Weeknotes S3 E5 2020

Remote Interviews, Busy

Remote Interviews

I’ve been asking around for advice on remote interviews. As ever, I’m grateful for how generous people are with sharing their knowledge. I’m drafting up a blog post which will summarise what I’ve collected on the off chance that it might be useful for someone else.

The main thing that struck me is that good remote interviews are mostly good interviews. That is, much of the good practice is transferable and relevant. The technology does of course add a layer of things to consider. Henry Field was kind enough to have a chat with me, and pointed out how important it was to ensure that the assumptions of everyone having a broadband connection and a laptop didn’t end up being exclusionary.

Henry also talked about some of the ways that he’d used pre-recorded question sets to enable candidates to participate at a time convenient to them. He cited graduates who prefered to participate late evening to fit around their schedule. Really interesting!


…is the word I try not to respond with when someone asks how it’s going. Partially because it’s an automatic response, alongside “Yeah — alright!”. And partially because it can feed into the cult of busyness.

So, it’s definitely not quiet. Is it busy? Is it busy-er than normal? Whilst working from home during a global pandemic has been challenging, it’s also brought some unexpected efficiencies.

It’s difficult to know in retrospect if I’d be ahead, behind or roughly in the same spot if things had panned out differently. Of course, this is entirely unproductive pondering because we don’t get a chance to A/B test different versions of reality, although inventing a time machine for this express purpose really appeals to me. That’s probably a really mundane use of a time machine. I digress!

There’s is some data from study in the US that working days in lockdown are on average 48 minutes longer. This post by the World Economic Forum delves into some of the interesting points.

Looking at the time between the first and last email sent or meeting attended in a 24-hour period, they found that the average workday increased by 48.5 minutes, partly due to more emails being sent after business hours. Emails sent and received among people from the same organization were up by around 5%.

My experience is that minus the commute and the school run, I’ve been able use that time for productive work. Email use has dropped but has likely been replaced by Slack/Chat use. Meeting length also feels like it’s down due to trying to minimise ‘zoom fatigue’ and wanting to keep things focused on task.

Colleagues seem to mostly agree that they’re working as hard if not harder now than pre-Covid. I’m curious as to what’s driving that. Are we all using the extra time in our days to generate more work? As restrictions ease but we continue to work in a distributed fashion, will it feel more or less busy?

With schools about to resume it’ll be interesting to see how my working patterns change again. For me, it means that I’ll likely to have offest the start or end of my working day so I can walk the kids to/from school. This is much closer to what I was doing when we first went into lockdown in March. I can’t really remember why I changed this pattern. I presume it’s down to lack of any external constraints within the working day other than ensuring that the kids were sufficiently fed, watered and helped/entertained when needed.

I’ve been reading/watching/listening to…

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