02 Jun 2022

Travis Gerke | Tips for *very* remote work

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.
portrait of Travis Gerke in front of gray background

Episode notes

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

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