Udalenka in IT: personal experience

Now more and more companies are ready to hire remote employees. For employers, this expands the choice of highly qualified professionals. In Surf, hiring remote employees has been practiced for a long time, at the moment 40% work remotely – developers and managers. We do not hire remote QAs due to the specifics of mobile development – we need a large fleet of devices for testing, and it is difficult to organize at home. Processes in Surf adapted to work with remote workers in a streamlined mechanism that allows you to organize effective work on projects.


My name is Svetlana Shishkina, I am the leader of the Android team in Surf remotely since 2017. The topic of remote work has been raised more than once, but I’m so often asked: “How does it feel to be a remote worker in an outsourcing company?”, So I can’t help but share it. Working in the IT sector often opens up the opportunity to work from home, which at first glance looks like a very attractive prospect. Work in a familiar and comfortable environment, without wasting time on the road to the office and back – a significant improvement in the quality of life. Nevertheless, like everything new, the udalenka is a little scary. The format of such work is only gaining momentum and is fraught with a lot of "pitfalls": self-organization and discipline, lack of communication with the team and socialization. In the article I will tell you how the life of the average remote worker is organized so that you can decide whether this format of work is suitable for you and whether you can change your lifestyle if you used to work in the office.

I live in Kirov. This is not a very large city on the Vyatka River with a population of 500 thousand people eight hundred kilometers from Moscow. And, probably, you heard about Vyatka kvass and Vyatich beer, all this is produced with us. I think you will agree that the situation in IT in the regions is rather sad, especially in the areas that are only just beginning to develop here. Local companies can not offer interesting projects, and sometimes the very way the business leaders of these companies do business simply does not suit. The situation when the director takes money from his wallet and asks “What, how much do you need?” Obviously does not set you up for further productive work. Employees in the company who just sit out their pants and make one API method for a whole month do not motivate to develop further. Many use outdated technology. What do you think when you come to agree on a project, and they will show you a box with 1C and say “This is the future!”?

Speaking of large companies, they are not ready to come to small, little-known regions, such as Kirov, and yet there are also cool developers who are ready to move the technology world forward and make high-quality products. In addition to the lack of suitable vacancies, there are other reasons why people choose remote work – certain life circumstances, a close relationship with the place where family and friends live and the most commonplace – they just feel more comfortable working from home. Relocation is not the way out for everyone. For me, the main factors in finding remote jobs were the lack of professional development opportunities in my hometown and the reluctance to leave my family and friends.

Work searches

The search for remote work is no different from the search for the usual vacancies in the office. All the same criteria are evaluated – the projects that the company deals with, the working conditions, the level of salaries and everything that matters to you. The obvious difference is only in the presence of vacancies on the remote. Interviews for such vacancies do not differ from ordinary ones; all the same requirements are imposed on employees. The interview is usually online, if you need to solve some problems, then use special online services where you can write the code and all participants in the call will see it. This may be an unusual environment for writing code, and to worry less, it is better to practice using them before the interview. Examples of services: https://codeshare.io, https://www.hackerrank.com.


Everyone who finds out that I work remotely immediately asks me a question: “Isn't it too lazy to work? I couldn’t (could) force myself to do something at home. ” I believe that, nevertheless, to work from home, a person must have a certain level of self-organization, because there are much more distractions here. According to the stories of those who work in the office all the time and only occasionally from home, they are most often distracted by all kinds of household items from the category “Oh, the dust has accumulated, I'll go rub it”, some simply can’t concentrate and drink tea and watch youtube instead of work. I never had problems with self-organization, because the tasks will not close on their own and the project must be completed on time, so nothing is postponed to the last moment. But still, when you work from home, it is better to immediately think about organizing your day.


The first thing that really helps to organize at home is the presence of a specific work schedule. It does not matter what time it will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or other intervals, the main thing is that these specific numbers help, firstly, not to delay the start of work, and secondly, not to overwork. Purely psychologically, such a limited period of time helps to understand that you are now at work and you need to deal only with work issues at this time, all sorts of household things at home should be done at another time.

On the other hand, if you are hyperresponsible or adore your business, then when working from home, work-to-home borders can be completely erased and you can continue to work indefinitely, completely forgetting the work / life balance. Thus, limiting working hours to specific intervals can also help.

Relatives who live with you can not always understand that you are working now, and not just sit at home and stare at the monitor. And the presence of some specific working hours for them will be more familiar, and thus it is easier to convey that you are now at work and do not distract you with homework. So the working day will end at 17.00 then I’ll do everything.


The next thing that helps organize at home is appearance. Usually you want to dress in your usual home clothes: an old stretched T-shirt, holey pants, who have looked like socks. After all, this clothing is so soft and dear, in it you immediately feel very relaxed. And to work at the office or in any other place, we always put ourselves in order, we try to look tidy. Therefore, dressing for work at home in something more presentable is a must: psychologically it helps to feel that you are working. Of course, I do not mean that you need to wear a strict shirt and trousers, for example, maybe at least other clothes, not the one in which you just go home.


A very important aspect for effective work is the workspace. Ideal option when there is an opportunity to allocate at home a separate place where you will only work. Lying with a laptop on the couch will definitely not work. Firstly, it will affect health very quickly, because the spine will be in the wrong position all the time. Secondly, you will associate this special place with work activity, and it’s easier to focus on work. At home, you can make the workplace completely for yourself so that it will just be nice to be there, and therefore comfortable to work with.

If you live alone – it is very simple to allocate a working area in the apartment, but if you have a family, most likely you will need a separate room in which no one will interfere. Because, in my opinion, if everyone around you is busy with extraneous, non-working things, you need to put more effort into concentration, which means that less energy is left to complete useful tasks. As one of the options – work in coworking or rent an office. True, in this case, many of the advantages of remote work disappear.


The next question that I am asked about the work remotely is: “Is there enough communication with colleagues? Do you feel detached from the team? ” There are times when you feel that you are missing something. After all, there are a lot of discussions of different news, new technologies, development approaches, some problems of projects, in the office during personal communication during breaks or at lunch. When you work at home – you can maximum chat with someone.

But if desired, the lack of professional communication and development is very easily solved. There are many conferences where you can go and meet your like-minded people, a huge number of chats in telegrams on completely different topics, where you can talk at any time of the day.

I was lucky with the fact that several of my colleagues are also from Kirov, and it’s really great when it turns out that a whole group of remote workers are from the same city (to the note of HR-s who recruit remote workers :)). We often get together and can discuss various professional topics. True, all my Kirov colleagues are from the iOS department, but I know what CoreData, VIPER, storyboard, etc. are. : D.

You can search for local developer communities. For example, PeerLab is taking place in Kirov – chamber meetings for developers at any level. The communication format is completely free and each of the participants can propose a topic for discussion. This summer, we hosted the first major mitap in the Village of Programmers near Slobodsky. 3 speakers came from Moscow and shared their experiences. If interested, join the chat via telegram.

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Photo by: Angelika Nekrasova

Work processes

Another question is how to organize the process of working with remote employees? Many care about the performance of remote employees. Employers are worried about how to control work, and employees care about whether they will be totally monitored and controlled by each working minute spent. In Surf, everything is comfortable with this. No one will screen the screen and record the activity of pressing keys. We note the time spent on tasks, but absolutely all employees and those who are in the office do it. The purpose of this is to understand the labor costs so that in the future our estimates of the terms become more accurate. And if tasks are not carried out, it will become clear, for a long time such employees will not be delayed.

An important point when working with remote workers is to create comfortable conditions so that they feel like full members of the team, and not just rowers who do what they were told. After all, a well-coordinated team works much more efficiently.

I will share what we have in Surf:

  • Every week on Mondays we broadcast news, so we are always up to date on what is happening in the studio, where on the whole we are moving further.
  • Broadcasting all internal meetings and speeches, there is never a feeling that you are not receiving any information that employees from the office have.
  • It is considered good form to conduct phoning with the video, so you understand that you are communicating with a real person.
  • You can always come to the office to meet colleagues, and the costs of travel and accommodation are compensated.
  • Everyone has photos in the chat.
  • In a general chat, congratulate employees on their birthday. When you are not in the office, you always miss such events, and when they write about it, you can be happy with everyone.
  • In envelopes with documents, put cards with cute inscriptions. A trifle, but getting this is always nice.

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Technical equipment

Another thing to remember when working remotely is the technique. At the office, the employer will provide everything, but at home you need to worry about it yourself. Need a computer to work and a device for testing. But Surf is always ready to help with the purchase. They can provide an installment plan if you want to take a more powerful computer or buy additional equipment.

Personally, I had 2 such cases:

  • We adapted the application for tablets, but I didn’t have it, they compensated me for the purchase.
  • On some specific MIUI firmware a nasty bug got out, which had to be fixed, I had to buy a phone.

As a result, I will write the pros and cons of remote work, which I single out for myself.


  • Comfortably work. Nobody distracts at home, unlike open space.
  • No time and effort is wasted on the road. It can be held more useful. For example, in the morning before the beginning of the working day, I always have time to read a book.
  • You can get the average salary of the IT market, being in your city, in which there are no suitable vacancies.
  • The ability to travel more. But it is worth remembering that this will not be a complete rest, since work will always be a priority. It is worth considering this as an opportunity to change the situation. You must always be in touch with colleagues, so make sure you have stable Internet access before traveling.


  • Self-purchase of equipment. You have to spend quite a lot of money on a modern productive computer. This problem is relevant specifically for mobile development, since the IDE and running emulators require a lot of resources. And for development for iOS in general, you must have the Apple technique.
  • The pain of Android developers is difficult to fix bugs specific to specific devices. The office has a large fleet of various devices: with bangs, Chinese, with different versions of Android, etc. At home, providing such diversity is problematic. I now have all the old devices used for work, and if someone from my friends / relatives is not sorry to give my phone, I ask them to do it.
  • Lack of communication. But as already explained above, this drawback is easily solved.
  • Household irritants.
  • The disadvantage for me personally is the lack of normal infrastructure in the area in which I live. There is no place to go out to eat or order food together with someone, as is usually the case in the office. You need to constantly take care that there is something for lunch.

I hope this article will help you decide whether this format of work is suitable for you or whether it will be more comfortable for you to work from the office.

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