Episode 196: Teleworking

Episode 196: Teleworking

Episode 196: Teleworking 560 420 Carlos L Chacon

This is a topic I have been interested in covering for some time and as our world faces a crisis dictating that we stay home, it seems like a good time to talk about teleworking. Everyone will have a different situation of course, but we thought we would share some of our experiences. I continue to suggest a need to stay connected to your team and while we have lots of technology available to help us, there are a couple of things you can do to help avoid getting knocked out of the loop.

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“When you work from home, [all the structure you’re used to] goes out the window, so set office hours, try to stick to them, force yourself to take breaks.”

Eugene Meidinger
Episode 196: Teleworking
  • Carlos:            Compañeros! Welcome to another edition of the SQL Data Partners Podcast. I am Carlos Chacon and I am joined today by Eugene Meidinger.

    Eugene:          Howdy.

    Carlos:            And Kevin Feasel.

    Kevin:            Hello.

    Carlos:           So, our topic today is Telework and I have actually had this topic for some time. I’ve been thinking about it, just never quite arranged it, and as COVID-19 has come through and kind of forced everyone into their homes and all of a sudden companies are– they’ve been talking about telework policies and now everyone is like, “go home,” I thought, “hey, you know, this is probably a good time to talk a little bit about teleworking.” And some of you might have done it for a long time, obviously if we miss something, we’d be interested in your take, but if you’re new to it or it’s something that you haven’t done regularly, we have some thoughts, as normal, and we’d like to discuss some of those today.

    Kevin:            I have many opinions and if you don’t like them, I have other opinions.

    Carlos:            That’s right, so, there’s something for everyone. Okay, but first a few shoutouts. Ezekiel Calabia, so thanks Ezekiel for giving us a little bit of love on social media. We had another shout-out, so Max Wikström. I’m going to go with that, although there is a little accent over the O, so I’m sure it’s slightly different, but I’m going to go Max Wikström. So, gave us a shout-out, we were talking about Power BI and row-level security and so Max actually gave us a suggestion and Eugene, you want to take that one?

    Eugene:          Yeah. So, it’s interesting, because one of the things that comes up when you talk about row-level security is the SQL Server row-level security feature that’s built in, and for the longest time it was kind of useless because there’s no way to pass along the username. So, you could do it with SSAS, but you couldn’t do it with regular SQL, and it looks like they’ve– the article name is “Configure Kerberos-based single sign-on from Power BI service to on-premises data sources”, so it’s a bit of a mouthful. But it looks like that there is a way to set it up so that it can pass along that username and you can do the user impersonation, which would be amazing. It does look like there’s a lot of steps involved, because you’re granting permissions to do the impersonation on the machine and you’re configuring that service account that it’s running as, so there’s a lot of work, but the fact that it’s an option is pretty amazing. So, I’ll be excited to maybe test this out it at some point, because that would open up some security possibilities for people.

    Carlos:            Yeah, yeah, that would be interesting. I think maybe we have to circle back with Max on that one. So Max, thank you for pointing us in that direction and we do appreciate it. Okay, so today’s show notes will be available at sqldatapartners.com/teleworking or sqldatapartners.com/196. Actually, before we do that, I do have one more shout-out, so Todd Klindt. I was telling the fellas here before we got started, so I was moving Azure tenants, so then I have an admin account, I have a regular account, I have the old tenant, I have the new tenant, I have like my personal Microsoft account. And at one point I had to have all these accounts up at the same time. And so, I literally had Chrome, I had Edge, I had Firefox all normal, and then each of those had private windows so I could get into all the accounts. And I was like, “this is ridiculous.” And I haven’t been tweeting a lot lately, but I got to the point where I was like, “I’m tweeting about this.” And luckily Todd was reading my feed and he’s like, “well, have you tried profiles?” And so, this is existing Chrome. I downloaded the new Edge, which for some reason I guess it’s not an update. I guess you have to download that separately, I don’t know.

    Eugene:          Yeah, yeah.

    Carlos:            Yeah, so I started playing with it yesterday and it is very nice. So, the idea is that you can create a profile, it then saves all of your account information in that profile and then you can switch. So ultimately, I have three profiles now, because you get to create all of them. But I can maintain my identity in each one of those browsers. I have different icons, which helps me remember which one they are and so that as actually been very handy, because now I’m like, “oh which one do I need to go to? Oh right, there’s my icon,” and I’m kind of off and running, so thanks, Todd, for that little tidbit. I am interested in exploring it a bit more, but so far, yeah, it’s been helpful. So teleworking is our theme, and there are lots of opinions out there. I’ve seen lots of people talking about this again, particularly as the United States, as– you know other countries have been doing this, but as the United States moves to shutting things down, schools have been out, whatnot, even the state and local government’s now doing this, so everyone is trying to encourage people to work from home. So, we had a couple of thoughts that we wanted to share or talk about, and maybe first, I guess let’s just go through our telework experience. So, obviously, at SQL Data Partners, we help people remotely and so I don’t do a lot of onsite work, so that’s been my experience in terms of connecting with them. So, Eugene’s first on my list, so Eugene, you want to talk about your teleworking?

    Eugene:          Yeah, I mean it’s the same. I mean, aside from that one customer you like drop-shipped me to in Richmond for a week, it’s all been remote stuff. So, a lot of the social distancing thing has no effect on my day-to-day work, per se.

    Carlos:            Sure, and Kevin?

    Kevin:            I’ve done full-time remote before. I currently do, I’d call it 80% in office or 75% in office, at this point, where I’m in the office much more often than not, despite what people might say. I swear I’m there.

    Carlos:            Yeah, I was going to say, the other thought that I had was that you do quite a bit of traveling.

    Kevin:            Yeah, that’s the other 25.

    Carlos:            Yeah, it’s not quite, maybe the traditional telework, but in terms of needing to communicate with your team while you’re you know on the go, same thing still applies.

    Kevin:            Exactly, it’s still the same set of problems. It’s still the same set of solutions.

    Carlos:            Yeah, yeah. Okay, so we have four components. So, the first one I have is, so expectations; we’re going to talk about staying included; kids, which I guess is going to be my segment; and then structure. So, the things that we miss, we’ll kind of circle back around to that. But in terms of expectations, so expectations and stay included actually somewhat go hand-in-hand. But the first thought I had in terms of, so now they’ve told you to go home, have they told you what to expect, and how to communicate?

    Kevin:            I’ll go first on this one.

    Carlos:            Cause it is different being away, out of sight/out of mind comes to bear, here. And yeah, so Kevin, go for it.

    Kevin:            Yeah, one of the things that my company has done a really great job with is communicating very clearly what’s going on, to the point that in normal circumstances it would be over-communication. And I am very sensitive toward over-communication, which is the polite way of saying that I hate talking to people. But it’s important in this type of situation where, if you’re not able to have those hallway conversations, and if things are not business as usual, it is important to send more communication than less. And also, to be pretty clear in those communications, just, it’s not email for the sake of email, it’s constantly updating expectations. As things change, tell people as soon as possible, explain to them as clearly as possible what the changes are, how they affect you. So, what that could include is, “all right, well, we can’t go to the office right now.” “Hey, I’m used to 3 monitors, can I take a work monitor home with me?” And sending out that kind of policy update that, “hey, normally wouldn’t allow this but because of the circumstances we’re going to allow these changes from normal behavior.” Because otherwise people are in this gray zone of, “well I normally couldn’t do that. Maybe? I don’t know. Nobody’s ever told me anything.”

    Carlos:            Sure. Yeah, and this could be a challenge, because from and over-communication perspective, you may be like, “another email?” It’s important that you stay in-the-know because if you then deviate from what they then said, it can cause contention that doesn’t need to be there.

    Kevin:            Yeah, and it may make sense to those emails as bundles. You know, like, “here’s the daily update” as opposed to, “all right, I just thought of something, let me send another email out.” That kind of more impromptu discussion probably happens more often in things like company Slack channels, or Teams channels, chats, that kind of thing, and that’s also important. Again, you’re losing all of that face-to-face conversation time, and if you add that up, you add up all of those words, for me there are literally dozens of words a day that I say in those communications. So, we’ve got to make them up somehow.

    Eugene:          More, if you count grunts of “mmm”.

    Kevin:            Actually, I did count those.

    Eugene:          Oh, I’m sorry.

    Carlos:            So, other thoughts that I had, also included things in terms of so your VPN drops. So, one of the things that we’re seeing, like you know, the cloud providers are, in a sense, doing some, not load balancing, what’s the word?

    Eugene:          Auto-scaling? I mean they’ve been reducing the bandwidth and the functionality, I saw, in Teams. It’s like, “hey, we’re going to be lowering the resolution, some of the presence features, like ‘is somebody typing’, ‘is somebody online’ are going to be less accurate. So, they’re having to make adjustments to support the load.

    Carlos:            Right, yeah, load testing, there we go, that’s what I was thinking. So, because of the increased load, things are now at their peak, so VPN might be one of them. So, what happens when you can’t, all of a sudden, connect to your office?

    Eugene:          Something related that, there was an article I saw where Microsoft was recommending, I forget the term, it’s like split tunnel or some like that, but basically to change the settings so that Office 365 traffic went outside of the VPN or something along those lines to help reduce some of that, which was interesting.

    Carlos:            Yeah, and so these are, again just little things in terms of, “okay, how am I going to communicate that?” You know, email SLAs? Now, I don’t know if it’s true or not, but somebody told me that when they first instituted this to– this is from an organization not used to teleworking, so this is part of the problem. And they said, “okay, you’re going to go home, but you have an SLA. You have to respond to an email that your manager sends to you, within 15 minutes.”

    Kevin:            I hate that idea.

    Carlos:            I heard that, I was like, “Oh my goodness. That’s crazy!”

    Kevin:            So, that is incredibly stupid on two fronts. I’m going to limit myself to two fronts. It’s probably incredibly stupid on more than two fronts, so please, if you’ve started this policy, stop it because it’s incredibly stupid. Here’s reason number one. Reason number one is email is an asynchronous mechanism for communication. I send an email; I do not expect an immediate response. If I want an immediate response, I will type in chat. Because I’m a millennial I will not pick up a phone and call somebody, but if you we’re older, you would pick up a phone and call somebody, because those are synchronous method of communication. Email is async. I send an email, when the person receives it, has the bandwidth to respond to it, is capable formulating a response, then I get a response. Don’t try to make email synchronous. That’s a bad idea. Reason number two it’s incredibly stupid is, you are telling your employees, “I don’t actually trust that you’re going to do any work, so I’m going to treat you essentially like children. I expect, okay, it’s roll-call time.” It’s like, this is neither the military, nor a bunch of children, and if you are in the military, it’s a different story, you follow those rules. But we’re not. So, those rules, if I don’t have to respond to an email in 15 minutes when I’m in the office, I shouldn’t have to respond to an email in 15 minutes when I’m not in the office. Those bits don’t change.

    Eugene:          Well, yeah, I feel like they’re trying to make it a substitution for the boss walking up to a cube and starting a conversation, but it becomes immediately unhealthy and deleterious because how are you supposed to identify which one of these you are supposed to respond to, and which ones are asynchronous? You’re mixing the wheat and the chaff. Now admittedly, back when I was working in a regular office and I didn’t have like a one-person Office 365 tenant, I had rules where emails that were from my manager went to like the top of the list and then there was emails directly to me, external customer emails to me, and then like cc: emails at the very bottom kind of thing. So, there’s ways to support that, but I agree, like if you’re assuming that just because people are working from home, they’re going to be slacking off, you’re doing it wrong.

    Carlos:            Yeah, so it’s interesting. Productivity is like the number one, I don’t know, issue that people talk about when they telework, that idea is extremely prevalent in terms of, “well, if I send them home, are they going to do anything?”

    Kevin:            Frankly, if companies actually cared about productivity, they’d get rid of open offices. I mean I’m just going to derail this conversation right now and get on my open office rant. That is your big source of loss of productivity, where you have a bunch of people in cattle pens where you can’t actually focus on anything. “Oh, don’t worry, just buy some noise-cancelling headphones.” Great, so now I have to go and buy extra stuff to prevent other people from keeping me from working. It’s  absurd, and so if you’re saying, “oh well, work-from-home people may not be as productive,” you know what? You put somebody in an office, they’re probably going to be more productive than if you put them out in the cattle pen with all of the other noises. So, you want productivity? Go do that.

    Carlos:            Yeah, I think this is a real issue and I think that the employers necessarily aren’t, I don’t know, thinking it through? But they might have a slightly different mentality. Yes, it would be nice if they could, like ChannelAdvisor, communicate, you know, set those expectations and maybe change like, “we have this policy, but under the circumstances, we’re going to change.” And I think a lot of organizations are quite like that. I think even myself, like we’re a fairly small organization, sometimes I don’t set all of us those pieces in motion, and when expectations are unmet, then that’s when challenges can happen and I think one of the thoughts there is, in terms of expectations, is if you don’t know what is expected of you, then you need to find out.

    Kevin:            Yeah, although in Carlos’s case, he does have mandatory ten-minute webcam check-ins. So, every 10 minutes, they all have to check in on the webcam. It’s weird, because they’re all in the same room.

    Carlos:            Yeah, there’s no 10 minute check-in, the camera’s always on, Kevin. And if you’re not in the camera for more than 10 minutes, then that’s an issue, that’s a violation.

    Kevin:            It’s going on your quarterly review.

    Carlos:            So, again, along kind of with that is again, so productivity, it’s unfortunate but I think a lot of organizations or like, “okay, if you’re not here, then you’re not productive.” So how can you then convey, “here’s the work that I’m doing,” status updates. And again, we’re supposed to be social distancing, but there are instances where, I mean again, I will get to kids here in a second, but kids are the one that popped into mind. My kid collapses or has asthma and needs medical attention, I have to leave. Or again, there could be other reasons that I need to get out. How are you going to communicate that? I think a big one that people don’t use as much is your calendaring. Block that stuff off.

    Eugene:          The asthma attack? Like, “all right Mike, 9 to 10, I’ve scheduled you to have your asthma attack.”

    Carlos:            Okay, so those two things didn’t quite go together.

    Eugene:          “Listen Jimmy, you’ve got a 1 p.m. slot and you’re going to have to wait.”

    Kevin:            So, on the topic of managers, I know that there’s kind of a classic mentality of butt-in-seat. If I don’t see you in the seat, then you’re not working. And I guess my first piece of advice is get over that.

    Eugene:          Well, so my thinking is this, maybe you consider sending like email updates to your boss, “okay, here’s the stuff I got done.” But here’s the thing, this is a rare opportunity for you to learn how to actually work from home and it involves not constantly fretting about whether people get that you’re doing stuff all the time. Because the thing is, this problem isn’t going to go away and everyone else is doing it too, right? So, if your boss has the butt-in-seat mentality and has issues with it, she has issues with it for the entire company and she’s going to face reality real soon. I mean, maybe consider like an update email or something like that, Slack could be nice for that to communicate what you’re working on, but you know what? Like five years ago, I was a kind of person that would send an email to my boss late at night to show that I was working late at night, and then years later I realized that’s dumb I should work the hours I’m paid. So, I think it’s real easy to fall in that mentality and it’s not healthy. And I guess something that was going to come up at some point, you’re going to be tempted to overwork. This happens to a lot of people who start working remote. They can’t physically show that they’re there, so they work long hours to kind of catch up with that guilt, and it’s just not healthy. So, you, (?) structure, set your office hours, stick to them, and if somebody emails you outside of those and it’s not an emergency, don’t answer. You need to be your first own set of boundaries.

    Carlos:            So, I have a slightly different perspective, there.

    Eugene:          Oh yeah?

    Carlos:            Cause I hear the whole boundaries thing. Now, I guess I have a different mentality.

    Eugene:          Well, sure, because you’re the boss. You want those 10 minute check-ins.

    Carlos:            That’s fair, but I also think that your schedule, so the whole like, again, butt-in-seat, you now have a little bit more control over that. Again, I guess I’m going back to the kids here for a second, because they’re the biggest pull-away. Hey, like my kids have schoolwork, “hey Dad, can you help me with this math problem?” Okay, it’s 10 in the morning. “Sure, I can help you with that math problem.” So I feel like there’s going to be a little bit of flow, but I also don’t get heartburn, “oh it’s 6 o’clock, I can’t answer email.” If you’re there, go check your email. I’m not saying that you have to go and finish something, there, but I think you can, again, with the idea of communicating, it’s like, “oh hey, I was helping my–.” Maybe you don’t have to tell that. “I was pulled away. I see that you’ve asked me to do this, I’ll get to it first thing tomorrow.”

    Kevin:            Yeah, so I think that it goes to an idea that, all right I’ve ranted against the employer side, now let me do a little bit against the employee side. Think about the amount of goldbricking you do during the day. You don’t have to tell us. But, you know, every time you have that water cooler conversation about the latest cartoon television show, whatever, if the kids come in and. “I need help with a math problem,” it’s kind of similar, kind of equivalent to it. Don’t do more goldbricking than you currently do. Still get your stuff done. Something that in this field, especially if you’re on the administrative side, that it kind of feels like almost a coping bureaucracy, which is the technical term I won’t get into today but the gist of it is that it’s really hard to define what it is that you do and it’s really hard for people to see what it is we do. So, we can’t necessarily measure how well this DBA is doing and my historical joke of how well a DBA is doing is, do they have their feet kicked off, because if so, they’re probably doing pretty well. The ones who like furiously typing are the ones who are in the middle of a problem that probably might be self-inflicted.

    Carlos:            Yeah, fire jumping, right?

    Kevin:            Yeah, yeah, exactly. And that’s obviously a joke. But it’s hard for somebody external to understand and measure how a database administrator is doing. If you’re a developer, it’s actually not that difficult. You know, you have your goals for the sprint, you have to do these things. “Well, you can see, based on these goals, I’m meeting these goals. I’m still getting development work done. We’re still moving at the same velocity.” That’s how we can say, “hey, work-from-home hasn’t affected us,” or, “work-from-home has been more effective because we get derailed in fewer two-hour conversations about which Marvel Superhero can beat the other one up.” Because the answer is the Hulk, obviously. I don’t even need a two-hour conversation, just leave it with the Hulk. So that’s what I would get at, that if you’re in an administrative capacity, it can be harder, and in that case, we have signals that can help out and one of those is actually a bit more communication than normal. Like when I was a DBA, I wanted zero communication, because nothing from me meant that everything was going great. But now I kind of have to tell people, “okay, here’s what’s going on, here’s what’s happening,” and you have to be a little more forthright with that. And also, like I said, we do a bit of goldbricking. We don’t work constantly, at full effort 100% of the day, for every moment of the day, so don’t feel bad if, “oh, I just spent eight minutes folding my laundry.”

    Carlos:            Sure yeah, there you go, that’s a good example.

    Kevin:            Yeah, don’t follow that up with, “okay, well, I’m going to spend the next two hours mowing the lawn or something.” Unless again, that would have taken up a debate about the Hulk. But, just get your stuff done is what I’m getting at.

    Carlos:            Yeah, but again, it also means that if you’re going to allow yourself to participate in laundry folding during the day, don’t then beat your employer up because you get an email at 6:00.

    Eugene:          There’s definitely give and take. I guess the big thing for me is that I’ve been working for myself from home for a year or so now, and I’ve just found that if I’m not rigorous about that structure and timing, then I have some weeks while I work 30 hours and some weeks where I work 50 or 60, and it’s just not healthy. And so, figure out what target you want to have and if it involves a little bit more so you can spend half an hour teaching your son math, perfectly fine, but be thoughtful about it ahead of time.

    Kevin:            Right.

    Carlos:            Yeah. Okay, so another area that I have, one of the thoughts I had in terms of staying included. So, again, you’re remote, it’s like, hey, it’s a brave new world, you’re going to have meetings. Now, in this case, you have to do as I say and not as I do, because we currently do not have cameras on for this podcast. But normally, when I meet with my customers, particularly, I was turn my camera on. Sometimes I’m the only one with a camera, but I feel like it is a way for me to stay engaged, they get to see me, and I feel like it helps build that connection. Now, I hear I can hear what you’re saying, “but my room is a mess.” “I work in a pantry.”

    Kevin:            Spoilers, so does everyone else.

    Carlos:            So, the CEO of Synergy, which is a local cloud solution, Microsoft partner here in town, on their webpage, for Teams, they have a Teams thing, she’s sitting there. She’s won like CEO of the Year. Microsoft gave her like an Innovator of the Year Award. In her Teams, she’s sitting there in a sweatshirt and there’s a treadmill behind her. So, I’m not saying that you can roll out of bed and turn the camera on and be like, “hey everybody.” You may have to go do it like, I think, did we hit record when Eugene talked about putting on some nice clothes and taking a walk right before you kind of start the day?

    Eugene:          Yeah, yeah.

    Kevin:            That was before the recording, So, Eugene, tell people what you do to seem like you’re sane.

    Eugene:          Yeah, well no, this is more of the structure piece, it’s not for people on the web cams, but I’ve started putting on dress clothes and commuting. You can’t see my air quotes because we don’t have cameras. Commuting to work, because my brain needs some separation between work time and home time. Otherwise it just gets funky. Now a benefit is that whenever I have my webcam on, I look decent. Actually, I was doing work for one of our customers, Steven, and I had a dress shirt on and he’s like, “oh, Eugene must have had a call with a real customer.” So, it was funny.

    Carlos:            Congratulations Steven, you’re a real customer, now.

    Kevin:            The really weird thing about what Eugene does is that he also he also simulates the commute traffic, so he’ll stand out in the middle of the street and like make mouth noises, “honk, honk, honk”, complains about how awful traffic is.

    Eugene:          Well, thankfully, my previous commute was only 20 minutes, so I just have to stand outside for 20 minutes, and then I’m allowed back in the house.

    Carlos:            Yeah, but this idea of, again, being able to stay connected, show that you’re engaged. I think if you turn your camera on, yes people are going to look and be like, “oh, what’s that?” That’s going to happen, but what you don’t get that in the office setting is that they still have that same thought, you’re just not as worried about it, because it’s your–

    Kevin:            Yeah, as a general work-from-home thing, having a camera on, if you’re one of the few people working remotely, then it’s a great thing because it’s kind of a reminder that, “oh yeah, that person is human.”

    Carlos:            That’s right.

    Kevin:            In this situation, it’s also nice to build that habit, and it is good because this is a test run for, all right, 2 months from now, when everybody’s back in the office, “well, hey I was a lot more productive working from home. Carlos just turned on his camera. I’m still not turning mine on yet.

    Carlos:            I had to. I’m like, “huh, I feel l like I need to turn my camera on, here.”

    Kevin:            Now we can confirm that Carlos is human. I don’t know if Eugene and I are human.

    Eugene:          Oh, geez, oh, let me see. Unfortunately, I’m half-shaven.

    Carlos:            Structure didn’t happen today, right?

    Eugene:          No.

    Kevin:            Eugene failed the Turing test, so I’m still not sure he’s human.

    Eugene:          I’m actually from thispersonisnotreal.com. I’m just generated by a GAN.

    Kevin:            But it is a good thing, you’re right, keep the cameras on in those types of meetings. And, this is a great test run that maybe two months from now, when everyone’s back in the office, you might say, “hey, I was actually more productive. Let me show you how I was more productive.” And we built these institutions within the companies that allow us to work from home, that, “hey, I have that webcam, I have all this equipment, some of which I took the office.” To be fair, I did not take any equipment from the office, I had all the equipment at home. So, “we have these institutions built in, we have these things that shows, well, I was still working, I was still quite productive, here’s the types of things that we were able to accomplish,” and the companies also could come out with better work remote policies. And I think, if you have to work with remote teams, you know, like I don’t actually have any employees outside of the general area but other teams at the company have their offices in a few different countries around the world, so you already have to deal with the fact that not everybody is physically co-located. So, this isn’t that much of a stretch from there.

    Carlos:            Now in that, so again, this is very specific to meetings. I’m not suggesting that you keep your camera on when you’re not in a meeting.

    Kevin:            No, no, no, please don’t.

    Carlos:            Yeah, that’s right, that’s not what I’m saying. The other question there is to mute or not to mute. This is going to segue to the next segment. You want to be able to participate, now granted I’ve been in plenty of meetings where the organizer of the meeting just kind of, like, it’s their meeting and it’s almost like this could have really been an email. And they just plow through what they got to say and there’s really no–

    Kevin:            That’s another rant.

    Carlos:            Yeah, there’s no coordination or communications, so there is that. But, again, from an engagement perspective, if you can stay muted off, I think it helps the perception that you’re engaged, you’re there, that you’re ready. Now, having said that we kind of jump into kids. So, I’ve got five kids.

    Eugene:          Well, that’s your mistake. Poor planning.

    Carlos:            Yeah, that’s right, we really wanted to have six. And I go back to, this was the guy on CNN. Now I can’t remember his name and I’m sure that you can’t, either.

    Eugene:          Oh, the South Korean expert or whatever?

    Carlos:            That’s right, he was the South Korean expert and he was being interviewed, and what would have sure been a very forgettable little interview was immortalized when his kid comes into the background and his very frantic wife tries to go and grab the kid out of the thing.

    Kevin:            He definitely took that with aplomb.

    Eugene:          His name is Professor Robert Kelly.

    Carlos:            There we go, okay.

    Eugene:          And his children are Marion and James and his daughter has the best glasses ever, that’s all I want to say.

    Carlos:            So, I think it’s one of those where again, it was a little bit embarrassing for him at the time, but at the end it was cute. People liked it.

    Eugene:          Sure. I think everyone gets that we’re all kind of stuck at home and some of us have kids. Some of us have dogs.

    Carlos:            That’s right. And the dogs can be the same way. So, I think that, one, my suggestion is, communicate with your kids. “Hey guys, I’m walking into a meeting.” Now that doesn’t mean that they’re not going to bust through, but if they do, “I’m sorry guys, excuse me.” You hit the mute button. “Hey guys, I’m in a meeting, sorry, can you give me a few minutes and I’ll be there with you.” I think again, it’s one of those things where you’re, the two worlds, the work life and your home life collide, it’s okay that you have both.

    Kevin:            Yeah, and one piece of advice that I would offer there is wherever you work, have a door. “When the door is shut, you can’t come in. This is work only.” Keep the door open most of the time like, “I’m still working, but it’s okay. But when that door is shut, unless something serious has happened, unless there is like at least a pint of blood, don’t open that door.”

    Carlos:            Yeah, so that worked very well for my 10 and 12 year old. My 5 year old, not so much. “I want Daddy!”

    Eugene:          This probably wouldn’t help you, either, but I’ve seen really cool, back when Lync was a thing. Lync presence lights. So, you know, how you have that green or red for your status? They would have actual lights you could have outside of your office, so it’s like, “all right Daddy’s in a meeting right now,” or something like that. But yeah, I can understand like the 5 year old just kicks down the door and there’s not much you can do about it. My office door is currently a shower curtain, so it’s extremely penetrable.

    Kevin:            But it’s the philosophy. You’re not counting on the door to prevent people from getting in.

    Eugene:          No, I mean I mostly close it to indicate, “hey, I’m recording something so please, no shouting and make sure you have clothes if you’re coming into my office, hon.

    Kevin:            Exactly, exactly. It’s the equivalent of a Master Lock. You never put a Master Lock on because you expect nobody can pick it, because by the way, you can break those in like four seconds with a pop can. But it’s just there to say, “ah, don’t do that. It would be irresponsible of you to take my stuff.”

    Carlos:            Yeah. Okay, so that’s my piece on kids. You have them. I think that’s kind of what’s, you know, from an expectations perspective, people you work with probably know you have kids. But again, it’s one of those things. The first time it happens to you, you will feel embarrassed. That’s normal. “I’m sorry”, mute, take care of it, and then it will be fine. You will survive. So then in terms of structure, I know we jumped into this a little bit.

    Eugene:          Yeah, I’ll just say really quick that there’s a lot of hidden structure you get from the work, a regular job. You have a commute, you’re able to take breaks, and go to that water cooler and go get something to drink. You have co-workers and they have rhythms. When you work from home, that at all goes out the window, so set office hours, try to stick to them, force yourself to take breaks. For me, I have a VBScript that pops up every 30 minutes that reminds me to take some random exercise. So really think through adding structure back in, because you’re going to miss it very rapidly.

    Kevin:            Yeah, and my 2 cents in 45 seconds, as a manager. More directed and even spontaneous conversation, because I’ll have regular conversations with the team. I’ve been skipping a lot of stand-ups just because as a team we didn’t need them very much. We only did about two stand-ups a week, usually. Now I’m doing it everyday, because that forces everybody to get together at least once a day, talk about things are going on. I’ll have more one-on-one conversations with people and I’m making myself do it. This week has been really tough, basically because essentially, I’m out of the state, because I’m virtually in Redmond. But you make more time, you make that time for conversation because that’s the kind of stuff that you are missing. And whether that conversation is over chat, whether it’s a video call or something else, just make sure you have that time.

    Eugene:          All right, speaking of time, we’re just about out.

    Kevin:            That is true.

    Carlos:            That is true. So hopefully, these are some ideas. Every person’s going to be a little bit different, so I think don’t be afraid to adapt. I also think the other thought that I had was Kevin mentioned being a manager. Simon Sinek. Leadership is a choice. If they’re not leading, you still have an opportunity to do that even if, hopefully you have another team member on your team. You can still do some of that stuff with a co-worker, even if it’s not your full team. But hopefully that’s been helpful. We’d love to hear your thoughts. What are you what are your telework experiences? Good or bad, let us know. You can reach out to us on social media. Eugene?

    Eugene:          Yeah, you can find me on Twitter @sqlgene.

    Carlos:            Kevin?

    Kevin:            You can find me destroying open offices with a hammer.

    Carlos:            And compañeros, I’m on LinkedIn. You can find me at Carlos L Chacon. Thanks for tuning in, we hope that your telework experience is a good one and hopefully one day, when we get back out again, I’ll see you on the SQL Trail.​

Listen to Learn

00:38     Intro to the team and topic
01:39     Compañero Shout-Outs & a tip from a compañero
05:05     Our teleworking experiences & the four components that we’ll cover
07:02     You need to find out what your company’s expectations are
09:46     Some companies are having to do adjustments to support the new load
10:57     Two reasons emails to prove productivity are a bad plan
13:32     Productivity is the number one issue that people worry about
15:38     How are you going to convey productivity to your company?
17:05     This could be an opportunity for you to learn how to work from home
19:29     Don’t do more goldbricking than you usually do. Get your stuff done.
23:13     Keep your camera on for meetings and don’t worry about the background
24:46     How Eugene keeps work time and home time separate
25:51     Carlos turns his camera on, proving that he is human. What about Kevin and Eugene?
27:12     You might find you’re more productive at home than you were at the office
29:06     How to deal with the fact that you have kids at home
32:45     Create a structure for yourself and stick with it
34:09     Closing Thoughts

Imagine what’s possible with a dedicated SQL specialist on your team.

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