Remote Development Guidance

Remote Development Guidance

You are part of a distributed team. At the moment you are working on some task. Another member of the team calls, or sends a message via Slack or WhatsApp. You need to guide them effectively. Say they are debugging a piece of code.

Pulling Their Environment into Yours

You want to guide them, but it is not continuous one hour thing. You get the information, provide some suggestion, you resume your work, and they come back in say a quarter of an hour.

So you cannot stop your work, which may often be on a laptop or desktop, not related to their task.

What you need is to somehow briefly pull their environment into yours, without diving deep, provide the advice and move on with your things.

My Escalation Strategy

Here is what I do?

  • [ ] Ask for screenshots via Slack
  • [ ] Ask for code snippets via Slack
  • [ ] Send suggested code snippets via Slack
  • [ ] Draw on paper, or my iPad and send the drawing via Slack
  • [ ] Pull my laptop, pull the (Git or SVN) repo to get the most recent version and look at the code
  • [ ] Suggest Skype call - do not cook my brain with the mobile - I like to talk to my screen with handsfree - possibly screen share
  • [ ] Control their screen with Team Viewer
  • [ ] Access cloud servers directly from my laptop - especially in mixed Mac and Windows environment the confuse the Linux command line

Keep Focus

I try to remain focused on my environment, pulling some tools and information in.

Only if this is not enough, I pull out the laptop dedicated to their task.


Escalate in this order:

  1. Mobile
  2. Current desktop
  3. iPad or any tablet
  4. Your laptop dedicated to their task (may be different than the previous item)

You will need a mobile or iPad to capture and transmit reasonable drawings. So an Apple Pencil and iPad would save you with dealing with soft paper.