It’s been three months working remotely and I want to share what I learnt from the perspective of a person that has never worked remotely before.
2017 was a very though year but, as the saying goes, smooth seas never made a skilled sailor. I was working with PHP and the framework Neos Flow but I wanted to work with Python. Unfortunately the city I live in does not provide lots of opportunities and I could not accept the scenario.
The strategy was: (i) beef up my skills; (ii) update my CV; (iii) look for jobs; (iv) send my CV to companies aligned with my profile. Few months later I was pleased to join a great team and, since then, I have been learning not only technical skills but also how to adapt myself to the so wanted remote lifestyle.
If you have never worked remotely before, things might seem weird at first. The new routine seems pretty glamourous in blog posts but it is not that fancy: it requires self-discipline, accountability, soft skills and a reasonable investment to set up your space. However, it is a way with no return: time flexibility, living cost reduction, comfort work space and more free time. After experiencing that it is likely you do not want to commute ever again.
Working remotely is a life-changing experience that has helping me to live a different life. So far, I have experienced the benefits below:
- By working remotely you see yourself as a global citizen because, now, it does not matter where the company is based.
- Soft Skills are fastly developed due to the new way of relating to people.
- By not commuting you save an extra time that can be used to study, relax or resume that side project you promised to deliver.
- You embrace a less stressful routine once you do not have to face traffic jams or clock in your work in the office.
- Time flexibility becomes possible because you can set up the routine that works for you.
Despite of seeming the perfect work it has some drawbacks that deserve attention.
- You might be driven to a routine stuck at home especially if you only work at home.
- Overworking is very likely to happen because you won’t have to clock in your work and you might feel compelled to work all time.
- Your productivity becomes an issue to be more attentive because TVs, family and the home atmosphere can easily distract you.
- The feeling of loneliness can emerge due to the lack of people around.
- It gets harder to develop connections with people because of the work regime itself. There are no such things like a shared space to chat or a lunch time with workmates.
You have pondered the pros and cons and decided to embark on this journey. To help you I have listed some lessons learned so far:
Discipline comes with a routine that sticks
If you allow yourself to have an unorganized routine your life will be a mess. On a common week a person have: meetings, deliverables to accomplish, emails to reply, personal activities (gym, college, etc), errands and so on. Other people might disagree but, in my opinion, if you do not get self-disciplined you will lose control of your responsibilities because nothing will have time to happen. There is no silver bullet to become a minimum self-disciplined person. However, the key to start is defining a routine that suits you and stick to it.
The key here is to develop a ritual that is performed everyday in order to make your brain getting in to the zone. For example, everyday I (i) wake up; (ii) take a shower; (iii) have breakfast; (iv) brush my teeth; (v) grab a mug with coffee; (vi) go to my home office; (vii) open the computer; (viii) start working. You might think it is silly, but after some weeks you will get used to working at home.
No, you can not work in your bedroom
It is not about working in your bedroom. It is about not working in a place full of distractions. It is easy to get lured by a comfy bed or a nice TV show. Avoid distractions. They drastically impact on your productivity. If possible set up a place where you automatically get into the mood when you come in. It does not have to be an office necessarily but it must be a place where you have privacy to work.
Be on time
If you work for a true remote company it is common to talk to people from different timezones. Due to that, finding a time that works for everyone might seem a challenge and you must respect it. Do your best to be on time. It is not only a matter of respect but also a matter of professionalism.
Invest in your infrastructure
Do your best to have an Internet connection capable of taking care of video calls because they happen all the time. It is also advisable to have a backup plan like a good mobile internet on the phone in the case of your connection goes down.
Besides connection, it is important to setup a comfortable space because you will spend 8 hours or more working. Think about the chair, desk, screen and computer. If possible, make a private room your personal office.
It is quite challenging to work remotely if you are a social-and-outspoken person. Basically the number of online iteractions (chats, video calls, emails) highly increases but the offline decreases. It creates an unusual atmosphere that you might feel the necessity to see people around. To balance that you can look for different places to work (like coworking offices) and bring to your routine activities that involve involve social interaction (e.g. doing exercises in the Gym, to have lunch in a restaurant once a week, etc).
Family and Friends
Distraction can be an issue if you share the apartment with friends/family/etc because they will look at you and assume you are available to be interrupted/asked/distracted. It is a normal process almost everybody faces because working remotely is a paradigm shift that has been happening recently. Establish a clear rule or ritual to be distracted otherwise it will slow down your productivity. Think about some rules like: every time I stand up to grab a coffee; or you can use Pomodoro Technique and check in during the stops; or you can be texted; whatever it works for you.
Working at home give to you the sensation of having more time to get the things done. That behavior lead you to working more hours instead of using them to do something productive to your own life. The key is to balance your working hours with your personal life by keeping track of how much time you work, how productive you are and how much time left you have gotten. Not having time to a personal life is not healthy.
As the saying goes Mens sana in corpore sano (A sound mind is in a sound body). Do I need to tell you anything? =)
That’s all folks. If you got any question please let me know.