Tips for *very* remote work
We were joined by Travis Gerke, Director of Data Science at The Prostate Cancer Clinical Trials Consortium. Travis is an enthusiastic proponent of the use of R for data science in the clinical trials space and an advocate for productive remote work environments.
Tips for very remote work
1. Ok, first things first – how do you ensure you have internet?
– I use a 5g Netgear hotspot and have redundant phone plans with T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon. It depends where we are and what kind of service is going to be best, but I’ve never had a challenge streaming videos or with Zoom.
– If you do get a hotspot, $20 boosters can be tremendously helpful too and help funnel the signal into your hotspot a bit better.
– If you want to geek out on this, the best resource is rvmobileinternet.com.
– Even in the remotest places we’ve been, I was still able to maintain Zoom meetings. On a week where I am furthest from civilization, I will plan ahead and focus more on learning and heads down work. It’s actually kind of good it gives you a little bit of space from the usual grind of meetings..
2. How do you balance the time you can be available for conversations or when you’re traveling
– It’s something that one has to be very intentional about and communicate broadly. I do work odd hours, because I’m West Coast now and most of my colleagues are East Coast. I try to wake up early and stick to their schedule.
– It really comes down to communication. I will let people know if I’m traveling and block time on my calendar.
– I think async is the future of most work environments for data science. I’d recommend checking out content from Chris Herd on Twitter too: https://twitter.com/chris_herd
– If I send an email at a time like 2am, I make sure to communicate that if I’m sending an email, it doesn’t mean I expect anyone to see or respond at that time.
– A few people mentioned putting something in an email signature to let people know. Here’s an example: “I work on a flexible work schedule and across a number of time zones so I’m sending this message now because it works for me. Feel free to read, act on or respond at a time that works for you.”
3. What tools are there for async work to work through something complicated without meetings?
A few ideas and tips shared from the group:
– We lean into github whenever we can. The process of writing down where you’re stuck and/or how you solved something is good.
– When working with non-data scientists, sometimes you just have to have the meeting and that’s fine. It can be a lot more efficient that way but the drawback is that you don’t end up documenting. Writing things down reduces those institutional knowledge silos. – People mentioned using: Slack, video messages on Slack, Teams, Loom for sharing video screen shares, snagit, Discord, Fuze, Zoom whiteboard
Featured in this episode
As academic faculty, I led cancer-focused research teams in the application / development of tools for applied machine learning, causal inference, and biostatistics. In the post-academic setting, I direct data science efforts for PCCTC, a CRO in the oncology clinical trials space. I am an enthusiastic proponent of the use of R for data science, and an advocate for productive remote working environments (I live and work in an RV).