As a remote developer, it’s tempting to create an environment where all you do is focus on churning out the code you’re paid to write. Minimal email distractions, no noise, meetings and chats only when you want it. Seems pretty ideal on paper!
I’ve found the exact opposite. Checking out of a team like that, even if I’m fulfilling all my duties, robs me of valuable context. It’s handy to know what other people are working on, when they’re succeeding, and how they’re learning from failures. It might not directly relate to my work, but it helps to stay aware of the environment into which your work fits.
I recently “turned on the floodgate” for the development organization around me. In our GitHub install, I picked one or two projects from each development team to follow. Since most teams use a pull-request workflow, I get a few dozen emails per day that give me the chance to peek into the cadence of a team’s work. This fills in context I miss in Campfire or your typical email broadcast.
My job as a developer isn’t to know all the things going on; I’m not suggesting you keep close tabs on every project. Instead, I’m trying to keep my finger on the pulse of colleagues on other teams. I find myself better prepared to help them out and make my own projects fit in with where the organization as a whole needs to go.