Snacks, music, and crossing off tasks from the ‘to-do’ list are just some of the daily practices of our Data & Engineering team, who we are celebrating in July – the sobbing under the desk is only an occasional occurrence.
Being a superhero at work (in this particular case, a ‘super team’) comes with ownership and responsibilities and, make no mistake, with a lot of humility and honesty.
We let James, Maggie, and Roberta illustrate how they manage to navigate through the wonderful yet challenging remote workspace, deadlines, and responsibilities. Their accounts are ‘as real as they can get’, proving that being an absolute star at work does not necessarily imply getting rid of working in pyjamas, nor being laser-focused at all times.
Celebrating Our Culture Heroes
How do you manage to juggle so many responsibilities and deadlines?
James: Barely! Context switching is something I find really hard to do, and I often find myself so engrossed in doing one thing that I’ll forget the rest of the things I need to do. Luckily IMWT has good project managers who’ll gently remind me of the things I’m neglecting (shout outs to Cecilia and Roberta!) Failing that, making lists of small tasks that can be run through helps a lot.
Maggie: IMWT has the best project manager and management tools so that I am instantly aligned with the latest progress. In addition, my personal and old school work habit is to write a To-do-list at the start of a day/week.
Roberta: Honestly, it can be quite a struggle managing a busy workload. I take advantage of working across different timezones and focus on the most critical tasks while my team is still sleeping, so I have a good time window to get input -> act on it -> share the outcomes.
Since I get distracted easily, I like having somewhere to go back to when I don’t remember where I left off, so I break big deliveries into smaller tasks and use Google Reminder to organise it daily
What is your best advice for ‘Getting sh*t done’ in the workplace (to the point of being recognised for this superpower)?
James: Echoing what I said above: There is nothing in this world more satisfying than crossing items off a todo list. Unless it’s a todo list that keeps on getting longer even as you cross stuff off, then things can start to feel a bit Sisyphean – so it helps to have TWO lists: one for things that need to be done right now and one for long term tasks. Don’t add to the “right now” list until it’s finished (unless something super important comes up).
Maggie: Owning your task: Really get to the bottom of your task and know what role the task is playing in a bigger picture/from a higher perspective. In this way, you can engage better with your teammates and client and think forward
Roberta: What I am about to say is a huge cliché, but just quoting David Allen’s bestselling book, Getting Things Done: if it takes less than 2 minutes, then do it now.
Any tips for keeping yourself focussed and delivering great results while working from home?
James: I’d like to answer this question with an excerpt from my inner monologue:
“You’ve got work to do! Don’t look at the COVID stats, don’t look at the COVID stats, don’t look at the CO- FINE! Look at the COVID stats! But straight back to work after and there’s to be no sobbing under the desk!”
Then I spend the rest of the day under my desk, quietly sobbing.
Anyway, what was the question again? Oh! Focus. I really need to force myself to work on a task for long enough that it’s taking up most of my headspace. Then I find myself in the zone and the work flows. As above, this can make it challenging when there are multiple things that need doing, but it’s definitely when I’m at my most productive.
Maggie: I am trying to create the most comfortable work environment at home. This includes putting snacks within reach, not dressing up formally, and playing favourite music on speaker. They don’t distract me from work, instead help me work efficiently over extended hours and not feel exhausted.
Roberta: You’ll find a lot of articles out there about acting in your remote workspace as you do in an office, but it doesn’t work for me at all. Guess what? That’s part of why I’m working remotely, and not in an office.
Same as Maggie, I surround myself with what makes my day happy, so I don’t feel the pressure of work, and I end up being more creative and productive.
You can often see me loudly singing while coding, or petting my cats while wearing a comfy robe during internal meetings.
Could you briefly describe your main tasks and responsibilities?
James: My data work is largely on the supply and engineering side: If we need data gathered and formatted or stored in a particular way to make it usable, I’m all over that. If we need data exploration done algorithmically, I’m all over that, too.
I’m lucky enough to lead a team that honestly doesn’t need that much leading. We all have different, complementary skills and everyone can work autonomously on their tasks (with occasional frenzied bouts of collaboration). I’m also super lucky to be part of a team of people who I really, genuinely enjoy working with. I am super proud of this team.
Maggie: I feel super excited and honored to be put on the most interesting SEO project since I joined IMWT. Currently, my team is devoted to building a Machine Learning driven solution for our client’s internal cross-linking module. I am working with my fellow teammates to develop the models and bring our design into practice.
Roberta: My daily tasks are quite diverse. Wherever there is data to be retrieved, there I will be. If the data is messy, I’m going to love tidying it up, and I feel like Picasso when I’m building meaningful data visualisations with Tableau or Google Data Studio.
I have done a lot of this for clients in the last few years, and now I’m working closely with People Ops and Management to leverage company analytics and data operations.
Besides that, I’ve been applying some statistical models to support Maggie and James in the feature engineering phase of an exciting Project involving Machine Learning and SEO.