Remote Work is About Writing

A lot of developers have been feeling disconnected since they started working remotely. This is partly because remote-only work requires different collaboration skills than what we are used to. Most importantly, in-person collaboration is about talking, while remote collaboration is about writing. We have some learning to do about how to effectively communicate in writing and we also need some better tools. Here are some places to start:

  1. Literate Programming (invented by Donald Knuth). A way to make code comments first class citizens in your source files.
  2. Internal Reddit clones: an asynchronous way to make decisions and have discussions around specific topics. Without having to worry about important discussions scrolling off your screen (sorry Slack, threads just don’t cut it).
  3. Alternatives to task hopper based management software (Jira, TFS, Pivotal, Linear, etc.) We need systems that focus on recording roles, projects and relationships — not more automated to do lists. Because remote workers have less frequent touch points they need much broader responsibilities. And so much of overall corporate vision is missing from what you can piece together from the little blurbs embedded in millions of unstructured Jira cards.
  4. Wiki systems that aren’t graveyards of immediately outdated information. We need systems that foster more aggressive individual ownership over areas of documentation. We need to gamify wiki. Wikipedia works, and we can make work-place wikis work too.

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