Working from home with the world in lockdown: A letter.

Hey human,

I hope you are doing well mentally and soulfully. I pray you are safe, staying home, and being productive. Even if you are not, hear it from me when I say it’s okay not to be productive. These are trying times indeed and you deserve a break. I hope the town/city/country you are reading this is doing okay. I just miss my walks these days. But, as gloomy as the day seem they are, I am here brighten your minutes that you spend reading this… letter I am writing to you.

Over the years, I have dabbled with post formats for Mixster constantly but never have I ever wrote a letter as a post or I like to call it, LaaP. In the modern world of Instagram stories and messages, I still tend to send Happiness Packets and real letters to close people. So why not experiment and tell you about my experience of working at Balena in the form of a letter cum blog post. I do expect a reply from you all so be ready.

20th April was the date, Vipul got committed. Figuratively.

The first day was just a blur as I joined directionlessly and shaking from excitement. I was trying to be calm but anxiety usually creeps in when you are constantly refreshing your inbox for the onboarding email to drop. Remote onboarding is like that I guess. Thankfully, a friend had nudged me in the right direction the night before and as I waited for the email. I looked over my things to do in the diary for the day. As someone that has been loosely working remotely on and off, I like to plan my days and schedule as tightly as I can so I can get a lot done and not wake up in the night. With Covid19 in full force, all the discipline has been going into the drain. Thank you for asking.

The first couple of days were fun as I went through a rollercoaster of an onboarding process that’s there in place at Balena. The experience itself was phenomenal. I got to meet and continue to meet such great people working together with great cohesion, less coupling backed by solid guidelines, and incredible automation. Even though I don’t have a definite onboarding experience to compare this all to I feel everything was just right in place. Everything is well documented by the team, people are friendly and my Balena buddy, Rich has been a delight throughout the onboarding.

Let’s Meet or Get a Zoom: Video chats the boon for remote teams!

Balena has a great open-door policy for meetings. Hence baleniestas can join any team meeting they want to. Which I feel is a pretty great learning experience on its own. It also helps you get more involved and know what’s going around the company. I tried attending a lot of them and got to meet some really interesting people.

Folks at balena also takes part in a lot of fun activities like Hack Fridays, and Doughnut Time! that keeps the week and spirits of the team going.

One Step at a time!

In the first couple of weeks, I have spent time mostly do one thing and that is learning. I have been going through the stack, the huge product line, and even larger project repositories taking in tons of new information and experimenting with a lot of cool stuff. Every day I write down a page full of things that I have to look at and learn more about as the day progresses. Not to go too deep but take everything one step at a time. Since it’s extremely easy to get burned out while working remotely. My advice would be to take it slow and take your time and do the due diligence.

Focus on Security, the first change.

As Ayan, happily mentions “How’s corporate life going for you?”

I feel I now understand what he meant. As there is a ton of focus on security right from when you start working. It’s not red tape per se, but it’s necessary to put a lot of barriers and roadblocks in place if someone tries to get access to your system. Hence, I spent some days going over every inch of my collective security. Changing password, adding a manager, adding keys, 2FA, securing the firewall, getting a hardware key as well, making automated backups, encrypting my disk. It’s good for the long run nonetheless. Here’s a recommend on 2FA security with Hardware keys by Raju himself from the ILuGD community!

Protect them eyes, folks! You gonna need them for the next 40 or so years

One thing that I observed while starting to work remotely is how much effect it has on the eyes. In the first 2 weeks, I may have been very well clocking 12-15 hours in front of screens (both mobile + laptop) and that lead to my eyes straining and ended up drying in the end. Next, they started to take time focusing and that’s was enough of an alert for me. I took some measures and overhauled my schedule. One of the things I did:-

Next, I vaporized everything out of the phone that I didn’t need anymore. Switched completely to PWA’s of the social media website and started using the Freedom app. I am down to 3-4 hours of mobile usage. Which I restrict even further on weekends by forcing myself to get a habit or time taking chore from the house. I even made up my own challenge of #12months12books since I have a small library of books that have collected dust all through college but not anymore. I am trailing behind but gaining up fast as my reading speed gets faster. I will write a blog if I come with an effective plan to save them eyes better. But, prevention is definitely a plus.

Overall Experience! What would you have changed if you wanna do it all over again?

WELL, I WISH COVID19 WASN’T HERE!

Sorry, got a bit vocal there. But no. I genuinely love the place I am working at right now. It ticks all the boxes in a job that I wanted. It’s challenging and I am having a fun time living up to it. These days I am also eagerly waiting for my setup to arrive as I am placing the orders with all my 10 fingers crossed. These are uncertain times indeed. I will add a link to my remote setup list down in the newsletter that I am starting this week! So join up if you haven’t already! I also asked this around Twitter and got many great replies. With the e-commerce sites now working in red zones, I might be able to finally do this!

Still open for ideas!

Well, that’s about it. Quite an end to the letter which ultimately got converted to a blog post only. Well, here’s what you can do! Take a pen and a sheet of paper and write me a letter! YES! Let’s do it. For my address, you can ping me on Twitter and I will reply to each one of you for sure. I am 100% serious.

Thanks to all the people that have been helping me keep my life direction right as I am settling into this new job. You know who you are! and I would be pretty sure lost without you all (and you direction). I am also coming back to Social media little by little. So you can see me shitposting on Instagram as well! I have been trying to keep myself as busy as possible.

Whatever shape that takes I am game. Right now, I am working on a side-project to help folks find jobs more easily by building an indexable Twitter job platform (Paying it forward, I guess since many people helped me to find opportunities when i was looking) + Managing content for PyCon India (YES! It’s happening and it’s online). So yeah, trying as best as I can not to feel down with the things going on outside. It’s been quite tough initially but I have been processing it and burying myself with work helps pass the time. I am really look forward to all your replies and yep, go Corona go, I guess! (I really would like to have a farewell)

Let’s do something fun! Till then live in the mix folks!

Best,
Vipul

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