OUR TWENTIETH MEETUP
Authored by: Mohammed Sohaib Nawaz
Thursday, March 13th, 6:30pm at DevOpsGroup Zoom Room, Global.
We have to say a massive thanks to DevOpsGroup for supporting us and helping us grow the Cloud Native Community in Wales for over a year! They have provided us with a stunning venue for our meetups. All the drinks and food provided by them also goes down well! Head over to their careers page to check out exciting vacancies.
Even on short notice Lewis managed to pull it off
Remote Working At GitLab, And Some Pro Tips
We didn’t even realise where the time went!
Lots of offices are closing and asking their staff to work remotely, this is a dream for some but chaos for others. We had an open discussion to pros and cons of working remotely and try to help each other make the best of the situation.
Simon offered to help out and jump in last minute. Simon works for GitLab, a remote first organisation. He’s based in Newport, works as a Solutions Architect for GitLab, and has been stood up by Lewis a couple of times over the last week.
Simon covered the following:
- Who are GitLab
- Their history
- What their product offering is
- Amount of people working remotely and across a number of countries
- GitLab’s values - showing how deeply embedded remote first is at GitLab
- How transparent GitLab is as a company
- Not a single office (just a PO Box and the CEOs address are used)
- They are the largest ALL remote company in the world
- They have developed good working practices from this and share it publicly
- Since a lot of companies are being forced to do this, GitLab have been sharing blog posts and tips on Twitter and their Blog
- Importance of remote leadership teams, handbooks, documentation
- Their handbook is publicly available and a anyone can submit a change which will be discussed and review with feedback as to why it might not have been accepted
- Security - don’t use VPNs, not all information is shared (e.g. commercial agreements etc.)
- Majority of meetings are uploaded publicly to YouTube (including internal training and onboarding)
- Simon’s history in Tech
- Culture change when moving to GitLab
- 1st day
- Onboarding and biggest change
- Work life balance at home
- And a lot more which I will detail bellow
GitLab was created by Dmitriy Zaporozhets and Valery Sizov, it has now become an integrated solution covering the software development life cycle, and then to the whole DevOps life cycle. GitLab is used by some of the largest tech companies in the world. Yet there is something very unique about the way in which GitLab operates as a company. GitLab operates a remote first company, with More than 2,000 people having contributed to GitLab. The GitLab team consists of 1225 team members and their 306+ pets. Currently they have team members in 67 countries and regions. You can learn more about their organisational structure, teams, and culture on some of the links bellow.
Looking into GitLab’s values you do not only see how they have remote first deeply embedded within them but also how remote first helps to implement some of those values as well, e.g. Diversity. I would like to focus on three of their core values:
Collaboration - GitLab believe in using GitLab to build GitLab, there is an issue and merge request for everything.
Results - GitLab like to track outcomes not hours. Being an adult you should be able to understand what outcomes are expected on you and when, then be left to work on them flexibly.
Transparency - I was genuinely amazed by this point and how much GitLab shares publicly. This value states that everything at GitLab is public by default (strategy, roadmap, quarterly goals, handbook, and issue trackers). From being so public and the largest all remote company brings benefits to other organisations as well. GitLab shares good working practices for working remote not only for individual contributors but also for managers. With a lot of companies having to work remotely they have access to help and guidance from GitLab publishing information on remote working emergency plans, remote leadership teams, tips to working from home, and GitLab’s own handbook. Not only are these documents public but anyone can recommend and edit a change to the document which will go into a review process for discussion. You can also check out their youtube channel where a majority of their meetings are uploaded, this includes internal training videos. GitLab also tries to stay away from private slack channels to keep things transparent and open.
At GitLab a lot of jobs listed on their opportunities page don’t have a location and in the rare case that they do that location is really a region. One good aspect that they highlight is that if you are in a meeting you don’t have to be staring into the camera the whole time if for example you are not 100% involved then you can do other things while you are in the meeting and no one will judge you for doing that. Interestingly your kids or pet walking in during a meeting isn’t actually a big deal at GitLab, it is expected that if it is a large meeting you are muted and if it is a small meeting no one will really mind. You are encouraged to keep in contact with people through a concept called coffee chat, in fact part of onboarding is to schedule it with random people around the business, as well as it being easy enough to schedule meetings with VPs etc. You can flexibly schedule not related work items in your calendar and no one will really mind, which comes back to outcome driven nature of the business.
How do you maintain a work life balance at home?
Follow the remote worker starter guide by GitLab. Apart from important aspects like your environment, equipment and setup, it is also important to manage your time well. Simon mentioned a great tool which he uses called clockwise, Clockwise transforms people’s days, turning what they have — 15 minutes to work here, 30 minutes there — into what they need: uninterrupted blocks of time to focus, think, and innovate. Clockwise does this by connecting to your work calendar and untangling your schedule at the system level, across all attendees. It learns your preferences such as typical working hours, timezone, tolerance for having multiple meetings in a row, desired lunch time, and more. Clockwise uses this rich set of information, across an entire company, to identify disruptive meetings and seamlessly coordinate between multiple schedules.
Another tip is to block out your non working hours so people know when not to book meetings. If you are booking a meeting in someones calendar try to keep it at the start of their empty block not in the middle of a 4 hour block.
How do you handle for example starting a new job and trying to seem always available and working?
This is something that not only requires self discipline but also your managers understanding as well. If the culture of the company is setup to support remote workers you shouldn’t be left to feel that you need to be always available. Again we fall back to the outcomes over hours line. When talking to other you will probably find they don’t accept a response to the 11pm slack message for example.
For trialing remote working, setup a zoom room that is on all day and people can come and go as they please. I found this to be a great tip for remote workers, having a zoom room that is running all day that you can jump into and talk to your team mates, have informal discussion or just general conversations etc. GitLab has rooms that people can join to talk about specific subjects with other people throughout the day e.g. hobbies, family, travel, parents.
GitLab practices asynchronous communication, so they don’t expect an instantaneous response, this allows a person to focus on their individual workflows. You can find out more about how they practice asynchronous communication across the company in the company handbook.
Tips throughout the discussion from pro work from homers:
- Good equipment (chair, desk, monitors, microphone, webcam, lighting,)
- Have a specific location in your house to work from
- Don’t wake up and go straight to your desk
- Some like to go for a walk before for that commute element, where they can clear their mind
- Standing desks
- Traffic light setup on door to let people in your family know when you can’t be disturbed
- If you have a loud mechanical keyboard, make sure you have a directional microphone
- put your camera on or use a photo at least
- Expense office equipment, but spend company money like it is your own
- Old management styles can conflict with working remotely
- Privacy screens for public places
- Peer programming
Anything Cloud Native
In this AMA we answered any questions that anyone had, from Cloud Native technologies to running the meetup, career advice to our favorite talks, how do you talk Cloud Native to your employer to best practices to working remotely.
This, in part, was an open discussion and we asked for everyone’s advice. Lewis works for Control Plane as a Infrastructure Engineer orchestrating the ocean of containers using Kubernetes. Day to day he’s either writing code, building and pushing images and managing deployments, training others or on a train to his next adventure.
He co-founded Cloud Native Wales, an initiative to help people learn Cloud Native technologies and establish a community to support each other. When he’s not playing with tech, he’s busy trying to understand the logic of a toddler, getting taken for a walk by a dog and spending time with his family (preferably on a ski slope).
Cloud Native Questions We Covered
- Anyone having any issues with their containers?
- For those using containers in production, what steps are you taking to ensure you are pulling in upstream patches?
- Can I talk to you about our lord and saviour multi-stage docker builds?
- Is anyone using other runtimes (containerd / gVisor / katacontainers)
- Any questions on about your clusters?
- Who is running in production?
- Who’s getting started??
- Any thoughts on GKE price changes?
- Any recommendation of alternatives
- Service Mesh
- Who’s using a service mesh?
- Anyone looking to set one up currently?
- Any alternatives
As it looks like we’re going to get some more spare time on our hands (less commuting anyway), we thought it would be good to present talks that have had an impact on you. Share the talk that gave you the a-ha moment or the talk that helped you get started or deep dive into a new technology.
Links to some peoples favorite talks
Who is this event for
We aim to build a community for discussion and support and will welcome anyone that wants to attend.
Food & Drinks
As always, thanks to DevOpsGroup, food and drinks will be provided. If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know.
- 1 Raspberry Pi
- 4 JetBrains license, thanks to jetBrains
- Google swag for best questions
Feedback / Content
Please contact any of the organisers if you want to:
- Give a talk
- Get more information regarding the Meetup
- Talk about sponsorship
- Any other suggestions or support
Please drop us a message on twitter @CloudNativeWales or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org