Joanie interviews Agnieszka Vestal, a software engineer at Grasstree Engineering who focuses on embedded software. An MIT graduate with an MBA in her pocket, Agnieszka adds global experience and a business perspective to her programming expertise. She’s also a long-time telecommuter and shares advice on how to make telecommuting more satisfying and productive.
Q: When working from home, how do you get the people interactions you need?
“I have to work at it, for sure. That’s one of the harder things about moving, for example. It’s one thing to integrate into a new job and with new people. It’s another thing to integrate into a local professional community without having a local job.”
Q: Where is your community?
“I keep in touch with people I work with a lot, all day, through instant messaging. But I also make an effort locally to meet people by going to events, to talks and such, and I volunteer.”
Q: What have been the challenges with telecommuting?
“Getting to know the people I work with. You have to know the people. With telecommuting, if you can meet the people you work with, it makes an enormous difference. Dealing with time differences is another one.”
Q: How did your company set up a face-to-face meeting for your team to get to know each other?
“It wasn’t on-boarding. It was after, and that was better because we weren’t trying to assimilate the work and the people at the same time. We could make progress on the work, then get to know the people.”
Q: How does meeting the team members face-to-face help your work?
“Every time you start a technical conversation with someone, even if you exchange a few pleasantries, you don’t know how to read them. Once you’ve met them, you hear their voice. It makes it much more personal. You feel like you’re talking to the actual person. It’s just a lot more pleasant. At the end of the day, you need to enjoy work. What most of us enjoy is the interaction with people.
For more insights on the people side of telecommuting, listen to the episode…
Words of Wisdom:
“Getting to know your team members makes work a lot more pleasant.”
“If you’re working completely opposite hours as your team, you’re not communicating enough.”
“Ask yourself: do you want to have a collaborative relationship or a transactional one?”