Day in the life of Software Engineer @ D-Nitro — WFH edition

Bendelja Anita
6 min readSep 30, 2022

In a search for a new team member and to help candidates see if they would be a good fit for our team, someone in the team proposed, “Hey, let’s write a blog post on a topic: Day in the life of Software Engineer @ D-Nitro”. Here goes my attempt.

We are a team of five engineers, one scrum master and a product owner. We all have different preferences for technology and even a way of working, but it all fits when we work together as a unit contributing to the same goal.

D-Nitro team

The D-Nitro team is one of the infra teams in TechBase @ KPN. The team’s primary focus is accelerating engineers’ productivity by providing a paved road, enabling ci/cd and release automation platform and doing various initiatives to increase productivity.

The team works from the Amsterdam office two days a week, and the rest of the days, we work from home; at least, this is the case for now.

My working from home setup

Starting the day

I wake up around 7:00 when I work from home; I like early mornings because this is where I feel most productive, so I always try to get up slightly earlier. Meditating is the first thing I do to do when I wake up. It doesn’t matter if it’s just as short as 3 minutes as long as I keep it routine. It makes me feel grounded, reminds me of my goals and helps with my focus. Afterwards, I will do all my morning routines and grab a cup of coffee.

My happy hour

It’s almost 8:00. I will spend at least 15 minutes catching up with IT news from different sources in my areas of interest. After that, I will sometimes read a book for a while, listen to a podcast or follow a course online. For example, last week, I just finished a course for Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD) on Cloud Guru. From the books, I am currently keeping myself busy with “BPF Performance Tools” book by Brendan Gregg and “Staff Engineer: Leadership Beyond the Management Track” book by Will Larson. The first is a hobby, and the second is part of my growth path and ambition to grow into the principal role.

Other times, I will dive into a specific tool, language or technology and try to do a simple hello world project out of it. And some days I will, well, sleep till nine. No one is perfect.

Starting the workday

I will start my workday around 9:00. One of the first things I like to do is update my daily planner with today’s task list, reflect on how yesterday went, and prioritize the task list. I will try to stick to that list as much as possible, but that depends on any urgent matters that show up during the day. After that, I will check my email and Slack notifications to see if there is some urgent matter that needs my attention before I can focus on my list. We have rotating shifts for operational tickets. Each week another team member is responsible for helping our customers (engineers) with issues related to our services or giving them pointers related to our paved road. This week is not my turn, but you can read more about it in the blog post day of life as an OPS engineer @ D-Nitro by Alex Faber.

At 10:00, we have daily stand-up, either online, hybrid or in the office, depending on the day and team members’ availability, and it usually lasts for 30 minutes.

At the time of writing this post, it is Wednesday, so following daily, I have a cross-team alignment with the rest of the TechBase teams. This meeting happens once every two weeks, so on most of the other days I will focus on work which is very divers from day to day. But on this meeting I share the progress and plans of what my team is doing in the upcoming sprint. I also bring up any topic that might be interesting or impact some other team in TechBase. It’s relevant that we stay connected with the rest of the teams we work close by and make sure we are not stepping on each other toes, doing double work and most importantly, that we are contributing to the same vision. By the time the meeting is over, it’s already lunchtime, and I will quickly prep something to eat and take my dog for a walk.

Focus block 13:00–15:00

Ideally, I would like to see my workday balanced with the following activities:

  • Meetings/alignment 20%
  • Helping others 10%
  • Software design/code review 30%
  • Development 30%
  • Study & innovation 10%

As you can see, quite a significant portion of my interest is in software development, so what I at least try to do is to plan focus blocks on things I would like to achieve. And the great thing about D-Nitro is you have plenty of various opportunities to help the organization in different engineering areas. So, for example, you can do software development on both front-end and back-end; you can do process automation, infra setup for our products, design solutions etc. But that can be a good and a bad thing. It can be really distracting focusing on many things at the same time, you must pick your battles and go one step at a time.

My focus blocks don’t always go as planned, but if I don’t plan them, they don’t happen.

Short Break

My fluffy friend Borg

It’s 15:00, and I need to take care of my dog for 30 mins. While he is zooming around, this is an excellent time for me to listen to some podcasts. Those are not necessarily work-related; I listen to random things about neuroscience, self-care, awareness or comedy.

We are back by 15:30; I might need to rush into a meeting on some days. On other days there could be some pull requests that need my attention. For example, today colleague of mine asked me if I could check his video on DORA metrics that he is doing for educational purposes in the company. After I’ve done that, I am doing a reflection on my first coding block, as I noticed some functionality in a newer version of Redis that might improve our current product. So I am taking a closer look at cost vs benefit and how much work it would be to upgrade Redis and switch to that functionality now. After that, I will check what I can clear from my task list before the end of the working day.

Reflection time 17:00

During this time, I check how my day went and move any dangling tasks to tomorrow’s planner. Then, finally, I note any urgent things I might need to look at in the morning. In the later evening, I might do some short coding focus blocks in case I had to do some private shores during the day, as evenings are perfect for no interruption focus blocks.

I would love to hear your thoughts. How do you organise your working from the home day? Any tools or techniques you found particularly compelling to make your working from home productive?