Bendyworks Goes Remote

Bendyworks has recently been exploring how to better support remote workers, with the end goal of becoming a fully hybrid remote office. We have always supported remote work when necessary or beneficial, but until now we have not supported fully remote employees, and we are used to the majority of our employees being together in our office. The tools to facilitate remote work have never been better, and as working from home is both increasingly popular and a necessity for some, supporting remote work will help Bendyworks attract new employees and retain current ones.

The Experiment

In order to properly support remote work, we need to understand how remote work takes place currently and what challenges need to be addressed before we expand it. This will require a team effort, but many Bendyworkers don't work remotely very often and consequently can't offer many ideas to improve the remote experience. Even those who regularly work remotely still come to the office on a regular basis, which means we may be missing pain points in remote work because nobody actually does them remotely. In light of all this, we decided to conduct an experiment to expose everyone to remote work and test how effectively we can work remotely. Starting today, all Bendyworkers will spend a full week working remotely.

While some Bendyworkers already work remotely on a regular basis, others almost always work from the office. I'm part of the latter group, and I expect a week of working from home to be a challenge. Keeping my work space separate from my personal space helps me maintain work-life balance. If I'm working at home, I have to try harder to focus on work in a space I'm used to relaxing in; by the end of the week, I may have trouble detaching from work if I don't leave my work space at the end of the day. In addition, I'll miss the culture and social life that comes from being in the same space. For the next week, there will be no conversations at the lunch table, no chatting in the kitchen while the coffee brews, and no communal Bendylunches or taco nights. The only way I'll be seeing any of my coworkers is over video calls. The relative isolation of the next week may be the hardest part.

Despite these challenges, there are several things about working from home that I'm looking forward to. People with family or pets at home will get to spend more time with them, and they can take on childcare duties if their children are at home during the day. If nobody else is home during the day, you have an opportunity to dress more casually and play your music as loud as you want. While my normal commute is already short, my new one is about ten feet long. Even the isolation can inspire us to have fascinating conversations over Slack, utilize our tools for remote pair programming, and brainstorm social events we could hold without actually meeting in person.

Pandemic Timing

While we had planned our experiment with remote work before it became an issue, our experiment is timed well to keep our office safe from the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Health officials, including the CDC and Public Health Madison & Dane County, have encouraged social distancing to slow the spread of the virus, and remote work is an effective way to prevent it from passing between coworkers. Some Bendyworkers began working remotely last week in response to the virus, and we will consider extending our experiment if social distancing continues to be necessary.

I'm looking forward to seeing how we all adapt to remote work and what unexpected benefits and difficulties we encounter. Regardless of how the week turns out for us, it's an important step toward becoming a truly hybrid remote workplace, and it will be a learning experience for everyone involved. When we're back in the office again, expect to see a follow-up post about our experiences and what we can take from them.

Category: Culture
Tags: Remote