Remote Working

I think this is the first time I've worked from home for a prolonged period of time, without having serious medical issues. Since Tuesday, Yell have been remote working all employees that are able to, and that includes all of IT.

I'm quite lucky in a way...since the back issues last year I've upgraded and improved my home office a lot, so I have a good desk (large, motorised sit/stand), a good monitor (36" ultra-wide, which is basically double-screen ++) and (most importantly) a good office chair. I'm already seeing colleagues struggling to work hunched over a laptop on a kitchen table.

My team (Design and Architecture) are also trying to encourage video calls over simple voice ones...we have all the software (we are on Microsoft Teams, and even though it very much feels like a work-in-progress, it's a significant improvement on Skype in terms of audio and video quality, and most noticeably audio lag). I'm having a bit of fun I'm on my own hardware, and I have a HD webcam, I'm using the remote-working as a chance to improve my video broadcasting skills. The chances are we'll be out of the office for some time, and a lot of my work is involved in workshops, speaking to people and basically sticking my nose into stuff. As a team we think it's important to not just become a faceless voice on the phone, but make sure we are still working human-to-human.

Firstly, I have OBS running. Using the VirtualCam plugin you can pipe the output of this into a Virtual Webcam source, which can be ingested by Teams/Skype (or anything else that uses a native webcam). This immediately gives you loats of lovely options around split-screening, Scene setting and multiple video sources, as well as some more practical options round colour and light balancing to improve the entire experience.

Next up I have Snap Camera. This ingests a webcam source, applies filters (basically all the SnapChat ones), and then outputs as another webcam source. For more formal meetings, this is mainly a way of cleaning up the image (using a sharpen filter normally), or for more casual meetings a bit of fun (for example, yesterday there was the topical conversation about toilet-roll stockpiling, and I was able to find a filter where I turned into a toilet roll...skillz).

Then we have a remote camera setup, allowing multiple angles. This is useful if people want (for example) to see your cat, and it's actually pretty easy if you have an old phone lying around. You can install IP Webcam onto it, and then start it up...this can then be added to OBS as a video source via Wifi. I've built a very simple stand out of Lego, so I can perch this somewhere and cut away to it via an OBS scene.

Next on the list is a green-screen, so allow better overlays on Presentations etc. OBS has native chromakeying functionality, so once I have the screen (arriving from Amazon in the next couple of days) that should be a simple implementation.


Nice! Apart from work, do you have plans to broadcast your beautiful mug for any other reasons?

I use OBS for recording my dev logs.

My company of 8 are all "remote ready". We use Slack for all communication (although we're trying Zoom soon because Macs and Slack aren't happy bedfellows). We have no "in house tin", so multi-factor authentication and online services are perfect. For only 8 people we're trying to put more effort into communicating - there are a 1000 tiny conversation that we would have during the course of the day that are going to go missing. We're still working on how to fill that gap - probably a regular lunchtime gaming session or some other substrate to build banter onto.

We're using Live Share to do our pair programming. Two devs can edit code in one place and that's been really handy. I've not needed it much because I am working on legacy stuff right now and no-one needs to know any more than basic code review.

I've rebuilt the tiny corner at home to give me more desk space. I like to scribble ideas down visually a lot, so this will give me the change to push the keyboard back and have a good space to scribble. I don't like that the monitor is not central and it's not as far back as it was but I can live with that. As long as I'm not looking down, that's the main thing. I broke the cheapy shit clip lamp that goes behind the monitor when I was doing this, so I have some LEDs on Amazon coming. I need to sort out the wires but that can wait.

I also got rid of the big white secondhand chair that was fine for short periods or gaming but was shit for sitting in for more than a few hours. I bought a Comfort Ergo 2-Lever Mesh Operator Chair, which arrived the next day and I'm very happy with it! As I as building it in work time, I did a time lapse for the team to laugh at.

It's going well so far; Naomi and I both have a cough. I think we're probably virus'd. She has a temperature but I don't.

brainwipe's picture

I'm working from home but haven't really gone and set things up properly yet I've been using the little laptop table I got for doing lego on and sitting in my living room just working on the laptop which is fairly small so not much screen real estate. I'll probably look at hooking it up to my main monitor maybe reroute the keyboard and mouse on my gaming rig to allow me to use those.

Evilmatt's picture