Remote Work: Engineering’s Perspective on Humanizing the Remote Work Experience
July 25, 2020
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What’s it like for GitHub engineers to work remotely? Next in our remote work series, Dana Lawson, our VP of Idea to Code Engineering, and Sha Ma, our VP of Community and Ecosystem Engineering share tips to help humanize the remote work experience in order to build trust across teams. Dana is responsible for leading a team of engineers across the globe, and describes her remote experience at GitHub as “evening the playing field, where everybody participates and works together to build a global product with a global team.” Similarly, Sha has spent her career delving into today’s fast-moving, cutting-edge technology, and believes that now more than ever, we need to be intentional about how we think and communicate in order to help make the process feel more human.
How do you communicate and ensure that everyone is on the same page given that our everyday lives have changed so much due to COVID-19?
Sha: Given that we’re in the middle of this global health crisis and people are going through a lot of emotions right now, it’s very important to keep your employees in mind and add a human aspect to everything as best you can. It’s about being genuine, and most importantly, empathetic, specifically around the many personal disruptions that we’re all dealing with while working from home.
Dana: Adding to what Sha said, we’re privileged, with the engineering team in particular, that most of the team has been working remotely on a global scale for years. But we certainly don’t want to take our remote-first culture for granted with the COVID-19 pandemic just because we have this established workflow for working remotely. Now more than ever, we have to be intentional in our communications. With everyone juggling work and personal obligations, I cannot stress enough how important it is to write things down, as well as repeat information in different channels, to different groups, and to yourself. It’s very important to make sure that employees are using modern toolsets and multiple channels to communicate.
Sha: I agree, having strong written communications is so critical. We use a variety of tools for synchronous and asynchronous collaboration throughout the day—it’s important to summarize decisions and post them consistently for predictability. At GitHub, we use our internal repositories for announcements, updates, and decisions to help employees stay aligned. Oftentimes, simply restating what you’ve decided can save time in lieu of setting another meeting.