We were overproductive.



Some teams even finished more than a 2-Sprints load in less than one. Our Marketing team was able to handle a few last-minute tasks, a Remote Summit prep, and complete a giant story within a week! 

It wasn't long the first side effects to pop out:

  • The team was obviously tired
  • People started losing sight of their routine
  • Some team members didn't even know what day it is

An interesting observation is that persons are loading more and more work and keep handling it very well. At our company, people's well being is a top priority, so the managers are putting effort into more "team-building" activities and advise their teams to take it slowly.

I'm not an exception: overloading is not something unfamiliar to me, but now it seems more obvious. I continue to get up early in the morning and catch up with emails and updates before others wake up, and I'm still with 24/7 responsiveness to any requests. And (I'll use my favorite song for that): "It's no Good."


How to prevent the Overload Trap?

If you are a team member: respect your co-worker's personal life and daily routine.

They may be more productive in the evening and use the mornings for 2 more hours of sleep. Let the email with CC rest for another hour and send it later when all your team members are 'up and running.' Turn off the notifications and don't fill their inboxes with Confluence updates at 6 AM - mind that people can feel less productive because of your overloading intent. 

If you are a team lead or manager: good leaders lead by example, and the good teams follow their leaders. When you are working in your off-hours or responding to support requests at midnight or weekend, there is a big chance for your team to start doing the same. Be mindful of your overloading or try to do it more "silently." (smile)


Don't know to break the ice? Try the Remote Work Bingo! A funny guide through WFH life, especially for teams who forget the essentials of having a break. (smile)


I have been working remote for close to 19 years now. I love it. The one problem I had when I first started was not knowing when to shut it down for the day.  The computer was right there.  I would work through the day, have dinner and then hop right back on because it was so easy to keep going.

This definitely started having an impact on my health and family. I had to train myself to stick to a routine and shut it down at the end of the work day. Now, after much analysis, I have found that my peak performance times are first thing in the morning and late in the evening. I have adapted my routine to take advantage of those times as well as family time.  Everyone is different and I think it is an ever evolving situation.  But just like you say T, take time for yourself and find that balance so you don't get overloaded.

The thing my team started doing that I really appreciate is changing how we're using slack to do more "clocking in, clocking out." Nobody is really keeping an eye on our hours, but it allows me to say "alright, lunch break, back by 1" and just close my computer.

If we weren't all communicating that way, I'd feel like I need to keep an eye on my computer all the time. This way means I can actually unplug!


@Ed Gaile _Atlanta_ GA_ you've mastered that game. 19 years is a significant amount of time being remote, and when doing it right, it unlocks many positives. 

You should do an online ACE about that topic, I would love to hear more, and I'm sure it will be valuable for the remote "newbies." :)

@Samie Kaufman - Your Gal at Gliffy that's a really good approach. We are still "keeping an eye on the computers", but I hope it will resolve soon.

Like Ed Gaile _Atlanta_ GA_ likes this


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