Being married to an opera singer, sometimes requires being flexible with where you live. In our case, after a few years of living in New York, we decided to move to Berlin and pursue opportunities there. I was a senior software engineer at WeWork at the time, and began to work remotely with my teammates in New York. Little did I know back then, that a year after changing addresses, I would meet with one of Swimm’s co-founders, Omer Rosenbaum, become captivated by the idea of a continuous documentation platform, and join the effort to make it a reality for everyone.
After years of working for a large, successful enterprise, I knew firsthand the challenge of maintaining organizational knowledge. Employees transfer between projects, leave the organization, or are just too busy to answer questions. And most importantly, when they leave, their knowledge leaves with them. When dealing with code that is dynamic and constantly changing, this challenge becomes even more prevalent. Developers are left behind, attempting to make heads or tails out of the latest line of code they’re trying to debug or continue working on.
Swimm answered all of these challenges. So after finally meeting Omer for a coffee cup that was a year overdue thanks to the pandemic, I decided to join Swimm’s engineering team.
Startup life, here I come!
How to Onboard Remotely from Across the Sea
Swimm’s headquarters are located in Tel-Aviv and I was in Berlin. Luckily, this did not stop them from hiring me -thanks to our very own product, Swimm, which was designed exactly for these types of situations!
Swimm allowed me to be onboarded remotely to the company and codebase completely autonomously. With Swimm, I was able to:
- Read up-to-date Code Documentation
- Go through various tutorials
- Practice what I learned by completing exercises
- See the completely structured process of my onboarding beforehand
I did not need anything except for Swimm for my technical onboarding. No onboarding buddy, no external help - nothing.
In fact, by using only Swimm as my onboarding tool, I:
- Became more independent, by having a structured knowledge center to go to on my own
- Understood the code faster, by having Swimm’s IDE extension point me to the documentation
- Started contributing earlier, by the documentation showing me where to find the relevant code files
Staying Connected and in Sync Across Geographies
Shortly after my onboarding with Swimm, I became an integral part of the engineering team. Being remote has not had a significant impact on that ability. I get up in the morning, join the team’s daily, and then work throughout the day with everyone else. We are in touch throughout the day, and the team even puts up a dedicated screen for me to join Zoom so it’s like I’m in the office.
Tips for Working Remotely with Your Team
Based on my experience, here are some of my suggestions for making remote work more successful:
1. Communicate Everything
I will say there are some social and communication challenges to overcome when working remotely. Therefore, the first thing I recommend is putting in the extra effort of communicating everything through a platform like Slack- questions, ideas, jokes, random thoughts, and funny photos.
It might seem a bit much at first, but it really helps make you feel a part of the team when working outside the office.
In addition, don’t hesitate to get some face time when needed. A short video can - at times - be much more helpful than a text message.
2. Document Code Continuously
We use Swimm for our ongoing code documentation needs. Every new feature that is released is continuously documented and explained through Swimm. This single source of documentation saves us a lot of back-and-forth about the code.
3. Engage in Online Social Activities
The company’s ongoing social activities are also a great opportunity to stay connected. For example, in our bi-weekly Swimminars (Swimm webinars), we give presentations about topics near and dear to developers that we research independently. (You can check some of them out on our blog page). And, of course,we also play online, multiplayer computer games for fun.
4. Invest in a Zoom Background
Make it feel like you’re in the office. Choose a unique background that matches the physical office, that way, you can help your co-workers overcome Zoom fatigue by standing out from the other default Zoom backgrounds, all while looking like you’re right next to them in the office.
Tools for Working Remotely
Working remotely has many advantages, like the schedule flexibility and the ability to choose where to work from. I believe the communication challenge is the hardest to overcome when working remotely, and it requires extra effort.
But with tools like Zoom, Slack, and Swimm, you can easily overcome them and make developer team work efficient and enjoyable. They have definitely helped me work with the Swimm team, as if I were actually in the office with them.