Where You Work
Do your best work, from where you work best.
If you've never worked from home before, it will probably be the most obvious part of your transition to working at Octopus. So, you'll be surprised to learn that Octopus isn't about working from home.
Each day, when you decide whether to work from home or somewhere else, the choice should be made according to where you think you'll be the most effective. If that's from home today, great! We trust you.
- If you're in Brisbane, and you're a buddy to a new starter who's also in Brisbane, come to the office. You're going to be 100% more effective as a buddy, and give the person a much better start to life at Octopus, if you spend that time face to face.
- If you've joined Octopus from elsewhere in the world, we might ask you to fly to Brisbane at some point for training and to meet more of the team.
- If your home internet connection is down, or there are noisy construction workers jackhammering next door to you, you shouldn't be trying to work from home. Leave the house!
- If your team believes that face-to-face time is important and arrange a day to be in the office, be part of it.
That is to say, work time is work time. We extend this autonomy and flexibility to you on the basis that you'll use it to choose the most productive outcome for Octopus - not for personal reasons.
The ability to choose where we work gives us great power, focus, and flexibility in what we work on, and how we organize our day. It also requires great responsibility as we cannot participate in hallway conversations or ask for help from the person next to us. We still need to ensure we’re a good team member and work professionally.
We know that saying "just make good decisions" isn't helpful, so here are some guidelines or examples that you can use when thinking about where you work.
"My team arranged a regular Tuesday meetup in the city, but I have a haircut booked at 10am near home. I'm going to stay home today and Zoom the team instead."
❌ You're missing out on valuable facetime with your team and sending a signal that your hair is more important than them. That's not living up to our values or being a teammate that's worthy of trust. You should probably reschedule your haircut.
"We have a regular catchup meeting at 3pm each day, but my kid has a concert at 3:30pm today. Can we reschedule the meeting?"
💚 That's fine - explain it to your manager. The signal you're sending is that you respect the rest of the team, but you'd appreciate the flexibility to do something for your family that can't be rescheduled.
I've got a day full of planned customer calls, but my internet is being very unreliable due to an upgrade happening down the street. I'll cancel my customer calls.
💡 You really should try to find a different place to work instead. We understand if it's an unplanned emergency, but otherwise, it sends a bit of a signal that you don't care enough about our customers to leave the comfort of home.
A medical emergency has happened, and I need to take the morning off / go to the hospital / vet.
🏥 Just go! If you get 5 minutes maybe let your team or manager know on Slack (in case people are waiting around for you), but it's understandable if you can't as well. Emergencies happen and we trust you. You don't need to wait for permission.
You have a lot of trust and autonomy about where you work at Octopus, and usually won't need approval, assuming you are in the same city or state that we've employed you in.
However, if you are considering moving or working from a different state or country, whether temporarily or permanently, you will need to talk to your manager and get approval - and understand that due to legal or accounting reasons, we may sometimes need to say no.
The biggest issues revolve around relocating to another country, even if it's just for a short period. While you may think you'll be able to do your job as per normal, and your manager may be inclined to agree, it could expose the company to a range of intellectual property, tax, accounting, and insurance issues which the company isn't set up to support. So often for these kinds of moves, we may need to say no.
Moving between states within the same country can have issues as well - for example, payroll taxes or insurance issues - but we will usually be able to make those types of moves work. These types of moves will generally be up to your manager's discretion and assuming there are no payroll/finance issues.
Suppose you're visiting your extended family in Italy for a holiday, but plan to stay a few weeks, and want to work remotely while there. You can write code whilst a gondolier sings to you!
In addition to the issues involved in working out of state or country, when approving something like this, we'd generally think about questions like:
- Are you really going to have the internet capacity and set up to work effectively?
- Are you likely to be a lot more distracted, or have your work-day cut short?
- Are you going to be online at a time that allows you to collaborate with your team, or will your new time zone make life harder for your team?
For all these reasons, the answer will almost always be that you'd need to take it as holiday time. If we're paying you for work time, we'd rather it be your most productive and effective work time, not your most distracted work time. You're of course welcome to discuss with your manager.
The Digital Nomad lifestyle is certainly attractive to some people but comes with a range of IP, legal, tax, and other issues that can impact the company, as well as issues that can impact your team. For this reason, if you're considering a Digital Nomad approach to your life and work (espeicially involving travel over long distances while working), we want to be upfront that despite being a remote company, Octopus is unlikely to be a good fit.
Your teammates are trying to do their best work. If you're not around or available, it's going to make it more difficult for them, or for our customers. So while you have flexibility around how you spend your time, it's also going to be in tension with the need to be available and responsive when your team needs you.
As such, "when" you do your work is something you'll need to think carefully about, and it can't always be whatever suits you.
Your employment contract will state that we expect you to work 7.5 hours a day. Our expectation is that this will be during a normal working day (9-5 in your timezone), but there's some flexibility there, which we explain below. You can also work more on some days, less on others, if something comes up. For example, if you have an unexpected trip to the hospital one afternoon - it's usually fine to just make up the time the next day or later in the week.
If you have a regularly scheduled sporting activity, do school pickups in the morning or afternoon, or have something else that would regularly impact your availability, discuss it with your manager.
We also recognize that not everybody will align with this schedule and that some teams have different scheduling needs than others. For example, in the support or sales teams, being available when customers are online is important, so that will naturally set some boundaries around when it's a good time to work. There might be a core part of the day - say a morning triage - where it's really important for you to always be available. Your manager can fill you in on this.
For engineering teams, much of your work may be able to be done with a bit more autonomy around your time. But you'll likely still have a few meetings, or your team may be trying to make a design decision, and you won't be contributing fully if people can't rely on you to generally be around when they are. You may find that you're incredibly productive in the afternoons though, and schedule yourself around that. If you're unavailable every morning or afternoon though, it will make it hard for people to meet with you when needed and will impact your ability to contribute.
Ultimately, nobody is keeping track of when you log in or out, and there are no timesheets to fill in. Your manager may notice if you seem to be available a lot less than other people, and it will show either in your work results or in the team's sense that you're not committed or putting their needs above your own. When in doubt, ask your manager. They'll also let you know if they're concerned and need you to make a change for the benefit of the team.
Remote work can be hard at times, so we've captured some pain points and tips and tricks.
I find it hard to get into working mode.
- Get dressed in your work clothing, just as if you were going to an office.
- Develop a routine so there is a clear start to the working day.
- Create a space dedicated to work, this could be a home office or co-working space.
- Separate your work tools from your play tools, for example, a laptop dedicated to working.
I get distracted while I’m working.
- Set clear expectations about your availability with friends and family - when you are working it is as if you are “at work”. You are not available to hang the clothes on the line or head to the pub for the afternoon just because you are at home.
- Set and follow office hours so there is a clear distinction for you and those around you between work time and personal time.
- Listen to music to help you focus.
- Develop a daily todo list so you have a clear plan for the day and don’t lose momentum.
- Mute notifications from communication tools.
I feel isolated from my colleagues.
- Have a daily standup or huddle with your team.
- Deliberately seek conversations with your colleagues, either through text, video, or in-person.
- Embrace video chat, it is often the most effective means of communication when you can’t meet in-person.
- Find a friend and work on something together.
- Make plans to work together at an office space (i.e. if interstate team members live an hour apart from each other, then meet halfway on a regular basis)
I find it hard to get out of working mode.
- Develop a routine so there is a clear finish to the working day.
- Do not continue working outside of your working hours.
- Have a mental and physical break between your workday and your personal day by going for a run around the block when you finish work.
- Turn off work-related communication channels (chat and email) when you are not working.
- This one may be a bit controversial, do not install Slacks, emails, .... anything related to work on your personal phone, so in essence, the work laptop is the only place to access work-related things.
When you are disciplined about maintaining a healthy remote work-life harmony, three great things happen: You don’t burn out, you do your best work, and you’re happy working at Octopus Deploy!