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May 13, 2020

Work From Home Tips for Java Development Teams

Developer Productivity
Java Application Development

With Java development teams in various stages of remote work during the COVID-19 epidemic, Java developers and development teams face new challenges in completing their work. In this article, we talk about our top work from home tips for Java developers, as well as points for development team leads to consider while leading teams working from home.

5 Work From Home Tips for Java Developers

For developers, working from home can be a big change. That’s why it’s important to be cognizant of the challenges that get in the way of concentration, and in the way of a healthy work/life balance.

1. Keep a Set Schedule

When you’re working from home, it’s easier than ever to let your schedule balloon and shift. That may mean a lunch you normally take around noon is now happening in the late afternoon. Those types of changes can have a big impact on productivity, especially if they become a habit.

Our advice is to keep a set schedule, and, as we mention in the next section, keep hours dedicated to focus work.

2. Do Not Disturb, Seriously

One of the hardest things about working from home for developers is that you are always available – or at least you seem to be. As long as that green light is on showing you’re available, you’ll get questions from all angles — a team lead needs clarification on a feature, colleague needs help with a bug, the list goes on. But 99% of the time, those questions can wait for a few hours.

Our advice is to work with your manager or team lead to set daily focus hours where you can go heads down on your work, then worry about all those questions later. If something urgent pops up, your team lead can communicate that to you. Also try to coordinate this with the other people living in your house. It is easy for your child or spouse to distract you during your heads down time. But don’t let your whole day become heads down working or your house mates will stop liking you so much!

3. Noise Cancelling Headphones

Are your neighbors audibly frustrated with sheltering in place together? Do your kids constantly do that weird shrieking thing that sounds like a velociraptor? Is there a construction crew outside your house working 9-5? Is your cat meowing for food for the n+1th time today?

Grab some noise-cancelling headphones. Even if you don’t want to listen to music, getting some momentary peace and quiet will do wonders for your concentration.

4. (Re)Learn Your Shortcuts

If you are on your first development foray, or you’re using a Java technology or language feature or you’re not used to, having the right commands, annotations and shortcuts at your fingertips can help you keep concentrated on the task at hand.

Our advice is to check out one of our many Java cheat sheets, print it out, and throw it on your wall for easy reference. You can see our full list of Java cheat sheets here.

5. Step Away From the Computer

Developers already work long hours and working from home hasn’t changed that. In fact, many people are working more hours than they were previously. Why? Because their work is immediately accessible, and the blurred line between home and work makes it easy to work during your off hours.

While this is a reiteration of the first tip, keeping a set schedule and reminding yourself to separate and balance your work and life is an important step of retaining your productivity and happiness.

3 Work From Home Tips for Java Development Team Leads

For those in charge of navigating these work from home challenges for their development team, there are a few important things to consider. First, those rules you set in order to empower your team need to be followed. Second, recognize that you and your team are experiencing many of the same human issues in dealing with isolation.

1. Set Rules and Follow Them

If you set rules to help your team, make sure you have buy-in from management first, then communicate that practice to affiliated teams. Also communicate to outside teams that if something is on fire, it needs to come through you first.

Additionally, be careful in setting arbitrary rules for your engineers. If you do set rules, make sure they're clear and concise.

2. Don’t Schedule too Many Meetings

During this time, as a leader it becomes increasingly easy to schedule a lot of meeting for your teams. But this will easily frustrate your teams as they will feel unable to do their job due to unending meetings. Give your engineers the ability to provide daily feedback during stand-ups and allow them to develop code.

This can be also better enforced by allowing engineers to know which meetings are mandatory and which are optional. This can help mitigate negative feelings towards meeting and ensure those attending meetings are the most engaged for the task at hand.

3. Be Human

John Donne once said that “no man is an island.” And, while he may not have been thinking of 21st century Java developers when he wrote that, those words still ring true today. Most people need interaction with one another to thrive, and self-isolation makes that a lot harder. That’s not to mention the people that may be going through unexpected loss and hardship.

Our advice? Be human. Understand that your teammates may be struggling, and work with them to overcome their challenges. We even do happy hours and social time online just to allow your coworkers the ability to interact with each other in non-working scenarios like they would normally in the office.

Final Thoughts

Working from home presents new challenges for developers and development teams. But with careful consideration, and practices that empower developer and development team productivity, working from home can be a successful enterprise. Looking for more insight? I recently did a webinar on these topics and even answered a few questions from the crowd Watch it below!

Additional Resources

Looking for more developer resources? Our collection of Java developer resources can help you boost productivity for remote work.

See Developer Resources