This is a post from our #RemoteLife series, where the LayerCI team interviews tech employees and founders in various roles. This is a resource to share productivity tips and challenges of their roles during this adjustment period.

This interview features Christian Karkada, a Product Manager from OneLocal who is currently working from home in Toronto, Canada on May 21st, 2020.

What is your work stack like?

  • Slack for team communication
  • Notion for note taking at work, personal and wikis
  • Figma for commenting and collaborating on designs
  • Spark for a cleaner user experience for email

What does your at-home work space look like?

What did your work day look like yesterday?

  • My mornings are usually spent on catching up on emails, looking at dashboards of data and conducting morning standups with my team
  • After standups, I had a call with our engineering manager to sync up about releases the day before. I then had a call with a sales teammate to answer each others questions
  • After lunch, 1:00pm to 3:30pm was spent for deep focus work on documentation
  • From 4:00pm to 5:00pm, I had another call with the Customer Success team lead about a new product roll out
  • 5:00pm to 7:00pm was spent testing our new product solution to make sure it meets requirements

How do you take breaks and relax?

  • During working hours, I take breaks by getting snacks from the kitchen
  • After working hours, since the condo gym is closed, I like to work out with personal free weights. I also enjoy watching Netflix in my spare time!

Were you working remotely before COVID?

Nope!

How do you work remotely with your team?

When we were working in a physical office 4 months ago, desk checks were so easy but now everything is done through Slack. We added new groups on Slack to adjust to this change - for example, a group chat just for testing. We've also been using the Slack call feature a lot more.

There are definitely some challenges for working on Slack - sometimes I would get calls on there out of the blue that would interrupt my workflow; sometimes I would need a response in a Slack group ASAP but not hear back right away.

Our backup tool for communication is Google Hangouts.

As a product manager, what are the challenges of working remotely? Any advice for others?

There's two major challenges that I have noticed during my transition to remote work:

Challenge #1: I miss the social aspect that you get from a physical office space. With in-person, you can have multiple conversations which help drive the feedback loop. Remote work has made it hard to socialize with your team and now it's all about timed meetings.

My advice for Challenge #1: Try to go out of your way to have virtual coffee chat. At our company, we do virtual rock paper scissors competitions and lunch workshops. We even have a team social committee that used to plan in-person events but now hosts remote events.

Challenge #2: Finding work life balance. Working in the same space where you sleep makes it easy to overwork and burn out.

My advice for Challenge #2: It's important to be mindful of your time and to take advantage of a non-office workspace. You can always close Slack and go back to notifications after to commit to taking breaks.

Would you want to work remotely in the future? Why or why not?

I think there are advantages to working remotely and non-remotely. I personally prefer an in-person office and really love companies that have achieved a hybrid model where you can do both.