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Issue 4 • Remotely, an inquiry

Remotely,
Issue 4 • Remotely, an inquiry
By Kerry from Try Catch • Issue #4 • View online
Time-management, quality of work, and flow state are the holy trinity as far as my working-from-home experience is concerned. I spent my morning and early afternoon on 15 minute Google Meet video-calls with the Try Catch team members to hear about their experiences.
Here’s a google doc with some of the questions I asked, in case you want to do the same with your team.
Based on some feedback I got from Dan Oshinsky from Inbox Collective, I’ll be working on making the Remotely, a bit lighter on the reading material. This should help it being more sustainable for me to write and for you all to read, thus I have combined the two sections below into one for this issue, but as you read on, it’ll make sense why.
💌 It’d mean a lot if you gave this newsletter a share, some love on LinkedIn, or simply just hit reply to let me know your thoughts.
You can access the archive of previous issues here.

Remotely, an industry perspective
A bit about the Try Catch team for some background: we’re two Italians, Pierpaolo and Giuseppe; two Dutch, Brendan and Emiel; a Greek, Stefania; a Kazakh, Dilara; an Indian, Darshan; and a US American, yours truly. All living in the Netherlands. We used to work in a co-working space in Amsterdam, but now - like many of our readers - we’re working from home, dotted across several cities. Some of us have lived here all our lives, some a handful of years, Giuseppe has lived here less than a month. All of us continue to work hard every day to connect our developer community with really nice jobs all over Europe.
Opening up our individual calendars in a Try Catch team overview resembles a tower of legos. Blocks of color stacked atop of one another, others wedged in between, and giant technicolored sections blocked off. Maybe it normally looks like this - I would normally circumvent this by just talking with them across the table or simply noticing if they are not physically present. But today, I decided would be a good time to schedule one-on-ones to see how the team is doing, to hear their experiences of home-working, and cross-reference any commonalities between our experiences in an informal survey.
How are you feeling?
The first question I asked our team, I wanted to know as whole individual people, how the team was feeling. Asking this question in a conference call would surely merit a shorter and less personal answer so I thought it was important to ask this one-on-one. Answers ranged from “Not feeling the best ever,” to “a bit disoriented and disturbed by the outside world,” to “quite enjoying myself.”
Most concerns came from the overall pandemic situation out in the world, affecting our home countries in different ways than it is affecting us in Amsterdam. I’ve been referencing the experience of “in the zone doing remote-work” as “being in the matrix” to others and most of our teams’ uncomfortable feelings come from thinking about the world “outside of the matrix” if you will. The daunting feeling of uncertainty about the coronavirus, how long all this will last, will we be able to return to a semblance of our old routines, how our families are doing, and working in isolation.
Time
By far the most talked about concept in my seven video-call interviews today. Time management, free time, taking one’s time, scheduling, having distinct time off, and timing were all hot topics during the survey responses. It took me a surprising amount of time to find the time to schedule 15-minute conversations between the team - and the act of doing so was itself time consuming. It was nearly 2pm when I was first able to open this newsletter to begin culminating our conversations into newsletter content.
We all agree that there is a distinct feeling of time preserved by not having to go to the office. There’s no more commuting and we’re all able to take lunch whenever without having a now-or-never lunch slot. Just being finished with work and coming home with a mush brain because of external stimulus. Time feels different in a remote vacuum, which is perhaps why solitary confinement provokes such existential suffering. I’d never compare working from home to solitary confinement, especially because we work and live with partners, roommates, or in a community building - but self-isolation does take a toll on some of our team members.
Space
When you’re choosing an office space, you’re looking at the space with the lens of work. You’re not even considering, could someone also live here? The opposite goes for a home - however in Amsterdam, this luxury of having a choice nearly doesn’t exist. Some of our living situations are not optimized for living, let alone working. We have a young team, many starting their careers with us, most freshly graduated and so for many the living situation is merely a space that serves a purpose and is not considered a home. Many of us share our living spaces with other people, and reminiscent our previous co-working space, we’re playing musical chairs to take our multiple calls per day.
Some of us can move around a bit and set up a work space in a communal work area in the building, or work one day on this table and the next on that desk, but some of us have to take calls in the bathroom while others have to go where the wifi lets them. The sense of privacy has fluctuated as well between members of the team. At home there is a different expectancy of privacy than at work. Navigating the balance between home/work/life all in one location (without a choice) has unique mix of challenges for each individual.
Peace & People
All of us have found the overall experience of WFH relatively comfortable and enjoyable. This may be a honeymoon period of the relationship of working from home, but no one had a clear dislike for it. Each team member did say that they preferred being in an office if only for the social setting, the office talk, being able to call and respond across a table makes many things much faster, and the feeling of community was missed by everyone. After a rocky start of learning how each team member individually is going to make WFH work from them, now at Day Four, everyone has reported they have found a groove.
We all agreed that face-to-face is better and that while video-calling is an acceptable emulation, at this stage most of us don’t feel like it’s a suitable substitution for the real thing. In the beginning, almost everyone reported finding it difficult to concentrate, but now we all agreed that we find it easier to focus when we need to while working from home, due to decreased external stimulation. Part of work has to do with the people you work with - and as we all get along, suddenly being away from one another while doing the thing we all shared, working for Try Catch, the isolation aspect of self-isolation feels heavy.
Working alongside Kim is nearly effortless. We have similar roles and maintain similar hours, we’re able to sit down to work and get in the groove which stimulates the other to find the groove as well. We’ll do yoga, or go for a run, or go hit the boxing bag before or after “work hours” and after dinner we chill on the couch like we’ve always done. So far, this stress test hasn’t illuminated any pain points in our relationship.
Our company’s founder, Brendan, has a wife and child at home, so they take turns working, exercising and watching their son. Darshan is reveling in the fact that his roommate took a last minute flight to be back home and that he has the whole apartment to himself. Giuseppe is moving into a new house April 1st (no joke). Dilara and Stefania have differing balances between working out of the same house they live in with their partners. Pierpaolo has calls with his friends and family in Italy over beers in the evenings.
Conclusion
We’re all navigating this process in in real-time and every day feels like a new opportunity to optimize and get better than the day before. Not only for us as a team, but together with our developer community, and the companies we work with, but all of you out there in isolated-internet-land. There is a thing of human beauty with us all working together and working together. I feel like the human race in the face of this crisis has shown up. Looking at the forest rather than the trees, because some of those tress hoarded toilet paper, making this comparison especially hilarious.
In the call I had with Brendan, he mentioned that he thinks that he’s finding the experience relatively enjoyable because we’re all doing it. If the entire team wasn’t working from home, or if this wasn’t a working condition imposed upon us that he wasn’t sure he would find it enjoyable - but it’s because of the solidarity between us all that brings a unique feeling of satisfaction. That feeling of being human around humans, (albeit remotely) is part of the human experience. And filling our days with calls and messages and interactions with other is integral to our mental well being.
The same goes for me writing this newsletter. Every day, every issue feels like an opportunity to get better at writing it, and the fact that I’m writing it for people just like me, like us, that are all navigating how we do this thing - gives my days a sense of urgency and importance. Getting this out everyday at 5pm stokes the fire in my belly to make the most of every novel day.
Remotely, some information
Around is the new floating head video chat multitasking app | TechCrunch
Remotely, a workout
Body Project
Remotely, another day
I spent so much time on calls today, so my output hours were low, but As you can see, I’ve pulled off another issue of Remotely, just before the wire. I have to work on Try Catch’s other newsletter, Try Catch Essentials, tonight. So My brain is just one big newsletter nowadays.
I made that pop-up instagram account I was talking about yesterday, btw.
Get in touch by hitting reply, emailing me at kerry@trycatch.tech or connecting on LinkedIn.
Keep it up everyone!
Remotely,
Kerry
Did you enjoy this issue?
Kerry from Try Catch

A daily pop-up newsletter sharing stories about working from home during a time of isolation and social distancing, by Try Catch

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