October 17, 2023
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Today we delve into life working at Atticus through the eyes of Yosh Wakeham, a senior software developer who brings a blend of technical skills and creativity to our team. Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, and now calling Toronto home, Yosh offers a fresh perspective on life at Atticus as our sole Canada-based team member.

Before he jumped headfirst into the world of technology, Yosh explored creative writing and cinema, and he still harbours a passion for the arts. Today, as a senior developer at Atticus, his role involves shaping our core product, proposing innovative features, refining designs, and, of course, meticulously crafting and reviewing code.

How long have you been part of the Atticus team, and what attracted you to the company?

I joined Atticus in April 2022. I had worked with the founders before, and was excited by the opportunity to work with them again. In addition to the  technical and strategic vision they’ve demonstrated in building such a successful business from scratch, I really admire their values, and philosophy of work.

Walk us through a typical workday as a remote software developer.

I should mention that I’m not only a remote worker, but generally an async remote worker. The time difference between Melbourne and Toronto is stark: my teammates start work when I’m sitting down for dinner, and are already asleep when I start work!

As a result, my workday usually starts with reviewing everything that happened overnight – emails, Slack messages, code reviews, and so on. Morning is my most productive time. In a typical morning I’ll do a mix of feature development, code reviews, and research. I also chat regularly with members of our business development team in the UK, and of course I sometimes need to handle support requests or alerts that arise while all the other devs are asleep.

In general I’ll have one main project on the go, along with the various other threads that crop up day-to-day. For my main project, I keep detailed running notes in a tracking doc, and try to end each day with a Slack update, finished pull request, or some other sign of life!

Toronto skyline Toronto skyline

Toronto, Canada.

How do you manage your tasks and stay connected with your team?

I rely heavily on Slack for tracking tasks and maintaining connections. I use Slack reminders for one-off miscellaneous tasks that come in through Slack, or interesting links or discussion threads I want to come back to. I also try to leave comments or emoji reactions on as many Slack posts as possible. Making people laugh is one of my core connection strategies!

As a remote worker, it’s critical to communicate proactively. When working in-person, there are innumerable opportunities to passively communicate with your co-workers – simply with your presence, or with a gesture or facial expression. No such luxury when working remotely!

Can you share an interesting project you’ve worked on recently? What was the most rewarding aspect of it?

I recently worked on allowing Atticus users to copy their verification work between different projects. This was a feature that initially seemed pretty simple, but revealed significant hidden complexity as we teased out the requirements, as often happens.

In my experience, there are two particularly rewarding phases of development work. One is the initial “a-ha!” moment when you figure out the hardest implementation questions and get an end-to-end mental model of how the feature is going to work. The second is when you iron out most of the bugs and clunky UX, and the new feature starts to feel not only functional but smooth. (There’s an analogous phase in crafting a piece of writing, where after the second, third, or tenth draft, the piece starts to feel polished, like it’s humming with life. Admittedly that doesn’t happen every time, either in writing or in software development, but it’s nice when it does!)

How do you find working in a remote team spread across different parts of the world? 

Atticus is a really lovely group of people. I hope I don’t sound like a sycophant! Setting aside geography, every member of our team is truly a pleasure to work with.

There are certainly challenges of working across time zones, many of which are self-explanatory or will be familiar to anyone who’s worked remotely. At times I’ll feel isolated, and it can be tricky to work with the limited window available for real-time communication with Australia. In my experience, no matter how good your async systems are, regular real-time collaboration is still necessary at points – for instance, to hash out consensus on a particularly gnarly tradeoff, or get a momentum boost when the team is flagging.

That said, there are unique benefits of remote work, and we’re already experiencing them at Atticus. One is, obviously, the ability to find great talent from around the world. Another is the necessary increase in written (and video) documentation, both by design and as a serendipitous byproduct of async communication. In particular, I love that we often end up documenting the history of our decisions – including tradeoffs of our choices, alternatives we considered, etc. That can be an invaluable resource when trying to understand why a particular decision was made.

As we improve our async work processes, we also make Atticus a more accessible workplace – for example, by allowing parents of young children (myself included!) to have more flexible schedules, or making collaboration easier for neurodivergent co-workers who might prefer to process information asynchronously.

How do you see your role evolving at Atticus, both as a senior software developer and remote team member?

Our product is evolving quickly, and that means huge scope for learning and growth as an engineer. I want to drive that evolution while cultivating a deep understanding of our codebase. If we ever broaden our horizons beyond verification, I’d love to be closely involved in the design and architecture of new products.

As for remote work, well, I hope Atticus starts expanding to North America soon! I’d love to have more Atticans in (or close to) my timezone. And North America would be a fascinating market for us to tackle, when the time is right. At the same time, I hope to remain an ambassador for the remote experience at Atticus, both advocating for those of us working remotely, and directly improving our remote and async processes.