Lars has been a requirements manager at bevuta since 2019. He’s always worked largely from home but also puts in a whole week at the office here and there. Being interrupted less often when working remotely is an efficiency win in his eyes.

Lars chats about the office grapevine, timetables and asynchronous work.

From your start at bevuta, you’ve worked at least partially from home. What was the onboarding process like for you? How did you bond with the team?

I worked from home, as well, right from the start, but everything kicked off with a full week in the office and – on top of that – an onboarding plan. During that first office week, I got to know several (though not all) colleagues in person. I was introduced to processes and work methods. The “bevuta manual” (which I think is great) was also key.

Do you miss having your colleagues around?

During longer work-from-home periods, I especially miss the office grapevine, informal chats about all kinds of things, spontaneous ideas and flashes of inspiration during conversations – and just some playful banter.

How do you organise your workday?

I keep a spreadsheet that looks almost like a classroom timetable for kids. This is where I collect to-dos and appointments. It’s my HQ for my daily organisation. But, because I also want reminders as well as heads-ups on any scheduling conflicts, I additionally create appointments in Google Calendar for meetings and the like.

I record any open issues and questions in a document sorted by categories so that my notes don’t explode my timetable.

I jot down the time used for tasks in the timetable as well. I then promptly transfer that information into our time tracker in Redmine (on the same day, if possible).

My timetable is pretty close to my “this is how I want it” vision, but I still have some ideas for improvement, for example, I would love to merge the calendar and the timetable.

That sounds pretty organised. Do you keep regular work hours from home as well?

There is a core time when I’ll definitely be working. Other than that, I, of course, have a daily routine that I mostly stick to.

Having the option of flexibility outside my core hours (without it being mandatory) is very practical and I use it on occasion. (I compare it to the flexitime my former employer offered even without my working from home.)

Which advantages of remote work are the most important ones for you?

Asynchronous work! For any requests that come in from customers or co-workers, it’s up to me when and how I react to them and work on them.

In the office, anyone can come in anytime and demand my attention right then and there. If I’m immersed in a problem or a subject, interruptions like that can be a major distraction.

Disturbances via Messenger and other services also happen, obviously, but they are less disruptive, and I can just turn off these services if needed. I also have phone calls, but they’re more of an exception for me.

Asynchronous work prevents interruptions. And that increases efficiency. #RemoteWork #RemoteTeamwork

And when does remote teamwork become challenging in your view?

As a rule, I’m not very good at reliably reading body language and facial expressions. It’s even trickier on video calls. For me, long calls are more exhausting than long in-person meetings.

On top of that, when I started at bevuta, I struggled a little to merge information from various sources (phone calls, Signal, Mattermost channels, e-mails, personal contact) so that ideally nothing would get lost or missed. It took a few attempts before my personal organisation system could keep up.

Are there moments when you’d rather NOT be working remotely? What are they?

Mainly long meetings or activities where I need fast feedback.

While it would be advantageous for me to get speedy information or feedback, it can simultaneously be a downside for my colleague: If I can burst into another office to ask questions, I’m interrupting that person. Like I said, the lack of these spontaneous interruptions is an upside for me – that might also be the case for my co-workers.

Fast information flow vs. uninterrupted work. An upside for one person can be a downside for another. #RemoteWork #UninterruptedWork

Is there software without which you couldn’t work (efficiently)?

Mattermost and the timetable I already mentioned. Signal is also important but could be covered by Mattermost for work matters (I use the Mattermost app on my phone and get notified if anything’s up).

Other than that, I think working together on documents is very helpful (but it wouldn’t necessarily have to be Google).

What pros and cons does working for bevuta have compared to previous jobs?

A big pro is that I can usually choose my work location.

What I liked most was the mix of remote work and weeks in the office which worked great before Covid hit. I hope we can return to that more often in the long term. That would be the best of both worlds: mainly asynchronous work but with added personal interaction. I wouldn’t want to lose that.

If I had to choose between completely staying in the office or working from home, I would probably still prefer home (but wouldn’t see it as ideal).

If bevuta didn’t have the remote work option, would you still work here?

Actually, I probably would not have taken a job here had remote work not been possible. That’s simply because of my commute. My wife Ute (who now also works for bevuta) still had her job in Nordhorn at the time and we didn’t want to be constantly apart. Working from home made it possible, and the in-office weeks in Cologne were the perfect combination for us.

Remote work wouldn’t really have been a requirement for me, though. Without the long commute, I would have just agreed to a complete in-office job at bevuta. That said, being so flexible location-wise is really great. We’ve even moved in the meantime and are now closer to Cologne. Still, not having to look for an apartment in Cologne was a major benefit.

Sounds like a win-win situation! We’re very happy that you’ve stayed part of the team despite the distance!

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