Tools and ideas that keep us behind the wheel while working remotely.

All about productivity of our team on COVID-19 office-exile

Since the recent COVID-19 outbreak we all have been forced to pack our tools along with our potential and switch to home office. One may say that for IT it is not a milestone; after all our work didn’t change significantly. We can still develop solutions of an invariably good quality providing that our remote environment has been fully set. Apart from tools there are more factors, combined in workflow, of which we are deprived while working remotely for a long term. Among endless interruptions and no watchful eyes around, with difficulties to connect people directly, there is the question that rises inside the head: Ping or not to ping?


Being aware of the difficulties made by the current situation, we were simply prepared for the necessity of a sudden switch from office to remote work, willing to return to the office in a better form. But still: it is not an easy frog to swallow. We’ve asked 3mdeb team about the biggest struggles of home office, answering with ready-to-use solutions, helpful in the current situation and above. Starting with the difficulties that cannot be solved by any software and rather by any hardware yet (but, who knows: maybe we should try it out that way?), there go domestic interruptions on a tape. We are, after all, surrounded by the household members: kids, dogs, neighbours and spouses with no-at-all possibility to mute them or to change the environment, even in the form of a short walk. And yes, we do love them more than work (at least some of us) but staying focused for a long time among sounds and needs is simply tough. However, our motivation goes even stronger, as developing open-source solutions to the public good in the current situation becomes a real mission. Majority works remotely these days and we all need to be equipped with the solutions of a good quality and open way to modify them according to our needs. If you want to check our particular contributions, the article is the must-read one.

Maintaining full concentration among domestic interruptions is not an only wrinkle. Lack of direct contact with co-workers is the obvious issue we all cope with recently, as it extends sometimes the performance or full-understanding of certain tasks. With a little help comes Jitsi Meet on Docker. As we use Docker widely in our projects for firmware and embedded software building, conducting trainings and when rootfs building for infrastructure deployment, here again, for Jitsi Meet, fully encrypted, 100% Open Source videoconferencing solution, you can find in our repository all the necessary tools to run a Jitsi Meet stack on Docker using Docker Compose. Another grind-team-gears issue is difficulty with maintaining proper work-life balance. It is easy to merge with desk when having all the necessities for the taking along with the good tools to work on. We didn’t investigate whether our testers work in pyjamas, but let’s have a glimpse on what they are having in the basic toolkit: Flashrom, utility designed for flashing images on various programmer devices, helpful in preparing device for further operations such as testing. Worthy to mention Cukinia, Linux firmware validation framework helps to run simple system-level validation tests on firmware, and when analyzing security, Chipsec with its security test suite, tools for accessing various low level interfaces, and forensic capabilities may become useful. All the tools can be found in our repository.


How do we enhance our effectiveness working remotely

Apart from useful tolls, 3mdeb team shared how they do the work and stay effective while remote working and frankly speaking it is all about simplicity of a good planning and smart goals. How does it look in practise? We make checklists, detailed notes and to-do lists, planning each day in detail and thus make the most of work hours. Some of us effectively use the pomodoro technique, others break the eight-hour work system by dividing it into smaller parts. To maintain workflow, we make smart breaks, during which we try to leave the computer, spending time with the household members, taking a bit of the fresh air or doing sports: and by sports we don’t mean rush-to-the-fridge. Doing our best to adapt to the current situation, we can proudly say that it works. The quality of our solutions works. Whereas looking further, we all agree that our struggles are going to have a positive impact when back to office, as current situation taught us about better work organization, self-discipline and the sense of responsibility. When it will become easier for us to stay focused in the work environment with the colleagues sitting nearby, what we will miss about remote working? Surely the flexibility of working hours, lack of commuting and in some cases homey pyjamas. Nevertheless, we are all waiting for the end of the pandemic and quick return to our desks, screens and mugs.


Kamila Banecka
Junior firmware tester and a linguist. Eager to acquire new language skills of both programming and natural sources. Huge fan of Natural Language Processing.