My department recently reorged and restructured a few teams. I'm in City A's office and am joining a team all located in City B. This team is a former start-up that my (very) large company purchased, and I am the only remote worker (and non-"came with startup" person).

I've worked on fully remote teams before successfully, but never as the only remote person where everyone else is colocated. Everyone is friendly, but basically, my only interaction with the team is a 5 minute perfunctory standup once a day. There was no onboarding process (at all), and the role I am taking is specialized and only tangentially overlaps with the work of others. My manager is not part of this team and does not oversee my actual work, so I don't even have that line of connection. Needless to say, I'm really struggling to feel like a part of the team.

I have two concerns, ultimately:

1) How do I build and foster relationships? For one, it's simply lonely working alone with no human interaction. Additionally, I don't feel like I'm really "in the know" about architectural decisions or design approaches or musings about future enhancements, etc.

2) How do I improve as a developer? I'm pretty junior. I'm replacing someone who is senior and worked by himself. There's a huge learning curve of me figuring out how the heck to make improvements by myself, which is a challenge in and of itself. But going forward, how can I continue to improve? I feel like there is a lot to be said for bouncing ideas off others and learning from more senior people. (Part of me wonders if this is even a particularly ideal situation, given my experience level, but...)


1 Answer 1


Take time to chat with your remote colleagues.

1) You probably have access to some kind of chat application, that you can use to build acquaintance with them. I myself had to do it, just ask them about their day or anything possibly interesting for them. This is maybe not ideal but you will know them better, and they will become more friendly. This way you can ask them about the vision of the product and future of the team.

2) Your second concern is more specialized. I'm myself a software developer, so I can say it's great if you have senior colleagues. You can learn faster with them if you have the attitude to do so. But this does not mean you can not learn without them. As a "pretty junior" I would suggest you do small home projects, broaden your circle of interest, read blogs, subscribe to newsletters, and listen to podcasts and vlogs. The people editing these materials are usually senior developers, you can learn from them. Also, a good practice is doing coding challenges, but personally I don't like that.

If you have the financial background I would also suggest attending conferences, because it's a great place to meet new people, learn, and get motivated about what you are doing.

  • 1
    Good points. For point 2, I'd suggest to also ask the others for feedback and code reviews. If possible, OP should also take the time to check some of his/her coworkers' coworkers. This will be valuable even if they work on different tasks.
    – Llewellyn
    Jul 4, 2019 at 16:57

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