The video on-demand of this session is available to logged in QCon attendees only. Please login to your QCon account to watch the session.

Session + Live Q&A

Lessons Learned from Remote-first SRE

Legend has it that there is a Netlify office. Personally, I've never seen it. While I joined during the pandemic, we've been a remote-first company for years. On the other hand, many teams throughout our industry were thrust unexpectedly into remote work during the pandemic. For all kinds of reasons, many now hope to start heading back to the office. But instead of going back to business as usual, there is an opportunity to consider how we can do things differently. 

I'll be talking about how we've made remote working sustainable at Netlify. I'll discuss how the practices which make for effective remote working can improve hybrid and in-person incident management. In particular, I'll address the importance of documentation, asynchronous communication, and setting clear boundaries for yourself and your team. 

Main Takeaways

1 Hear how Netlify deals with remote work done across multiple time zones.

2 Learn about practices that can improve remote work, such as maintaining documentation, asynchronous communication, and clearly separated responsibilities.

Tell me a bit about the work that you do.

I'm a Site Reliability Engineer at Netlify. We are a hosting company for the Jamstack, a design pattern for deploying web applications - javascript, APIs, and markup - to a CDN via a git workflow. My team and I manage the reliability and scaling of our platform.

Your talk is lessons learned for remote-first users. What are you hoping to achieve with it? 

Reading both tech news and general news, I've gotten the sense that there's a bit of a dichotomy between what remote work is perceived as and what some companies and the media think we're going to go back to. I want to point out that while a lot of people have probably had a hard time with remote work, there are some very rewarding and also productive practices that can be applied to good remote work that can help all modes of working, particularly if you are going to in future have people who are working in offices, some hybridly and some remotely. I feel like there are some things that are almost like hygiene factors that can make everyone's work life more productive and more fulfilling.

Can you give me an example of some hygiene factors that can help you be more effective working remotely?

One of the things that we practice is documenting almost everything. We use documents as our primary mode of communication, particularly because we are a very distributed company. My direct team operates across 10 time zones, so we're not always online at the same time. I mean, it can be a Google Doc...we use Notion, I'm not being specific about the technology, but anything that allows someone to take the time to form their ideas and also then have their colleagues take their own time to comment on it and to interact with it in an asynchronous way. 


James McNeil

Site Reliability Engineer @Netlify

James is a lapsed strategy consultant who did a coding bootcamp on a whim and hasn't looked back. He is interested in equal measure by human factors in incident response and computer networking. He has plenty of time to think about both as a Site Reliability Engineer at Netlify. He works...

Read more
Find James McNeil at:


Monday Nov 1 / 12:10PM EDT (40 minutes)


From Remote to Hybrid Teams: Return to Office?


Remote TeamsDistributed TeamsSRETeam CollaborationAgileCommunicationTools

Add to Calendar

Add to calendar


From the same track

Session + Live Q&A Remote Teams

The Spectrum of Synchronousness

Monday Nov 1 / 01:10PM EDT

With 2020 being a year of unexpected distributed working, and with the future of our industry looking more remote, being able to wield the right tools for communicating efficiently has never been more important.We need to shift to asynchronous communication for remote working. But when,...

James Stanier

Director of Engineering @Shopify

Session + Live Q&A Remote Teams

Remote Onboarding: A Houseplant's Story

Monday Nov 1 / 02:10PM EDT

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in many new experiences - both professional and personal.  According to recent reports, 1 in 4 Americans have transitioned to work remotely and a surprising 1 in 3 households welcomed at least one houseplant.  Similar to welcoming a houseplant...

Kate Wardin

Engineering Manager, Studio UI Developer Productivity @Netflix

PANEL DISCUSSION + Live Q&A Remote Teams

Remote and Hybrid Teams Panel

Monday Nov 1 / 03:10PM EDT

The future of teams is increasingly looking personalized... kind of like your Netflix queue. The removal of the expectation and the obligation to be physically present in the same room is providing opportunities for teams to experiment, learn and adopt practices that confer both flexibility and...

Kate Wardin

Engineering Manager, Studio UI Developer Productivity @Netflix

James Stanier

Director of Engineering @Shopify

Miriam Goldberg

Engineering Manager @Netflix

James McNeil

Site Reliability Engineer @Netlify

View full Schedule