António Silva – Software Engineer at Remote

António Silva – Software Engineer at Remote

Can you introduce yourself?

Hello 👋, I’m Antonio Silva from Lisbon, Portugal. I’m a Software Developer who’s been working remotely for more than eight months at Remote. Remote is creating more remote jobs in the world by making it possible to employ people in every country. Not as a contractor, but as a fully legal, local employee, with all the benefits that come with that.

I began my journey in software development when I was younger. While focusing on being a fencing high-performance athlete, in my spare time, I also started learning and writing Pascal (old programming language) code. I found that I enjoyed grouping logical pieces of software together to solve problems and build something that I could immediately use. Eventually, I had to give up fencing to focus on my Master’s in Computer Science and launch a full-time professional career in software development.

This career path enabled me to work remotely. I now have a home office that takes me a few steps to get to work, saving me hours of time I would otherwise commute to an office. This extra time allows me to do things that I previously didn’t have time to do, such as practising fencing.

How did you start working remotely and why?

I became intrigued about remote work when I read about some remote workers’ testimonials and discovered that there were a lot of remote companies achieving amazing things.

I started working remotely when my former manager left the company we were working with to become the CTO of Remote. He invited me to join the team as a Backend Engineer. Since he was already familiar with my work, I skipped the traditional technical interview and just had a call to meet Job, CEO of Remote.

What is your typical day like?

I usually wake up at 9:15 AM. Since I have a home office, and I don’t eat breakfast because I always try to do at least 14h of fasting (due to intermittent fasting health benefits), I start working at around 9:30-9:45 AM.

On Mondays, the Engineering team (9 at the moment) has a meeting to chat a bit about what cool stuff we did over the weekend and, if there’s anything important to discuss related to Engineering, we also do it there.

After that meeting, I continue the work I was doing on the previous week or I pick a new issue from our Kanban board in Gitlab based on its priority.

I pause for lunch at 1 PM for about 30minutes to 1hour and resume my work afterward.

At 4:30 PM we have a 30 minutes optional daily call with everyone in the company (19 at the moment).

I stop work before 6:30 PM and I normally go to a fencing training session or a 1h run alongside the river to clear my mind.

Sometimes during the day, we have a Zoom call open for everyone that wants to join and hang out there while working.

How do you stay efficient and engaged while working remotely?

When I started working remotely I had a tremendous increase in productivity. With way fewer interruptions, I felt like I could stay in the zone for much longer and get more work done.
I’m passionate about my work and I rarely feel like I need a break but when I do, I never force myself. Instead, I do whatever I want, like going to the living room to watch some Netflix TV Series or going on a bicycle ride.

Now that I spend more time at home, I often force myself to do things outside, like surfing early in the morning with some friends. I feel like I’m much more productive by forcing this work-life balance.

To make sure I only get out of the zone as little as possible, I enable Slack notifications only when they are direct messages or mentions of my name.

What are the tools and workflow that you’re using to get things done?

  • Gitlab – Our code repository, project management and CI/CD tool
  • Notion – Main documentation hub, everything from onboarding process to our team call agenda go here, also contains our public handbook
  • Slack – Announcements and short-lived communication
  • Zoom – Video call meetings
  • VS Code – Source code editor
  • Postico – PostgresSQL client
  • Postman – API Client
  • Figma – Our design tool

To help get things done and provide traceability we use a Kanban board in Gitlab where everyone in the company can see the status of each opened issue. As a software developer, I pick my next task based on the issue priority. Read more about it here.

How do you think remote work will evolve in the future?

Remote work is a trend at the moment and I strongly believe that soon even companies with traditional work policies will try to adapt and provide this more flexible way of working to their employees.

For me, working remotely is not just about not going to the company’s office to work, it’s much more than, it’s also about having much more free time to do whatever you want to do. Consequently, you become happier and healthier. Once employers and employees realize that and try to make it work by defining processes and writing good documentation within the company, everyone will benefit from it.

How do you stay in touch with your team?

At Remote, we work asynchronously and part of it means that every work-related discussion takes place where everyone can view and contribute, usually on a Gitlab issue. Since everyone can read it and understand what needs to be done, the task is neither dependent on a specific person nor block someone else’s work. Read more about async work here

On Mondays, the Engineering team has a meeting usually to talk about what we did over the weekend and socialize a bit, sometimes after that we might also discuss any important matters related to engineering.

Every working day we have an optional 30 minutes team call with a short agenda to which everyone can contribute. This usually includes company-wide updates, demos, or presentations. After that, we move on to the “question of the day”, which is a random question created by us and everyone answers, this helps to create a bond between us since we get to know each other and share funny stories. Some of Remote’s favorite questions are:

  • What was the ‘butterfly effect’ moment of your life?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • How do you explain to your parents what you do for a living?

We also play DnD (Dungeons and Dragons) once a week and sometimes, we also play Minecraft together.

We often have a coworking day once a month where most of the company gets together in a location in Europe. Those in the team who live nearby each other (we have several colleagues in Lisbon), we get together for coffees, lunches, and extra coworking days.

We have Slack channels dedicated to getting to know each other, such as a #random channel for anything we want to share that’s not work-related, and a #food channel for culinary updates from the team.

What do you enjoy most about working remotely?

More free time, flexibility and increased productivity.

As an engineer, I’m always trying to optimize, up to a certain healthy point, the time I spend doing a certain task. It may be related to work, cleaning the dishes/home, or making sure I don’t waste time on a queue that could be avoided. I do this to have more free time to do things that bring the most joy to my life. Commuting to work is definitely not one of them.

I’m also much more productive meaning I can get more work done and help Remote grow even faster.

Besides that, I enjoy the flexibility to choose where I want to work from and if needed, go grocery shopping at 3 PM.

What is your office/workspace look like?

  • MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2019)
  • External monitor HP Z27
  • Sony WH-1000XM3
  • Webcam Logitech C925e
  • Standing desk
  • iRobot Roomba 965

What are the challenges of being a remote worker?

The only challenge so far is dealing with isolation during the day but it doesn’t affect me much.

How do you combat feelings of loneliness, isolation and burnout?

Whenever I feel like I need to hang out with others, I schedule work with some friends at a nice coffee restaurant with good internet or simply make a Zoom call with my colleagues.

When work requires more of my time for longer periods, for instance, the period before deploying a new app/feature, I make sure to properly rest and take some days off after it’s done. I come back stronger, motivated and happier to start working again.

What is special about the place where you live?

The weather and food here are amazing, Lisbon is known for its traditional pastéis de nata (custard tarts) and ginjinha liqueur. It’s also 20-30 minutes away from the beach making it possible to go surfing whenever I want to.

There are a lot of beautiful places to visit and experience such as the Tower of Belem and the Commerce Square which makes a very relaxing Sunday walk.

Photo by Louis Droege

Besides work, how do you like to spend your time?

I enjoy spending time with my fiancée, practicing fencing, playing video games and procrastinating by watching random videos suggested by Youtube’s algorithm (last week I learned when to do an early and late Apex F1)

Do you have any recommendations for those who want to work remotely too?

If possible, try to join a company that has every process well documented. One good example was my onboarding, to start I was given a link to a page in Notion that had all fundamental information about the company. At the end of the onboarding, I had all the software necessary installed and a deep understanding of the company by just reading the onboarding document. This was important for me because it made my transition to a remote work smoother and completely painless.

If you’re thinking about having a home office, don’t think twice and when possible invest in it. Having, for instance, a very good chair can have a big impact on your day-to-day life.

Don’t let your uncertainty about remote work deny the best working experience you can have in your life.

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