Coding remotely – Tips and truths from Mila
At Wolt, we believe in hiring excellent people and giving them freedom and accountability to work in the ways that best suit them. That’s why employees in our product development teams can choose where they work from — from one of our cozy offices, from the comfort of their own homes or in a hybrid of these. Mila is one of our engineers who has decided to work remotely from her home in Turku. To get better insights on how remote work life is treating our employees, we had a chat with Mila. Let’s dive into it.
Hello 👋 Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do at Wolt?
My name is Mila, and I work remotely as a backend engineer in the Consumer Core team at Wolt. The focus of my team is to work on the backend for our consumer apps, both for web and mobile. I’m currently working mostly on web development, which is quite new to me as I was previously specializing in embedded systems. Apart from writing backend code, our team does some DevOps and software reliability engineering (SRE).
For the past few months I’ve been involved in this new backend service that follows the BFF (backend for frontend) design pattern. One of the things we are working on is moving some of the logic from the client side to the backend which helps keep things consistent and lets client developers focus on other important things. At the same time we try to tailor the backend to the specific needs that mobile and web clients have, so that the end user experience is smooth regardless of the platform. Working with this service has been a great learning opportunity and also very rewarding 🙂
How did you end up joining Wolt?
I was part of this online women in tech community called Ompeluseura LevelUP Koodarit in Finland, and someone from Wolt advertised the job in the community. I got interested in the opportunity and this person referred me to the position. I got the position and started at the end of 2021.
I was aware of Wolt as an employer already before applying. I knew Wolt is hosting meetups and posting tech related blogs and videos, so I had gained some sort of a picture about what it’s like to work as an engineer at Wolt.
Of course, I also knew Wolt from the customer perspective as I use the app quite actively myself.
How has it been working remotely for Wolt? 🏡
It was already stated in the job advertisement that the position is remote, so I knew what was coming. Remote work was quite new for me in the beginning, as I mainly worked from the office in my previous job. Still, I wasn’t too worried about it, as we discussed the topic in the interview process and it seemed that the team already had good remote practices in place.
The remote onboarding at Wolt was smooth; for example, I remember receiving my equipment right away. But what really impressed me from the start was how my team was able to stay in touch in the remote setup. Although our team is distributed in five different cities in four countries, I felt like I was still able to socialize with my team in the same way as if we were in the same office. I think this social factor is the first thing one might be worried about when starting in a fully remote work. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised how easy it turned out in a remote work setting.
In the beginning, we used to have a daily meeting where we discussed both work- and non-work-related matters, which is a very common practice in tech teams. However, we decided to move away from this setup and now have a dedicated half an hour for social chit-chat. Occasionally, we use this same meeting to bring up work related matters in case they need immediate attention. Otherwise most of the typical “daily” stuff happens on Slack which lets us spend more time on socializing during this call. This is a really good way to recharge and just have normal conversations, as if we were in the office.
As remote employees, we can work fully remotely and never come to the office if we wish. However, I like to visit the Helsinki office a couple times a month. Usually we try to coordinate it so that my team members visit the office on that day as well, if only possible.
“Although our team is distributed in five different cities in four countries, I felt like I was still able to socialize with my team in the same way as if we were in the same office.”
What would you consider as pros and cons of remote work?
I think the biggest advantage is the flexibility that remote work brings within. We have flexible working hours that I can adjust based on my needs and the agreement with my team lead. Other than that, I probably don’t even have to mention the time saved when not commuting. In general, there is less of this feeling of hurry when working remotely. Another aspect is that sometimes it can be difficult to focus in the office when there are so many people around. I feel like in the home office it is easier to get the work done.
In terms of challenges, remote work can be tiring if you concentrate only on working and ignore other aspects of your life. I believe one should have a pretty good work-life balance to be able work fully remotely. As you don’t have to commute home from the office, it is easy to get carried away and continue the work past the office hours, without necessarily being any more productive at the same time. To avoid this pitfall, I think one needs to choose to close the laptop after work and for example take a walk. This may ease the switch between work and private life.
In the end, it is good to remember that teams are rarely fully present in one office anymore, so working remotely won’t make such a big difference anyway. My tip would be to put effort on socializing with your team members virtually and trust that it will work out.
Have you ever had any funny situations caused by the remote setup?
One lesson learned is to always wear long pants when working remotely 😆 Also my internet has acted up a couple of times and my Zoom picture has frozen while I’m having a funny face. Of course my team members went and took screenshots. But luckily nothing more awkward has happened, at least yet!