March 2020 archive
Later today, the 107th meeting of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) will begin its working group sessions in an unconventional way. Previously, over 1,000 engineers were expected to be in Vancouver, Canada, to engage in the IETF’s work creating the open standards that make the Internet possible.
But with the global COVID-19 pandemic, the IETF leadership decided to cancel the in-person meeting in Vancouver. Instead a scaled-down, completely virtual meeting will take place. Only 12 of the IETF’s 115+ working groups will be meeting this week. Other working groups, and the research groups of the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) may schedule interim meetings in the weeks and months ahead.
You can participate remotely in IETF 107. The steps are all outlined in this “Guide for IETF 107 Participants“. Useful resources include:
To be clear, most of the work of the IETF in creating the Internet’s open standards ALREADY takes place online. People create “Internet-Draft” documents that propose new ways to make the Internet work better. Those documents are discussed and debated on email lists for working groups. Eventually those working groups reach “rough consensus” and the documents are published as “Requests For Comments” or simply “RFCs”.
However, sometimes people disagree about what would be best for the Internet. Sometimes people strongly disagree! Sometimes Working Groups just cannot make progress through email discussions.
And so three times a year, engineers from around the world gather in different locations to have face-to-face discussions. These are the “IETF meetings” such as the one this week. At these sessions, people can discuss and debate intensely. They can stand in long microphone lines to voice their points. They can hum in agreement or disagreement. They can also have side meetings, go to dinner or drinks with people, meet in hallways, and through all of that work out differences that help move Internet standards forward.
This week, some of those engineers (myself included) will be trying out a new model to see how well this can all work in a virtual setting.
Many thanks to the IETF leadership, secretariat, and support teams for all their work to make this “IETF 107 Virtual” happen! I am looking forward to seeing how it goes.
Please join in if you are interested in the work of the IETF!
P.S. If you are not aware of the connection between the IETF and the Internet Society, please read about our relationship.
Image credit: a photo of Vancouver from NASA
With so many people now having to learn to work remotely due to restrictions related to COVID-19, what information can people share who have been working from home? Back in October 2019, I realized it was 20 years ago when I started working remotely, and so I sent out some tweets asking for opinions about the benefits of working remotely, the challenges / disadvantages, and then the lessons people have learned. I subsequently recorded podcast episodes on each of those three topics.
The links to the Twitter threads and podcasts are below.At some point I may turn them into longer articles themselves, but in the meantime, I hope they will help some of you with ideas for how to get adjusted to this new way of working.
And… I would suspect many of you might just want to jump directly to the lessons learned…
- Twitter thread: https://twitter.com/danyork/status/1181883371611406336
- Podcast episode: TDYR 380 - Remote Working, Part 1: What are the BENEFITS of working from home?
Many of the benefits were about no commute, the ability to be present with family, freedom to work and live wherever, flexibility, caring for family, and more. (Note that a good number of the benefits mentioned (such as working from "anywhere") are currently NOT possible because of the self-isolation / quarantine imposed by the COVID-19 situation.)
- Twitter thread: https://twitter.com/danyork/status/1182213497066868741
- Podcast episode: TDYR 381 - Remote Working, Part 2: What are the DISADVANTAGES of working from home?
Loneliness, isolation, and the lack of social connections with colleagues topped the list of disadvantages, along with the lack of physical activity, home distractions and more.
- Twitter thread: https://twitter.com/danyork/status/1182606706485977088
- Podcast episode: TDYR 382 - Remote Working, Part 3: What are some LESSONS LEARNED about working remotely?
Some of the key lessons that I have learned in over 15 years of working remotely, and that were common in other comments include:
- Create a separate space (ideally, a separate room) - this is critical if you can do it.
- Invest in a good chair and other office equipment - since you are going to be sitting in it so many hours of your day! (Or some people now have desks that let you stand, too.)
- Make time for physical activity - get OUTSIDE if you can! Go for a walk. Go for a run. Or work out in a home gym. Multiple people suggested dogs being a great way to force you to do this.
- Make a schedule - and STICK to that schedule - it is super easy to work many hours at all different times. Figure out a schedule that works for you, your employer, your team, and your family - and then try to stick to that schedule.
- Use collaboration tools - things like Slack are critical for your own sanity so that you are “connected” to other people in your organization. (Granted, you may need to figure out how to not be too connected to everyone and spend your day drowning in notifications!)
- Take actual lunch breaks - step away from your computer and your home office. Get up and move around.
- Sit with your face toward natural light, if possible - it looks better than artificial light… and you’ll get some Vitamin D, too. 🙂
- Lighting IS important, particularly for video calls - you do want to have light shining on you in a way that works well for video. You may want to experiment with different lamps around you or on your desk.
- Have video calls with other remote workers - make time to connect with colleagues, ideally over video calls. Even if it is just to chat for 5 or 10 minutes. It can help ease the sense of isolation - and they may like it, too! Sometimes if I have a question that I’m going to write in email or Slack, I’ll ask myself, “would it be faster if I just ask them in person?” And if so, I’ll ping them via a message to see if they are available for a video call.
- Work in different locations - Try sometimes to get out of your home office and work in other parts of the house. Take a laptop and work in another room, or on a deck or yard if you have one. (Granted, this might be hard if you have many people in your household all working in the same building.)
On this last point, you’ll see in the Twitter thread and hear on the podcast all the comments about working from other locations. For example, working at cafes with WiFi, etc. That IS a critical lesson many of us have learned. Successful remote working can involve getting outside the walls of your home office - and outside of your home. Obviously this is currently NOT possible with the COVID-19 situation, but something to definitely think about if you continue working remotely once we are past all of this.
Other remote workers… what other lessons learned would you add?
Best wishes to you all as we all try to navigate this new world of social distancing and working remotely over the next weeks and months!
UPDATE #1 - over on Twitter, someone I know pointed out that this is NOT regular "working from home" (WFH). His text: "I've WFH 11 years. current situation is not normal WFH. you can't go to a coffee shop to interact w people, work out or take advantage of all sorts of WFH perks like normal.
self-quarantine != WFH"
I definitely agree, Paul, this is NOT regular "working from home".
Photo by Djurdjica Boskovic on Unsplash. - No, that’s not MY desk… far too clean! 😏